Whether CPU power, amount of memory or hard disk speed will be the most important to you depends on your usage (applications run). Business type applications that stay open and have minimal disk access would benefit the most from more memory, especially if you have multiple windows open at the same time. If opening and closing different applications or using large files, then disk access would be the most important and one way to gain the most there is with a RAID 0 array. Gaming, 3D and video playback are CPU bound and would gain the most from a faster CPU, and in most cases more L2 cache.
The CPU is only one part of the system, but it is one of the most expensive parts. While the cost of one CPU over another may be double, it is still only a small percent of a system’s overall cost. At times that may be an important thing to remember, don’t look at one over the other in terms of cost alone. Think of the percentage it raises the OVERALL system price.
So take a good hard look at your system usage when choosing your components. You should be able to keep the pricing about the same by looking at different components, and maybe even save a bit depending on the CPU speed range you are looking at. Take a look at the graph below comparing four different setups:
They all cost within 10% of each other. For work I’d choose the 1.8A & 512MB, home the 1.8A and RAID 0 with 256MB and for gaming the 2.0A and 256MB. I might even think about setting up a single configuration with the 1.8A, 512MB and RAID 0, for essentially the same cost as a 2.0A 256MB non-RAID setup
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