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Messages - Jason Knight

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 18
1
PC Hardware / Re: Ryzen 5 3600 vs. 3600x, my conclusions
« on: Today at 05:50:38 pm »
I have a pair of 24” Dell Ultrasharps ( U2412M?) on a i5 2500k so would a Ryzen 5 be a worth thinking about? For a small ish budget?
Oh absolutely. The Ryzen 5 3600 -- the BOTTOM of the product line -- is roughly equal to a i7 4790k on single threaded performance.... Well, let's use geekbench to compare. It's not the most accurate but it's close enough for gov't work.

Your 2500k has a geekbench score of:

Single thread: 813
Multi thread: 2691

Ryzen 5 3600:

Single thread: 1205
Multi thread: 6852

So basically a 50% boost MINIMUM in performance, and if you're doing anything that can use the multiple cores we're talking 250% faster.

Pricing it out, you're likely looking at $160 for a decent amount of RAM (32gb), $160 for the mobo, and $175 for the CPU. Because it's a 65 watt part, you could likely even just swap in place on your current build. I'd tack on another $100 minimum for a nVME SSD, so as upgrades go you'd be looking at around $600, and a complete from scratch build being about a grand with a mid-low video card and "ready for anything" power supply.

If you're up for DIY... which is the only way I suggest building as it gives you complete control what with most off the shelf machines being ineptly built trash with overpriced underperforming parts. It's like at some point "economies of scale" got thrown out the window; likely from everyone copying crApple's idiotic price-gouging -- something that's slowly destroying the economy as these businesses place growing their profits ahead of the future of their own company. As if having stable profits or breaking even is some sort of "evil".

2
PC Hardware / Re: Ryzen 5 3600 vs. 3600x, my conclusions
« on: Today at 05:42:37 pm »
so is it worth revisiting AMDs instead of choosing Intel again as my systems are due upgrade soon?
Absolutely. The entire Zen2 (aka Ryzen 3600 or higher) lineup are for all intents and purposes blowing Intel out of the water on everything except "raw gaming performance where money is no object"... and even then Intel loses if you put cost into the equation.

Let me put it this way, the $175 Ryzen 3600 -- the BOTTOM of the Zen2 lineup -- is faster than 90% of Intels current lineup; up to and including their $300 offerings. In some cases it's even spitting distance (10% or less) i7 9700k, a $400 sku that has two more cores and is clocked 200mhz faster.

Let me say that again, the Intel i7 9700k costs $225 more, has two more cores, four more threads, and is clocked 200mhz faster, and in most benchmarks it only wins out by 5 to 10%. You MIGHT see the occasional game where the difference is 25%, but is a 25% speed gain worth over double the price?!? Also remember, that's comparing the BOTTOM of the product line to pretty far up the middle. If we went price to price you'd be looking at a 3800X for $100 less, or a 3900X for $70 more, both of which run circles around the 9700k, The latter with its 12 cores / 24 threads pwning pretty much everything in non-gaming tasks.

Just beware the "proper" motherboards for a Zen2 are gonna run you $150 or more. You can theoretically use cheaper/older boards if you have another socket AM4 chip you can BIOS flash with, but there are performance and feature penalties so I say buy an X570 chipset motherboard, or don't bother at all.

Of course if you're just making the tech leap, you'll probably want to get some nVME PCIe x4 SSD's. It's about $250 for a good 2tb one (I suggest Silicon Power as a reliable but affordable brand) and well worth it with their being roughly 10x faster than a SATA SSD, so 60x faster than the best HDDs like seagate Ironwolf or Exos.

I was skeptical of SSD's at the start because as a tech I kept pulling dead ones out of machines for people, and under SATA it wasn't THAT big a difference in the first generation of them. Now with M.2 NVME PCIe "gumsticks" it's outright ridiculous.

For example, middle of the road 4tb HDD:


High end 6tb Seagate Ironwolf, one of the fastest HDD's out there:


A SATA SSD delivers basically anywhere from 25% to 200% the numbers of the Ironwolf depending on brand and cost... The BEST you're likely to see out of SATA is mid 500's on the sequential read.

... and here's a 500 gig M.2 NVME PCIe x4 Gen 3 WD Caviar Black SSD


Transformative doesn't even begin to cover this performance jump. Especially now that the "teething" problems of NAND Flash are well in the past.

I'm hoping to soon pick up a PCIE Gen4 SSD soon since that's supposed to double-again the performance numbers.

3
PC Hardware / Re: Ryzen 5 3600 vs. 3600x, my conclusions
« on: Today at 05:21:04 pm »
Are the DVI to HDMI cables any good?
Given that DVI and HDMI are the same SIGNALS just with different connectors? Yup. If the display is DVI you'll be just fine.

Going the other direction, DVI card to HDMI display can be hit or miss at resolutions over 1080p as HDMI uses a different technique for anything over 2560x1440 from DVI though. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Like I've been unable to get an HDMI output to drive my 27" 2560x1440 IPS, but thankfully that workstation has a GTX 560TI in it with a DVI port... sadly though it leaves me driving one of the 24" 1920x1200 displays off analog.

Whilst my media center is driving the 65" 4k display over HDMI 2, and a secondary 21" display (for debugging/ monitoring) width HDMI to DVI just fine.

4
PC Hardware / Re: Ryzen 5 3600 vs. 3600x, my conclusions
« on: Today at 06:51:40 am »
Oh, and when I said "Intel is still ahead in gaming if price is no object" I have the feeling that might change with the next generation of games and RTX 30x0 / Radeon 5900 thanks to PCIe gen4. That faster bus between CPU and GPU doesn't really show up in anything other than video rendering when it comes to the 5700XT (the 5700 and 5700XT being the only two consumer PCIe gen4 video cards on the market right now), but more powerful GPU's are going to become more and more bottlenecked by CPU's and the bus between them. PCIe gen4 means that it's highly likely that Intel's offerings are going to suffer on the next generation of video cards since they still have no clear roadmap to even implement it.

See Intel's "new" 10x00 series i9 processors that appear to be nothing more than another "refresh" of the same architectures. Honestly other than clock boosts and MINOR increases in IPC, Intel has been standing still since Haswell.  That's part of how AMD caught up "so fast". Intel just isn't innovating or adding anything new; they're just making minor changes, upping the clock speeds, and throwing more electricity at the problem.

Hence why the Ryzen 5 3600 gives the 9700k a run for its money, whilst being a 65 watt TDP to the 9700k's 95 watts... a gap that's even wider if one takes into account the fact that AMD measures TDP at boost frequency, Intel measures it at base so they don't have to admit it's actually a 150 watt part.

5
PC Hardware / Re: Ryzen 5 3600 vs. 3600x, my conclusions
« on: Today at 06:38:37 am »
I know you are talking graphics
Nope, CPU's. Ryzen 5.

Are Intel processors still better than AMD, I switched to Intel years ago - and haven't looked back?
In terms of performance per dollar, AMD is out in front.

Intel maintains a SLIGHT advantage in raw gaming if you have more money than brains, but that money would for normal people be better put into a better video card than CPU.

In terms of general compute, AMD is WAY out in front as Zen 2 -- the entire Ryzen 3600 and higher cpu's -- now have a faster IPC (instructions per clock) than Intel, are shipping with better clocks at the price point, and come with more cores.

In any multithreaded heavy task, any Zen2 architecture chip -- 3600,3600x,3700x,3800x, 3900x, etc, etc, is blowing Intel out of the water for the simple fact you get more threads, and the "infinity fabric" (their term for inter-processor communication) are talking to each-other and sharing memory/cache more efficiently than Intel.

The entire Zen2 launch last year leaving Intel flat-footed in their response, with their new 10xxx series feeling like nothing more than Intel desperately throwing higher clocks and more voltage at it. It's like Athlon XP part 2, where a 2.2ghz Athlon XP was delivering performance equal to a 3ghz P4.

Much of this comes from AMD's new "chiplet' design where they manufacture multiple smaller cores in discrete packages, typically 3 or 4 cores and four threads per "chiplet", and then tie them together on the PCB substrate with a controller chip -- the wiring between the chips and the controller again being called "infiinity fabric".

The Chiplet design also reduces waste in the process drastically lowering their manufacturing costs. In CPU construction a LOT of silicon is usually just not viable and sent to the dump. By making smaller chiplets of multiple cores, if one core or even two cores is bad you can still use the rest of the perfectly good silicon. With the old monolithic die method the entire thing would have had to have been pitched. This is why Intel's yeilds of late are causing supply chain problems, as their struggles to get below 14nm manufacture mated to the fact that if any part is dead the whole chip is junk results in a much higher waste rate, particularly if your manufacture process is flawed.

... and Intel's still struggling to reach a 10nm process as they manufacture in-house, whilst AMD is on TSMC's 7nm fabs.

Because this "fabric" is designed to be scaleable, it allows the same chiplets to be used across ALL designs for ALL tasks, you just bin them based on what performance the silicon can handle, and change the number of chiplets for however many cores you want for the job.

So while the bottom of the Zen 2 line -- the 3600 -- is 2 chiplets delivering 6 cores and 12 threads, meaning they're three core chiplets (4 core with one disabled due to manufacture error).

What gets crazy is when you get up into the high end, where AMD now has the $750 US Ryzen 9 3950x, delivering 16 cores and 32 threads at 3.5ghz base, 4.7ghz boost... and that's just the consumer line on socket AM4, which is fun since all the new AMD consumer CPU's that matter of the past 2 generations. Unlike Intel which changes the socket every time the wind blows.

It also is fun that AMD beat Intel to market with PCIE gen4 doubling again the bandwidth available to external hardware, and provides 24 PCIE lanes across the entire product line. That 24 might sound inferior to some intel offerings, but one needs to remember that we really don't do SLI anymore, and the chips also provide dedicated SATA and nVME lines in ADDITION to the general purpose ones. With the X570 chipset four of those gen4 lines are split out to twice as many gen3 x1s that are multiplexed between devices. Between the on-cpu devices and the chipset you get a lot more bang for your buck on device speeds.

... and that's just the consumer line. There's also Threadripper which is for ultra high end workstations running circles around anything Intel offers, and the Epyc data center chips. The 3990X "Threadripper" being almost identical in general specs to the Epyc 7742. 64 cores and 128 threads with both boosting to 3.4ghz... Though threadripper has a base of 2.9 whilst Epyc has a base of 2.2. The lower clock being because Epyc is expected to be put into U2 rackmounts, whilst threadripper goes in more spacious desktop style cases.

The big difference though between Epyc and Threadripper is maximum supported memory. Threadripper "only" supports up to 1tb, whilst Epyc can support an utterly insane 4tb of RAM. That's RAM!!! For comparison a Ryzen 5 through 9 of Zen 2 architecture tops out at 128 gigs.

... and again, Intel's best high end data/server/compute options cost more and can't even touch the core counts even with multiple CPU's. Even then, you can go dual Epyc.

Though for dual Epyc Rome with max RAM you could buy a fully loaded BMW X5. We're talking $75K+ by the time you get mobo, both CPU's, and all that memory.

But the kicker is that $7000 Epyc Rome server CPU is built up using the extact same chiplets and architecture as the $175 Ryzen 5 3600!

Commonality of parts is smart logistics. Another place Intel's "let's change everything because we can" is biting them logistically.

So in terms of CPU, AMD is kicking Intel's ass up, down, left, right, and sideways... and that's Zen2. The 3rd generation of the Zen architecture is supposed to drop later this year! As it is, for the first time EVER, AMD has market control. This past year they actually outsold Intel 3 to 1!!! That's a crazy demographic shift. If you care about building "the best gaming rig" and money is no object, Intel MIGHT still be your choice, but if you care about much of anything else, you'd be a moron to not buy a 3rd gen Ryzen.

AMD's also doing better on the graphics side, though nVidia is still way out in front on overall performance. The AMD Radeon 5700XT competes well on price-performance to the mid-range nVidia RTX 2070 cards, but they don't have anything out right now to even come close to the 2080's. The old Vega architecture was a deed end for graphics though it's the most powerful compute per clock or compute per dollar of any video card, but the new Navi architecture is way ahead. Problem is they didn't release the high end card first... though we should be hearing about the 5900XT in the coming month.

Problem is, nVidia IS announcing the RTX 30x0 series in March which is supposed to be another generational shift like the 10xx series were. I'm probably gonna pick up a RTX 3070 once the prices lines up with my wallet and the first gen releases have been all patched up and fixed by the early adoption suckers.

Big advice with new hardware? Let other chumps and rubes try it on release.

6
PC Hardware / Re: Ryzen 5 3600 vs. 3600x, my conclusions
« on: 21 Feb 2020, 10:31:03 pm »
Oh, and even bigger side note? I HATE socket AM4. Finicky as hell... I mean I'll still take a real pinned socket over LGA any day of the week, but these Ryzen chips really are a PITA to get them inserted. If you have the bar too far open, there's almost as much resistance as when they're closed. You kind of have to rock the locker bar back and forth until the chip magically "drops" into place.

or at least that's how it was on the Asrock and Asus (eew) boards. My Gigabyte board has no such issues, so it's definitely a "who made the socket" situation. The Asrock in particular was really "stiff" and took a lot of coaxing.

7
PC Hardware / Ryzen 5 3600 vs. 3600x, my conclusions
« on: 21 Feb 2020, 10:28:48 pm »
Yesterday I got to have the "joy" of building two Ryzen systems side by side, one each of the 3600 and 3600x. Because I had both on hand I decided to play with them to ... how to put this politely... confirm some suspicions I had.

I tested both at the 3600's voltages and timings, and at the 3600x's voltages and timings, with the coolers. Prime95 set for maximum heat. This was all gone on a Gigabyte X570 Gaming X motherboard, and Thermal Grizzly Kryonaut paste. Boost was set to all cores capable.

The tested coolers are the Wraith Stealth that comes with the 3600, the Wraith Spire which comes with the 3600x, and my spanky new Noctua DH-N15 Chromax that's going into my new media center upgrade next month. I tested underclocks and overclocks on the Noctua only.

Side note, it's really strange looking at a Noctua sink and fans that are black instead of manure brown and beige.

My results, temperatures are a reported high AFTER throttling stabilized. (earlier values discarded)

Code: [Select]
Wraith Stealth
3600 timings/voltages
3600 -- 94C, throttled to 4150
3600x -- 96C, throttled to 3867
3600x timings/voltages
3600 -- 95C, throttled to 4150
3600x -- 96C, throttled to 4100

Wraith Spire
3600 timings/voltages
3600 -- 94C, 4200 no throttling
3600x -- 96C, throttled to 4050
3600x timings/voltages
3600 -- 94C, throttled to 4200
3600x -- 95C, throttled to 3950 ???

Noctua DH-N15 Chromax
3600 timings/voltages
3600 -- 65C, 4200 no throttling
3600x -- 68C, 4200 no throttling
3600x timings/voltages
3600 -- 72C, 4400 no throttling
3600x -- 76C, 4400 no throttling
3600x timings at 3600 voltages
3600 -- 68C, 4400 no throttling
3600x -- unstable, unable to run test
4.6ghz max boost at 1.5v
3600 -- 78C, 4600 no throttling
3600x -- 94C, throttled to 4233

Conclusions? Well, it's clear to me that they're really at the core the same part, and the "real" difference between them is the cooler it comes with. 50mhz performance is within the acceptable limits of most binning processes, and of course ALL the Ryzen 2 chips use the same chiplets...

But the higher speeds and voltages bring about an interesting possibility. You know how when overclocking to get stability you often just strap more cooling to it and up the voltage? This is because lower binned parts can often stabilize with more voltage...

LOWER binned parts... Given that in terms of TDP the 3600x is a 95 watt part, and the 3600 is a 65 watt part, is it possible that the 3600x is in fact the LOWER binning?

From the day they were released I thought it was ridiculous that the 3600x was $50 more for a 200mhz boost limit increase and sucking nearly a third more juice / making a third more heat. That felt like it was just a really crappy and inept overclock. I mean seriously a 25% price increase for a less than 5% clock speed increase whilst having a 45% increase in TDP? Something is WRONG there.

Well, what if the "x" is just a crappy overclock of a lower binned part than its 3600 cousin. That I got the 3600 to 4.6 with no throttling whilst the 3600x crapped out and started spewing heat like crazy could be an indication of this. They may have found a way to sell the inferior part for more money! Just put a bigger sink on it and throw more electricity in there.

Though my sample pool is too small to say for sure. I could have just "gotten lucky" on which chiplets I had in front of me.  This is NOT proof by any measure and is all just conjecture, but it makes sense.

I can see why most of the trustworthy Youtubers (Jayz2Cents, Linus, Stephen from Gamers Nexus) are saying don't waste the extra money on the 3600x.

Side note, it's also comedy when I trust people on Youtube more than I do "real" writers from "real" publishers. When it comes to 'tech? Damned straight skippy!

8
JavaScript / Re: Is JavaScript eating HTML!?
« on: 20 Feb 2020, 12:32:12 pm »
What I get a kick out of is how these derps know so little about HTML and CSS, much less how to work with either efficiently, that they can actually delude themselves into thinking that hafwitted incompetent TRASH like React is worth a damn.

Or the endless stream of excuses they come up with to justify their endless pointless idiotic "JS for nothing" in ways that are WCAG violations or get you into trouble with some country-specific laws. Worse it's so often used for things HTML and CSS can do faster, easier, and simpler without the scripting.

But with these derps using callbacks for everything, forEach in cases where it would be less code and execute many times faster to use a good old FOR loop, LET in cases where it's actually inferior or equal to VAR, anonymous functions where they would actually introduce overhead, etc, etc, it's plainly apparent these clowns who promote this type of nonsense are just as unqualified to write a single line of JavaScript, as the hundreds of know-nothings who vomit up the latest "flavor of the week" HTML/CSS framework are to write HTML.

9
HTML / CSS / Re: Inline HTML Editors
« on: 17 Feb 2020, 01:44:20 pm »
Whilst it's been years since I used either TinyMCE or FCK (I still call CKEditor that) both had configuration files that let you pick and choose which automatic buttons and/or tags are supported.

10
HTML / CSS / Re: Custom Checkbox - Styling
« on: 16 Feb 2020, 02:07:36 pm »
I prefer:

Code: [Select]
<input type="checkbox" id="toggle_nothing">
<label for="toggle_nothing">I agree to nothing</label>

Code: [Select]
input[type=checkbox] { /* hide the default */
position:absolute;
left:-999em;
}

input[type=checkbox] + label:before {
content:"";
display:inline-block;
width:1.5em;
height:1.5em;
margin-right:0.4em;
line-height:1.5em;
text-align:center;
vertical-align:middle;
background:#EEE;
color:#FFF;
border-radius:0.25em;
}

input[type=checkbox] + label:hover:before {
background:#CCC;
}

input[type=checkbox]:checked + label:before {
content:"\2713";
background:#29F;
}

Less that half the code will git' 'er dun... Exploits having the proper source order, adjacent sibling selectors, and the behavior of the for/id association. Also nice you can click ANYWHERE on the label to toggle it.

I use position:absolute to hide the input because if we set it to display:none you can't keyboard navigate to it, and the label won't toggle it on/off in IE.

11
HTML / CSS / Re: Strange Footer CSS Padding/Margin Problem
« on: 16 Feb 2020, 06:51:14 am »
I added one more test case to the demo, which is identical to the second one, but doubles the margin on the P to 2em. The 1em on the inner and the 2em on the P overlap, resulting in 2em OUTSIDE the inner DIV despite it only having a 1em margin of its own.

That's how confusing it can get.

12
HTML / CSS / Re: Strange Footer CSS Padding/Margin Problem
« on: 16 Feb 2020, 06:17:32 am »
Unless I don’t fully understand the difference between padding vs margin?
Quite likely. Many people never quite grasp the ins and outs of it. It's one of the more complex and confusing aspects of the box model.

Margins vertically have a condition called "collapse". Margin collapse means that when elements are against each-other or inside each-other ALL the margins overlap, with whoever has the largest margin being the value used.

Let's say you have two paragraphs in a row.

Code: [Select]
<p>
Some Text
</p><p>
Some More Text
</p>

and you set them to margin:1em; You get 1 em above, left, and right,,, and only one EM between them, not two em. They don't add up, they overlap. This is called margin collapse and it was done ON PURPOSE so that, well, if you want 1em all-around paragraphs it's easier to say margin:1em; than it is to say margin:0 1em 1em; and then padding the top of the parent container or margin-bottom on the element preceding it.

This collapse behavior also happens when one element is inside another, the margins will overlap OUT of the parent container into the parent's margin, whichever one having the largest margin being the winner.

Hence if you had:

Code: [Select]
<div>
<p>
Some Text
</p><p>
Some More Text
</p>
</div>

and the DIV is set for no margin, the 1EM margin on the paragraphs will go OUTSIDE the DIV, not inside it because of "margin collapse".

overflow:hidden and float left/right on the parent (the DIV in this case) BOTH prevent margin collapse. I believe display:table, display:flex, and display:grid all also kill off this collapsing behavior.

Here's a test-case to show this in action:
https://cutcodedown.com/for_others/grumpyYoungMan/marginCollapse/

The markup:

Code: [Select]
<div class="test">
<div>
<p>
Some Text
</p><p>
Some More Text
</p>
</div>
</div>
<span></span>
<div class="test overflow">
<div>
<p>
Some Text
</p><p>
Some More Text
</p>
</div>
</div>
<span></span>
<div class="test overflow">
<div class="overflow">
<p>
Some Text
</p><p>
Some More Text
</p>
</div>
</div>
<span></span>

Is kind of ugly. In production I'd NEVER use span that way to make black bars, or use a class like "overflow", but in this case they're there to explain how it works.

The outer DIV is set to a red background, the inner DIV is set to green.

The first section has no overflow set, so as you can see the margin is "collapsing" OUTSIDE BOTH the DIV around them in the vertical, but not in the horizontal. Hence the body background of white is showing instead of either DIV, even though both the P and the inner DIV are set to margin:1em;

The second section the outer DIV has overflow:hidden on it, revealing our red all around, but it's still just 1EM as the P and inner DIV's margins are collapsing atop each-other.

It's only when we set overflow on both DIV in the third example, that all margins are "contained and non-collapsing" -- but beware that margin-collapse between sibling elements CANNOT be disabled by any trigger -- or at least, last I checked.

The next section puts overflow on both DIV, and what happens? We get to see both backgrounds because all margins are "contained" and non-collapsing.

There are times margin collapse can be really handy, it exists for a reason... but it can REALLY suck when you're first learning this stuff.

So yeah, margin and padding are WAY different, and that difference isn't just "one's outside the border, one's inside".

... wait 'till you get into negative margins.

13
HTML / CSS / Re: Strange Footer CSS Padding/Margin Problem
« on: 16 Feb 2020, 04:37:56 am »
So should I just add a spacer div or HR to keep the space?
Neither... adding a div where it's JUST a div for spacing is junk. Just like the mentally enfeebled trash of "clearfix DIV", spacer DIV's are another case of defeating the point of CSS and bloating out the markup for nothing.

... and HR has the semantic meaning of a change in topic / section where heading text is unwanted or unwarranted. You should NOT add a HR just for a gap or because you want a line across the screen, because that's not actually what the tag MEANS.

14
HTML / CSS / Re: Strange Footer CSS Padding/Margin Problem
« on: 15 Feb 2020, 06:23:30 pm »
One of the things to remember is that margins collapse both in terms of two elements facing each-other in all directions, but also parent to child in the vertical.

If you have a margin:1em; on a DIV inside a div set to margin:1em, the inner margin would/should collapse top to bottom so that combined they only take up 1EM.

A side effect of overflow:hidden is that just like how it triggers float clearing, it also triggers "don't collapse inner margins".

In any case, margin collapse is one of the reasons I don't use margin unless I have to because I've already used padding. Hence @coothead's last post about using padding-bottom is the approach I'd use unless I needed that padding for something else.

Margin can be... a real PITA.

15
PHP / Re: Handling search and User Input?
« on: 14 Feb 2020, 03:28:18 pm »
The VPS site has recently had big problems with 100% CPU Usage necessitating a reboot. I have been firefighting trying to keep the site alive and have not been able to pinpoint the problem. It could be Ubuntu updates conflicting with my script or corrupt imported XLS spreadsheets. 
Hmm... some things to check.

1) Are you hemorrhaging PHP errors silently? If in top that usage is mostly IOWAIT it could be you're overflowing your logs and the system is hogging time whenever it has to compress and back them up. This bit a client of mine multiple times as their in-house guys kept screwing over their ancient copy of UBBThreads (ick) with "security code" that filled the logs to the "compress now" threshold every 8 hours, with logs so big they took an hour to compress them into .gz. Naturally after a couple days the machine started running out of disk space too. Eventually it was so utterly banjaxed I said screw it, wiped their forums, and moved them to SMF which didn't need all the bizzaroland patching they were trying to do (against my advice).

2) Excessive HTML -- particularly if you're doing realtime base64 of that image -- can cause a lot of server load.

3) Are you 100% sure you've got all the right fields indexed?

4) make sure those cron jobs are NOT all running the same time of day.

5) Could it be a RAM bottleneck? If going fulltext search I suggest at LEAST 2gb of RAM on your VPS plan.

6) Are you on MariaDB instead of mySQL? Oracle seems to be intentionally neutering mySQL by making it suck more CPU and memory than it used to for some vague "oh it'll be faster" -- no, no it isn't. Whilst MariaDB is a drop-in replacement fork that came about because the world doesn't trust Oracle not to screw it up (see OpenOffice vs. LibreOffice), the two are really starting to diverge from each-other now on the back-end.

One final thing you might try is a optimized fulltext engine like Sphinx:

http://sphinxsearch.com/

I've added it to forum software before and it made a huge difference in performance both in terms of time/cpu use and looking for specific text. Never programmed for it directly, but it could be a possible solution to your load issues. It sits on top of / between your SQL engine and the server-side language making it fairly simple (from what I read in the docs) to add/implement.

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