So in the X2 and Pentium Dual Core you are in the zone where price is all that matters. If price matters, look at what I carry around at http://forums.cnet.com/5208-19680_102-0.html?threadID=380791&tag=forums06;forum-threads
I have it loaded with Visual Studio 2008, didn't put office on it as we don't have a spare license today but it does run well for the price.
I'm in the market for a new computer. I've always tended towards desktops since you get better durability and more bang for the buck, but I'm thinking it might be nice to have something that I could take to starbucks or when traveling, which I'm starting to do a bit more frequently. Anyway, I haven't purchased a computer in about 3 years so anything I get is going to be dramatically faster than my current desktop. For the past few months I've been staying with my parents and using their desktop, which I'm pleased with, and I'd like to get something at least equivalent to what they have. I'd also like to spend not a lot since I use my computer for internet, email, and MS Office so I don't need heavy-duty performance.
I looked at their specs, and their computer has an AMD Athalon Dual Core X2 processor, 2 GB of memory, and 320 GB HD. So I've been looking at Best Buy's website and they have this computer for just $329:
The only major difference that I notice (besides the hard drive, and 160 MB is more than enough for me) is that the Acer is single-core and my parent's desktop is dual-core. There is also a Compaq that is similar except that is has a Celeron 900 processor:
For another $100 you can get a Pentium processor and 4GB RAM:
So here's my question: what difference does the processor really make? I read the CNET buying guide and they talk down the single-core processors, but they don't really say why. Last time I purchased a computer a friend told me that the processor does not matter unless you use the computer for gaming, and what really matters is RAM. I don't know if this is accurate, though. I don't play games, ever, and I don't watch DVDs on my computer either. I use my computer for internet, email, Microsoft Office, and iTunes. I do tend to keep a lot of tabs open in Firefox, but my parent's computer easily handles 30-40 tabs open with no problem. What difference does a dual-core versus single-core processor make for my purposes? Is it really RAM that matters for tasks like these, or was my friend full of crap? Are there other considerations that impact performance that I should be paying attention to?
I will pay more for a dual-core processor if it really makes a noticeable difference, but I don't want to do so if it just sounds better to have a dual-core.
Thanks very much,