ThinkPenguin Penguin Pro 5 question

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Christianity
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Iscritto: 10/09/2012

I'm interested in buying a new desktop soon, and I'm leaning towards this guy. Basically, I'm so out of the loop with hardware that I'm just going to ask explicitly which upgrades make the most sense to get, I know the CEO is a regular here and is extremely reliable. I think it would be worth it to spend more money if it got me a couple more years out of it, but I'm not sure how much of a difference extra RAM could provide, or if getting a graphics card would *ever* make a difference. The only things out of the ordinary (browsing the web, reading pdfs/djvus) that I'll be doing regularly will be a lot of typing things up in LaTeX, and a very high chance that I'll end up using mathematics software like sage or octave and doing some programming sometime in the future. No gaming or graphic design. I'll be running XFCE as my desktop environment on Trisquel or maybe Parabola.

To be clear, I'm asking about the choice of processor (G3220, i3-4130, i5-4430. or i7-4770K), memory (4, 8, 16, or 32GB), and graphics card (GeForce 8400GS or none at all). I'm already pretty sure I want an SSD.

Thanks for putting up with the stupid question.

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

For the usages you describe, you really do not need much. Even 1 GB of RAM would be enough! Just go for the cheapest option. You can always buy more RAM or a graphics card later.

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

hmm, is that because he is running XFCE that your recommending 1GB? I'd probably still suggest more in cases he switches, but...XFCE does/did use less ram than GNOME/KDE/Unity/etc. We actually stopped offering 1/2GB configurations as a lot of people were requesting configurations that didn't work.

Magic Banana

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Iscritto: 07/24/2010

is that because he is running XFCE that your recommending 1GB?

That and the fact that he wrote "no gaming or graphic design" and "a lot of typing things up in LaTeX" (which probably means little LibreOffice). In the end, most of the RAM will be dedicated to web browsing. 1 GB may be too little (if he likes to have tens of tabs opened) but 2 GB already looks like a lot in his situation. And, as I wrote, he could always buy more RAM later if his requirements increase (the price will decrease in the same time).

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

True. Maybe 4GB would be OK. I think it really depends on ones comfort level with upgrading ram. If you end up hiring someone to do it (which is usually what happens with most people) the costs go up. Easier to just get enough ram in the beginning. Even a lot of people on the forums don't give me the impression they'd be comfortable doing it themselves.

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

I'm sure you asked here for independent recommendations... so please anybody else who wants to comment please do.

My experience/advice:

1. You probably don't really need the graphics card, Intel's graphics are already decent for the majority of use cases including yours I believe.

2. SSD is significantly faster and will have the most dramatic impact, with boot times cut by as much as half, but are not quite as reliable as some of the better traditional hard drives that use a spinning platter. This is even taking into account that we use the better rated SSD drives and not the cheap stuff. Some people get two drives to solve this problem. One SSD for OS and applications and another for data. Note: I don't think we actually have a 2nd drive option for the Penguin Pro 5, but if you send us a request somebody will add the option for a 2nd drive. Of course frequent backups are always advisable to avoid data loss regardless of the type of drive.

3. You probably need about 2 1/2 gigabytes right now give or take for typical use cases (web browsing, email, etc), for base OS/desktop environment/basic software, but if you plan to have the system for 4-5 years you'll probably want to play it safe and get 8GB+.

Christianity
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Iscritto: 10/09/2012

Thank you!! Would you say the choice of processor would make a difference if I'm hoping for it to last 4-5 years?

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

Well, right now even the minimum spec with a G3220, 4GB of ram, and a 320GB drive performance is acceptable for most use cases. The main thing that you'd be able to see a big difference in performance with right at this very moment is the hard disk. An SSD is going to have the most dramatic speed impact from day 1. The CPU might be underwealming going forward though, a few years from now. Intel Atom systems from a number of years ago were perfectly fine performance wise with GNOME 2 for most users. However those systems today leave a lot to be desired. However keep in mind that these were $250 systems at the time and the equivalent would probably be Penguin Nano today for $349 (maybe a little better than at the time). That said I'd probably suggest an i3 or i5 and play it safe. A lot though really depends on how much you want to spend and how long you want it to last and at what level you want it to continue to perform at.

I'd probably go with this configuration (I'd probably classify myself as being in the same boat as you for what I need):

Processor: Intel Dual-Core i3-4130 (3M Cache, 3.40 GHz)
Memory: 8GB DDR3
Hard Drive: 500GB SSD Hybrid

But, as others have pointed out even this is going to be fine (I'd anticipate more performance degradation though over time):

Processor: Intel Dual-Core Pentium G3220 (3M Cache, 3.00 GHz)
Memory: 4GB DDR3
Hard Drive: 320GB

Right now my primary work computer is a system with an i5-3210 3rd gen cpu, 8GB ram, and a traditional spinning disk. It seems just fine to me for basic use cases. The i5-3210 is at the lower end of the high end spectrum as far as CPUs are concerned.

I also use a system with a 4th generation 3205U for entertainment purposes. That CPU is at the low end of the spectrum and does have difficulty under pressure with high quality video content- but personally it doesn't bother me. My significant other though does notice that the system has performance difficulties with high end video.

On the other hand a basic Penguin Pocket Wee does perfectly with a mid-range CPU in it even with the higher end video content. The low end CPU in the Penguin Pro 5 is also in the high to mid-range section as far as the CPU is concerned.

Ultimately I don't think you can go too terribly wrong for basic use with the Penguin Pro 5 either way you go. If there were two things I'd upgrade it would be the hard disk for an immediate speed boost, and a ram upgrade to ward off tomorrows application bloat. Followed lastly by a CPU upgrade if I added a third upgrade, in that order.

Christianity
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Iscritto: 10/09/2012

I appreciate the advice, thank you!

onpon4
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Iscritto: 05/30/2012

All upgrading the processor is going to do is make it run faster, and that's not going to significantly affect longevity in terms of being able to run new software. In fact, from my understanding, processor speeds have pretty much stagnated in the past decade or so; speeds still go up, but it's a lot more marginal than it used to be and there's now more of an emphasis on making software more efficient, or in some cases doing things that use a lot of RAM to reduce CPU workload a bit.

By the way, Chris, don't you think the site should say how many cores all the processors have? It seems it's not listed how many cores are on the i3, i5, and i7 processors lately; you have to look them up yourself to find out. Number of cores is usually more relevant to understanding how fast it is than clock rate.

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

Yea- probably. Not sure when that info started getting left out. Just made a note to re-add that info.

lembas
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Iscritto: 05/13/2010

If we look at the hardware requirements of your each activity for cpu and memory.

*browsing the web: depends, basically you can browse the static web with very low specs. however, if you regularly run massive scripts and video, the demand goes way up. ditto for very large images (cpu+mem)

*reading pdfs/djvus: this will not require too much horse power, unless somebody embeds massive graphics into those files (cpu+mem)

*typing latex: depends how you do it of course (what program you use) but can be done on very minimal hardware

*maths software: probably runs on light hardware, however could get pretty heavy (cpu+mem)

*programming: same deal, depends on what you do, from very light to very heavy (cpu+mem)

This reply is pretty vague but life often is. Basically having a faster cpu will just make things faster. However having more memory will make things possible. Once you run out, it's game over. (sure there is swapping but that's so many orders of magnitude slower you can forget it) On the other hand even the smallest amount of 4GB seems a lot to a luddite like yours truly. I don't think you need the extra GPU for any of this.

Makes me so happy to see somebody asking the right question. Usually people don't say what they use their computer for and consequently misallocate their funds.

davidnotcoulthard (non verificato)
davidnotcoulthard

A tad off-topic but since this thread hasn't gone too dead, old, cold yet and my question isn't too far off-topic.....

Any use cases where for the same HDD and, say with 8GB of RAM, and no descrete video cards, the i7 Broadwell-C significantly outperforms the i5 Broadwell-C (if so, in what way)?

(and P.S. Which is better and by how much, Intel Iris 6200 Graphics or the Nvidia 8400GS on Nouveau? I think it's the former but I could very well be wrong!)

Chris

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Iscritto: 04/23/2011

If I understood you right yes- the i7 is going to be the better option in any scenario where there is a CPU intensive process. For example if your encoding video, building software, etc.

The Iris Pro graphics are a lot better than the NVIDIA 8400GS.

Unfortunately Intel has only recently made it possible to get Iris Pro in a socketed form for desktops with Broadwell and has never released any for laptops within the 4th or 5th generation.

We're still working on a 5th generation system that'll work with the Iris Pro desktop CPUs.

Christianity
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Iscritto: 10/09/2012

Thanks to everyone who replied, I really appreciate it!

antiesnob
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Iscritto: 08/22/2013

I agree wid Chris almost completely except that SSDs are too much faster than an HDD. HDDs or hybrids r betta opts.

moxalt
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Iscritto: 06/19/2015

> SSDs are too much faster than an HDD

What?

moxalt
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Iscritto: 06/19/2015

For what you're doing, I'd get an i5 or i7 (because why not?), stick with 4 (or
at the most 8) gigs RAM, and wouldn't bother with a dedicated graphics card.