High speed at low cost

High speed at low cost

By Richard Heller

High speed at low cost

A few weeks ago, I suggested that it was less expensive to replace your five-year-old computer with a brand-new one. I had many people contact me who had not realized that such a powerful computer could be purchased for such a low price. Let’s take a look at what you can purchase for $500 or less.

The first thing that you get is an 800 MHz Intel Celeron processor. This chip is based on the Pentium III processor but has the amount of cache reduced to 128 K instead of the 512 K on the Pentium. This cache is high-speed memory that buffers the information that passes to and from the processor to the other chips in the computer. The cache runs at the same speed as the chip, that is, on an 800 MHz chip, the cache also runs at 800 MHz. This smaller cache means that the chip is slightly slower than the same speed Pentium III, but the price is a fraction of the cost.

The second thing that you get is 128 MB of SDRAM. Windows ME will run in 32 MB of memory, but most mass-market computers today have the video adapter built into the computer system board. Rather than have memory reserved for exclusive use by the video, the computer uses “shared” memory. The video system uses part of the 128 MB of memory, the higher the resolution and the more colors the larger amount of memory is used, reducing the amount available for other applications. The more RAM memory, the better the computer will operate.

The third thing that you get is a 20 GB hard drive. The programs today have many functions built into them; even your word processor probably has a drawing program or web page designer. Where a program used to come on floppy disk, today a program comes on a CD-ROM that has 650 MB of data, programs and graphics. It doesn’t take long to fill up a 5 to 10 GB drive these days.

The fourth thing is a computer system (mother) board that has the video, sound card, network card, and modem all built in. You also get a high-speed CD-ROM drive, floppy disk drive, a mini-tower case, keyboard, mouse and speakers.

Finally, you get an operating system, presently Microsoft Windows ME. To purchase an operation system for your computer will cost you almost $200. You also get other software, including a software suite with a word processor, spreadsheet and database, and other miscellaneous programs.

The company that makes all this possible is eMachines (www.e4me.com). The computer described has been selling for $475 before a $75 mail-in rebate. The parent company is TriGem, which has been making computers for other companies for a number of years.

As you may suspect, finding a computer with this much “horsepower” for such a low price can be elusive. Many office supply and computer stores carry the eMachine line, but you may have to look hard to find it in stock.

Richard Heller is an independent computer specialist who specializes in repairs, installation, upgrades, technical support, Internet sharing, data recovery and diagnostics. If you have any computer or service-related questions, please send them to The Rock River Times or e-mail technorh@mindspring.com.

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