Local News

When Your Computer Should Go To Technology Heaven

Posted February 3, 1999

— If your home computer is more than a couple years old, it is already considered ancient. Newer operating systems and software will not work on many older machines.

So the question is: "Should I modernize or upgrade my old machine?" WRAL's technology reporterTom Lawrencesays the answer is "maybe."

Older computers sit on work benches across the country. They are modified using more powerful components to keep up with the times. Some upgrades, like adding memory, are good decisions.

"Memory is much more affordable," says Hank Cox withIntrex Computers. "It's very easy to install and affect the performance of the computer dramatically."

Little skill is involved in adding RAM, but you do have to open the case and follow directions. Changing the motherboard and central processing unit presents a more daunting task.

"Something like that is a major upgrade when you consider that you're basically taking the guts of the system and bringing in a whole new system," Cox said.

Typically, a user could upgrade their computer to a new Pentium system in the $300-to-$400 range.

There is a breaking point between money spent on upgrading and buying a new computer.

"Typically once a person crosses perhaps between the $500-to-$600 mark they're much more leaning to getting a new system instead of getting an upgrade."

Repair shops charge about $60 an hour plus parts for upgrades. Cox says more people are tackling upgrades themselves.

"Computers have lost a lot of that scary nature they used to have to them. Basically it's not really difficult," Cox said.

So if you need more power to run new software consider upgrading, but consider carefully.

Personal computer sales increased by 15 percent last year - that is because fairly powerful machines sell for less than $1,000, and that makes upgrading a tough decision.

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