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Old 13th August 2007, 05:41 PM
Rainmaker Offline
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CPU Upgrade - is it worth it under F7?

Hi guys,

Wow. I used to love the look of FC and CentOS (RHEL) but it never set up or worked how I wanted it to, at least not as easily as other distros (eg Ubuntu). Especially things like wifi out of the box and NetworkManager. There are also less packages available so I was losing apps completely (no equivalents even in TP repos) by using FC.

F7 however, WOW! I've converted one of the main desktops back to F7 and absolutely love it, so it's here to stay I'd still prefer to have more apps available but it's a small price for such a great home desktop.

Anyway, I have an AMD Athlon 64 3400+ cpu which clocks at 2.2 Ghz. I also have 2GB of DDRRAM, a 200GB HD and an Nvidia GeForce 7300GT gfx card. I was looking to upgrade my CPU to a dual core, but as I have socket 939 I'm limited in my selection.

About the only CPU in stock online I can find is the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ which apparently has a clock speed of 2 Ghz flat (but can be overclocked effectively and easily apparently). The question is, despite the higher model number on the dual core cpu (3800+ vs 3400+) it actually has a lower clock speed by 0.2 Ghz.

Will F7 use the 2ghz dual core to full effect (~4ghz) giving me an overall performance boost over a stock single core 2.2ghz, or will it run on a single core for most things giving me a net loss of 0.2ghz??

I hope I worded that concisely and clearly enough to put across my question. So, for the sake of GBP£40 should I upgrade my CPU and how will it work under F7?

Thanks in advance,

Lee
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  #2  
Old 13th August 2007, 05:53 PM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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More packages? lol, though the debian repos are the bomb!

OK, I have a socket 939 X2 4800 in my big rig. It is an earlier version that I have OC's from 2.4 to a solid 2.6 with no problems and no overheating. I do have a quality case with 7 case fans but this computer stays booted 24/7 (except for the FL lightning storms) and has ran without a burp for a year and a half now. I also have numerous AMD procs, all 64 bit athlons ranging from a 2800 to 2 3200's, and 2 3800's. The X2 4800 is definitely worth the upgrade. The only thing I might do different in your place is maybe look at a new MOBO also, as the 939 is a dead horse at this stage. OTOH, I wonder what my CPU costs today compared to what I paid at the time? But yes, the dual core is definitly used and felt. I wouldnt go any other way. So glad now I didnt get the FX 58.
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  #3  
Old 13th August 2007, 06:05 PM
Rainmaker Offline
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Hi,

I know socket 939 is old school now, but tbh I've spent a bomb on this PC and have it just how I want it, for what I want it for. I just want to squeeze some more CPU in before calling it quits and saving for a brand new PC. Therefore there's no point adding a new mobo imho as it'd cost as much as a 939 dual core cpu for the existing board, and then I'd have to buy an AM2 cpu = basically twice as much money (new mobo + am2 cpu) for not much gain.

Just in case you missed it, it's a 64 X2 3800+ not a 4800+. That's why I was querying the standard clock speed - it's 0.2 Ghz slower than the standard single core 3400+ I have now. I always thought higher model numbers meant faster clocks!

Glad dual core shows on Fedora. I'll place my order now then, and hope dropping 0.2Ghz but gaining a core (and an extra 512 of cache) shows me some improvement

Cheers,

Lee

PS: Sorry, instead of "more" packages, perhaps I should have said "alternative". Some of the stuff I can just click and install as deb in Ubuntu (eg Hipo, NZB, some games) isn't existing for Fedora. Although there's Pan, it's not as functional as Nzb imho and I can't find it for Fedora. That's all I meant - I know there are HUGE Fedora/RHEL repos. No distro offence intended
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  #4  
Old 13th August 2007, 06:13 PM
stevea Online
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Hmmm - yeah here is the deal. You definitely get a boost from dual SMP when you have enough tasks in a runnable state. In theory this could be up to 2x but in reality the limit is more typically 1.4x to 1.5x. The two cores share a lot of components but mostly sharing the cache and the memory channel causes the performance shortfall on most systems).

If you only have a single threaded task running then you typically won't see any gain from a same clock rate/same architecture dual.

There are ways to compare the architectural efficiency againts specific types of loads., but for you - I advise you to go look at multithreaded benchmarks of these two chips as a "best case" improvement possible. I don't know these chips - maybe the AMD3800+ has more cache or a faster memory bus and this could make a big difference.

My hunch - if these are pretty similar in cache and memory performance - is that you'll take a ~ -10% clock rate hit all the time and when fully loaded you may see a +40% performance boost, but the boost is only when loaded which is only a fraction of the time. I personally would not pay much for a ~15-20% type CPU overall performance boost and I think that is about what you're likely to see here.

A new mobo and CPU are probably more cost effective if performance improvements are needed.
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  #5  
Old 13th August 2007, 06:16 PM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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I got your 3800. I just happen to have the 4800. So I can only relate my experiences. But I still think the upgrade will be worth it. And I dig what you are saying about not wanting to blow a fortune. Dont put too much emphasis on clock speed. Per chip overclocking will mean more performance but you cant compare a single core to a dual core or an AMD to an Intel by clock speed. AMD is like a low revving V8 compared to the P4's high revving 4 banger. Though Intel also dropped clock speed on their dual cores too. You also have to look at things like L2 cache and FSB pipelines. So dont worry about clock speed, you are getting an extra CPU!
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  #6  
Old 13th August 2007, 06:41 PM
Rainmaker Offline
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Thanks again guys

Stevea, I hear what you're saying. In case it helps the answers any, the PC (with or without upgraded CPU) will be running F7 as a desktop (internet, youtube, p2p, binary ng downloads, email, photo editing, writing essays etc), also a movie player (DVD), music system (mp3, cd), AND as a Myth TV unit.

All on one box, in the font room, with a wireless keyboard and mouse.

I will also be wanting it to encode avi etc to DVD format at the same time as all the above working (email, web, mythtv)... so with that in mind, I'm presuming a dual core would indeed be worthwhile? (I'm asking, not stating a fact... I really don't know )

Thanks very much for the invaluable, speedy input folks.
Viva la community

Lee
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  #7  
Old 13th August 2007, 06:47 PM
phkahler Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainmaker
Hi guys,

Anyway, I have an AMD Athlon 64 3400+ cpu which clocks at 2.2 Ghz. I also have 2GB of DDRRAM, a 200GB HD and an Nvidia GeForce 7300GT gfx card. I was looking to upgrade my CPU to a dual core, but as I have socket 939 I'm limited in my selection.

About the only CPU in stock online I can find is the Athlon 64 X2 3800+ which apparently has a clock speed of 2 Ghz flat (but can be overclocked effectively and easily apparently). The question is, despite the higher model number on the dual core cpu (3800+ vs 3400+) it actually has a lower clock speed by 0.2 Ghz.
I have an AMD3200 (single core 2.0GHz). I recommend that you right click on the panel and put the CPU speed indicator up there. Install the sensors applet too so you can view temperature. I have a SFF Shuttle SN95G5 with a fanless nVidia6200 that I downgraded from a 6600GT because the fan was too loud. I tried the applets mentioned in order to tweak the system cooling options to make it quiet (it sits on top of my desk so that's important). What I noticed is that under most conditions the CPU is throttled down to 1GHz. It only goes up to 1.8 or 2GHz in transient situations or when running games (i.e. bzFlag, Flightgear,etc...). For everyday tasks, 1GHz does the trick and that keeps the fan quiet.

I have an HD2000 HDTV tuner, and playing back 720P video using VLC lets the CPU sit at 1GHz!!! It takes more with Xine IIRC. I am considering buying the AMD x2 3800 from newegg (for $64) but I don't need it for most things and I'm afraid the added power dissipation will rev up the case fan and make it noisy. As it is, this box is destined to become a HD MythTV system under the big TV, and I don't want it to run hot and loud.

In other news, www.newegg.com has the 2.2GHz dual core in socket 939 for about $80. So if you want dual core without dropping your clock speed, there it is. I need to decide in the next couple days if I want the 3800, as these are the only 939s left unless you want an opteron - which is a viable option for 939 system BTW (see newegg).
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  #8  
Old 13th August 2007, 10:54 PM
Rainmaker Offline
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Well, after all that discussion about the missing 0.2 Ghz, I found a supplier who had a better spec Athlon 64 X2 in stock I ordered an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200 Dual-Core Socket 939 OEM Processor and didn't pay much more than planned for the privilege!

This one's 2.2 Ghz so matches my single core on clock speed (which I now understand isn't the most important thing), but has two cores and double the L2 cache. Now... to learn about how to overclock a CPU under Linux... LOL

Many thanks to all who replied, you've been most helpful
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  #9  
Old 13th August 2007, 10:56 PM
Rainmaker Offline
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Oh, and phkahler... I know you'd already recommended an online store with the 4200 in stock but they are in the US. I'm in the UK and wanted a local supplier, which is what I meant by "found a supplier" in my last post... I do know you'd recommended one already. Thanks anyway
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  #10  
Old 13th August 2007, 11:05 PM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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Same way you overclock in Windows. Just enter the BIOS and bump the clock speed a hair at a time. Never, never ever make any big jumps. I also wouldnt worry about the multiplier even if your board allows it. You should probably be able to squeeze 2.4 out of it but this is getting up there. Just take things slow and run the computer under load for 24 hours with each step. They have crunching programs or you can give it something to chew on, but monitor the temps especially. If everything runs good then bump it again. When you reach the point where it just doesnt feel right, it starts flaking out, then bump it back down to the previous setting or even two settings ago and there you have it. Being Linux I would err on the side of stability vs. performance. Overclocking will make the CPU feel much snappier to an extent but cross the line and it will be flaky, causing random crashes, heating problems, freezes...Not to mention frying that new proc.
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  #11  
Old 18th August 2007, 07:23 AM
usador Offline
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Why not an Opteron 170? Your motherboard suports it probably. You get a server class procesor(whatever this means, probable just its "tested" before boxing it, hopefully) with dual core + 1MB L2 cache. And fully unlocked, so you can play with it at your pleasure. Check it's specs a avalaibility. It's probably the last good deal you can put on a 939 socket and a last oportunity to upgrade not to miss.
I ordered one of this recently and hope extend my system useful life a big chunk(I expect it arriving in a few days)
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  #12  
Old 18th August 2007, 07:37 AM
Rainmaker Offline
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Alas, I managed to find a brand new Athlon 64 X2 4200+ which is now whizzing along in my machine quite happily under Fedora 7 There really is a noticeable difference under load, I'm glad I upgraded. Thanks again to all who replied
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  #13  
Old 18th August 2007, 07:42 AM
usador Offline
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Update; Even better, the Opteron 170 has 2MB L2

Aniway is almost twice the price of your 3800 X2, so if you decide to be on the cheap it's very reasonable.
Here where in spain is almost imposible to get the 3800 X2 939 for long, long time now, so the opteron it's my only option.

Happy upgrading!
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  #14  
Old 18th August 2007, 03:50 PM
JN4OldSchool Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rainmaker
Alas, I managed to find a brand new Athlon 64 X2 4200+ which is now whizzing along in my machine quite happily under Fedora 7 There really is a noticeable difference under load, I'm glad I upgraded. Thanks again to all who replied
Congrats! I figured you would notice a big difference. It is night and day between single and dual core CPUs. Especially when you have 5 or more apps going and everything is just humming along. Remember, if you do decide to OC just do it a hair at a time. It will make a noticeable difference but just dont go too far.
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  #15  
Old 18th August 2007, 07:11 PM
bob_c_b Offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JN4OldSchool
Congrats! I figured you would notice a big difference. It is night and day between single and dual core CPUs. Especially when you have 5 or more apps going and everything is just humming along.
Indeed, Linux makes such better use of multiple cores compared to Windows it's amazing.
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