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A few months ago I built what I thought was a beefed up box with an AMD Phenom II X4 955, 8 GB DDR3 1333 mHz RAM plus a nice motherboard (can't remember exact specs). However I couldn't get a VirtualBox Windows XP guest machine to perform well in it, and later read that AMD CPUs don't work so well in general (???).

Anyway, I have been asked to configure and buy a new notebook for a family member, who needs to run a few legacy Windows apps but really wants to use Ubuntu as the main OS to try to squeeze good multimedia performance out of it. Right now I am looking at AVADirect Clevo W860CU with NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 460M, 8 GB DDR3 1333mHz RAM, and a 7200-rpm hard drive.

Due to past experience, I am not confident about virtualisation. One question is: Would a quad core i7 (say 840QM) with slower clockspeed perform better (or worse) than a dual core i7 (say 620M) with higher clockspeed for virtualised guests under Linux? Or should I just tell the person to go with a different host OS?

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Perhaps there is another problem somewhere. I've run Windows XP as well as Windows 7 on AMD powered computers with far lower specs than the one you've described with very good results. The only thing I could suggest is that if there were any Linux applications causing a great deal of hard disk activity, that would definitely slow down the the guest OS. –  ATC Sep 28 '10 at 21:17
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3 Answers

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This mainly depends on which software is run under Windows. VirtualBox can offer all cores to Windows, but if the applications run there only use one or two, this is of no help and the higher clocked dual-core might be faster. (If it is really faster clocked than the quad core running turbo boost)

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Can Linux take advantage and activate Turbo Boost?? –  hpy Sep 28 '10 at 14:35
    
If you have a recent kernel (support came at some point in 2009): Yes. If you happen to speak German, there is a nice report at heise.de/ct/hotline/Turbo-Boost-unter-Linux-861189.html –  fschmitt Sep 28 '10 at 15:07
    
Ok. So if I get turbo boost working in the Ubuntu host, will the advantage "carry over" into the Windows virtual machine? –  hpy Sep 29 '10 at 11:42
    
Sure. If the processor clocks higher a core, why shouldn't Windows profit from it? –  fschmitt Sep 29 '10 at 11:46
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I have a celeron procesor 430, 2GiB Ram. Under VirtualBox I use VisualStudio and everything works fine.

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If you absolutely need virtualized performance, I've heard that VMWare does better than VBox, and I'm pretty sure it also supports graphics acceleration for Windows guests on Linux hosts. This might solve your performance problems with the XP guest.

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VMWare workstation 7 (paid-for unfortunately) offers better graphics performance including accelerated 3d. Most VM systems don't do good graphics though. –  gbjbaanb Dec 3 '10 at 13:04
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