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[Computer Question] 2MB or 4MB L2 memory cache... how much does it matter?
Tags:  gaming, photoshop, video Tags
Drexlerfan22 is offline Old 11-28-2006, 06:32 PM   #1
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So I was going to get a rather high-end laptop for around $1300. Then I decided "hey, if I'm paying that much anyway, why not get some stuff I don't actually need, but would be fun to have anyway?"

So now the price on it, with all the other **** I want, is $1700. 2GB RAM, 512MB dedicated GeForce, dual 80GB hard drives, among other things.

So here's my question: currently, I'm planning on a Core Duo 2 T5500 processor (1.66 Ghz). That's included in the price. For $150 more, I could get the Core Duo 2 T7200 (2.00 Ghz), which isn't just faster, but it has a 4MB L2 cache... double what the T5500 has.

So how much of a difference would that make, in practical terms? Yeah, I'll do some gaming... also some video editing and system intensive programs like HP Service Desk, Photoshop, etc. I do know 2MB is already very large for a L2 cache, but is it worth it to just pony up for more?


Also... how beneficial would it be to set up a RAID 0, instead of just leaving the hard drives separate and perhaps using one as a program drive and the other as a scratch disk/media drive?

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Last edited by Drexlerfan22; 11-28-2006 at 06:38 PM.
 
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Dr of Dunk is offline Old 11-28-2006, 06:45 PM   #2
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I'd be more worried about the fact it seems like shared memory between video and system and you'll be gaming on it... but thaz just me...

The performance boost is probably about 1-7% between a 2mb CPU and the same clock cpu with 4mb L2 cache. It depends on the application. Of course you're also getting a bit of a faster CPU on top of that, so... If that's worth another $150 to you, go for it.

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Surfguy is offline Old 11-28-2006, 06:57 PM   #3
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"Uhhh...this is Intel Chip Support. Uhhh...4 MB L2 holds twice as much as 2 MB L2. Uhhh...sir...you can expect a 4% to 7% improvement in performance (depending on the app) with a margin of error of +/- 2%."

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Rockets2K is offline Old 11-28-2006, 07:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr of Dunk
I'd be more worried about the fact it seems like shared memory between video and system and you'll be gaming on it... but thaz just me...

The performance boost is probably about 1-7% between a 2mb CPU and the same clock cpu with 4mb L2 cache. It depends on the application. Of course you're also getting a bit of a faster CPU on top of that, so... If that's worth another $150 to you, go for it.

but then again

2G of RAM?

I think he can spare a few Mb for shared video with that much RAM at his disposal.

L2 cache is the primary storage space for data waiting to be executed, so the more the better.

I know you can really tell a difference between entry-level cache 128/256K and normal of 512k/1M on the older systems...havent had the opportunity to mess with 2/4M caches yet so I couldnt really tell you real world improvements on those, but like I said before...more is always better..


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Drexlerfan22 is offline Old 11-28-2006, 08:13 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr of Dunk
I'd be more worried about the fact it seems like shared memory between video and system and you'll be gaming on it... but thaz just me...
What exactly do you mean? It has a 512 MB dedicated graphics card... I must be misunderstanding you...

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bejezuz is offline Old 11-28-2006, 08:22 PM   #6
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Rule of thumb: when deciding what to spend on a computer, the CPU upgrades almost always gives you the least bang for your buck. This is especially true when upgrading within the same family.

For instance, there can be a good argument for getting a Core 2 Duo instead of a Celeron. But once you get the Core 2, 10-20 percent increases in MHz do not translate into 10-20 percent increases in performance. The same is true for increases in cache. 2MB of L2 cache is a lot for most processors, so I'm not sure if 4MB is that much better.
 
pradaxpimp is offline Old 11-28-2006, 08:26 PM   #7
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Dude, get a dell!


j/k
















get yourself a ps3.

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Drexlerfan22 is offline Old 11-28-2006, 08:41 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bejezuz
Rule of thumb: when deciding what to spend on a computer, the CPU upgrades almost always gives you the least bang for your buck. This is especially true when upgrading within the same family.

For instance, there can be a good argument for getting a Core 2 Duo instead of a Celeron. But once you get the Core 2, 10-20 percent increases in MHz do not translate into 10-20 percent increases in performance. The same is true for increases in cache. 2MB of L2 cache is a lot for most processors, so I'm not sure if 4MB is that much better.
Yeah, it definitely wasn't the extra Mhz that was giving me pause... I know that RAM and a good video card matter a whole lot more than nitpicking about processor speed. I just don't know anyone who has a computer with an L2 cache that big, and I wanted to see if anyone here did to confirm whether it mattered much or not. My guess was not, and I think this thread confirms that, for the most part.

Meanwhile... can anyone tell me how much a RAID 0 would improve performance? I'm leaning away from it, but if the speed boost is huge I'd consider it...

Quote:
Originally Posted by pradaxpimp
get yourself a ps3.
Yeah, I'm thinking I will... probably June-ish, when the craze has died off.

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bejezuz is offline Old 11-28-2006, 08:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drexlerfan22
Meanwhile... can anyone tell me how much a RAID 0 would improve performance? I'm leaning away from it, but if the speed boost is huge I'd consider it...
Friends don't let friends run RAID 0 unless they REALLY need it. You lose one drive, all your data is gone. Plus, in a laptop, this would mean more heat, more power, and less life on hard drives that are kind of fragile to begin with.
 
lpbman is offline Old 11-28-2006, 08:49 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drexlerfan22
Yeah, it definitely wasn't the extra Mhz that was giving me pause... I know that RAM and a good video card matter a whole lot more than nitpicking about processor speed. I just don't know anyone who has a computer with an L2 cache that big, and I wanted to see if anyone here did to confirm whether it mattered much or not. My guess was not, and I think this thread confirms that, for the most part.

Meanwhile... can anyone tell me how much a RAID 0 would improve performance? I'm leaning away from it, but if the speed boost is huge I'd consider it...


Yeah, I'm thinking I will... probably June-ish, when the craze has died off.
With RAID 0 you'll get a 8-12% increase in both access time and transfer speed, you won't notice it without a stop watch. I had a RAID 0 setup for a while but got rid of it in favor of more storage space. Also, if one drive goes bust, you loose all data. Not worth it imo.
 
Drexlerfan22 is offline Old 11-28-2006, 09:24 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lpbman
With RAID 0 you'll get a 8-12% increase in both access time and transfer speed, you won't notice it without a stop watch. I had a RAID 0 setup for a while but got rid of it in favor of more storage space. Also, if one drive goes bust, you loose all data. Not worth it imo.
That was my inclination, thanks a lot (you too, bejezuz).

I'm a freaking IT major, so I should know these things... it's just that I'm a firm believer in the idea that you have to have actually done it (or in this case, owned it) to really know it. I've never had a computer with two hard drives up to this point, so I just thought I'd check. The potential for data less did seem rather high to me, so I figured the speed boost must be obscene for anyone to ever do it. Guess not.

YET ANOTHER QUESTION: Should I scrap the whole dual 80GB 5400rpm hard drives idea completely, and go instead with a single 100GB 7200rpm hard drive? Once again, I'm leaning towards the two 80s for the superior storage space, ability to back important stuff easily, and possibly being able to use one drive as a scratch drive more than anything else (and being able to read from one disk and write to the other when video editing). But I wonder if the two HDs would run too hot, even if it wasn't a RAID? Safer to go with the single larger, faster HD, perhaps...?

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lpbman is offline Old 11-28-2006, 09:38 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drexlerfan22
That was my inclination, thanks a lot (you too, bejezuz).

I'm a freaking IT major, so I should know these things... it's just that I'm a firm believer in the idea that you have to have actually done it (or in this case, owned it) to really know it. I've never had a computer with two hard drives up to this point, so I just thought I'd check. The potential for data less did seem rather high to me, so I figured the speed boost must be obscene for anyone to ever do it. Guess not.

YET ANOTHER QUESTION: Should I scrap the whole dual 80GB 5400rpm hard drives idea completely, and go instead with a single 100GB 7200rpm hard drive? Once again, I'm leaning towards the two 80s for the superior storage space, ability to back important stuff easily, and possibly being able to use one drive as a scratch drive more than anything else (and being able to read from one disk and write to the other when video editing). But I wonder if the two HDs would run too hot, even if it wasn't a RAID? Safer to go with the single larger, faster HD, perhaps...?
That's what I would do. If you have the space, you can always add another drive later. Capacity/speed/cost ratios will improve over time. In general, the faster the drive spins, the higher the power consumption... so that is something to consider. Two slow drives will draw more power than a single 7200rpm drive, however.
 
Drexlerfan22 is offline Old 11-28-2006, 09:59 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lpbman
That's what I would do. If you have the space, you can always add another drive later. Capacity/speed/cost ratios will improve over time. In general, the faster the drive spins, the higher the power consumption... so that is something to consider. Two slow drives will draw more power than a single 7200rpm drive, however.
Thank you, once again. However, does your answer change if you consider the following two factors...

First, I don't much care how much power they draw, because it's basically gonna stay plugged in the entire time. It's a desktop replacement. I'm only getting a laptop instead of a desktop because I need to be able to haul it between home and my office regularly, as well as across the country (laptops make life much easier if you have to fly frequently). It'll never be anywhere without an easily accessible outlet.

Secondly, I doubt I'll ever care enough to actually install a second drive after the fact. I just want to try to get it right the first time, since this is such a big investment.

The things I care about HD-wise are: speed, durability, heat, and capacity, in that order. Power consumption I simply don't care about. Non-issue.

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lpbman is offline Old 11-28-2006, 10:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drexlerfan22
Thank you, once again. However, does your answer change if you consider the following two factors...
No... get the largest, fastest drive you can and call it a day. The single 100GB 7200 rpm drive gives you the best compromise per your requirements imo. Speed wise, two 5400 rpm in RAID 0 are all but equal in performance w/100GB 7200 but you only get 80GB in RAID 0, increased chance of failure + more heat.
 
Rockets2K is offline Old 11-29-2006, 12:53 AM   #15
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I definitely notice a difference between 5400 and 7200rpm drives.

you want faster access....go with one large 7200rpm drive.

and yes...I dont imagine that the L2 cache increase will help you lots unless you plan on doing intensive computer modeling.

2Mb is plenty for most instances.

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Dr of Dunk is offline Old 11-29-2006, 01:33 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drexlerfan22
What exactly do you mean? It has a 512 MB dedicated graphics card... I must be misunderstanding you...
Crap. Where did I get the idea that it was shared? lol. I could've sworn I read that... man. I need sleep. My mistake.

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Dr of Dunk is offline Old 11-29-2006, 01:41 AM   #17
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If you're doing video editing, get the 7200 rpm drive. Hell even if you're not, get the 7200 RPM drive. lol. RAID 0 doth suck. The 4MB of L2 cache + faster processor can mean a 10-15% improvement when doing things like playing cpu-intensive games or encoding video. But for day-to-day use, you probably won't notice much of a difference.

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Invisible Fan is offline Old 11-29-2006, 03:42 AM   #18
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The 7200 rpm hdd will be more noticable than the extra cache. Your virtual ram is dependant upon both, but the cache is more like a temporary librarian and the hdd is like the books. Quicker virtual ram means less pauses when going through different apps.

The added benefit is quicker searches and indexing as well.
 
Drexlerfan22 is offline Old 11-29-2006, 08:29 AM   #19
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Alright, single 7200rpm HD it is... and I'll probably stick with the 1.66 processor, but maybe I'll decide to splurge when I actually order it on Monday... :D

Thanks for all the opinions.

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