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1648 posts

Uber Geek

# 191628 10-Feb-2016 22:12
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I mainly use my laptops for general computing.  Ie - email, surfing the web, watching Youtube etc. 




For general computing does it go faster or are hardware accommodating the extra needs demanded by software? 


I have a Thinkpad X61 for quite a while was bought used, then I got a recent T420 used again.  There is a 4yr difference but the two doesn't seem to be that fast for general stuff.  I used a stopwatch and timed it how quickly it booted up and opened up a webpage, how quickly it opened up the browser alone with a webpage and how long it took to shutdown.  They have both platter HDs, 4GB, and runs Win10.  Core 2 Duo 1.8Ghz versus a 2.5Ghz i5.  The T420 booted faster 1m to 2m but opening the browser and shutdown was literally identical. 




I know this is the mobile webpage so I am basing it on the two Thinkpads I have.  My PC is a Core 2 Quad 2.33Ghz, 4GB as well but has a SSD boot drive.  Interesting the T420 was quicker to boot and shutdown 1m 00s versus 1m 24s and 16s vs 24s.  But the PC with the SSD opened up the browser in 3s versus 12s.  Is this what is expected?  Perhaps I have had the SSD for a year and it needs a spring clean? 






Thanks in advance. 

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2984 posts

Uber Geek

  # 1490012 10-Feb-2016 22:34
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Try running various games or power intensive applications (think video editing, or a stress test) and see which performs better. The differences in technology will most likely not be visible with startup and shutdown tests, the bottleneck for those two operations is mostly to do with the software more than anything. 




If you really wanna compare, I'd do a completely fresh install on the machines, then try again with stress test applications to see which performs better. 

Bachelor of Computing Systems (2015)




Late 2013 MacBook Pro with Retina Display (4GB/2.4GHz i5/128GB SSD) - HP DV6 (8GB/2.8GHz i7/120GB SSD + 750GB HDD)
iPhone 6S + (64GB/Gold/Vodafone NZ) - Xperia Z C6603 (16GB/White/Spark NZ)

Sam, Auckland 

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  # 1490015 10-Feb-2016 22:38
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If much of the time is spent on the network deliberating about which advert to show you, then a faster PC won't make much difference.


In the past few years clock speed has stalled but number of cores has increased, so you won't see much difference on single tasks.


There is also now an emerging trend due to mobile where saving power ( as in watts ) is more important than speed. Hopefully this will see an improvement in the quality of software where it has otherwise appeared that developers have attempted to drain any advantage of computing power by being lazy with software.


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  # 1490020 10-Feb-2016 22:48
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A computer without a SSD will be slow. Put one in each of the thinkpads and see what a difference it makes.


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  # 1490026 10-Feb-2016 22:59
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There is bugger all difference in performance between C2D and (mobile, dual core) i5 - the newer chips just produce a bit less heat.

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  # 1490380 11-Feb-2016 13:57
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Tower PC's are now Faster , as expected . Laptops , sometimes a different storey .


users are in general alot less patient, expect instant everything & any small wait is too much for them . I see this, often .
Software installs more crap than in the past that runs in the background & runs on startup
Peripheral drivers are often software install only: they add even more crap that runs in the background, allways


Some models of laptop for what ever reason, just are much slower than expected, from new , even after a removal of Manufacturers software.
Despite having reasonable CPU & RAM spec. Lemons .

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Uber Geek

  # 1490384 11-Feb-2016 14:04
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I've got a Lenovo T400 , came out in 2008. Chucked in a SSD, maxed the memory, keep the OS updated and lean, and it runs like a dream. 


I don't notice any difference between that and my intel i7 desktop for normal usage. 


It is in perfect condition, build quality is tremendous ... unlike lenovos more recent offerings.   


On the negative side, it is a little more chunky that modern laptops. 







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  # 1490456 11-Feb-2016 14:56
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Last couple of generations have focused a lot on power efficiency and related thermal output etc.


I don't think standard user operations (web, email youtube) have been CPU bound by a consumer CPU for about 5 years at least, at the same time a current consumer CPU does the same amount of processing quicker in a smaller package, using less power and generating less heat.


As has been said, perceived speed can be largely disk access based. SSDs make a world of difference even to older PCs. An old IDE disk is hell, particularly if you are in a low memory situation and paging.


Now if you are actually doing something with your CPU - games, maths, modelling, video encoding, heavy processing etc then you will see massive performance gains over the last few generations. Most people don't do that.


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  # 1490656 11-Feb-2016 17:26
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Thanks for that.   




I got a SSD on the PC so yeah I am sure it makes sense which I use it with Photoshop.  I was just a bit surprised that a 4yr difference in the Thinkpads meant that little doing normal stuff.  Out in the consumer world people upgrade their computers every few years and they are still doing the same old day to day things.  




The X61 keys didn't work that well cos I have taken the keyboard out too often and it's 9yr old now.  In saying that one  could get a $60 X61 on Trademe and a VGA --> HDMI cable converter and end up o the same position.  

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  # 1490707 11-Feb-2016 18:56
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When designing machines there are several things ones needs to take into consideration.  The first is called compute - it has two aspects, depth and breadth.  Depth is another word for speed, how many CPU instructions per second can it do.  Breadth is just as important, its about how many tasks at the same time can be done - its related how many concurrent threads can be done at the same time.


The next component is cache with regards to how close to the CPU instruction is the data that instruction needs to work on. In a 64 bit system we can think of it as Level 1, 2, 3 and 4 cache where levels 3 and 4 are memory and disk storage (this is different from the old 32 bit model).


The final component is IOPS or basically the number of I/O operations that can be completed in a second - usually measured in terms of Level 4 cache (disk) to CPU time.  Basically, how many atomic disk operations can be completed in a second.  This will change depending on if the disk is mechanical or SSD and the bandwidth capability of the I/O controller system (chipset),




In effect there are 4 components that need to work in harmony, the CPU, Memory, I/O system and Storage. How these are put together depends on the needs of the user and if there is a need to hand-off compute to sub-systems (such as a graphics card). 




A test that I like to do on a system (apart from power on to desktop time) is how many concurrent tasks can I run at the same time before one of them starts to stutter or degrade in performance.  In other words, here we are measuring how all of the above components, speed, bandwidth, data availability and I/O work together.  So I think the real answer to the question is more stuff can be done when it is needed to be done (not including mobility in that answer).

Software Engineer


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