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Computer Specs

Look for 3 gigahertz PC, the more RAM the better
By Bill Husted

Palm Beach Post-Cox News Service
Monday, January 31, 2005

Question: I am in the market for an IBM-compatible PC. I have a Gateway 2000 (powered by a 1997-vintage Pentium I). Could you please tell me the minimum requirements you recommend for the PC? I will probably buy a Dell. —Kenneth M. Reaka, West Palm Beach

Answer: A lot depends on how you're going to use the computer. One size doesn't fit all.

Here is what I recommend for the average home user: The assumption is that the main uses of the computer will be e-mail, Web browsing, family finances, storing and editing digital photos, and correspondence (with an occasional video game thrown in just for fun).

Processor: Look for an Intel Pentium 4 that has hyper-threading technology (usually it'll be advertised as a Pentium 4 HT). As far as processor speed, I'd go with 3 gigahertz or faster. I have nothing at all against AMD processor chips, I just prefer Intel because I have more experience with those chips.

Hard disk: Get 120 gigabytes at a minimum. More is better. Look for disks that use the SATA technology. If money isn't a big problem, I love computers that "ghost" the information of one disk onto a second disk. It eliminates the need for backups (and is how things have been done on commercial installations for years). Some of the computers made by Dell offer this technology.

RAM: I'd get 512 megabytes at a minimum. At home, I have 1 gigabyte of RAM. I think the most bang for the buck comes from adding RAM.

Operating system: Windows XP Professional seems more stable than Windows Home. Both are heads above earlier versions, so I'm not saying that Home is bad, I'm simply suggesting that Pro is better.

I'd also make sure that I got a DVD drive capable of writing as well as reading. I think — as data files get bigger — CDs will become obsolete and DVDs will be the new standard.

There are other things I recommend, but you'd have a hard time finding a computer — even the cheapest — that comes without them. For instance, you'll want USB 2.0 ports — but that's pretty much standard.

Question: I would like to get a faster computer. Should I keep my 17-inch monitor and HP Deskjet printer or buy all three items at the same time? I am 81 years old and use the PC quite a bit. Quicken, to keep track of money; I write letters on Microsoft Works; I use databases to keep track of things; do all my my own greeting cards; and use e-mail and the Web. — Rita Shore

Answer: You do a lot with your computer, so you're sure getting your money's worth. Here's how to continue to do that: If your old monitor still works to suit you, it will do fine with the new computer. You'll have to check the HP Web page (www.hp.com) to make sure that Windows XP drivers are available for your old printer. If they are, it is fine to keep that printer around.

There are times when dealers and manufacturers sell bundled computer systems, complete with monitor and/or printer. I've seen instances in which the best price I could find for a specific computer came with one of these bundled deals. So if you shop around and find that your best deal comes that way, you may end up with a new monitor and printer anyway.

Find this article at: Palm Beach Post

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