Sunday, April 16, 2006

15. What To Upgrade On My Computer

From NotebookReview
By: Lowlymarine
Some info added by me, and edited by me as well.

Another common question is about what upgrades have the biggest impact on performance. There's no hard and fast answer, as what makes the biggest diffference varies depending on what you need to do with you PC.

It is often thought that notebooks are too integrated to be very upgradable, but this is rarely the case. Many parts, such as the RAM, hard drive, optical drive, operating system, and sound card can be upgraded after market, and the GPU, processor, and WiFi card can often be upgraded before you purchase your notebook.

In general, the most cost effective, easy-to-install performance upgrade is RAM. You can usually get 2GB of RAM for under $250, which will improve performance in all aspects of your system. It should be noted that it's usually cheaper to configure your PC with very little RAM and add more yourself.

NOTE: For 32-Bit Processor and 32-Bit Operating System, you can only put up tp 2 GB RAM in, while for 64-bit Processor and 64-Bit Operating System, you can put up to 4 GB RAM in. If you put more than 2 GB RAM in for the 32-Bit Processor and 32-Bit OS, only 2 GB will be used, so don't waste your time buying more RAM to put in, because it will be your money that will be wasted. Same goes for the 64-Bit Processor and 64-Bit OS, only 4 GB will be used.

The most important upgrade if you intend to do gaming is obviously the graphics card. Though rarely upgradable after market, the GPU is often upgradable at least somewhat during configuration, for instance on Dells, HPs, Alienwares, and other configurables.

The processor, on the other hand, is important more for working in Windows and productivity programs, since the GPU will be the bottleneck in almost all games. That's not to say that a 1.2GHz Celeron-M will be acceptable for DooM3, but a 2.13GHz P-M Sonoma is probably overkill these days unless you intend to use many advanced programs at once.

Hard drives don't just have different sizes, they have different speeds, too. An 80GB 4200RPM hard drive may be inexpensive compared to a 40GB 7200RPM, but there's a good reason for that. 7200RPM hard drives access almost 3 times as fast as 4200RPM ones and nearly twice the speed of 5400RPM drives, meaning faster gaming perfmorance and shorter load times for all of your programs. 7200RPM hard drives are expensive, however. For laptops, it is much more expensive to get a 7200RPM HDD than a 5400RPM HDD, while for desktops, the prices vary for internal hard drives. External hard drives usually come standard as 7200RPM, but the speed won't matter if it is exernal since it depends on the transfer rate between your computer and the external hard drive itself. Also, external hard drives are much more expensive than internal hard drives.

There's not a lot of choice in upgrading your OS. For details on the pros and cons of the various versions of Windows XP, just look above. Other operating systems are available for the PC, such as Linux and BeOS, but serve more of a niche market due to their lack of compatability with many common programs.

Finally come the more novelty upgrades: optical drives, sound cards, etc. The fastest, most comprehensive available optical drive is the 8x LightScribe Dual-Layer DVD-RW drive, and is probably only worth the ~$150 if you need to do DVD authoring or need a place to put large data backups. The Sound Blaster Audigy 2 ZS Notebook PCMCIA sound card is currently the premier notebook sound card, and retails for about $130. It's useful for gamers that need the best sound quality and audio perfmorance, as well as those who use their laptop as a mobile theater.

Overall, what to upgrade is often a matter of personal need, but some guidelines can help make the decision easier.


Anonymous said...

Error on HDD's?
You say that Large 7200RPM HD's aren't avalible yet?
I believe I have found one. Here is a combonation deal of an internal IDE harddrive with an External case (to make it an external HD)

LuckMC11 said...

Ok. It is updated. That article is like over a year old, so plz bear with me.