Originally Posted by PVguy
"Historically, buying the low end of currently available processors hasn't been a good bet. I'm not sure I see evidence that we have reached a point where that no longer applies."
I bought a top of the line dual 1 Ghz Quicksilver in 2002. It's still my main machine. However, it was $3000. Then there was a roughly $400 midterm upgrade for Tiger; a new video card, a SATA card and drive, and a USB 2 card. Total cost, $3400. Divided by (rounding up) 8 years, it comes to $425 per year.
A new mac Mini, at least for the last batch, is $600. For another $150 I can get it to 4 GB and add a larger 7200 RPM hard drive. Total cost, $750. If it lasts only two years before it gets tossed/demoted, my TCO is less than buying a high-end box and riding it into the dirt. So I think I do see evidence that the paradigm has changed.
I was all ready to buy a new mini last weekend, but the rumors caused my finger to rise from the 'buy now' button even before I heard about the mini's speed bump. I want to see the new iMacs first. But if they don't have either a quad core or an express-card slot, then it's back to the buy base mini and trick it out plan.
I'm going to agree with you. At this stage for mobile CPUs we're seeing the Penryns do quite well overall, such that even a 2ghz Penryn can go for a few more years. There is a bit more shift into other factors being important, such as GPU, RAM and hard disk. Sure a 2.8ghz Penryn would do very well against a 2ghz. But in the context of the next few years, Mac or PC, while Intel would like you to believe CPU is the main dominant factor, things like RAM, GPU (what I've been saying for the past few weeks) and hard drive especially, will affect overall computing experience a lot.
Of course, if you're doing 3D renders and a lot of video encoding, then sure, CPU will be important. But that's a bit further away from the mainstream, and video encoding is at the very cusp of really exploding in terms of speed once they shift it to the GPU. Using even a 9400M has the potential to be faster than a 3ghz Core 2 Duo.
Nonetheless, some of the iMacs should go quadcore, if nothing else but as a differentiating factor, for competing with PCs, and maintaining *some* leading edge.
I got my refurb MacBook Alu 2.0ghz in May or so ... Even though it is the "slowest" (I cringe a bit when I think that I bought the "lowest end CPU") ... It is a Penryn, the MacBook Alu has the aluminium build, 9400M, DDR3 RAM, and I got my SATA2 7200rpm drive I popped in. Paying a significant amount more for 2.5ghz or so CPU was just... I just didn't see the real value.
For me multitasking is important, fast opening and switching between apps, Adobe CS4 and iLife and music creation, not really hardcore video editing but casual editing for YouTube. I run Virtual XP now, so RAM will be important more so than CPU. Currently with VMWare Fusion it is actually better to just allocate 1 CPU to the virtual machine...
I may not be making total sense here, just arrived at work so just wanted to type out a quick reply.