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Topic Title: Comparing Sempron 145 & Athlon II x4 620e
Topic Summary: Experience replacing a Sempron with Athlon quad core
Created On: 05/24/2012 12:35 PM
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 05/24/2012 12:35 PM
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Arwen
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Posts: 16
Joined: 08/21/2008

About a year ago, I bought a cheap PC to replace a very old PC that died. In the gap
between the old PC and new PC, I used my Netbook, (with external 24" 1080p monitor,
full sized keyboard and mouse). All use(d) Gentoo Linux for customization and
performance reasons.

This new PC worked very well for normal day to day work. However, it was annoyingly
slugish when doing package updates. (Gentoo Linux compiles from source to optimize
binaries for target machine.) Huge packages like LibreOffice took many hours to compile.
So much so, I tended to leave the PC on over night to allow it to finish.

Here is the configuration:
  • eMachines EL1352G-01w
  • Sempron 145 2.8Ghz, (socket AM3 45 watt)
  • Speed adjusting fan based on CPU tempeture
  • Nvidia GeForce 6150SE nForce 430 chipset & video, (VGA connector)
  • 2, 1GB DDR3 memory sticks
  • 1 x 16 lane PCIe 1.0 slot
  • 1 x 1 lane PCIe 1.0 slot
  • 500GB 3.5" SATA II drive
  • CD/DVD SATA Writer
  • no additional SATA ports, internal or external
  • no PATA ports
  • 9 USB 2.0 ports
  • 220(~?) watt power supply
  • when idle, runs about 35 watts for computer, not including monitor
To improve package update speed, I wanted a new processor. I also wanted to maintain
power efficency, so I looked at 45 watt CPUs, (with socket AM3). My choices were basically
3Ghz dual core Athlon, or a 2.6Ghz quad core Athlon. I went with the 2.6Ghz quad core
Athlon.

Replacement was very easy. I am a computer professional, but others should be able to
replace this processor without trouble.

After replacement, a few things seemed faster, like booting and shutting down. Not much
but noticable. General usage did not change much. And a few things seemed slower, (the
Sempron had double level 2 cache and slight speed advantage).

But I did find package updating was quite a bit faster. So much so, that I started running
out of memory before CPU power. Things like kernel updates are much more reasonable,
because I can run 4 or 5 compile threads instead of 2. (Running 3 kernel compile threads
with the Sempron was slower than running 2 kernel compile threads on that same
Sempron.)

Also something weird. When idle, the CPU fan tends to run slower and quieter than before
the upgrade. I did not think about that. Though duing heavy compiles, the CPU fan can
get louder now than before, which I DID expect.

Note I did not need any of the following;
  • Game playing
  • Watching videos, (except perhaps occasional Youtube)
  • 3D creation or display
  • Video transcoding, (I have an 8 core Opteron for that purpose)
So the builtin, internal graphics are just fine.

All in all, this cheap PC was a good choice, as it had DDR3 memory and socket AM3. Both
allowing me to upgrade as needed. Plus, the quad core Athlon II 2.6Ghz seems to have
been a better choice than a dual core Athlon II.

-------------------------
Arwen Evenstar
Rivendale, ME
 07/07/2012 06:50 AM
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FG Computers
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Posts: 13
Joined: 08/09/2011

I unlocked a Sempron to a dual core for a budget build (Asrock motherboard, Nvidia chipset)
That worked quite well.

Obviously you won't have that option with an OEM board (Bios is limited in these)
I find something like a dual core Athlon II 3.2GHz will be good for most general use (video and photo go for quad core)
I managed to undervolt it quite a bit too so I'm not entirely convinced of the merit of the enery efficient processors. Saying that for my own build I went with a quad core again undervolted a bit

How far can you take the ram on that board? 4Gb is pretty much my starting point for budget pc's now. 8Gb for more heavy users.
 08/27/2012 01:15 PM
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Arwen
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Posts: 16
Joined: 08/21/2008

Yep, my OEM board's BIOS is limited. But, for the price and low hassle, it was worth it for me.

As far as the RAM, I read on tthe manufacturer's web site, I can only double the RAM. From
2 x 1GB to 2 x 2GB. Since under normal cases I use less than a Gigabyte, (716MB right now),
I don't really need the extra RAM. During the package updates, I could use more RAM, as
right now I am no longer CPU bound, but RAM limited.

Part of the lower RAM usage may be due to switching X-Window's desktops from Gnome 2.x
to XFCE. With all the garbage Gnome adds in, XFCE is lighter weight. Plus, I don't have to
worry about the Gnome 3.x learning curve.

-------------------------
Arwen Evenstar
Rivendale, ME
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