What will make my (future) computer faster? What is a good processor speed?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Baya87, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Baya87 macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2008
    I have a Fall 2004 ibook G4. I would like to buy a new macbook, and am crossing my fingers they will have a little upgrade in June. (Pleasse, tiny increase on processor speed??) :)

    ANYWAY, I am trying to figure out what to buy myself as well as counseling my friend who is a first time mac buyer on what to get.
    My computer now has a processor speed of 1.33 GHz and 1.25 G of memory. It was great at the time, but now I am having speed problems. I multitask with programs a lot, which is really hard on my computer. It lags sometimes and sometimes has a hard time playing videos from the internet, especially higher quality ones (never mind HD).

    I understand that memory will help me when I have many applications, but how much does the varying degrees of processing speed influence the speed?

    I am planning to buy the 2.4 GHz macbook with 4 G of memory. How long do you think this computer will stay decent speed in comparison to the latest technology before 5 GHz processors or something are created?.... How fast can a computer really get before it just becomes unnecessary?

    Also, I am recommending the white 13-inch macbook to my friend. She don't have too much money and uses a computer mostly for simple things (internet, email, etc). How is everyone feeling about the 2.0 GHz? Will this be quickly outdated? Should I recommend to her to upgrade to 4 G of memory too, at least for the future where things might be more memory intensive? (Is it possible to upgrade a macbook with 3rd party memory chips?)

    In all I guess my questions are, how great are these processor speeds and how long will they (and the computer in general) be able to keep up with current technology? Also, are there any other factors besides processor speed and memory that contribute to the speed of a computer?

    Any other comments on the above would be helpful as well.
  2. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Sep 15, 2004
    i(am in the)cloud
    I had the same problem- powerbook G4 1.5, I went with an iMac and I am waiting for Nahelem to go mobile, then I will buy.
  3. Tallest Skil macrumors P6

    Tallest Skil

    Aug 13, 2006
    1 Geostationary Tower Plaza
    Why? What's the point? Frequency is meaningless. Get more RAM.

    Again, there is no "fast". Frequency is MEANINGLESS. An 1.2GHz Atom is faster than a 4.8GHz Pentium 4.
  4. Baya87 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2008
    What do you mean there is no "fast"? From what I know, a more advanced processor makes the computer faster. If it is not the frequency that does it, then what is it? Also, if you have 2 processors equal in everything except one has a higher frequency, that one would be faster.... right?
  5. demarcopbl macrumors member

    Apr 28, 2009
    if your friend uses her computer for word processing and email, and doesnt have much money I suggest you recommend a dell laptop or something less expensive than a macbook. Since nothing you mentioned is really too processor/RAM intensive, it seems like the most logical choice.
  6. Designer Dale macrumors 68040

    Designer Dale

    Mar 25, 2009
    Folding space
    A high clock rate in the CPU doesn't mean a faster computer. It's only a machine and it's composed of many parts that effect performance. A 4Gig chip can't pull data off a 5400rpm HD faster than a 2.5Gig chip. Most consumer computers have chips that outrun the HD and memory bus. As for keeping up with future technology, I gave up on that long ago. New systems are out of the loop in the development lab when they hit the shelf.
  7. jtgotsjets macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2004
    Lawrence, KS
    Yes but the g4 and c2d you are comparing are not the same in every other respect. What we're trying to tell you is that looking only at processor frequency is totally useless these days.

    To be honest pretty much any mac on the market is going to be fast enough for many years, just like your iBook lasted you several years.
  8. neiltc13 macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2006
    Unless you use LOT of resource intensive applications simultaneously, getting 4GB instead of 2GB of memory will be completely worthless to you. I have 2GB RAM in my computer and I am a web designer who uses Photoshop, Dreamweaver, XCode, Safari, iTunes and Adium all at the same time. I don't have any issues with 2GB.

    Also, there is VERY LITTLE performance difference between the 2.0GHz and 2.4GHz MacBook, yet the 2.4GHz model is SIGNIFICANTLY more expensive.

    If I was in your position I'd buy myself the 2.0GHz MacBook with 2GB RAM. Coming from the computer you have now it will be massively faster.
  9. arnette macrumors 6502


    Nov 22, 2002
    Manhattan Beach
    In my experience, a laptop is good for about 2 years before you start noticing huge performance discrepancies with the latest and greatest.

    It depends on what you're doing and how often you upgrade your software. But for general computing (internet, email, word processing, the like) I'd say 2 years before you start yearning for a new system.

    Next will be 2 dozen people telling me it depends on what you're doing with your system and that it's not true for gaming or video editing or whatever.
  10. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030


    Jun 15, 2005
    Frequency isn't meaningless. Far from it. Sure comparing clock speeds of different architectures is pointless, but when it's all Core 2 Duo, clock speed increases are comparable and offer obvious benefits.

    The MacBook family is due for an update between June - August. Intel is offering a price drop at the end of May meaning Apple will probably push up clock speeds to 2.13 GHz and 2.53 GHz. It sounds like a 2.13 GHz model with 2 GBs of RAM would do you fine. As people have already said for the 2.4 GHz model, the proportion of additional clock speed to additional cost is not worth it unless you have money to blow, however, when they get updated in the summer, you're getting a higher clock speed for free, so you can't really lose then. Snow Leopard should in theory make your computer even faster, but it's probably not coming out until Sept.
  11. mstecker macrumors 6502

    Jul 16, 2002

    Old macs really retain their usability for a long long time. Amongst my stable of macs is an old ibook G3/700 that runs Tiger. This is still updated with the latest security patches, etc, and works just fine as a laptop that's always under my bed for late-night surfing and early-morning wooting. It chokes a bit on flash video, but hey, it's something like 6 years old!

  12. Baya87 thread starter macrumors member

    Nov 13, 2008
    What if I have 20 tabs open in Safari, have mail open, iTunes, iCal, iChat, Skype, Preview, 7 windows in Microsoft Word, and sometimes Vuze, VLC, Garageband and/or iPhoto? :)
  13. BlizzardBomb macrumors 68030


    Jun 15, 2005
    2 GBs would be fine. That'll probably use no more than 1 GB wired + active and shared graphics VRAM.
  14. clyde2801 macrumors 601


    Mar 6, 2008
    In the land of no hills and red dirt.
    Go online, find some good guides on how to speed up your ibook. A lot of it involves turning off the eye candy in Tiger and Leopard. Use the 'book until it can literally be used no more.
  15. giffut macrumors 6502

    Apr 28, 2003
    The ...

    ... mother of all buyer´s rules is: Do buy what you need and can afford NOW; do your upgrades when it´s time to do so - and not think about whether you are in vain for additional RAM or processor speed three years from now: You simply don´t know yet; and may be you are going to buy a complete new machine then, anyway.

    Notebooks in general are harder to upgrade; you are limited to RAM, harddiscs and optical drives. Upgrades are more expensive compared to desktops, and involve user tinkering or payed repairs. External harddiscs and peripherals based on USB (and Firewire with the white MacBook). Same goes for the iMac line. The problem with Apple, unfortunately: The upgradable beast is called Mac Pro - and suicidally expensive, so to speak.

    If you have normal workload, the MacBook is a steal. The Core 2 Duo is plenty fast at the moment for 99% of anything you want to do. 2GB RAM is ok, 4GB would be great - as Leopard (OSX 10.5) loves RAM and the sweet spot between consumer and professional grade workloads is marked around 2 to 4GB RAM. The machine is very mobile, but powerful enough to be used as desktop replacement.

    My personal situation: I have a Core 2 Duo 1,87Ghz processor - and it´s fast enough for anything I ask it for. I have 8GB of RAM and 8 internal harddrives (hackintosh, my apologies). When not doing work (just eMail, iTunes, browsing, movies etc.) I consume around 1.5 to 3 GB RAM, so 2GB will be fine. You can get a 4GB (2x2GB RAM modules) later from third party vendors without problems.

    My personal recommendation (as much as I can hint the needs of your friend): White MacBook 2Ghz (with Nvidia 9400m graphics, USB AND firewire ports), 2GB RAM, 250GB harddrive option; external 1TB Firewire harddrive for backup purpose and additional storage (depending on a forthcoming movie/music collection: make it two).

    Buy what you need right now. Buy it when you need it, forget pinning onto the next upgrade (well, as you grow older, you will understand, that some things need to work and be in good shape, nothing more, nothing less).


    Oh, I forgot: If this friend of yours will be your future spouse, because of these recommandations, I command a free hug from both of you!
  16. jtgotsjets macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2004
    Lawrence, KS
    I was actually going to tell you it's not true for the opposite reason—two years seems like a really short period of time if all you're doing is basic computing.

    A new mac, if you have an interest in doing so, could easily last you 4-5 years, likely longer if you need it to. My five year old computer still runs everything fine, including online streaming video (hulu addict). I could probably keep on using it for another couple years.
    The only reason I need to upgrade, speaking strictly performance-wise, is that I am a hobby musician and my music applications can get frustratingly slow when I'm taxing them—using a lot of tracks, a lot of effects, etc. Not something I'd call "basic computing" really, though not completely out of that realm I suppose.
    (The other reason I need to upgrade, not related to performance, is that PPC is generally unsupported with current software. Not entirely of course, but there are enough intel-only apps that I'd like to get that it is starting to make a lot of sense to upgrade. This situation obviously doesn't apply here.)

    Basically what I'm trying to say is that if you let it, any current Mac could last you many many years.
  17. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    I think I stand with the group when I say that RAM is more important than clock speed, generally speaking. I recommend at least 2GB for OS X, but personally, going from 2GB to 3GB in my iMac made a HUGE difference - and honestly, I didn't think it would. I have 4GB in my Macbook and its great, but its severely limited by its Intel integrated graphics (yuck) - TBH, I never use all of its potential because of the graphics card.

    See, I have a problem... I have to upgrade. Its a thing of mine - if my computer will support it, I have to buy it. :D

    Back on topic, however, I think its worth it to go to 4GB on OS X. My sister's aluminum Macbook (base model) has 2GB and gets slow after a while with just pretty basic usage. My Macbook has 4GB and never bogs down. Since the processor speeds are basically the same and mine actually has lesser graphics, it has to be the memory that makes the difference. She's looking to upgrade hers as we speak...
  18. kastenbrust macrumors 68030


    Dec 26, 2008
    North Korea
    No its not, a 3.0Ghz Pentium 4 + HT will wipe a 1.2Ghz Atom off the map, but you have a valid point, forget GH'z, the original poster needs to do some research


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