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Computer Upgrade

.. 5). Another common component of the personal computer is a modem. A modem works as a connection between digital and analog signals. The modem itself is an analog device.

It uses analog telephone lines which were invented before any digital device. Modern 56K modems combine both analog, and digital transfer, making it perform better than analog only devices. Newer technology in data transfer are DSL – digital subscriber line, satellite, and cable. All of those are generally faster, but a more expensive way to connect to the Internet (White 171). A sound card is one the devices that has been overlooked in early systems, besides a simple speaker the early PCs were mute.

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Due to the of increasing popularity of computer games, designers developed a soundboard, which was able to read and reproduce sound data recorded in separate files. Modern soundboards allow users to enjoy realistic three-dimensional sound surrounding a person while playing computer games (Stephen 1187). To build a PC providing maximal gaming performance, one of the most important things to consider is choosing a CPU. There are several choices meeting individual needs, and purposes. Traditionally the speed of the processor is defined by it clock speed, but that is often not very certain because different developers can pack more performance into fewer clock cycles (Stephen 289).

However to reach good gaming performance, todays CPU needs a clock speed of 400 MHz or more, which eliminates selection below that point. The two major manufacturers making high performing processors are Intel and AMD. Both producers have selection of low and high price range CPUs between one hundred dollars up to one thousand dollars. Intel Celeron is one of the good performing and low priced CPUs, but compared to higher priced Intel Pentium II/III Celeron does not perform quite as well . The reason why Celeron is not as fast as Pentium II/III, is no presence, or low amount of cache memory.

Cache memory is a very fast type of memory where data is temporary stored to avoid accessing slower RAM or hard drive. Older CPUs such as Pentium were using cache memory implemented on the motherboard; newer processors have cache memory installed on them, which makes the data transfer faster. AMD- advanced micro devices, as Intels largest competitor is known for providing well- designed and highly compatible processors. Currently to compete with Intel, AMD sells two good performing types of processors. The highly priced, and great performing AMD K7-Anthlon, and the “Celeron competition” AMD K6. The Anthlon CPU in most benchmarks performs better than its clock speed equivalent from Intel (Hwang 1).

After selecting CPU next thing to consider is motherboard. There is a wide selection of motherboards, but only few well performing and high compatible. Abit is one of the well-known mainboard manufacturers, their policy has always been to provide greatest flexibility and feature set available. Their fair priced Abit BX6 rev. 2.0 features five PCI slots, two ISA and one AGP.

BX6 supports up to one gigabyte of RAM, and is compatible with all Intels Slot – one processor, making it an excellent choice for Intels CPUs (Hwang 1). If AMD K7- Anthlon is the choice for CPU, outstanding MSI MS-61-67 is a high quality mainboard supporting all Anthlon CPUs, and providing same as Abit BX6, five PCI, and two ISA slots. AGP slot is implemented as well. MS 61-67 supports up to 768 megabytes of random access memory, which provides plenty of upgrading options. The mainboard also provides “Plug and Play” BIOS which detects the peripheral devices and expansion cards of the board automatically(Hwang 3).

A good graphic card is one the most important things to consider while building a gaming computer. 3Dfx Voodoo3 is one of the best performing graphic cards available on the market (Vederman 204). Its impressive test results in Glide interface based games are unbeatable by any other graphic card, just because 3Dfx is the only manufacturer using Glide interfacing. Using other interfaces such as Open GL or Direct 3D the Voodoo 3 3500 looses speed compare to TNT 2 Ultra based accelerators. One of the features of the high priced Voodoo3 3500 is a TV tuner that allows user to watch television on computers monitor (Case 49) .

Voodoo 3 supports all three interfaces- Open GL, Glide, and Direct 3D which makes it one of the fastest, and most compatible graphic cards available. Only sixteen megabytes of graphic memory does not allow Voodoo3 to run true color, three dimensional scenes in high resolutions, and that is what Nvidia TNT 2 Ultra does (Case 204). Several graphic card manufacturers use TNT 2 Ultra chipset. Well known, and one of the largest is Diamond Multimedia producing Viper 770 Ultra, using previously mentioned TNT 2 Ultra chipset. Viper 770 is a very fast graphic accelerator with implemented thirty-two megabytes of graphic memory, allowing true coloring in high resolutions.

Retail version of the Viper includes a large software bundle with several valuable games. Another feature is an excellent toolbar that allows the user to tweak up a lot of details improving performance, such as an overclocking utility (Case 99). After all the hardware parts are assembled it is time to install the most important software, the operating system. The computer is unable to do anything unless it is running an operating system, which is a basic type of software that acts as a supervisor for all the applications (White 9). Although the operating system is the most important software it is not included in computers, because of the need to upgrades. Operating system is loaded from hard drive to the random access memory before the CPU can perform any operations.

Operating systems were originally created to handle communication with other drives, because without an operating system programmers would have to invent software with instructions to run the hardware (White 19). Currently the most popular operating system is Microsoft Windows 98 Second Edition. One of the new features of the Windows OS is an upgraded version of USB- universal serial bus support, which allows to use USB compatible modems. The feature improvement since Windows 95 includes for example Disk Defragmentation Optimization Wizard, using the process of disk defragmentation to increase the speed of the most frequently used applications (Stephen 53) The newest Microsoft operating system Windows 2000 is still available only in beta test version. Impressive new features such as very complex plug and play detection devices, or performance improvements due using the newest drivers are only few of the new implementations (Cleveland 75). Todays reality – like games require high-end PCs, sold for thousands of dollars.

By building a custom computer a user is really able to tweak up the best performance for the best price. Cheaper, custom built PC allows user to play any of the hundreds of games available, and reach the best frame rates.


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