Comp-U-News from Comp-U-Talk

August 2007


Every job is a self-portrait of the person who did it. Autograph your work with quality.

I was visiting a corporate customer this past week and one of the employees startled me by asking what kind of magic I had imposed when rebuilding one of their computers. He told me the computer I upgraded is running circles around the newer and fancier computers.

So, here's a little bit of background. This particular customer has multiple locations throughout Oregon and California. Their computers are shipped to them from corporate headquarters. When the local office has a need that requires immediate attention, they call me, rather than wait for the corporate IT (information technology) staff to drive up from California. Such was the case when one of the computers became unstable a few months back.

Lack of speed was one of the main issues. The employee was spending ten to twenty percent of his time waiting for the computer to process. That probably doesn't sound like a huge amount of time until you put it in terms of days and dollars. Twenty percent of one work week is 8 hours. That's a complete day wasted each week! For easy math, lets assume the employee earns $10/hour. Again, for easy math, lets assume the employers payroll responsibilities for matching social security/medicare, contributing to unemployment, providing health care benefits and funding a retirement account are and addition 50% of wages or $5/hour. (I know, I know - this number isn't even close to reality any more, but we want easy math!) Using these imaginary numbers means it will cost the employer $15/hr ($10/hr in wages plus $5/hr in matching/contributing taxes and benefits) to have the employee wait for the computer to process. That's $120/day or $6,240 a year. That's a lot of money pay out so someone can sit and wait!

So, what did I do that made such a difference? I replaced the processor and I added RAM. The processor is the brain of the computer. The RAM is the workbench. Think of it like this: If you are trying to build a set of kitchen cabinets in your 8'x12' shed, you will be continually hampered by lack of space. But if you have a 24'x30' garage to work in, you will be able to spread out the tools and maneuver the plywood with much greater efficiency and ease. The amount of RAM is equivalent to the size of the workspace.

One last point: Not all processors are created equal. The original processor was a Celeron. I replaced it with a P5. Since then Intel has introduced the Core Duo, Core 2 and the Quad Core processor. So here is a rundown of the processor types:

Celeron: A lower-cost and lower-performance processor. Adequate for word processing and balancing the checkbook, but has slower response rates when doing anything with graphics or multitasking.

P5: Introduced in 2004, has more processing power for graphics and multitasking. This processor has been retired in favor of the Core Duo.

Core Duo: Two processors combined in one. Each processor is called a "core". The combined speed of the cores gives the chip its speed rating.

Core 2: Similar to the Core Duo, but the method of determining speed has changed. With this processor they rate the individual core. So you might see a standard rate of 2.13 per core x 2 cores = 4.26GHz of processing power.

Quad Core: As expected, has 4 processor cores in one chip. This processor is new to the market and is currently priced to attract the wealthy.

To happier computing,