The truth about computers...
Computer technology can be confusing. It is a field full of jargon and acronyms, and there is usually no one
around to explain. So before you head out in search of your next computer, here are a few things to
consider. This is info the slick salesman in the big box store either doesn't know or won't tell you. This is what
you would find if you spend hours doing you own research.
CPU: This is the "brain" inside your computer. It is not the only component, but it is certainly the part that gets
the most attention. What do you need to know about a CPU? Well, for starters, all CPUs are not the same.
When comparing CPUs (or processors), you need to pay attention to two features: The clock speed, or
frequency, and the number of cores.

The frequency of all modern processors is measured in gigahertz (GHz). Typical frequencies range from 1.6
GHz to 3.8 GHz. The frequency is the number of cycles a processor makes in one second. Think of it like the
RPMs on a car engine. In general terms, a higher clock speed will mean better performance. Engineers who
design and build CPUs have reached a "speed ceiling" at around 4.0GHz. Though is possible to achieve
higher frequencies, it is not practical.

The number of cores in a CPU are also important. To add to the car engine example, thing of processor
cores in the same way you would think of the number of cylinders an engine has. In general terms, the more
cores a processor has, the more powerful it is. Mainstream processors today have one, two, three or four
cores.

So how many cores do you need? That depends on which applications you plan to run on your computer. In
reality, software designers have been slow to create applications capable of harnessing the extra power of a
multi-core processor. The frequency of a CPU, for most applications, has the greatest impact on
performance. However, even though your favorite application may only be able to use one core, a multi-core
processor with have extra computing power in reserve to handle additional tasks. This means you computer
is less likely to slow down while multitasking on a multi-core processor.

Today, the best bang for you buck for most computer users is a dual-core processor with a high
frequency.
However, you may still want to consider a triple-core or quad-core processor. Software
designers will eventually create more applications designed for these high performance CPUs, and buying a
computer with a quad-core CPU today will make your computer better able to run tomorrow's applications.
RAM (memory) This is a component that is largely ignored, until you no longer have enough. Simply stated,
memory is where the applications you are currently running reside. The more applications you have running,
the more memory you will need. Nothing will slow your computer down more than running our of memory. How
much memory do you need? That depends. You need to have "enough" memory. Adding memory beyond
"enough" will have little to no impact on system performance, but not having "enough" will dramatically slow
your computer down.

Here are some general guidelines:
For Windows XP- 512 MB minimum, 1 GB preferred, 2 GB for gamers, 3 GB for digital imaging
For Vista and Windows 7 - 2 GB minimum, 3GB recommended, 4 GB for gamers, 8 GB for digital imaging

As Windows XP has evolved since it was first released, it now requires more memory. When Windows XP first
arrived, it was shipping on systems with only 128 MB of memory! The numerous updates and improvements
require the use of more memory. Common applications also have an increased appetite for memory. This is
why you computer may have "outgrown" its original memory configuration.

Adding additional memory to your computer can be tricky. If you don;t know what your are doing, it is best to
seek the help of a qualified professional. The actual installation of computer memory is rather simple. The
difficult part is selecting the correct memory for your computer. There are several different types of computer
memory available and they will not all be compatible with your computer.
(C) 2010 by Sunset Computer, LLC
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