Friday, 22 May 2009

Maintaining and upgrading my desktop PC for photography – Part 4: How fast is my system?

Having upgraded and reduced the noise levels from my PC I decided to ask myself how fast my three and a half year old Intel P4 based PC is compared with a reasonably priced new one…

There are lots of bespoke PC speed benchmarks used by various reviewers, but most of them are either pretty esoteric or focused on PC gamers; my interest is really how quickly I can get through Lightroom and Photoshop jobs.

Looking through the various benchmarks I decided that Custom PC magazine’s benchmark suite (downloadable from – here) with its GIMP based speed test was a reasonable way to compare my system with its Intel P4 CPU with the current generation being tested by Custom PC.

The screenshot below shows the results from my system.

Essentially my system is slow; very slow when compared with modern processors.

The GIMP result ("Image editing" in the results screenshot above) of 370 compared with Custom PC’s measurements of 1,135 for their recommended Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 processor, which was overclockable to 1,623 in their test (May 2009, pg 79 – see table below)

Double click the graph above if you want to see it in more detail - the blue part of the bar is the speed for the CPU at its rated clock speed; the red part represents the speed the Custom PC managed to achieve by overclocking the processor to something like its maximum stable clock speed - in the case of the E8400 the base clock speed is 3GHz and the overclocked speed was 4.4GHz

In theory a PC using the E8400 should be 3x - 4x faster in my image processing applications than my current outfit.

At this point I decided to get a new computer as the Foxconn motherboard would not take the twin core processors, despite being an Intel LGA775 socket system. Since I was going to have to change the motherboard I decided to go for a new system – on top of that I decided to build my own to optimise the re-use of existing components, make as quiet a PC as reasonable from the start and to build in an upgrade path for future upgrades.

As an extra incentive modern power supplies should be more energy efficient, and the processors and hard disks should be as well.

That will be the subject of my next upgrading posting – I will work out some “real life” tests to run on my old system so that I can convince myself the upgrade is worth it.


My PC is slow and it is time to update!


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