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Thread: Which is more important for a faster computer: CPU or RAM?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2010

    Which is more important for a faster computer: CPU or RAM?

    I want to get a new computer for Christmas. All I need is speed for programs like Dreamweaver, Firefox, etc. Which is more important, CPU or RAM? Also, does harddrive play a role in speed?

    Also, if I won't be playing any games, roughly how much CPU and RAM do I need? I'm going to get Windows 7.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    They can each have an impact, but probably the best bang for the buck for those sorts of things would be the RAM. With the comparatively low price of RAM these days, I'd recommend saving money by not getting the latest/greatest CPU, but instead something that is pretty recent but not the newest; then spend the money you save by maxing out the RAM.
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    NogDog is correct, do not buy the "latest and greatest". If you're on a citizen's budget.
    All I need is speed for programs like Dreamweaver, Firefox, etc. Which is more important, CPU or RAM? Also, does harddrive play a role in speed?
    My short answer is this:
    The CPU(s), RAM (amount and speed), and hard drive(s) all work together with the motherboard to get things done. If one of the 4 is slow, the overall performance will suffer. A $50000 processor won't speed up performance if you have $5 worth of RAM and $20 drives (with a few rare exceptions). Likewise $50000 spent on RAM, drives, and a motherboard wont work well with a $5 processor. They probably wont even be compatible.

    At a certain point you do NOT want more RAM, you want faster RAM. All RAM was not created equally, some of it is trash and a lot of trash is bad. Same goes for the hard drive: do you really need 1TB of storage, or is a lightning fast 20GB hard drive enough. If you're stuck between the two, you might consider striping drives with a raid protocol. Your motherboard need to support what you get. If your RAM is too good, you might need to configure how it handles it in the BIOS.

    Windows 7 scrubs all of the RAM on start-up. So when you get 16GB of RAM and want to know why it takes you forever to boot up: that's why.

    I recommend if you're building this computer yourself, that you consult with someone who has built a computer before and also has your best interest in mind. You can explain to them what it is you're looking for. There's a lot of ins and outs of building a custom computer.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Thanks NogDog and eval(BadCode). I once asked a friend who built computers about whether CPU or RAM is the most important. He said I should buy the best CPU available, then I can add more RAM if I wanted to. But by the time I want to add the RAM, the CPU will probably become outdated. I might just buy a pre-assembled computer with everything installed.

    Also, about how fast a computer does a typical developer need? I have a friend who was extremely happy with a Intel i5, and another friend said that anything less than a i7 is garbage (he's a hardcore gamer). I'm using Core 2 duo right now, I'm considering a Intel i3 or i5.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    I prefer a minimum of dual core 1.8 ghz or better with a minimum or 4gb of RAM and 64 bit OS. Anything less than that and I feel like I'm waiting for compiles or such. Anything much more than that and I feel like I'm wasting my money (except for my gaming machine which is kept just shy of the bleeding edge of course ).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Manhattan NY
    Think of a well as the hard disc, the well Bucket as the ram, and the crank as the CPU. The deeper the well the longer the trip up and down, the bigger the bucket the fewer trips you have to make, and the faster you crank the faster the bucket makes each trip.

    If you're getting a NEW PC, I advise going for the faster CPU, since RAM is an easy and cheap upgrade to make later.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    For the most part I still use a AMD Duron 1300. Just enough to use nano, cat, awk, sed, grep, wget, ifconfig, Kate/KWrite, firefox.

    So a web developer does not need a fast machine. It's not a requirement. You could possibly even get by without a mouse or any GUI at all

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    At home I use an Athlon XP 2500 with 2 gigs of RAM running Vista and an iBook G4 1.33 Ghz with 768 megs of RAM running OSX 10.4.

    I don't run anything fancy like Dreamweaver. But, the PC suits me for running Chrome, FF, IE, Gimp, Notepad++, putty, and a few other things simultaneously. And the iBook suits me perfectly for running several terminals (vim, mysql, general admin scripts, etc.) and a development BAMP/OAMP/LAMP stack. Unless I'm doing a huge batch process, like populating the local database with lots noise, both systems typically have more than enough CPU to go around. The iBook struggles a bit with RAM.

    But really, the only thing that gives either system any real trouble is the barrage of flash ads scattered all over the damn place ... and "HD" flash video.
    Jon Wire

    thepointless.com | rounded corner generator

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Ok, thanks! All I really need speed for is Dreamweaver, Firefox, Anti-Virus scans (takes about 12 hours each time), and video processing. I make magic trick videos and post them on Youtube. While the videos are processing, my CPU usage always goes above 90%. I don't play games or anything (even though I'm 14) , so I guess a slightly above average PC will do.

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