Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

When it’s time for a new computer, part 3

In prior articles I suggested that extreme slowness and security are good reasons to think about purchasing a new machine. Today I will discuss machine functionality and capability as contributing factors as well. I would like to further suggest that if Windows Vista is a big factor in your decision (namely that you would like to have it), you almost certainly should purchase it pre-installed on a new machine (for more on this, click here).

If you are still using an elderly machine it is quite probable that you have been doing without the ‘newer’ technologies, and it may be time for a change simply because of that fact. By “newer” technologies, I’m not talking about Moore’s Law and “power doubling” (as mentioned in part 1), but technologies like optical “burner” drives, FireWire, huge (and fast) hard drives, and “dual core” CPU’s.

If your machine doesn’t have USB 2.0, at least a CD burner, and its CPU is a Pentium III and is rated by “Megahertz” and not “Gigahertz”, than I sincerely suggest to you it is time for a whole new machine. (Forget about “upgrading” it; think “new”.) Don’t know what kind of CPU you have? Right-click on My Computer and select Properties. The computer shown below is a perfect example of what I mean.
It is definitely not a candidate for a graphics card/RAM/CPU upgrade (even if possible), but is ready to be donated to a school, or charity. Or … a big shredder.

Things you get with a new machine:
1) “Dual-layer” DVD burner. Optical drives now typically write to both CD’s and DVD’s (and read them). Dual-layer DVD’s can hold up to 9 Gigabytes of data [easily a full-length movie], and are the only way to fly when it comes to making your system recovery backups.
2) USB 2.0 and/or FireWire. The difference in speed when sending data to and from peripherals (cameras, scanners, printers, etc.) is a dramatic improvement from earlier standards. There is no reason not to be up-to-par here.
3) Faster RAM. Not only do CPU’s benefit from Moore’s Law, but RAM chips do as well. Modern motherboards not only support more RAM, but faster RAM and faster RAM types and faster bus speeds. (DDR3 is coming…) Since your RAM is the primary indicator of alacrity, and does the most work, this is a very serious factor to consider.
4) “Dual” CPU’s. There is/was much hype concerning dual-core CPU’s, and much fanfare over “doubling your processor power”. Until software is written in a way that takes advantage of the capabilities of a dual-CPU, that’s what it will mostly remain — hype and hoopla. However, more and more software is being written in such a way; and if you’re going to be running Vista, it’s a common ‘joke’ that you need two CPU’s: one for Vista and one for your programs.
*Besides … quad-core chips are here now, and you don’t want to have missed a whole technology generation, right?

Tip of the day: All of the things I mentioned come standard on even a budget machine. I hope you will factor these technologies into your considerations.
I want to remind you also that, if your current machine is not too, too old, dramatic improvements can be made by “upgrading” components. This may be a more economical consideration for you. With the exception of the CPU and RAM types [these are limited by the motherboard], everything listed above can be attained via an upgrade. I will discuss this in future articles.

Today’s free link: I have noticed that very few of you have clicked on Pandora radio. This is the one ‘tip’ my friends all thank me for … and rave about. So I have posted it again, and I invite you to see what you’ve been missing.

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Copyright © 2007 Tech Paul. All rights reserved.

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August 15, 2007 Posted by | advice, computers, hardware, how to, PC, shopping for, tech, Vista, Windows, XP | Leave a comment