To place your experience with the Pentium and i7 in context,
1) what graphics driver did you use in each.
2) what operating system was in each
3) how good are you at maintaining your machine
I agree that comparing clock speeds between generations is a bit brain dead but changing drivers can feel like the machine's clock has doubled. Same with operating systems and a harddrive filled to 90% capacity will drag things down. Same with spyware, bloatware, temp files, history files, and unnecessary services that grow like the barnacles on a hull and drag things down. Going from this to a any new machine would spank the previous machine.
I agree with dgorsman, you really can't compare clock speed alone from different generations.
The Pentium D series was one of Intel's last generations before the core series was released. Before the core series, they were focused on raw power through lots of (poorly optimized) clock cycles. AMD was kicking their **** back then on power vs. performance and doing it with less clock cycles.
The introduction of the core series was the beginning of Intel starting to focus on clock cycle efficiency, and the first generations took a step down in terms of rated GHz speed while still providing an performance improvement over the previous generation. The latest i7s really do kick **** (I overclock one at home); but I do my acad work on a core2duo and its plenty fast for my needs (along with 4gb ram, and a quadro 1500).
One of my favorite etailers has some used dual core xeon rigs with 4gb ram, and a quadro 1500 card for a little over $300 right now. No it's not bleeding edge technology, but you could easily sink that much on a video card...
I agree that the option to convert research, testing, hardware knowledge, and some guestimating for contuinually upgrading subcomponents in an open-source machine to the simple $25 per month and you need to know nothing approach of Dell is tempting. And that adding 2GB to the current setup is probably the most economical solution and will probaly boost the 'feel' to an acceptable level that will recapitalize the machine for an additional couple years of life. I predict a graphics card would do nothing.
"Sometimes performance is almost voodoo, and the P4 with 2G RAM across the hall will do as well as my i7 with 12G."
Thanks for all your responses.
The computer was updated with the 2 MG of memory and it appears that it has improved its speed.
Will skip the video card upgrade for now.
Do you think that upgrading the existing Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 32 bits will improve it further?
Thanks to all!
To resolve a 30-second lag initiating and ending the orbit function I have been testing some graphics cards, I added a GeForce 6 series to the test to give you some feedback. The orbit test is with the following cards (various C3D and driver settings, such as WHIPTHREAD, were tested with minimal differences) through a 75MB highway overpass 3D model with several alignment corridors for ramps, mainline, and retaining walls:
Quadro FX 5600 - 1.5GB, 600Mhz, 384-bit, 2006, $450, 265.70 & 270.71-drivers
Firepro v7800 - 2GB, 700Mhz, 256-bit, 2010, $680, 8.773.1.2-driver
GeForce GTX 280 - 1GB, 650Mhz, 512-bit, 2008, $100, 270.71-driver
GeForce 6600 - 512MB, 300Mhz, 8.8-bit, 2004, $11, 270.71-driver
GeForce GO 6150 - 256MB shared, 475Mhz, 800Mhz, $140 for entire laptop, 2004, 259.47-driver
All of these cards actually performed (used each for a day) within a narrow band from the GeForce 6600 to the Quadro FX 5600 (exception: the laptop initiated 2D wireframe orbit nearly instantly while the dedicated cards take 30-seconds) - in my opinion the performance and visualization quality difference is insignificant, particularly considering the actual prices paid ranged from $11 to $680 (Firepro v7800). The GeForce 6600 and the GeForce GO 6150 are very similar and performed with the same 'feel'. It seems that a comparable difference in 'feel' between the cards is when I changed from Cas Latency: 5 RAM to Cas Latency: 6 RAM.
The orbit discussion with test machine specifications:
As a base line I clean my temp folders and turn off unnecessary services (type msconfig.exe in the windows command prompt), in computer properties I change the advanced system settings for performance visual settings to 'adjust for best performance'. On older machines I also changed the advanced tab virtual memory from system managed to a custom size matching my installed RAM; sometimes installing a second harddrive specifically for the virtual memory pagefile. The steps of machine settings are documented here:
From my experience an improvement was made with the change from 2GB to 4GB, a second noticable improvement was with a change from a 1.6Ghz Turion x2 cpu to 2.3Ghz cpu, but the biggest improvement was made with the transition from XP x32 4GB to Win7 x64 8GB and C3D 64-bit - Memory appears a significant factor in C3D, I am still searching for the orbit bottleneck and performance that meets my expectation.
hope this helps