Tuesday, May 8, 2007

When is enough CPU power enough?

The most common computer misconception is that you have to have the latest and greatest computer technology to get your work done. For the average computer user, we read email, visit websites and maybe run a few office applications. For those that work in corporations, maybe it is ok to use MSN, so add that to the mishmash of all the applications on your computer. That still doesn't add up to all that much. There isn’t much going on with your pc that requires all that power.

If you are administering databases, or running SQL queries, then sure you need processing power and lots of memory. If you think about it though, who actually told you that you needed more power, and that you had to have the best? Can’t remember exactly? Maybe the salesman at the computer store, or was it a friend? – a non-computer-expert- type friend, or the I-fixed-a-computer-problem-so-I-know-about-computers friend?

Chances are that you got some poor advice. The computer manufacturers will disagree, and are probably cringing right now. The bottom line is the computer industry is built on self perpetuation. Industry and consumers are led to believe that a new computer is more or less outdated within 18 months. In a world where we purchase cars and expect them to last 15+ years – and scream to the high hills to the consumer group watchdogs when they don’t – we have this computer industry nonchalantly releasing marginally updated technologies every few months. We are to blame. No one else. Why else did Intel release the 286 CPU – when they had already designed the 386 first? They claim it was because technology wasn’t available, however I believe it was because they knew full well they could sell the 286, then the 386 to the same buyers 2 years later. Perfect marketing sense, and the only logical way to do business – when you’re in business for profit.

So then, why all the power? Unless you’re running the latest and greatest games, editing digital audio and video, or crunching databases, you don’t need the power.

Sure, your computer may require some optimization, or maybe even a memory upgrade, but unless it’s a 286, there are many free or inexpensive ways to improve its performance. Don’t fall for the salesman’s advice and don’t buy a new PC because someone told you to do so. If you can afford it, and haven’t purchased a new pc in a few years, then you may want to consider it. - At least if you are running Windows 98 or older versions of Windows, you should.