Purchasing a New PC? Check Out These Tips

The Wall Street Journal has published a list of tips that will help in your next computer purchase. Pointing out that buying decisions may be complicated by the impending launch of the new Microsoft Windows XP operating system, which is due in the fall, the Journal has these tips to help with your choice:

  • Memory: At least 128 megabytes of RAM is recommended. An upgrade to Windows XP will require even more (196 to 256 megabytes).
  • Hard Disk: At least 20 gigabytes is recommended.
  • Processor Speed: The Journal warns that the cost of a 700 megahertz Celeron processor should be the benchmark for making a processor decision. Processors by any other name or those that claim to be of a higher speed will not produce discernibly different results.
  • Operating System: Windows Me, the latest upgrade to Windows 98, will have to do until Windows XP is released. Alternatively, the business-oriented Windows 2000 system is noted for its stability and reliability. Any of these Windows systems will be upgradeable to the Windows XP.
  • High-Speed Internet: It is recommended that you acquire a computer with a built-in Ethernet networking connection if you plan to use a cable modem or a DSL connection in the future.
  • Video System: At least eight megabytes of video memory is recommended. Serious gamers should consider doubling or even quadrupling that amount.
  • Audio System: MP3 addicts may want to invest in a subwoofer and good speakers. Those who don't use the computer for digital music can use any sound system.
  • Monitor: The new flat monitors are dropping in price, which means the bit, TV-style monitors are dropping as well. Shop around and you'll find a bargain.
  • Mass Storage: Recommended is a built-in CD-RW drive which will allow you to record your own music as well as recording back-up files.
  • Ports and Slots: There should be at least two USB connectors on your computer, preferably more. Those who use video in a big way may want to get a faster new port called 1394 FireWire or I-link.
  • Brands and Models: Non-techies should stick to the brand names, such as Hewlett-Packard, Compaq, Dell, and Gateway. All of the above specifications can be packaged in one of these computer brands for $1,100 or less.

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