Do You Need a New Personal Computer?

Looking to buy a new computer? Can’t wait until January when the new operating system is released? Not sure which one to buy? You are not alone. Microsoft’s move to a new Vista operating system comes with a multitude of questions. Let’s try to clarify things a bit.

It’s no wonder you find the situation confusing. Many users dedicated to previous Windows OS are jumping ship to the new Macintosh with Intel Dual-Core processors, which can actually run both operating systems Mac OSX and Windows XP but will not be able to run Vista. IBM has decided to skirt the issue by using GNU/Linux operating systems in their new computers. Microsoft is convinced users will love Vista once they try it.

According to those who have tested beta versions of Vista:

The most compelling features are Vista’s organization of tasks in logical, easy to find and use locations, and glass-like, 3-dimensional visuals for a more realistic look and feel. Vista replaces Windows XP. It provides enhanced security including that favored feature, parental control. Backups have built-in software which can fully restore your system after failure. The new Internet Explorer version 7.0 incorporates Firefox features IE users secretly admire, such as tabbed pages and privacy management. New desktop searching may give Google and Yahoo a run for their money. Updates are processed from a single application to make it easier to keep your programs current. Shared workspace and multiple computer collaboration lets you communicate in groups without additional software, phone costs, or joining organizations. And finally, media applications will organize, record, print, and actually edit sound, image, and movie files the way we all expected them to in the first place.

Drawbacks include the need to still buy separate antivirus software. Laptop lovers will find they cannot work on battery power alone for very long because Vista uses high-end graphics hardware, a real power guzzler. Experienced computer users have found some of the changes disturbing, particularly moving the Run command away from the Start menu. Some of the usual applications have new names, though not much has changed, like email. (Desmond, 2006)

If tradition holds true, Vista will become the standard default operating system on all Windows machines. So if you need a new personal computer, you will want to be sure you can run Vista. So what will you need to run the full version of Vista? Don’t worry if you don’t understand what everything means. Compare these requirements with the specifications provided at the place of purchase. Match one of the items listed in each of the categories to achieve the most compatible machine.

If you are buying a DESK TOP computer, to be Vista compatible the computer will need:
* A 64-bit, 1 gigahertz Processor, at least an Intel Pentium 4 with HT Technology Extreme Edition or with AMD OR Intel Pentium D with Dual Core or Viiv.
* 1 gigabyte of RAM.
* Graphics card must support WDDM and have at least 128 megabytes of RAM devoted to video memory: a PCI Express or AGP graphics card is recommended.
* Hard drive should have Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) but Enhanced IDE is better or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) with Native Command Queuing (NCQ), which is more efficient than the older parallel ATA drivers because it can handle more than one task at a time. NViDIA nForce4 chipsets, also called SATA II, are even faster but are not always available.
* Storage on the hard drive should accommodate at least 8 megabytes of cache or screens will take too long to draw, and at least 60 gigabytes of file memory, 100 GB or more if you love to download music and video or store video games and movies on your computer.
* Network connection: 100 megabyte Ethernet, this is standard and comes with all new computers.
* Optical Drive: compact disc with read and write capability that can also read digital versatile/video discs is minimum, as Vista discs will come in either format in the near future. A DVD with read and write capability is better, as it can also read and write CDs.

If you are buying a LAPTOP computer, to be Vista compatible the computer will need:
* A 64-bit, 1 gigahertz Processor, at least an Intel Pentium 4 with AMD Athlon 64 or Turion 64 OR Intel Dual-core or Core Duo series.
* 1 gigabyte of RAM.
* Graphics card must support WDDM and have at least 128 megabytes of RAM devoted to video memory: an Intel 945G chipset OR AIT RS400 or RS480 family chipset is recommended.
* Hard drive should have Integrated Drive Electronics (IDE) but Enhanced IDE is better or Serial Advanced Technology Attachment (SATA) with Native Command Queuing (NCQ), which is more efficient than the older parallel ATA drivers because it can handle more than one task at a time. NViDIA nForce4 chipsets, also called SATA II, are even faster but are not always available.
* Storage on the hard drive should accommodate at least 8 megabytes of cache or screens will take too long to draw, and at least 60 gigabytes of file memory, 100 GB or more if you love to download music and video or store video games and movies on your computer.
* Network connection: 802.11 wireless.
* Optical Drive: compact disc with read and write capability that can also read digital versatile/video discs is minimum, as Vista discs will come in either format in the near future. A DVD with read and write capability is better, as it can also read and write CDs.

When in doubt, look for a sticker that says the computer is “Vista Compatible”. Some of these will tell you they can run Vista on 512 MB of RAM but this is only the stripped down version of Vista, not the full featured model. If you can’t find the above graphic support in your price range, at least be sure you have Microsoft DirectX9 and SVGA resolution of 800 x 600 or higher. An 800 megahertz processor will run the basic version of Vista, but faster will increase your satisfaction. One Gigahertz should be considered standard for this operating system.

If you still connect with a modem for your internet service, you will probably want to use the basic version of Vista, as pages may take longer to draw. Expect to pay at least $1000.00 for a laptop and $900.00 for a desktop with the proper configuration. It is the hardware inside the machine that enables Vista to operate, hardware that is state of the art (i.e., expensive). If you have the luxury of waiting a year or so, odds are Microsoft will work out the bugs by then and more hardware options will be available. Happy hunting!

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