Budget Dual Core Battle: Athlon II 240 vs. Pentium Dual-Core E5200

Posted in CPU, Uncategorized by QuietOC on February 26, 2010

Computers have quickly gone from single processor cores into multiple cores, but most software still doesn’t benefit from the extra cores. Still the dual core processor has become standard for PCs, and, yes, two cores are beneficial in ways not measured by most benchmarks mostly by more smoothly handling background tasks.

Both AMD and Intel sell dual core processors that cost more than their cheapest quad core processors. That doesn’t mean there is a good reason to buy a $300 Intel Core 2 Duo E8600 or even a $100 AMD Phenom II X2 555. There are much cheaper deals for basically the same thing–specifically the Pentium Dual-Core and the Athlon II X2. (more…)

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Quiet and Fast Storage: SSDs and Hard Drives

Posted in Storage by QuietOC on February 18, 2010

PC are composed of components and certainly you will not get the best components if you buy the cheapest PC package branded by some company. File storage speed is something everyone notices when they use a PC. It is the time it takes for the PC to start, the time it takes for applications to start, the time it takes games and game levels to load.

The typical PC has always had a single spinning magnetic disk as the main system storage. Smaller consumer electronics have tended to use mainly flash memory storage, but fairly inexpensive flash memory is now large enough to store PC operating systems and all the programs most people use. Flash memory has always been much faster to read small random chunks of data, but now its traditional problem of writing small chunks of data has been mostly solved.

Spinning magnetic disks are still the most affordable way to store large amounts of data quickly–currently about 7.5 cents a gigabyte compared to $2 a gigabyte for flash memory. DVD-Rs are slightly cheaper at 4.5 cents a gigabyte, but you have to deal with the hassle and limitations of burning 4.7 GB at a time.

Flash memory has traditionally come on various memory cards formats such as Compact Flash (CF), Sony’s Memory Stick (MS), and Secure Digital (SD) cards. USB flash-based thumb drives are also popular. Normally these all will be connected to the PC over the USB 2.0 bus which at 480Mbits/s which ends up being limited to about about 35MB/s for actual data.

Most of the other data interfaces are not popular, except for SATA. SATA II is now the standard internal drive interface and offers 300GB/s of bandwidth and low latency. Flash drives with the SATA interface are called Solid State Drives or SSDs. All SATA devices are also easily converted to operate on the slower USB or Firewire connections.

Fast 30 to 60 GB SSDs are now available for a little over $100 or not much more than a typical 2-platter hard disk drive.

The $150 Budget Desktop PC

Posted in Uncategorized by QuietOC on February 13, 2010

So you want a really cheap but decent performing system. Perhaps you have seen $1000 budget computer buying guides or maybe even $500 buying guides. Well, those are all too expensive. There is actually quite of bit of choice for components for a $150 system. Of course we can’t include the monitor, Windows, or even the keyboard or mouse. In fact we may be dumpster diving to scrounge up an old case and an optical drive, but probably you already have those. If you do check out the dumpsters you may find a whole working PC, but it will probably won’t be one you will want to use. So let’s look for some new components! (more…)

The Evolution of the Microsoft/Intel Netbook: Three generations of mini Windows laptops

Posted in Uncategorized by QuietOC on February 12, 2010

The Eee PC 1000 and Gateway EC18 form factors

A couple of years ago I was shopping for something simple to take notes on during class and for writing in general. I remembered seeing people use small keyboards with PDAs to take class notes. So I first thought of getting a PDA and a keyboard. A few PDAs were still available, but they weren’t all that cheap, and I also discovered that keyboards for PDAs were actually pretty expensive. However, I found out about another type of device that Microsoft had developed called the Handheld PC. Handheld PCs (HPCs) were basically PDA electronics in a mini notebook form factor. I soon purchased one of the last HPCs, a used NEC Mobile Pro 900C.

NEC Mobile Pro 900C running Cmonex v2

NEC Mobile Pro 900C running Cmonex v2

A few months later ASUS released the original Eee PC on the unsuspecting world market. I wasn’t too envious of ASUS’s new device, but there is something to be said for x86 compatibility. What I really wanted though was x86 Windows compatibility–the first Eee PCs shipped with Linux. I did find my old NEC useful mainly due to its active user community and upgradeable firmware. I was soon running a user-modified OS that allowed most newer Window Mobile apps to run alongside older software on the device.


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