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Tips Of The Day For July 1999
Tip Of The Day For July 25, 1999: Watch out for dust accumulation inside your PC's system case, which can eventually lead to all sorts of problems, especially ones related to cooling. I recently opened a friend's PC to find a thick layer, a good 1/4", of dust all over everything inside the machine. Most users who do not routinely clean out their cases will find a similar colony of dust bunnies when they eventually do open them up. Excessive dust can also lead to cooling fans locking up. An astute reader suggested this tip: if you have a case or CPU fan that is not spinning, try peeling back the sticker covering the main fan spindle, and carefully put a small drop of oil into the fan. Work it in, and the fan may start working again. Failing that, be sure to replace any fan that stops working promptly.
Tip Of The Day For July 18, 1999: If you are putting together a new system, the best place to economize is usually the CPU. This surprises some people. In particular, buying the absolutely fastest CPU on the market is almost always a waste of money. The chip makers price the state of the art very high to make additional money off the "price is no object" market segment. Unless you are in that group, you will save a big chunk of the total cost of your system by purchasing the second- or third-fastest chip in a family. For example, the Pentium III 550 costs about 50% more money than the Pentium III 500. Even Intel's own benchmarks show the 550 barely 8% faster than the 500. In the real world, most people would notice no difference between the chips. Take one quarter of the over $200 difference in price, buy an extra 64MB of RAM, pocket the rest, and you both save money and probably end up with a faster system. Go to the 450 and you save another $200, and even the difference between the 450 and 550 isn't going to be all that noticeable to 99% of PC users.
Tip Of The Day For July 4, 1999: This holiday weekend has record heat searing much of Eastern North America. With heat and humidity comes the risk of severe weather. Remember to turn off and unplug sensitive electronic equipment during electrical storms. This is the best way to protect against potentially fatal damage to your PC and other devices. Surge suppressors can help with protection, but nothing beats physical disconnection.