Hardware

Do you really need that 1-GHz processor?

Do you feel the need to purchase a new 1-GHz processor? Ed Engelking takes a look at who needs the new processor, and who doesn't.


With Intel and AMD announcing their newest 1-GHz processors, there are plenty of PC users out there impatiently waiting to get their hands on one. Why do people think they need that kind of speed? Is it because the home PC really needs to be running at 1 GHz, or is it just for bragging rights?

Think about your requirements
The problem with computers these days is that manufacturers lead consumers to believe they must have top-of-the-line equipment in order to be able to run the software on the machines they purchase. However, that’s not the case at all.

Think about what you do with your computer at home. Do you run a server from your machine? Do you create intensive graphics using powerful graphic applications? Unless you’re running a home-based business, you most likely answered “no” to those questions. In all probability, you use your computer primarily to e-mail friends and family, browse the Internet, or play video games.

So, what do you really need?
Simple Internet browsers, like Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and AOL’s Netscape Navigator, don’t require much power to operate, unlike their e-mail components. A home computer can get by with the bare necessities in order to use both of the software. Something as simple as a PC with a 300-MHz processor, 64 MB of RAM, and a 24x CD-ROM will generally suffice.

On the other hand, video games require a bit more power, as most current games have heavy 3D requirements. Machines that run games generally require a processor that will support 3D functions, a video card that accelerates 3D, and a higher bit of memory than a regular PC. Something along the lines of a Pentium III or AMD K6-III 600 MHz chip, with a Voodoo3 video card, and 128 MB of RAM will generally fit every video game’s requirements. However, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Modest motorist or gear head?
I like to compare computers to automobiles. You have different kinds of motorists out there. Some people like small, economy cars that do exactly what they want and get them where they need to be with little expense or maintenance. On the other hand, automobile enthusiasts like their cars souped up and running fast. There’s no real need to have a car that goes so fast, but hey, it’s nice to look at and looks cool, too.

In the end, it all depends on what kind of money you’re willing to spend and what you’re looking to get out of the system you purchase. It does little good for a casual user to purchase a powerful machine just to check e-mail. On the other hand, a super user won’t be able to run a server with a cheap PC. Know what you plan to do when you purchase your computer, and don’t forget to question the people selling you the machine. If you consider your specific computer needs, everything should turn out fine.
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