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Old 19-09-2012, 11:25 PM   #1
Eagle of Fire
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Default Little insight required about "modern" computer industry

Okay, here is the deal: my computer is slowly dying. There might still be a few years left in it since it was very high quality when I bought it... But it is already 10 years old and it won't get younger. So, long story short, I went to my preferred local shop (which happen to be the same one than where I got this computer) and began chatting with the guy for a new replacement.

So, knowing that I'd still want to play old games with my computer and knowing all the problems which can arise when trying to play 32 bits games on a 64 bits machine, I decided to go with a dual boot install with two distinct HD. Then, knowing XP would not really work well with multiple cores, I asked for a powerful single core. I expected at least 2 Ghz minimum...

Turns out that there is not even single cores left in the "modern" industry anymore? What's this? I'm simply astounded to realize it. The best I seem to be able to get right now is a two cores 2.9 ghz... Considering the computer I'm typing on right now is 1.8ghz and that 2.9ghz divided by 2 is 1.45... It actually appears to me, as far as my knowledge is concerned about the whole thing, that I'll never be able to replace my computer up to the same level than the one I bought frigging 10 years ago!

Something must be wrong here. There has to be something I don't understand which make up for it. This is where I hope the tech savy people around here will be able to help. A little help understanding this please?

Thank you.
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Old 20-09-2012, 12:11 AM   #2
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First of all, the advertised Hz rating is per core of course, so 2.9 GHz with two cores is 5.8 GHz total. And that's probably very obsolete (which series is it, Pentium D?): its power usage will probably very high (overheating). And you could end up paying the vintage price of a Rolls Royce for a Zastava Yugo.

A single core makes no sense whatsoever, it's like wanting a steam car. Clock rates can't be increased indefinitely because of heat, and the way to get more speed is to put more cores. Not to mention it allows parallelism, and this means user interfaces can respond to user interaction while they're performing long tasks in the background. It's very long ago that the industry moved away from single cores; and the later single core CPUs had hyper-threading.

You seem to go to extreme lengths to ensure compatibility with old games, and it's your choice. But what you want is a "new old" computer and that doesn't exist, single cores aren't being made any longer, you're very late to find out; I wonder if they're still making CPUs with only two cores instead of four at least, but I wouldn't bother buying them anyway. If you want something like what you have, repair your current computer; whatever's wrong with it, that's by far more doable than what you propose.

My opinion is that what you propose is absurd, for games and of course for every other purpose that you'll use the computer for. Issues when running old games can be worked out. And if you want an old PC besides your main one for old games, get an old one (or keep the one you have), because "new old" computers aren't sold anywhere.
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Old 20-09-2012, 12:52 AM   #3
Eagle of Fire
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Actually, I was surprised by the very low cost which got out. Something like 800$ with a lot of fluff added in because I do wish the computer to be able to work a modern OS like... Huh, what's the last one out already? Windows 7? I asked for a powerful computer with good graphic card, lots of memory, etc. The total.

You also need to factor in the extra HD, extra tech time for the install, etc. It doesn't sound costly to me at all if that computer last me another 10 years... That's only about 80$ a year.

Of course if it really mean that both cores would run at 2.9ghz then it change things a bit. It would make more sense too because the way I was looking at it, the computer industry actually looked like they were going backward instead of forward.

I understand the interest of having multiple cores for modern computers. But that's for computer which can actually use more than one core! Old games from Win XP era and older (which I have a ton and a half of games) simply will never work with two cores no matter what I do so that's why I want to be able to rely on a powerful single core if I need to.

Edit: Here is the specs I got for the computer I got quoted for. See anything funny in it?
I already realized that they only gave me 4gigs ram for this computer. I guess it would be best to up it, unless XP would go funny if there was more ram than it could handle?
Quote:
Ordinateur Touch garantie 3 ans en magasin
Boitier ATX de couleurs noir
Carte mère ASUS F1A55-M/CSM
Processeur AMD A4-3300 de 2.5Ghz, Dual core
Disque dur de 500Gb SATA Western Digital
Bloc d’alimentation de 500 watts
Graveur de DVD Double couche
Carte vidéo NVidia Geforce M310 de 1Gb PCi-Express
Mémoire de 4Gb DDR3 1333MHz
Microsoft Windows 7 Familiale Français
Clavier et souris

Prix : 699$
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Old 20-09-2012, 04:46 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle of Fire View Post
.....Then, knowing XP would not really work well with multiple cores....
Euuurrhhh, nope, you got something wrong here.
XP works swell on multiple core PCs.
Drawback is that you lose a lot of speed as XP isn't build to take advantage of spreading the workload over multi cores.

Example, ripping a DVD movie to high quality MP4 on my quad core:
Win7 : approx 10 minutes.
Xp (same PC!) : approx 22 minutes.
Ubuntu: approx 13 minutes.

On the other hand, I wouldn't run Win7 on a single core, there XP wins as Win7 is always busy with a lot of things on the background, much more then XP.

Me thinks that Japo's advise probably the best, buy a new PC if needed, but keep your old one for 'old games' and stuffs, that's also what I do.
If your old one isn't worth keeping in working order, look around, there are plenty really cheap sacond hand fast single cores to find.
Last I bought 4 (yes 4) HP-Compaq d530 office desktops for 100€ (25€/PC !! ), 2.9Ghz single cores, makes lovely gaming XP PCs after cranking up the RAM to 2GB and putting an AGP vidcard in them.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eagle of Fire View Post
I already realized that they only gave me 4gigs ram for this computer. I guess it would be best to up it, unless XP would go funny if there was more ram than it could handle?
XP will not 'go funny' on plenty RAM, but if you want that your OS can use more than 4GB you will need a 64 OS, XP or Win7 will only only take advantage of more than 4GB if 64b OS.
A 32b OS will work fine on even something as let say 16GB, but can't use the extra RAM.(page file restrictions)
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Old 20-09-2012, 09:17 AM   #5
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If you are fit with computers, you can handle the situtation very easy. Split your resources and turn a little bit your knobs.

I bought my little treasure 4 years ago. Is an Acer Aspire One 150L, surprisingly much faster than the best equipped one (normal size laptop) of the same year. Maybe they put to much stuff in it.

Well on this little fellow.. I have put different versions of MW on it to run older and newer programms, games etc. and it's working out pretty well. Often you can run a old game properly if you shut graphics, and what else is needed, a little bit down. Futher you can get out of the internet these nice tools and applications which are allowing you to run the rest. Or run the right windows mode, sometimes it is helping, too.

There are so many ways to handle a new computer to make it work with older stuff.



I am happy, because of (hobby) programmers of today. They are creating games to suit everyones need. You can find from DOS to ..... everything.




my adventure will hopefully run from windows 98 till 7 (32 / 64 bit)
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Old 20-09-2012, 10:37 AM   #6
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First of all, the advertised Hz rating is per core of course,
Actually not obvious. Some unscrupulous a**holes have been known to advertise 2x1.45 gHz as 2.9 gHz "because it's the same" (to them).
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Old 20-09-2012, 06:53 PM   #7
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I didn't know there were cases of Hz ratings advertised in total instead of per core, but I guess only the shadiest dealers try to fool people with that; I've never heard of it. At least if you look the model at AMD or Intel's websites they will have the rating per core. And CPUs under 2 GHz per core aren't being made any longer either, except for netbooks and tardpads.

The point's that the multiple cores don't create compatibility uses, and one of the four cores of a modern CPU will be more than enough for any old game. Old single-threaded games will simply use one of the cores only. At any rate the bottleneck with games is very seldom the CPU, but insufficient RAM or the GPU. Actually because of this, games have been very late at adapting to multicores, many games made even today don't use more than one core (including DOSBox so far, which is too bad because that for one is CPU intensive).

I've actually heard about the Dark Engine (System Shock 2 etc.) giving trouble in multicores, but it can be fixed with a community patch. And AFAIK it can only be due to something like the game creating multiple threads (which was possible long before multicores existed) for whatever reason, but then relying on them running in a single core or else a race condition would arise; this would be a bug. I'm not aware of any other game having trouble because the number of cores, it shouldn't have any effect, except that you have the rest of the cores free for other background tasks.

Since you can't find a single core--and it wouldn't make sense to want it--there's no reason not to choose a quad core. It's true, though, that games even nowadays aren't often the programs that benefit most from the number of cores, or core speed for that matter.

I assume the Windows 7 you're getting is 64-bit? 32-bit OSes, including all editions of XP except Pro x64, will have no problem running if you have more than 4 GB of RAM installed, except that they won't use it. Actually they won't use anything above 3 GB or so because of the space reserved for other hardware memory. Don't confuse this limit to physical memory with the 2/3 GB limit to (virtual) memory accessible to each program.

Programs for Windows 32-bit work just fine in 64-bit (WoW64). If there are compatibility problems they're more likely caused by the Windows edition (7 vs. 9x or XP) than by bitness. But it's true that 16-bit programs won't run at all in Windows 64-bit; but in Windows 32-bit NT/XP they run in emulation (NTVDM) anyway, not natively. It's not worth it to stick to obsolete 32-bit because of compatibility, considering the RAM ceiling (which is the reason to move to 64-bit at all).

For compatibility you can have, besides DOSBox and Virtual PC, which is what I stick to, multiple boot with XP or 9x, and you'll continue to be able to use 4+ GB of RAM in your Windows 7 x64.

Those specs you're considering aren't high in my opinion, not only the CPU. 4 GB is indeed the minimum computers pack nowadays, and anyway I bought DDR3 1333 MHz at under 10 €/GB one or two years ago. If you want more RAM plan ahead now, otherwise you may be sold more sticks with less GB each that will use up too many board slots.

500 GB isn't a big HD nowadays; I've just happened to buy a 2 TB HD (cache 64 MB) for 110 €. (If you wanted more than 2 TB, only Vista or higher would be able to read the disk.) I know practically nothing about graphic cards, I can only tell you I have this one which is nothing fancy while having 1 GB, and it cost me 56 €.

I don't know about Canada, but I can give you this Spanish price (in euros) from a flier I happen to have at home, and I don't think they should be very different in Canada except taxes (sales tax alone is 21% here).

399 € including taxes
Intel Core i3-2120: 2 cores, 3.3 GHz, 3 MB cache, 65 W TDP
6 GB DDR3 RAM
500 GB HD
nVidia GeForce GT620 1 GB dedicated
Windows 7 Home Premium
Keyboard and mouse included
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Old 20-09-2012, 11:54 PM   #8
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As mentioned before, current processors do have full backward compatibility with older Intel architectures, all to way to the old 16-bit ones, the compatibility problem is in the OS.

Another thing, the parallel world is advancing rapidly, and won't be long until single core programs can be automatically rewritten to better use multi-procesor resources, so I wouldn't ignore this possibility.
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Old 21-09-2012, 01:17 AM   #9
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Thank you all for your input. This will help me a bunch.

So I confirmed with the guy that it is indeed 2.5ghz per core (thanks Capo) and asked him a new price with 32 gigs of ram instead.

500 gigs hard drives might not sound like much for you guys but like I said I'm going to have two of them (because of dual boot) and I'm used to my 82 gigs HD on this computer... And still have something like 15 gigs to spare even though I have plenty of games installed. This won't be a problem for me.

About this current computer... The motherboard is slowly dying. I don't think it would be worth the trouble to try to "repair" it... It is simply starting to fail only because it is too old. 10 years is probably about 8 years too much in regard to the normal life expectancy of a computer nowaday...
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Old 21-09-2012, 06:28 AM   #10
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I am second about virtual machines. They are maybe still bad with video emulation (I never heard about VM that can emulate even GeForce2 up to "acceleration" level, and I would be glad to know about that), but otherwise they are quite trustworthy. So it's don't needed to have anything "real" older than XP.

XP itself can work with multiple cores - but it's programs that must use it. Any modern program can utilize multi-core on XP, but if, say, System Shock 2 was never aware of several cores, it will not use it, no matter what. Same for other games for that era.

Otherwise, it looks fine. Slightly low HDDs, as for my tastes (I have 2Gb as main disk and 1Gb for backup - and it's too low! Low! , but can be just fine for you, I suppose.
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