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Buying A Computer

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This computer would be used for mainly writing papers, surfing the Internet, a little

desktop publishing, and playing some 3d sports games.


The software I would buy would have to include a word processor, and desktop publishing program. The standard programs for this are Microsoft's. They are Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Publisher. Using a student discount, I can get them both for under $200. (See ) I also need to decide which operating system I want. The main choices are Windows ME/2000 or an Apple Macintosh OS. (OS 9.1/X) All the important productivity software is available on both operating systems, but Windows machines have a lot more games. I would probably use Windows ME instead of 2000 because it runs older software better. I can get Windows ME for about $80 using a student discount.


Since I am using Windows ME, I cannot buy an Apple. Here are the parts I need to buy to build a machine that will run my software well. I need a motherboard, processor, video card, sound card, case, monitor, memory,hard drive, floppy drive, modem, and CD or DVD drive. Some of the choices I make will determine others. For example, the processor (aka the CPU) I pick will determine what motherboard I will get. To begin--


There are three processors that make up the market, The Intel Pentium 4, Intel Pentium !!!, and the Amd Athlon. The Pentium is the newest, and has only been out for a few months, the Pentium !!! and Amd Athlon have been available for about two years. There are two criteria here for me. One is how fast the chip is for a given price (bang for the buck) and the second is upgradability. That is, whether I would easily be able to take out the current CPU, and easily slip something faster in when needed in a few years. The Pentium 4 will be changing to a slightly different configuration in a few months, that will not be compatible with the current motherboards. The Pentium !!! is pretty much at the end of its life, and not many upgrades are planned. This leaves the Athlon, which is expected to be selling compatibe versions for at least another year or so. Current Athlons prices are

AMD Athlon™ Processor for Desktop Price

1333MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $253

1300MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $230

1200MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $219

1200MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $199

1133MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $197

1100MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $179

1000MHz (266MHz Front-side Bus) $176

1000MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $160

950MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $149

900MHz (200MHz Front-side Bus) $140

( ) since performance increases linearly with the clock rating, it's easy to compare all of these. The best value seems to be the Athlon 900 MHz. This leaves plenty of room should I ever wish to upgrade, and still gives me a powerful computer.


There are many motherboards available for this CPU, they are all basically the same for each type of processor, some are a little (5%) faster, some are a little more stable, etc. On the recommendation of this site ( ) I will pick the EPoX EP-8KTA3 - $130.

Video card

In order to play sports video games properly, I will need a a 3d card that supports the latest standards, called DirectX (which is up to version 8). The two cards most advanced in this respect are the Geforce2 series of cards from Nvidia, and the Radeon series from Ati. Both are fine cards, however the Geforce2 is slightly faster, so I'll go with that.

Price--$120 (

Sound Card

Most sounds cards are the same, the most popular is the Sound Blaster Live series, which is available for under $40

Hard Drive

Hard drives now are available in sizes up to 80 gigabytes. This is clearly overkill for most purposes. 20-30 gigabytes is more than enough space for my purposes. Most hard drives come in two speeds, 5400 and 7200 rpm. The price difference is about $20 and the speed increase is substantial.



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