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Need advice on old PC - to spend or not to spend?!

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Anonymous Jack, Sep 8, 2004.

  1. From: Ben
    Sure it's not a PIII? I'd expect a PII to be around seven years old
    or more. Hmmm, when did that annoying blue bunch of sods first appear?
    If you're not sure, you can download freeware programs from
    www.belarc.com or aida32; these programs will inventory and report to
    you on your system.
    Your mum's needs are modest, so unless you have cash to burn (even
    though newer desktops are relatively cheap), no sense in getting a new

    What operating sytem? Win9x will work fine on 128mb, though 256mb
    would be better. For Win2000, I'd go with the 256mb, for WinXP I
    would go with 256mb only if all the eye candy and bloat were turned
    off. Open source-based OSs tend to require less memory as they tend
    to have less bloat. I hear good things about Lindows (they renamed to
    something but I don't recall offhand to what).

    Next, what size monitor does the system have? Most store bought
    systems from about four to eight years ago shipped with 17" CRTs, but
    there were "bargain" ones (and many PII systems) that shipped with 15"
    monitors. A casual user like your mum would want at least a 17"

    For web browsing, the connection speed makes a tremendous difference,
    while better hardware/newer OS makes little difference (assuming the
    computer was manufactured 4 years ago).

    As to whether it can handle the upgrade, it depends on your
    motherboard. Check the documentation that came with your board or PC,
    or look it up on the web (or run one of the programs I mentioned).

    I'm 99% sure it can handle the memory upgrade from 128mb to 256mb,
    which is certainly a worthwhile upgrade. Most boards made for PII had
    at least two slots for up to 128mb each, while most boards made for
    PIII had at least two slots for up to 256mb each.

    128mb RAM runs about $20~$30 (US) on eBay but you'll want to check out
    what you have on board now. It's possible you have just two slots
    with 64mb in each slot to make up your 128mb. If you buy one 128mb
    stick, you end up discarding a 64mb stick and end up with 192mb; still
    an improvement. If you have three slots, you end up with the desired
    256mb (my PIII-based system has 3 slots for a max of 768mb).

    You'll want to know what the bus (or FSB) speed is; PII systems were
    made in both (IIRC) 66MHz and 100MHz FSB speeds, whereas PIII systems
    were 100/133MHz speeds. Some of the PC133 and PC100 memory modules
    will not be backwards compatible, though most of it should be.

    You can also check out memory configurators, such as those at
    www.crucial.com to find out the memory speed, configuration of store
    bought computers (tells how many slots and max RAM).

    Oh yes, set her up with antivirus, firewall, and spyware killers! And
    explain about opening email attachments, disabling HTML in email,
    phishing scams, and why it's not a good idea to send money to General
    N'gumba in Nigeria even though he has millions that he is willing to
    share waiting in an account.
    Anonymous Jack, Sep 8, 2004
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  2. Anonymous Jack

    Paul Guest

    My two cents' worth:

    For basic websurfing and e-mail, anything from a Pentium II/AMD K6-2
    on up should be just fine.

    PC100 memory should work with most PII motherboards. PC133, probably
    not, that's more for PIII's. Generally the more memory, the better,
    though 256 MB should be more than enough. Get a good brand of memory
    (skip the generics, they're trouble), preferably when the office
    superstores or the electronics mall-glut-zones have it on sale.

    WIN XP, IME requires A LOT of speed and memory.

    Make sure the hard drive isn't ready to bite the dust (that happened
    to us with a garage-sale H-P). You probably can't stick a 160 GB hard
    drive into your machine, but a surplus dealer like compgeeks.com might
    have smaller drives that your older machine's BIOS can deal with.

    Does the monitor render everyting in an interesting shade of
    off-green? Pitch it, and get a new or gently used one (I got my Sony
    Trinitron 17-incher at a garage sale for $2.00; be sure and test
    before you buy used).

    And yes, get a good anti-virus program (skip the freeware, it sucks
    real bad), firewall (especially if you're on high-speed internet
    service) and an adware/spyware buster like Ad-Aware (www.lavasoft.de).

    Good luck with your "classic" PC.
    Paul, Sep 9, 2004
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