July 18, 2019

From XP to X (benchmarks)

I recently (literally) stuck my ThinkPad T42 laptop on the shelf and upgraded to a low-end HP 290-p0043w desktop PC. I continue my review with two pleasant unboxing surprises.

Some chassis guides I reviewed prior to purchase suggested that the HP Slimline 290-p0043w had an external power brick. It came with an internal power supply. HP's own product specs list six USB ports. It has eight. I suspect that some of the spec sheets for the Slimline weren't updated from the nearly identical Celeron G3930 model.

The HP 290-p0043w sports a Celeron G4900 under the hood, the Toyota Corolla of CPUs. It does what it has to do as long as you don't ask it to tow a boat.

First off, I went through Add/Remove Programs and got rid of everything I didn't want and didn't need, including the McAfee trial version software. As I said, a Toyota Corolla runs fine as long as you're not trying to tow a boat, and one such boat is a heavy-duty antivirus program. I rely on Windows Defender and uBlock and scan all downloads with Jotti.

Late model Celeron processors approach earlier Core i3 benchmarks (newer i3s match older i5s). The technological improvements are reflected in the benchmarks. With one dramatic exception, there's about a fifteen fold improvement in performance at the hardware level, and that's comparing what was a mid-range business laptop with a very basic system.

Prime95 is a freeware app that searches for Mersenne prime numbers. It includes a benchmark function based on running batches of Fast Fourier Transforms. It runs in Windows XP, making possible an apples-to-apples comparison. As you can see from the following samples, Prime95 has the Celeron G4900 running around 15 times faster than the Pentium M.
Intel Pentium M @ 1.70 GHz 1 core
Timings for 2048K FFT length 179.35 ms @ 5.58 iter/sec.
Timings for 4096K FFT length 376.32 ms @ 2.66 iter/sec.
Timings for 8192K FFT length 708.85 ms @ 1.41 iter/sec.

Intel Celeron G4900 @ 3.10 GHz 2 cores
Timings for 2048K FFT length 12.00 ms @ 83.33 iter/sec.
Timings for 4096K FFT length 23.67 ms @ 42.24 iter/sec.
Timings for 8192K FFT length 51.66 ms @ 19.36 iter/sec.
The Pentium M has a Passmark CPU benchmark of 414, versus 3262 for the Celeron G4900. DDR4 RAM and the PCI Express bus run about twenty times faster. But perhaps the most dramatic changes are in the GPU.

The ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 in the ThinkPad T42 has a G3D benchmark of 4. That's four. The onboard Intel UHD Graphics 610 has a G3D benchmark of 784, a 200 fold improvement in performance for a low-end integrated GPU. This revolution in GPU design is why a $30 Roku Express can output 1080p HD video. For ten dollars more, the Roku Premiere handles 4K video.

Wi-Fi had only reached the 802.11g standard when my old ThinkPad shipped, giving me a maximum download speed of 17 Mb/s. The 802.11n Wi-Fi in my Fire tablet tops out at 44 Mb/s. The HP Slimline delivers twice that. Unfortunately, upload speeds improved only 10 to 20 percent, but that's on Comcast. At least I'm getting the download speeds I'm paying for.

Someday I'll get around to doubling the RAM and installing an SSD (both for less than $100).

The mouse that ships with the HP is pretty good. The keyboard is meh. It's a full-sized keyboard in a workspace built for a laptop so it doesn't really fit. I replaced it with a Logitech K360. The K360 combines the number pad and cursor keys, saving four inches in width. It's wireless, eliminating a set of cables. It has a unifying receiver so I could add a mouse later.

I use Sharpkeys to reassign the Caps Lock key to Ctrl and Scroll Lock to Caps Lock, and Autohotkey to map a bunch of keyboard macros. It's been fairly easy to approximate the look and feel of XP without using one of those Start Menu apps. In fact, having gotten rid of the live tiles and populated the Taskbar with my shortcuts, I've grown to like the Windows 10 UI.

In any case, OneDrive integration makes the upgrade very much worth it. OneDrive installs with 5 GB of free storage, which is more than enough to back up my critical files without having to think about it.

Related posts

From XP to X (hardware)
From XP to X (software)

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# posted by Blogger Panino Manino
7/19/2019 3:28 PM   
Hope to see you someday upgrade to Ryzen.