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Thread: Computer Speed Question

  1. #1
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    Computer Speed Question

    I wasn't sure where to ask this, so I thought I'd try here. I have a computer question. I appeal to all the tech wizards in our audience.

    I have a 6 yr old Mac, and I need a new laptop (per my techie). My laptop is painfully slow with certain programs, especially Aperture, the photo-editing software I use. This time around, I'm going to get a PC for several reasons, price being the main one.

    When I look inside the gizzard, my current laptop says it's 2.4 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo and 4 GB 1067 MHz DDR3. Graphics is NVIDIA GeForce 9400M 256 MB.

    My question is this: when I look at new laptops around the $1K mark, they all have processors around 2-2.5 GHz, so what is it about a newer computer that is going to be so much faster if they have the same or slightly slower processor speed as the one I have? I used to know more about this topic, but I don't work anymore, so my brain has turned to sawdust. Can anyone enlighten me?

    Thank you
    AKA Young Grasshopper Woodworker
    AKA The Rookie

  2. #2
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    Maybe you need a new techie!

    My MacBook has reached 5 yrs old. Recently, it turned up dead. My technie found a failed cooling fan and plenty of dirt! He cleaned that up and voile! all is well. He did say that once a year he wants it for a thorough cleaning. $50 plus shipping. He is in Yuma, AZ. He also said that there is a market for older Macs fully reconditioned.

    What are you running to keep the machine optimized for speed? I run Cocktail once a week. You can also get sucked in with way too many programs running in the background that are speed killers.

    With a little effort you might get to keep your Mac and have it running like a race car. There will be others that will comment on speed, memory, video cars, etc. I never even began to understand all that. I just wanted it to work! Which is why I abandoned PC's. I was replacing them every 2-3 years and dealt with plenty of problems (TY MS) in between. It was a time sink when I had many other things that demanded my attention.

    Anyway, my tech guy (and gal) own iNerd in Yuma, AZ. Connect with them on Facebook. Talking with them might get you what you want sooner and for less money. Joey and Christina are tops in my book and you can tell them I said so. Young couple getting started in life and give far more than they charge for! A breath of fresh air in this world that just wants to grab your money providing trashy products, lousy service, and unwarranted rudeness.

    My dos centavos.
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  3. #3
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    I'm sorry, I stopped reading as soon as you said "Mac". . . .

    I'm kidding, I'm kidding! Don't send the kill-squad. Man, you Mac users are sooo touchy.

    Seriously Cynthia, a second opinion may be in order. If not, let me ask the obvious question . . . do you NEED a laptop? For computing, a laptop is a compromise form factor, a tablet is worse, your phone worst of all. If you are willing to deal with the limitation of a laptop due to a real need for portability, Macs are a bit pricey. If you are a 6 year Mac user though, are you sure you want to make the switch to an UX based (yes I know Macs now run an UX) or Microsoft system? I use several different operating systems at work and am fairly agnostic; they each run the applications required for their function. At home or on my laptops at work I primarily prefer Windows 7 (yes, I actually said that) since so much of business and the general connected world caters to those products; for better or worse. If you go the Microsoft route, I find going through the "business" vertical of a manufacturer gives me a better and more flexible product range. You also aren't saddled with Windows 8 if you buy a "computer" instead of "consumer electronics". Good luck on your hunt.

    P.s. My i7 desktop with all the goodies was less than half of what my primary laptop at work cost. I'm just sayin' . . . .
    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
    - Arthur C. Clarke

  4. #4
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    Not all Macs are laptops. How is it that Mac users are touchy for simply offering an alternative solution that does not include win-whatever. Changing operating systems is not for the faint of heart and to do it simply to save a few bucks up front hardly seems fiscally responsible. I know you are not picking on me, Glenn, but I am still smarting over predatory marketing this morning, so maybe I am a little touchy today. I was simply offering Cynthia an alternative path to a more efficient computer, laptop or not.

    Sure would like to see that i7 logo!
    ++++++

    Some say the land of milk and honey; others say the land of fruits and nuts. All together my sort of heaven.

    Power is not taken. It is given. Who have you given yours to? Hmmmm?

    Carol Reed

  5. #5
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    Cynthia,

    I would be hesitant about replacing your laptop as well. The first thing I would check is whether the memory is upgradable or not. If it's not, then move forward with a new one. If it is, I would seriously consider maxing out the memory and upgrading to a solid state drive.

    If you're not sure how to check, just respond with the model number of the Mac. It should be on the bottom in fine print, usually a letter followed by four numbers.

    The notion that the gigahertz spec on a processor identifies it's processing power is only a relative measure within its own processing family. Newer processors have optimized processing methods which will do the same amount of processing in fewer clock cycles than older processors. That's the Gigahertz spec - how many cycles per second. So, using the same processing methods, the GHz value is relevant. Comparing a Pentium 4 2.4 Ghz to a Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz is certainly not going to be equal in anything other than how many times the clock cycles per second. In addition to the processing methods, there are also more cores in the newer processors. Your core 2 duo has two cores, and a new one in your price range will likely have 2 or 4.

    But, don't throw out that laptop just yet. Working with graphics relies quite a bit on memory so upgrading the memory will likely help significantly, assuming your image file sizes are of good size. And, upgrading to a solid state drive will make it feel like a new computer. And if your techie didn't at least mention these options in passing, I'd recommend looking for a new techie.

  6. #6
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    Okay, I got off my duff and checked the specs on the 2008 vintage Macbook Pro. 4GB is maxed out on RAM.

    Question about your computing needs. Do you perform your graphics work while mobile? If not, getting a graphics focused desktop computer and keeping the laptop for things like email, document writing, and forumming would likely be the way to get the most horsepower for your $$$ while still being able to be mobile. (not to steal Glenn's words Have you thought about building your own?

  7. #7
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    Many of the newer chips (most of the i5 and i7 series and some i3) in that price range have 4 cores (processors) instead of 2 cores like the core 2 duo has. That will help if you have application that can use the extra cores (Aperture should .. some.. but how much I don't actually know). They also tend to have somewhat faster bus bandwidth so data can get in and out of them a smidge faster (vastly simplified ). The performance gains from a newer platform would likely be measurable but likely not revolutionary, just evolutionary.

    A newer faster graphics card would also likely yield some measurable but again probably only incremental differences as well (you'll likely get more here than you will from the processor itself). The NVIDIA 9400M was a pretty nice gpu for its day so although newer ones may be several times faster in theory it likely won't yield 1:1 gains in real life applications.

    Looking at your setup, your cheapest upgrade and what I'd be seriously tempted to just do if there aren't other problems (my ~5 year old laptop has been rode hard, put away wet, dropped a few times, and is showing it around the seams so there can be other reasons for a replacement) would be to double the ram to 8G or even 16G depending on if I could find a deal. Photo processing applications LOVE memory (everything nowdays loves memory image processing is just exceptionally hungry). I'm seeing 8G upgrade kits that _might_ work for your machine for around $100-200 depending on what specific kind it takes (these aren't "apple official" upgrade kits, but third party kits - they work just as well). My desktop has 24G and it ain't no where near to much. If you're buying new I wouldn't buy anything with less than 8G and would seriously consider 16G as a starting point (you may be able to upgrade most products but check if they have open slots as you may otherwise be paying for memory you'll just throw away as soon as you upgrade).

    If/when you're looking at a replacement for the laptop for storage getting one with SSD (flash) instead of an old-fashioned hard drive has become fairly economical and is also a rather large performance boost (my "new" - now old - notebook has ssd storage and although everything else was competitive in nominal performance specs that plus some extra ram made it feel ~2x faster than the previous one)..

  8. #8
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    Matt are you sure its maxed out? (also looks around to see).

    Not endorsing this site (since I know nothing about them).. only for reference.. but they claim up to 8G on the 1066 DDR3 models: http://www.macmemory.com/collections...els-5-1-to-6-2

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Warfield View Post
    Okay, I got off my duff and checked the specs on the 2008 vintage Macbook Pro. 4GB is maxed out on RAM.

    Question about your computing needs. Do you perform your graphics work while mobile? If not, getting a graphics focused desktop computer and keeping the laptop for things like email, document writing, and forumming would likely be the way to get the most horsepower for your $$$ while still being able to be mobile. (not to steal Glenn's words Have you thought about building your own?

    hold on there, Matt.... we need to know the model to be sure. I just upgraded my old laptop to 8GB and it also had the same kind of RAM. My model "officially" would only do 4MB, but www.everymac.com confirmed that it could support 8GB.

    Cynthia, if you go to the apple menu and select "about this mac" and then select "more info..." it will then put up a window that has information like "macbook, 13", early 2009"
    and if you click on "system report" to be 100% sure it will pop up another window where we need the "Model identifier", which will be something like "macbook 6,1"
    We can then look that up on everymac.com and see what it really will support for memory.
    There's usually more than one way to do it...
    www.wordsnwood.com ........ facebook.com/wordsnwood

  10. #10
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    A manufacturer fibbing on their specs? Say it ain't so? http://support.apple.com/kb/sp5 is what I was going off of. Agreed, knowing the model number of the laptop is the necessary step.

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