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Sabtu, 27 Desember 2008

Quad Core for the Masses

by Joel Santo Domingo
Buzz up!on Yahoo!

A thousand dollars used to denote the land of the "cheap" PC. In 2005, you'd find systems with single-core processors, 512MB of RAM and weak integrated graphics in that price range. Such a system today would go for $250 tops, less if it were running Linux. So what can you get for around $1,000 these days? A desktop PC that is likely to keep you computing for the next five to seven years before you start thinking of it as too slow. And a system with not just one or two, but four processor cores. Quad-core rigs, which were exotic two years ago when they were introduced, have filtered down into the mainstream, and good ones can be had for less than a grand. Yet quad-core still projects an air of power and competence.

At the $1,000 price point, you'll find systems that have reasonably powerful quad-core processors, 2GB to 3GB of system memory, and a fairly large hard drive (500GB is the norm). Such a system may or may not come with a discrete graphics card; even if it does, you're not going to be playing any high-end DX10 3D games on it. At a minimum, the system will certainly be enough to let you view DVDs and other downloaded or streaming videos, and it will have some internal expansion room for more powerful 3D graphics in the future if you want them. For just under a grand, the Editors' Choice HP Pavilion Elite m9400t is a well-rounded multimedia machine to be reckoned with, sporting a Blu-ray reader and a TV tuner along with more standard features. The similarly priced Gateway DX4710-UB002A counts among its attributes a 640GB hard drive and 6GB of RAM.

If you come down a bit in price, you can still get a system powerful enough to meet your multimedia needs, though you may have to make some compromises. You'll want the quad-core processor and extra RAM if you're part of the "MySpace generation" or if you're heavily into uploading to YouTube, since the extra processing power and memory will help when you convert your phonecam or camcorder footage to an uploadable, sharable format. A system like the Dell Inspiron 518 will do you well if you're hooked on video- and photo-sharing sites, though its 320GB hard drive is relatively small. And although the ZT Affinity 7225Xi lacks some of the features of its more expensive brethren, it gets the job done where it counts: in its multimedia performance scores.

Even business owners can take advantage of the quad-core power of a reasonably priced system such as the Lenovo ThinkCentre A62 for their key employees to get the job done when time is of the essence.

Whether you're a student, a budding multimedia pro, or a business owner, your $1,000 can go a long way in a desktop, toward quad-core and so much more.

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