All I want for Christmas is a New PC!

Want a new PC for Christmas but bewildered by the many choices, options, and jargon? Here are a few tips that will help you make a better choice. These tips are all for a desktop. Laptops always have less speed, and room for growth.

Start with 1 gigabyte (GB) (1024 megabytes) of RAM and make sure the PC can grow its RAM to at least 8 GB. You will need 2 GB to run the new Windows Vista™. Most "Vista Ready" PCs will have only 1 GB of RAM but check. RAM is the most important component for speed and not enough RAM is the most common reason why PCs slow down.

Look for a Serial ATA II (SATA 3/GB per sec) 7200RPM hard drive (HD) that has a 5-year warranty. Many manufacturers are still using the old EIDE (IDE) hard drives and I have seen brand new PCs that contain a 1-year old HD that only has a 1-year warranty! Seagate Serial hard drives all carry a 5-year warranty. The Serial II drives are the fastest on the market today. A slow hard drive makes the whole PC wait for it. The smallest size I would recommend is 80GB. Get a larger one if you plan to store a lot of pictures, music, or movies.

Look for a motherboard that has speed and room to grow. It should have at least 3 open slots (PCI or PCI Express) that are not being used. This will give you places to add new devices as they are invented or when you want new features in the future. It should also have a Front Side Bus (FSB) speed of 800MHz or more. Anything less will slow down a fast CPU.

I would pay the extra to get a Dual-Core processor. Not only do they have more processing power, (something that Vista needs), but they use less electricity and thus produce less heat.

The motherboard should have a Video Slot (AGP 8X or PCI Express 16X) and you want it used. A dedicated video card does not steal RAM and horsepower from the CPU (chip) like a built in one does. I would look for at least 128MB of dedicated video RAM, 256MB is better. By the way, Vista demands a dedicated video card or performance really suffers!

If at all possible stay away from Vista™. Vista is the new replacement for XP and so far customers are disappointed. I won't use it until they have had time to work out the bugs.

Quick Tip-Bit: Bring this article to the store and show it to the sales person, if they can't show you a model that meets these requirements or don't understand them, look elsewhere. If you have any questions please call Dean Hancy.

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