Minimum CPU for modern 'net usage?

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
ist.martin
Posts: 220
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:59 am
Location: Vancouver, B.C.

Minimum CPU for modern 'net usage?

Post by ist.martin » Fri Nov 30, 2007 1:26 pm

When folks post here looking for a low-power 'light duty' system, I see a lot of VIA EPIA recommendations.

I wonder if those are really viable in todays internet?

I have a VIA EPIA ME10000 in a 0 dB system that I have been using daily for 3 1/2 years. It runs Windows '98 and I.E. 6.0 and has served me very well.

But ... it has become increasingly annoying to surf the net with it. There are so many animations in web pages these days, that my system is noticeably slower loading weppages than a 3 year old budget celeron equipped laptop that I sometimes use.

YouTube videos are so choppy and fuzzy that I am unable to make out any specific right or left hand positions when watching guitar players. (Musician friends of mine claim to be able to learn specifics off these videos. I see something more resembling a slide show!)

When I stream music out to my amplifier (over USB, using a high-end audio interface), whether it comes from the 'net, or FLAC files on a harddrive, I often get intermittent choppy playback while simultaneously loading web pages. Clearly, my system is underpowered these days, even for just surfing the net. And I am not even considering any sort of game playing.

My question is, in the interest of energy conservation and low noise, what is the minimum CPU power that I need to have a snappy, enjoyable 2007 'net surfing/music playing experience? (Assume I run XP.)

Thanks a lot for your ideas.

jaganath
Posts: 5085
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2005 6:55 am
Location: UK

Post by jaganath » Fri Nov 30, 2007 2:45 pm

My question is, in the interest of energy conservation and low noise, what is the minimum CPU power that I need to have a snappy, enjoyable 2007 'net surfing/music playing experience? (Assume I run XP.)
AMD Sempron LE-1100 SKT AM2 1.9 GHz 45w / Celeron 420 1.6Ghz S775.

although if you are upgrading it's silly not to go dual-core (E2140/BE-2350).

Blue_Sky
Posts: 217
Joined: Tue Jun 05, 2007 8:44 am
Location: Kingston, ON, Canada

Post by Blue_Sky » Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:42 pm

A Celeron 420 should be adequate for your needs. I have a bias towards Intel processors, as my experiences with AMD processors have been disappointing (just FYI...). Unless you want to go for the minimum possible total power usage, an E21x0 is a lot more bang for your buck (and watt). A couple years down the road, when it gets slow again, you can just overclock it.

Cerb
Posts: 391
Joined: Tue Apr 13, 2004 6:36 pm
Location: GA (US)

Post by Cerb » Fri Nov 30, 2007 5:43 pm

Anything of the level of an Athlon XP is good enough. If buying new, get a Dual Core E2140 or better or Athlon 64 X2 3800+ or higher. For the money, without performance as a major concern, a little AM2 IGP system is the way to go.

The best VIA options just barely compete with P3s, and I'd bet their chipsets cause some issues beyond even that.

NyteOwl
Posts: 536
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2006 7:09 pm
Location: Nova Scotia, Canada

Post by NyteOwl » Sat Dec 01, 2007 5:14 pm

I have a 550MHz AMD K6-III+ with 512M ram and it plays videos just fine. Try upgrading from Win98 as XP provides a surprising improvement.
Obsolesence is just a lack of imagination!

~El~Jefe~
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 2887
Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2005 4:21 pm
Location: New York City zzzz
Contact:

Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:08 pm

question is: completely passive ? or basically silent to the discerning ear?

how cheap are you?

Wibla
Friend of SPCR
Posts: 779
Joined: Sun Jun 03, 2007 12:03 am
Location: Norway

Post by Wibla » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:26 pm

Seriously, those ads will bog down my workstation (specs in sig), so I filter all ads in the firewall.. less bandwith used and less BS on the pages + lower cpu load and laggyness, a win-win situation.

Use a browser that can filter out ads, or set up a proxy to do it, its not hard at all, and not very cpu-intensive either :)

dhanson865
Posts: 2198
Joined: Thu Feb 10, 2005 11:20 am
Location: TN, USA

Post by dhanson865 » Sat Dec 01, 2007 6:38 pm

I'd also recommend Firefox with Flashblock extension followed by a hosts file from http://www.mvps.org/winhelp2002/hosts.htm followed by Spybot Search & Destroy.

Between flashblock, the hosts file, and spybot's immunize (which overlaps in functionality with the modified hosts file) you should see less ads and be less likely to get spyware in the first place (as some spyware comes from banner ads on otherwise reputable sites).

Also even if you don't share your internet connection get a router for $20 or so and make sure there is at least one piece of hardware between your internet connection and your PC. In other words never ever connect a windows PC straight to a DSL or Cable modem without a router in between.

Given a protected environment and a clean WinXP install you might be able to get your existing system up to speed for the short term.

Given all that I'd say you need a minimum of 512 MB ram on a system that is SDRAM or DDR and no less than 1GB ram on DDR2 (just because DDR2 is so much cheaper nowdays). If you look hard enough you can find 1GB DDR2 less than $15 and 2GB for under $40 after rebates.

If you buy a new system get something based off a DDR2 chipset.

Cheapest AM2 proc I saw in a quick search was:

$35 Sempron LE-1100 (1.9 GHz) 45W TDP

Cheapest Dual core I saw was:

$65 Athlon 64 X2 4000 (2.1 GHz) 65W TDP

both CPUs include a stock HS/Fan that with a little speedfan or bios control could be considered quiet.

You'd be hard pressed to find a web page that would be slow on even the Sempron 1.9 GHz so long as the ram and HD weren't bottlenecks.

cheapest motherboard I saw was:

$52 MSI K9AGM2-L 690V Socket AM2 (analog video, lan, etc included)

So if you have a case and HD you like already you could possibly upgrade for under $100. If you wanted DVI out or more than the minimum ram you could still get a decent upgrade under $150.

Now I didn't search long and prices based on rebates have their own drawbacks but if you wait for clearance pricing or search hard enough you might be able to beat the deals I mentioned here.

Oh and if you prefer Intel I can't begin to tell you what the lowest price item is but be sure that whatever you get that the TDP is below 65W. Anything Intel has put out within the last year with a low TDP is competitive on performance. You'll have to figure out on your own if they have anything that competes on price...
.
Please put a country in your profile if you haven't already.
This site is international but I'll assume you are in the US if you don't tell me otherwise.
RAID levels thread http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=388987

scdr
Posts: 336
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 4:49 pm
Location: Upper left hand corner, USA

Re: Minimum CPU for modern 'net usage?

Post by scdr » Sat Dec 01, 2007 9:11 pm

ist.martin wrote:
I have a VIA EPIA ME10000 in a 0 dB system that I have been using daily for 3 1/2 years. It runs Windows '98 and I.E. 6.0 and has served me very well.

My question is, in the interest of energy conservation and low noise, what is the minimum CPU power that I need to have a snappy, enjoyable 2007 'net surfing/music playing experience? (Assume I run XP.)

Thanks a lot for your ideas.
Have you checked to see what is/are the bottle necks on this system?
(Is it maxing out the CPU or RAM or ...)
You don't say how much RAM it has - does it have enough so that it isn't swaping?
Have you tried doing a clean OS reinstall, and just putting in the programs you need? (Have had systems get slow because of bit rot, or because of bloated antivirus/etc.)

vanhelmont
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Aug 03, 2006 7:06 pm

Depends on whats running

Post by vanhelmont » Sat Dec 01, 2007 10:01 pm

Like the previous post, it depends on memory and software. I have a 1 G pentium 3 thinkpad with 512M of ram. Sometimes it will do youtube, etc. acceptably, and if it gets slow I can restart it. I run spybot s&d regularly and keep the software on it to a minimum. I had open office on it, but it liked to eat up some memory to start itself even when I wasn't using it, so I uninstalled it, and do that kind of stuff on my desktop. My wife has a 1.2G Pentium 4 that is noticeably worse, she had Yahoo messenger running and it seems to drag all sorts of nonsense (toolbars and I don't know what all) along with it. It won't cut it for streaming video.
An idle processor is the devil's workshop.

Contribute to medical research by putting your idle processor to work on [url=http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=11630]folding@home![/url]

ist.martin
Posts: 220
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:59 am
Location: Vancouver, B.C.

Post by ist.martin » Sat Dec 01, 2007 11:36 pm

~El~Jefe~ wrote:question is: completely passive ? or basically silent to the discerning ear?

how cheap are you?
Silent to the discerning ear is fine. I can put it under my desktop - and I do not want to know it is on. I also don't care what size box it is in. If I knew the system was definitely going to be reliable for 3 years, I am happy to pay $600-$700 for something that satisifes all my needs - so not TOO cheap.

However, I definitely have a green side, and would like to know that the thing is drawing minimal power when all I'm doing is reading web pages! But ... when I need it, I'd like enough juice for everything to run with a bit of snap.

To answer some other questions: right now, I have a 2 GB flash IDE drive, holding 98 SE and basic apps. It is a very lean install with no unnecessary apps. No spyware to my knowldedge, and no extra processes. 512 MB of RAM - I have read in a few places that giving 98 more than that just causes trouble as a paging file gets allocated too large??

No way I can XP on this drive. I'd need an 8 GB flash drive or something.

scdr
Posts: 336
Joined: Thu Oct 21, 2004 4:49 pm
Location: Upper left hand corner, USA

Post by scdr » Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:57 pm

I would be inclined to wonder if it is caching or swapping to the flash
drive? Slow writes to flash might account for glitches?
Have you tried pointing the browser cache at a real disk (e.g. connect a
hard drive, or mount a volume over network)?
If it is caching or swapping, more memory and possibly
putting browser cache on a RAM drive might extend the lifetime?

You can run Win 98 with more than 512MB, but probably not more than 1GB.
http://www.columbia.edu/~em36/wpdos/com ... ml#install

(Just a thought - since the greenest solution is to extend the lifetime of existing hardware, or get second hand, rather than to get new.)

Of course using something like Puppy linux might breath more life into the hardware, with no worry about adding too much RAM - but not sure that you could get all the codecs you need.

colin2
Posts: 145
Joined: Wed Jul 11, 2007 2:40 pm
Location: Seattle

Post by colin2 » Mon Dec 03, 2007 2:49 pm

I have a VIA EPIA EN12000E system running XP that has been fine with internet video. One stick DDR2 533 RAM 1GB. And music servers generally don't need a lot of CPU. I suspect you have some other bottleneck.

I built the VIA box inspired by the Devon Cooke review
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article609-page1.html
and so far it has lived up to the promise, handling surfing, pdfs, and MS Office apps all at the same time.

jackylman
Posts: 784
Joined: Sun May 22, 2005 8:13 am
Location: Pennsylvania, USA

Post by jackylman » Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:15 am

dhanson865 wrote:In other words never ever connect a windows PC straight to a DSL or Cable modem without a router in between.
And remember to change the admin password. :wink:

QuietOC
Posts: 1407
Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:08 pm
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Re: Minimum CPU for modern 'net usage?

Post by QuietOC » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:14 pm

ist.martin wrote:My question is, in the interest of energy conservation and low noise, what is the minimum CPU power that I need to have a snappy, enjoyable 2007 'net surfing/music playing experience? (Assume I run XP.)
I am surprised at how well my full solid-state NEC Mobile Pro 900C handles Internet tasks (400MHz XScale, 64MB SDRAM, Windows CE.NET).

I've had a Via mini-ITX, and my conclusion is VIA processors/platforms just don't perform--their performance/Watt is below AMD/Intel.

I dare say something like the ASUS Eee PC with a 630MHz Celeron M and 512MB of DDR2 is more than enough--though it has a fan.

If you want low power, cheap desktop I'd look for a 1.4 GHz S754 Sempron 2500+ with a S754 motherboard with integrated video and undervolting. DDR prices aren't great, though, which should rule out anything older. A 1.6 GHz AM2 Sempron 3000+ (<35W) should be okay. The 1.9 GHz Sempron LE-1100 won't be as cool, 65nm or not. Certainly dual-core makes no sense from a power/performance perspective.

The Intel LGA-775 platform isn't ideal for a low power build--probably best for ultimate performance, however.

QuietOC
Posts: 1407
Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:08 pm
Location: Michigan
Contact:

Re: Minimum CPU for modern 'net usage?

Post by QuietOC » Tue Dec 04, 2007 12:54 pm

ist.martin wrote:When I stream music out to my amplifier (over USB, using a high-end audio interface), whether it comes from the 'net, or FLAC files on a harddrive, I often get intermittent choppy playback while simultaneously loading web pages.
I wonder if this is a VIA hardware/drivers issue. USB might not be the best way to attach an audio output to a PC--especially one with questionable chipset/drivers.

ist.martin
Posts: 220
Joined: Fri Jul 18, 2003 11:59 am
Location: Vancouver, B.C.

Re: Minimum CPU for modern 'net usage?

Post by ist.martin » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:46 pm

QuietOC wrote:
ist.martin wrote:When I stream music out to my amplifier (over USB, using a high-end audio interface), whether it comes from the 'net, or FLAC files on a harddrive, I often get intermittent choppy playback while simultaneously loading web pages.
I wonder if this is a VIA hardware/drivers issue. USB might not be the best way to attach an audio output to a PC--especially one with questionable chipset/drivers.
I know one thing - it is far superior to using the built in audio on the VIA ME10000 card. Even using SPDIF output from the card gave me awful, head-piercing scratchy highs. The audio out over USB is actually very good quality (FLAC source). What bothers me is when it cracks up as I load a page with a lot of animations or something.

Also, to other responders - yes, I am connected directly to a DLINK wireless router, that is connected to my cable box.

The 'slowness' I see is worse than 3 years ago - I blame it on the increasing complexity of web pages.

Matija
Posts: 780
Joined: Sat Mar 17, 2007 3:17 am
Location: Croatia

Post by Matija » Tue Dec 04, 2007 10:05 pm

Use Opera or Safari, stay away from IE and Firefox. Block all the ads.

Post Reply