Fast computer processor and memory performance: when does it matter?

I am considering a new computer in the relatively near future. From some research, I find that my existing computer scores around a 2,896 on Geekbench while one of the systems I am considering nabs a staggering 13,522 score. Those are impressive numbers, but I’m wondering when I’ll notice the speed bump (apart from general snappiness overall).

[li]I don’t do any gaming on my computer.[/li][li]I occasionally convert video files from one format to another. (avi to mov files with medium-high quality settings.)[/li][li]I sometimes use Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign at home, but the file size of the stuff I do at home is fairly moderate.[/li][/ul]
Can you think of any other computing tasks that would benefit from such a dramatic spec bump? All the other computer waiting I can think of that affects me is a result of internet upload/download speeds which is a different matter entirely.

Thanks for your advice.

PS: For what it’s worth, I’ve already determined that I’m maxing out the RAM and getting a solid-state HD for the system.

Maxing out your RAM isn’t going to do much if the processor itself can’t make use of that much.

The ability of your processor is going to determine how many things you can do at once and how quickly. A slower processor would be lucky if it can handle 10+ tabs open in Firefox, nevermind anything else happening on the computer. A good processor will be able to handle dozens of tabs open across multiple browsers, and a number of other programs open at the same time, with little or no lag in your activity.

If I were you, I’d start with an SSD-- incredibly huge boost in performance, spend money on this. If you still need more storage (and you probably will if you’re doing a lot of video work), you can buy a secondary spinning hard drive.

An faster CPU and more RAM won’t hurt of course, but the difference between a computer with a spinning HD and a SSD is night-and-day.

Edit: Oops, I missed your PS which is helpfully colored grey on a grey background. Disregard, I guess.

The video conversion will definitely benefit from a faster processor, and probably also from more cores. There, all else being equal, something like a late-vintage Core i5 would finish the conversion in a small fraction of the time it would take a Pentium IV – what now takes an hour could just be ten minutes (ballpark). What do you currently have for a computer? If you have a seriously old computer, even the slowest current processors could be a major upgrade.

Personally, I have a Core 2 machine I built five years ago, and while part of me is screaming “TIME FOR UPGRADES!” I can’t really justify the cost for such modest performance gains…

The second poster in this thread has certainly come to the right place.

Heck, my old Pentium IV machine could do that with no problem. The processor in any real computer (i.e., not a pad or netbook or something) available now should should meet that standard with both hands tied behind its back (if it has enough RAM, of course).

Other than games and intense video, keeping lots of browser tabs open can really chew up memory. If you are planning to max out memory, I recommend you make sure you have a 64-bit version of Windows (assuming you are talking about a Windows machine) so you can address all that memory. Otherwise, you are limited to about 3.5 Meg usable, no matter how much you install.

I agree with blakey rat.

I put a SSD into my laptop and the difference is definitely noticeable.

Heck, I find that current low level processors, along with only 3GB of memory, is actually enough for me to have two user accounts running simultaneously. I do all my graphics work on the computer in the living room using my netbook, while someone else is actually using the living room computer.

Oddly enough, the one thing that actually slows things down are those Flash apps from Facebook, as opposed to several more complex apps. These games use like 75% of the processor, despite being something I could have run on my first Pentium if they were coded natively. And, yet, Flash still runs acceptably on much slower processors. It seems that Flash is designed to take up as much processor time as it can.