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How Important are the specs of the PC?

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware' started by Nismoasfuh, Apr 22, 2018.

  1. Nismoasfuh

    Nismoasfuh Member

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    Hello all, Ive come to the conclusion that alot of the computers at the shop are out dated. My most recent purchase was a few years ago to which operates the Roland sp540v. The specs on that one are decent with a 2gb graphics card, 8gb ram, and an i5. Even then with the rate of technology I'm sure that would be obsolete before I know it haha.
    But let me actually get to the question:
    Does having a cheap computer with subpar specs make a difference when printing? My old vinyl plotter has been working on windows 7 just fine but I plan on upgrading the plotter soon to newer tech. Would it make sense to also upgrade the computer even if the plotter works on windows 7? Would there be any noticeable benefit with introducing a faster computer to the new vinyl plotter?

    Thank you!
     
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  2. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    You won't print, or cut faster with a better computer.

    If your ripping large panels, a faster computer helps. For cutting... Opening the file will be faster also.

    Video card doesn't matter much unless you're doing lots of Photoshop editing on the computers.

    For printing... Do you find yourself sitting there with nothing to do while your rip is ripping? If so it may be worth an upgrade.

    If your using a newer rip software that supports multiple core, like onyx 12.2, if you spec your computer right you could be opening a file that normally takes 10 minutes in 1 minute.


    Our cutters are run on the same PC as our printers, before that it was run on a 10 year old computer... The onlyything that improves is opening the Initial .AI file... But we're talking seconds per file, so not a big deal .
     
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  3. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    I upgraded computers when they start to annoy me. Luckly I'm going on 7 years with my three Thinkpads and it's still snappy. Seems that the speed of computers has leveled out recently so not as nessasary to upgrade so much. If your wanting to spend $$ on your computers, make sure you have redundancy and backup equipment \ procedures in tip top shape.
     
  4. SignMeUpGraphics

    SignMeUpGraphics Moderator

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    Are you able to test how many cores your machine actually uses when ripping? I've installed 12.2 onto a machine with 12 cores (and a tonne of RAM) and Onyx uses 1 *maybe* 2 at most when ripping.
    It irritates the hell out of me, as I know the machine has far more capability in it to rip our files.
     
  5. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Most programs can only use 1 core. It's rare when it can use more then one.

    Usually when a program calculates it goes something like, "What is 1+1? Answer is 2, ok so if answer is 2 then what would it be if we added 3? Ok the answer is 5 so then what if we add 2?" and so on and so on. Now that is really simplified but it shows that the program needs to answer things in a linear format because the next "problem" can only be solved AFTER solving the first. You cant use a dual core to figure out the second problem at the same time of figuring the first because you have to have the answer to the first..first.

    When a programmer writes code, it's usually for 1 core because not everyone have 2, 4 or 8 cores. To use 2 cores the programmer would have to rewrite the code to specifically work on 2 cores and not 1. Same goes for 4 cores and so on. They don't want to completely rewrite for each senario so most stick with one core. Even when a program is written 2 or more cores it most likely wouldn't use more then one core evenly because of calculations depending on previous calculations.

    Think of a 16 lane highway that crosses a border. Say there is 1000 cars numbered 1-1000. Car 2 can only cross the border after car 1. Car 3 can only pass after car 2...so on and so on. So you have 16 lanes but all the cars are lined up in one and going one at a time. Even though you have the capacity of all 16 lanes and 16 cars crossing at the same time, the "programmer" wrote it to only allow 1 at a time because not everyone has 16 lanes, most have 1 or 2.


    People love to buy and boast about their 16 lane highway, but reality is most programs only use 1, lol. Same goes for all that "RAM" you can have 16gb but you may never use more then 3 or 4gb. Like having a sports car that can go 210mph but the fastest road will only allow 85mph (which is in Texas!)
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
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  6. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    Wow, 16GB of RAM wouldn't do me at all.

    Bare in mind too, different RAM for different applications. 16 GB of consumer RAM doesn't quite get the same performance as 16GB of workstation RAM. Depending on what you need.
     

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  7. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    The best way to test is to open up task manager / resource.monitor depending on what windows your using.

    See how much each core is working when onyx is ripping, whether it's one... Or each is maxed, or each is doing 10-20% of the work .

    Most programs do only use one core - these days a lot are being programmed to use more though.

    Onyx is listed as multi core, and while I don't think it ever maxes out every core on our computer due to a bottleneck elsewhere, I believe it is true multicore.


    OthersOwill do it in a "tricky" way, for example if your ripping one file... It will use one core .If your ripping 2-4 files... It'll use 2-4 cores.

    Multi core helps for sure. But 4 cores won't mean you'll rip 4x faster than one core. Hard drives, network (if you use network storage), even bus speed could be limiting you.

    I'd open up process.manager, where it shows cpu usage - open up one file to rip, and watch it. Then open up 3-4 at a time, see what the difference is. Odds are your bottlenecked somewhere, onyx us a ram hog.. they recommend 4gb per core. So our 8 core machine wants 32gb... Which is kind of crazy for a rip computer. It Rips super fast, faster than we'd ever need... But I don't think I've ever maxes the cpu on it. Its usually our hard drive that's limited, since we're not using an SSD on it .

    [EDIT] I found an article from 2008 saying multi core allows it to rip multiple files faster. Not sure if that's still the case, as 10 years ago it was what.. onyx 9? But even if it is the case... That just means when your timing, it'll tile faster... Ripping more than one file at a time will be way quicker, etc. So there are till benefits. I'll test it when I get into work tomorrow and see if it's true multi core, or just spreads jobs across the cores .True core is obviously better.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  8. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    I speak in a general terms. Congrats on using 16gb, what did you have open to achieve that? Based on your chart you were using only 4gb before opening something big to show us your massive usage.

    I'm not sure I ever heard of "consumer" RAM and "workstation" RAM. Can you explain the difference?
     
  9. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    Consumer ram is non ecc generally, it's more cheap ram vs non cheap ram.

    I have 32gb, and always use more than 16 .I do lots of multi tasking though... I rip, do artwork, have browsers, videos, etc open .

    Ripping alone should use more than 4gb if your working with large files... If you do tiny stuff like 24x18 signs it's enough .but try ripping a 60 ft x 10 ft wall mural on 4gb. Onyx will likely crash and never be able to finish.

    I think 32 is too much for most people, but I also think 8 and below is too low for most! 16 is the sweet spot, unless your specializing in something that requires.more, or your a heavy power user .

    Wild west for example runs a lot of VMs I believe. So instead of one os... Your PC is using 2+, and each OS has its own dedicated ram. So your 32gb of ram is now 16/16 if you have 4 VMs open its now 8/8/8/8 (in simplest explaining terms).

    Lots and lots of reasons to have more than 4gb! Even while gaming, 4gb gets you nowhere these days .So personal computers should have more than 4 also... If all you do is light artwork, browse the web, etc... 4 is ok. Pretty much anything else requires more.

    I used to be a system admin, so just to point out another example.

    Let's say you have 4 GB of RAM, and it works for you 90% of the time .then a customer needs a 8gb wall panel ripped and printed... But your computer would keep crashing because once it hits the 4gb limit, your PC will crash and everything is gone. Wouldn't you rather have spent the extra $50, got 8gb more so you could handle that file?

    And let's say that file is 2gb .You open it in Photoshop... 2gb used. Open it in onyx... 2gb used, saving it is another 2gb .So that 2gb file is using 6gb now... Its aIways better to over build than under build . Especially.when it's a cheap component like ram .

    And before someone techy points out a 2gb file isn't going on use 2gb ram... That's true ;p sometimes it'll use more, sometimes less .I just used simplistic calculations so it's more understandable .
     
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  10. SignMeUpGraphics

    SignMeUpGraphics Moderator

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    I'm quite familiar on multi-core programming, having done it ~15 years ago during my degree.
    My question to ikarasu was to determine whether we had an issue with our install not.
     
  11. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    4 GB was just one operating system running. ~24 GB was the other 3 that I was pulling in (one of those is a VM within a VM, as Win 98 is not directly supported without issue in VB and I think has been deprecated in VMWare and Parallels etc). During the work week I'm running the 4 OSs at once (complicated needs).

    Heard of ECC RAM? Something that is not typically supported with consumer MBs, at least not that I'm aware of. Otherwise, if that's changed, maybe I won't go the Xeon route.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  12. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    I actually do most of that within the VMs (something that most don't recommend), again one of the perks of workstation rig. Maybe, I'll get that second video card (with better FPS) and pass that through to the VM and get my gaming fix. Don't know yet.

    Don't forget that 64 bit Windows requires 2GB itself just to run. 1 GB for a 32 bit system. Even 32 bit programs on a 64 bit system will have a higher minimum requirement (although still max out at 4 GB regardless what the system has).

    Windows pulled out the easy work around that I had with getting less memory (especially with Vista) used by the OS itself. Now it's just XFCE based distro to help (although I do like my eye candy of KDE).
     
  13. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    I would say running 4 VMs is quite a demand.

    Yes, I've heard of ECC Ram. (Before I was in the sign business, I became Cisco CCNA & CCNP certified and was in the IT field for 6 years) From what I remember, ECC is used in servers and doesn't do anything "faster", just has error correction abilities if in the off chance something gets messed up. In the professional field, I never heard it referred to "consumer" RAM and "workstation" RAM though... I've never seen "Workstations" with ECC RAM, only servers so that was throwing me off. I've been out of the game for a few years now so maybe something has changed
     
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  14. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    It depends on what's being processed. CAD/CAM work has different demands then say gaming. Same goes with video cards as well. Cards that are geared to delivering the best performance for games, don't necessarily deliver the best towards complex geometry crunching of CAD/CAM work. So it's faster/better in slightly different context.

    It's really getting the right tool for the job.

    Also, tend to suffer less reboots as well. But then again, my host OS isn't Windows, which I would have to shut down quite a bit when I was running direct on hardware.

    Bare in mind, before I VM'ed my Win 7 setup, I was running it on bare metal (in fact, my VM still resides on the same SSD that it was directly installed on) and the only difference is the processor (Xeon) and the ECC Ram. The VM without direct hardware access does perform quicker even doing full HD and 4K video rendering. That's saying something, as most wouldn't suggest tasks like that on guest OSs that don't have direct hardware access (you can pass through video cards etc to guest OSs, but you would need at least 2 cards to do so, I only have one).

    I have Lenovo Thinkstations, but also the HP Z Workstations come with ECC RAM as well.

    The SuperNova Signburst computer comes with ECC Ram. In fact, they label it as "Server/Workstation Grade Memory".
     
  15. Texas_Signmaker

    Texas_Signmaker Very Active Signmaker

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    Your right, I worked at a company that built airplane parts and the designers that used CAD programs had special video cards that were meant for CAD programs and didn't preform well with games. (As so I've been told... I never got into gaming, had no time to... used my spare time to build a sign company to get OUT of the IT field, lol) I hated dealing with people and their computer problems. The "users" like management and office staff were completely dumb, then you had "Power Users / Techies" that THOUGHT they knew everything I knew and used "tech" words (incorrectly) to sound smart..those people annoyed me the most... And all of them always thought all I had to do was "click a button" and it was fixed. Well, yea you need to click a button on a computer to fix stuff. Then I'd get the complaints about, why are you charging me $300 to click a setting that took two seconds? Well, I'm not charging $300 to click a setting, I'm charging $300 for the 3 hours I spent finding the setting you ****ed up! Can you tell I have some pent up anger from my past career? Lol
     
  16. BVG

    BVG Member

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    That's true for GPU's but not so much for RAM. The only special sauce baked into ECC memory is the error correction. Memory clock speed is typically lower for ECC memory compared to Non-ECC.
     
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  17. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    The accursed "click a button" mentality. It's rampant everywhere. Oh the days when it was some special mumbo jumpo bash command incantation.

    I have a friend that had the same issues when he was running his own IT shop. Still does IT work, but different setting and most just let him do his thing and keep their mouths shut (which is not a common thing nowadays).

    That particular quote that you were responding to was actually talking about GPU.

    I believe that was a comparison done by Techspot between Regular, ECC and Reg ECC and for things like Audio Encoding, Pr Pro CC and Ps CC, they were almost on parity for speed. I believe with Pr, ECC actually had .1% over regular memory on the speed test.

    Of course, this is all going to depend on what programs you are talking about as well. They only used the more common things that most people would deal with.

    The differences in speed is due to the error correction portion, the range, if I recall correctly, can be from .72% to 2.2%. But it would depend on the error actually occurring.

    Stability is the biggest selling point to me with regard to ECC, especially in a production environment.

    However, bare in mind, when I was noticing a speed difference it was a speed difference from within a VM and how the VM handled. It was not a bare metal to bare metal comparison. Even the bare metal to bare metal comparison would be skewed for me, because on the ECC rig I use distros that run the XFCE DE and that only requires 500 MB on a 64 bit system, while 64 bit Windows uses 2 GB just to run min. services. So keep that in mind when I say I'm noticing speed differences, it's not a bare metal to bare metal comparison and not even of the same OS as well.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  18. ikarasu

    ikarasu Very Active Member

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    Ecc is usually a gen behind non ecc... So it has slower clock speed. It also uses more of its speed to process the ECC... So generally it's slower.

    Ecc is good for certain things... But for a sign shop, the premium on price isn't really worth it . If you need your computer to be on 24/7, with almost zero risk of a corrupt file... It's worth it.

    If you don't mind the occasional restart, or risk of (still almost zero) percent of a corrupt file.. non ecc works as well.

    I have a server at home... Using a desktop mono/cpu, non ecc ram.. and it's been on for 7 months without a restart. Until I put windows 10 on it... Now it restarts every other night for upgrades.

    Ecc is only like 3% slower than normal ram, and it's not much higher in price. The additional cost comes fom a mobo/cpu that can use ecc ram. They're generally built.better, last longer, and are meant to be kept on 24/7, so some people like the piece of mind it gives.

    Me.. I shuck 8tb external HDD and throw them into a 24/7 Nas for $100, instead of paying $300 for a hard drive designed for 24/7 use. Now if I was a company like Netflix, or one where a small corrupt file or system reboot would cost me thousands of dollars... I'd go for enterprise grade components.


    And yes - even Photoshop / illustrator benefit more from a card designed for processing rather than gaming. Theres a new vega coming out that's great for cad/Photoshop/video editing, costs around $800... And if you try to game.on it, it'd perform like a $200 card .

    There's so many different things that can affect the performance of your computer for the application you want it for. If your techy, you can research what's best... If not, it's usually best to hire someone to design a system for you. You can spend half the price, and get the same if not better performance on a system made to do ripping / Photoshop editing.

    To put it into perspective... I think the systems we built for our designers cost about the same, if not slightly lower than their monitors cost... Why build a awesome design station, then buy a cheap $200 monitor that has crappy color accuracy?

    Just make sure your tech knows the specs. Ours was told to bring in a new computer for our rip station... I got a 60gb ssd hard drive. 40 was filled with windows 10... 5-10 with onyx... And that meant I couldn't rip anything because I ran out of space! I would have rather built.it myself, as a lot of the specs aren't optimized for what I use it for, sadly they bought it without even letting me know. So.. always research specs before committing!
     
  19. WildWestDesigns

    WildWestDesigns Major Contributor

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    Ironically, haven't we had a few corrupt file threads on here lately?

    You can get away with actually a little less with servers. Desktops tend to focus on different priorities that servers do not need to worry about.

    I use an Atom processor on mine. OS is a headless Ubuntu OS with web interface for GUI.

    2.2% is the most severe that I've seen, but that could also depend on the vendor of the card as well. Bare in mind too, error correction is now done in the CPU as well on the more modern systems. Thus not the delay hit when there is an issue with checking, but really only when correcting.
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2018
  20. spooledUP7

    spooledUP7 Member

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    I use Flexi cloud, and before that Flexi 7.5 and while neither are/were multi-core 64 bit programs I did see a significant step up in productivity in running my production manager on a modern PC with lots of ram and cores. However, the biggest upgrade benefit was the relatively small investment of a couple SSD drives.
    Raid 0 with a Mechanical drive for nightly system image and backups.
    I don't save files on my computer (Windows server 2008 does that) so opening files are limited to my bandwidth of my network but all my temp and cache folders reside on the SSD including the rip. This alone has made my design station 1000 times more productive (I am sure it's a much smaller factor than that ;-) and life is good.

    I cannot wait for SAi to finally release a 64 bit version of Flexi!

    Flexi doesn't use the HP of my video card but that didn't stop me from getting a decently powered card for the warm and fuzzy feeling.
     
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