HOW DO COMPUTERS keep getting faster
each year? A big part of the answer involves
transistors, the tiny switches that process
the ones and zeroes of the digital world.
The more transistors on a chip, the faster
the processing speed.
Gordon Moore’s original graph
Intel co-founder Gordon Moore predicted in
1965 that the number of transistors on a chip
would double about every two years. This
prediction is popularly known as Moore’s Law,
and it has proven to be fairly accurate.
At any rate, by using different materials and
achieving other technological breakthroughs,
Intel has been able to increase speeds by
phenomenal amounts over the past several
decades. For example, an Intel processor in
1976 could hold 275,000 transistors. In 2006,
an Intel processor could hold more than 800
That’s why today you’re able to play high-powered games, surf the Web, edit videos and
do dozens of tasks on the computer at very
high speeds. A
storage, and light home office use at a moderate price tag. A responsive but
cost-effective system might be configured as follows.
Processor: A dual-core processor delivers great performance for a wide
range of tasks, including more intensive digital photo and music enjoyment.
With two cores you’ll tackle the longest to-do list.
RAM: Typical installed memory currently ranges from 512 MB to 4 GB, but
most users will find noticeable performance improvements with a minimum
of 1 GB.
Hard drive: A medium-size hard disk with a capacity in the range of 320 GB
should provide ample storage for most general-purpose home machines. A
second drive might be considered to simplify backup.
Optical drives: A CD-write/DVD-read combo drive is almost indispensable,
both for inexpensive backup and for sharing slide shows and other content.
Software: Many systems in this category come with the Microsoft Windows
Vista Home Basic operating system and the Microsoft Works productivity
mini-suite. You might consider the additional multimedia features of Vista
Home Premium, such as Windows Movie Maker, and one of the more fully
featured Office 2007 productivity suites.
A mobile study hall
Perhaps you’re seeking a new PC for a college-bound student, and you’ve
decided on a notebook that can easily make the rounds from dorm to lecture
hall, library and lab. For an intellectually stimulating computing experience,
you might consider a system outfitted as follows.
Processor: This is another job for a dual-core processor, which provides a
combination of high performance, great battery life and advanced wireless
connectivity to get the job done.
RAM: 2 GB or more.
Hard drive: 80 GB or more.
Optical drives: A CD-write/DVD-read combo is adequate. A DVD burner
Software: Windows Vista Home Premium is the operating system typically
provided with systems like this, but an upgrade to Office Standard 2007 or
another of the Microsoft Office suites should be a priority.
A desktop for digital content creation
Perhaps digital video and photography are your passions, and you’re
seeking a PC that will not only let you enjoy them at their high-definition best,
but will help you turn your own raw images into polished works of art. You
need a system with the power and performance to handle the largest files and
run the most heavily threaded, computing-intensive applications. You’ll know
you’ve found it when you see specs like these.
Processor: A quad-core processor is the best tool here. It delivers blockbuster
performance for breathtaking high-definition digital media experiences and
production capabilities. With four cores you’ll fly through heavy processing
tasks, so you’ll create more, wait less.
RAM: 3 to 4 GB.