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Old 19. Apr 2015, 12:50 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Is 4-Core CPU likely to be Beneficial for General Work

I'm contemplating replacing my 7-year-old tower containing an AMD Phenom II X3 720 and an SSD as C: drive with a new machine. I find myself caught between competing desires and would appreciate advice.

My competing desires are:
  • Quiet
  • Low power usage - it's on 24/7
  • Rapid Response

The first two pull me towards the new NUC i7 due in May with a pair of SSD's. It's a 2-core CPU
The last pulls me towards a tower or mini-tower with a 4-core i7 (e.g. 4790) plus SSDs.

My simultaneous environment for computing is:
  • 3 1920x1080 monitors
  • Several browsers open - each with 6-10 tabs
  • Excel with multiple tabs - but not vast data arrays or macros
  • Personal database with multiple-thousand records (Filemaker)
  • Evernote with multiple-thousand records
  • Outlook
  • Acrobat
  • One or two other work applications
  • NOT gaming or heavy video/audio processing

My question: Would I'd notice the difference between a 2-core and a 4-core i7 for the typical work environment described above.
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Old 19. Apr 2015, 02:37 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Yes, as you've already been told in response to the same question at Windows Secrets.

It's a bit strange choosing software sites to ask hardware questions of this sort. CPUs and GPUs are better discussed on a site dedicated to hardware such as CPU World or Tom's Hardware. Those sites can give you direct hardware comparisons that we do not, e .g.:
compare i7 4790 with the top NUC i7
best NUC graphics

The info you've provided is somewhat incomplete as you don't mention how you're running the three FullHD screens and what would happen if you bought a NUC. The best graphics, the Iris Pro Graphics 6100, has a maximum resolution of 2560x1600 so you won't be using that to fill the screens.

You're also the only person who can decide the priorities for the competing desires: energy use (quietness is often closely related), size (which you must be considering with the NUC as an option), and responsiveness. Personally, I'd forego the small size and some part of low energy use with the NUC and get a larger case for lower cost and greater flexibility including more options for CPU, graphics, quietness, and responsiveness.
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Old 19. Apr 2015, 03:59 PM   #3 (permalink)
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My thought in asking on different sites was that there were different audiences who might have different perspectives. I'm concerned about the software responsiveness primarily, which is why I included TechSupportAlert, my longtime favorite for software.

You provided a worthwhile response in questioning the 3-screens requirement. I thought I'd determined that using displayport with a hub would allow me to have three screens, but I'll have to check further.
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Old 19. Apr 2015, 08:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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You can drive three screens but integrated graphics won't support three screens at FullHD.

NUCs and the like are great for gateways/routers, NAS, streaming media servers, attaching to a TV, and other types of server which don't need good graphics. But I wouldn't recommend many users buying a workstation that doesn't have an option to upgrade from the integrated graphics. That is usually the weakest component in a low-power system because better graphics require more power. Also the higher the screen resolution that it is driving then the more system memory is cannibalized to service it.
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