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What Matters Most: Ram Vs. Processor Speed?


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#1 Victoria TX

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 09:08 PM

The bad news is that my computer died and has been deemed unrepairable. The good news is that the Office Depot extended warranty folks are supposed to be sending me a gift card to use toward a new computer.

I don't do gaming and my Excel spreadsheets aren't typically terribly complex requiring extensive complex recalculation, which is what I tend to think of as being very demanding for the processor. Indeed, digital scrapbooking is probably the most demanding activity for my computer. (I recently started using Photoshop Elements 9.) In balancing RAM vs. processor speed, which do you think should weigh most heavily in my decision? I haven't done a lot of video editing to date although I do have a copy of Roxio Easy CD & DVD Burning software that I hadn't installed yet & it apparently has some video options (motion menus, buttons & background music per the box). In the past, I've just done a few slide shows & used Microsoft PowerPoint since I already knew the software & wouldn't have to deal with a learning curve.

My now deceased computer had 8 GB of RAM, however, it doesn't appear that the store currently carries computers with more than 6 GB of RAM so that will be the maximum I can get without paying extra to have it upgraded in-store. With a limited budget, I don't know if that would be worthwhile.

Thanks for any suggestions / comments!
Victoria

#2 BarbaraC1977

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:00 PM

So sorry your computer died.

You can get more memory, and I highly recommend it. Since you've been using 8GB, you're likely to notice less. That said, your new computer will be faster to start with, and a "cleaner" system initially, so even 6GB will feel decent.

I'm running a "two notches down from top of the line" processor, and i5, not i7, from a year ago, and have 8GB of RAM. It feels faster than my colleague's computer with a later issue i7, but only 4GB RAM. Yes, they're different brands, but still... Also, a 7200 RPM disk drive will be noticeably faster than a 5400 rpm disk drive. Average rotational latency time to get to data would be on the order of 4.2 milliseconds, versus 5.6 milliseconds. That doesn't sound like much, but since CPUs are measured in nanoseconds and smaller time units, the disk drive rotational speed can be the rate limiting step when it comes to opening large Photoshop files, or adding many supplies to a layout. (I used to design disk drives for a living; can you tell?)
:DOn the other hand, a 10,000 rpm disk drive will command a significant price increase, and need more power, and generate more heat.

My philosophy is to back off slightly the very highest specs. You'll pay too much for the very top of the line, and the reliability will be "touchy" compared to a slightly more mainstream product. So, not quite the highest capacity drive, not quite the fastest CPU, and plenty of RAM is a good combination, in my opinion. If the store doesn't have more than 6GB, make sure it's upgradeable. It's usually pretty reasonably priced to upgrade RAM from crucial.com later.

Your mileage may vary, of course! Hope this ramble is helpful to you.

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#3 BarbaraC1977

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:02 PM

p.s. Can you pull the 8GB from the old computer and use in the new one? (That'll depend on the vintage and models.) Or get a trade-in credit?

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#4 Belle

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Posted 30 August 2011 - 11:46 PM

Wow, very useful information Barbara, thanks and thanks for asking the question Victoria.

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#5 MariJ

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 05:51 AM

Ditto to what Belle said - very informative reading your answer, Barbara!

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#6 BetC

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 08:17 AM

Barbara, thanks for that good info. I've never known whether it was worth going for the top of the line. Now I have a much better idea of what to look for.

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#7 lorac

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 09:31 AM

Thanks for the useful info, Barbara. I'll probably be looking into a new computer soon. Mine is three years old and I've noticed strange things happening lately. So once my move is over, it'll be time to start hunting for new equipment.

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#8 Victoria TX

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 09:16 PM

Thanks so much for the informative response, Barbara. Re: bringing the RAM forward, my old computer is a desktop, however, I am considering a laptop since I spend a lot of time on the computer even absent the digital scrapbooking activity. It would be nice to be able to use the computer in the living room as well as my office. I'm rather clueless when it comes to hardware, but assume that the RAM wouldn't be compatible? Also, given that the motherboard on my current computer failed in less than two years, I'm considering a different brand. I hope to use my 20 inch monitor, keyboard & mouse when in the office and definitely for detail work like extractions.

Since I'm limited to Office Depot inventory & my very limited budget means I don't really have the luxury of going beyond my gift card, I may have to live with the 6 GB. I'll see what's on sale when the card actually lands in my eager paws. You've definitely given me food for thought. Thanks again!!!

Victoria




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