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Table Of Contents  How to Build Your Own PC - Save A Buck And Learn A Lot
 9  Chapter 1: Purchasing Components
      9  Be Cheap

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Getting the Most CPU “Bang for the Buck”
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Knowing When to Upgrade
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Save Money by Knowing Your PC Needs

In practical terms, a PC you build for $600 might be just as useful to you as one that costs $1,000 or even $2,000 to build. And, an older system might work fine for you.

For example, I have many systems, but the one I’m writing this book on right now is a 200 MHz Pentium. (You can probably find such a PC on eBay.com for $100 or less.) Yet, if I type as fast as I possibly can, the computer easily keeps up! For writing using a word processor, I don’t really need a faster system.

I have a very old 286 PC, which runs at about 20 MHz. I almost never use it, of course. But, occasionally, I’ll be nostalgic and turn it on. It can only run DOS. (The earliest versions of Windows—Windows 3.x—are just too bloated for it.) Yet, the Chessmaster program on that PC can kick my butt just as easily as a much faster system. (Of course, that system can’t browse the web or do things that are considered vital today. You won’t be editing your home movies on it!)

The Chessmaster program brings up a good point about PC use in general. In particular, most CPU time is usually spent waiting for the slowest link—the human link—to do something. You make a move; the PC makes a move; and you need to stop and think. The PC just sits there waiting for you. It’s all ready to move. We humans just aren’t much of a challenge to it!

And, if you’ve only filled up 20 GB of drive space after a year of PC use, what’s the big deal about having 30 GB remaining unused or 190 GB remaining unused? At the end of the year, if you desire, you’ll be able to upgrade to a faster, bigger hard drive that will probably be cheaper than what you would have been able to purchase a year ago.

Spend the extra money somewhere where it will have more impact on your life. See a few more movies. Get a bigger TV. Save the money and invest it for the future. Whatever. Or, if you must put the money into your computer hunt around for a fairly-priced DVD burner or something else that will add value to your system.

Finally, the newest components are still being tested. A little increase in performance usually isn’t worth the likelihood of more crashes and incompatibility problems. For example, many companies that have huge technology budgets measured in the millions of dollars won’t run the most current operating system on their machines. They’d rather stick with what’s worked in the past and what has been shown to be reliable. When the newer system is more debugged, then they’ll adopt it. It’s the software companies that want you to upgrade so they can earn more money.


Previous Topic/Section
Getting the Most CPU “Bang for the Buck”
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Pages in Current Topic/Section
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Next Page
Knowing When to Upgrade
Next Topic/Section

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How to Build Your Own PC (http://www.PCGuide.com/byop/) on PCGuide.com
Version 1.0 - Version Date: May 4, 2005

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