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Ten Rules for Rebates

Before plunking down your dollars for that "after rebate" offer that seems too good to pass up, here are some things you might want to think about.  Sometimes there are offers that, while posing as a rebate, might turn out to...

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Upgrade Your Computer

Adding RAM is one of the quickest, easiest, least expensive, and most effective upgrades you can do for your computer.

Concerned about opening your system's case?  It's really no big deal, and unless you just enjoy spending money you don't need to, it's something you'll eventually have to do.

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Whatever you're doing with your system, whether adding hardware or learning the ins and outs of software packages, it's nice to have someone who knows the way to guide you.

What you want is real technical support for what you're doing.

We suggest you take a look at this-

It's the technical support you imagined in the first place..only better: 24 hours a day - 7 days a week - 365 days a year!
 


 

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Easy fix for new computer disappointment:
New Windows XP System Sluggish?

Relax. You didn’t buy the wrong computer, and (despite what some are saying) XP’s not a dud. The fix is (relatively) cheap and (relatively) easy.

The problem is (as it often is when dealing with technology) that Progress sometimes stumbles on its own shoelaces. And it’s hardly inconceivable to suspect a role for marketing practices, too.


End to end...

Some longtime observers on this scene have derived a lot of amusement over the years from the ever-changing definition of an “entry-level” system. Through some rapid aging process hitherto unseen since the dawn of time, last month’s high-end specs descend to the level of something suitable “for the kids” in less time than it takes to load a Flash animation on a broadband Internet connection.

For the kind of work most people actually DO on these machines, today’s low-end computers are, not only adequate, but more than adequate. As this is written (Summer 2002), the cheapest systems out there sport 1+ GHz processors and 20+ GB hard drives.

The only people we know who could really USE more than that are those who are seriously into gaming, video editing, or production level graphic arts.

And, if you’re new to this, you’ll soon realize- newer faster models don’t create instant obsolescence. A computer that does what you need it to is in no way obsolete. Not until it can’t do what you need it to.

Because of these plain and simple facts, the conclusion’s pretty clear. For the vast majority of buyers, the value’s at the low end. After all, it was “state of the art” just a few months ago.

Until they started shipping with XP.

When a bargain doesn't seem that way...

Here’s the thing about that brand new and disappointingly slow computer that, despite its specs, doesn’t seem like such a bargain. It’s got a double whammy working against it- progress on the one hand, and marketing on the other.

First, the progress. Besides what you see that’s different in XP, there’s a deeper and more far-reaching change. It’s something called New Technology File System, or NTFS.

Although there’s a lot of controversy in the newsgroups over it, with some claiming NTFS is faster, we’re inclined to believe our eyes. We’ve built a few XP systems, some on the lowest imaginable configurations. Our very own senses tell us that a computer formatted with FAT 32 is visibly faster than an equivalent one with NTFS.

Common sense will tell you that the heralded advantages of NTFS
(file and folder permissions, encryption, disk quotas, and compression) have a price, and that price is in the form of hardware requirements. What common sense (and the marketeers) won’t tell you is this: you don’t necessarily need a “better” computer. What you need is one that’s properly equipped.

Microsoft, as usual, springs the bad news slowly. XP requires a minimum of 64 MB RAM. Uh, huh. We’ve run it on 64 MB. FAT 32. As Douglas Adams might have said, “almost, but not quite entirely, useless.”

Most new lower priced systems ship (Summer 2002) with 128 MB of RAM. XP itself works okay with that, even on a $30 Via C-III running at 550 MHz. So those 1.1 GHz models ought to fly, except, they don’t.

That’s because Microsoft encourages manufacturers to ship all new XP equipped computers with the NTFS data storage format. The manufacturers oblige, in part because it helps them sell more of the higher-end computers. Any consumer standing, credit card in hand, in a computer showroom with a helpful clerk on hand, can easily see the difference in performance.

Packaging, the marketeer’s best weapon in the never-ending battle for your money.

We submit that, with the exception of those groups mentioned up-page, most people can not see the difference in performance between a 1 and a 2 GHz system, and fewer still would notice in their day to day activities.

All else being equal.

And the big inequality here- the one that makes the difference you can see- is not the headlined processor. It’s RAM.

128 MB RAM is not enough...

One hundred twenty eight megabytes of RAM is not enough to run Windows XP on an NTFS installation. The lower priced computers are, as shipped, crippled by the manufacturers.

Fortunately, the cure is a simple one: add more RAM to your computer. You want at least 256 MB. More if you can swing it. We’re seeing 128 MB 133 MHz RAM chips (for the kinds of systems we’re talking about, that’s what you’re likeliest to need) at the lowest prices ever.

They’re one of the easiest items to install in a computer, and deliver a lot of performance boost.

Used to be, you had to check your model’s specs- what kind of RAM does it take, and how much can it handle? If you couldn't find the info in the manual, you had to search the manufacturer’s web site for some kind of clue.

At our preferred online source for RAM, the process is made easy.  Just select your computer manufacturer and model from a drop-down list- the site will automatically select the chips guaranteed to be compatible, and even tell you how much RAM your system will accommodate.

Get the right RAM for your computer at Crucial.com



For a few dollars more...

Once upon a time, messing with RAM required a soldering iron, nerves of steel, and considering that 256 KB of ram was composed of eight chips which together might cost $100, a certain degree of fatalism. Now, you get 256 MB or more on a single module that costs half the price for 1000 times the memory and literally snaps into a socket on the mainboard.

Really. Turn off the power. Open up the case, locate the slot, line up the chip (it’s keyed so it can’t go in wrong), and press it into place. You may have to move an air duct or cable, but that’s pretty much all there is to it. (If you can’t figure out that you should replace anything you moved, put the cover on, and reapply the power, never mind. What you have is fine for AOL.) The only things to watch out for are static electricity and clumsiness.

It may require a little pressure to seat the chip, but it never requires force. If it seems too difficult, it may not be properly aligned. Some RAM slots are designed for vertical insertion, others for diagonal. Examine the chip already there to see how yours works. Sometimes it helps to remove it. It will go back in at the same angle it comes out. Whatever else you do, don’t get impatient! That’s how you wind up breaking something.

Windows XP is comprised of a lot of code, and the more it has in the way of elbowroom, the better. 256 MB is a realistic working minimum, but for a few more dollars you can add that much, bringing your total RAM to 384. We have 512 in our main system, which was overkill in 98 and even 2K but feels comfortable here.

So, before you strip XP and install 98 on that new computer, try adding more RAM to it instead.   We've consistently obtained both good prices and good results with RAM from:

Our favorite source for all types of RAM  (including Compact Flash, Smart Media, and others) makes it easy and economical to get the RAM you need for almost any application.

Get the right RAM for your computer at Crucial.com

 


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