Feature Article
Will I finally upgrade my computer

June 1, 1998
By Scott Lewis

OK. I have talked about upgrading your computer in the past. Now is the time to put my money where my mouth is (almost). I am getting ready to uprade my processor and memory.

I am definitely going to buy 64 MB of memory. I have 24 MB now (2-4 MBs and 2-8 MBs). The 2-4 MBs will be replaced by 2-32 MBs. This will bring my total memory to 80 MB (2-32s and 2 -8s). I have seen prices as low as $40 each for 32 MB SIMMs. That should keep my cost to $80.

I have heard that sometimes Windows 95 has performance problems with machines with over 64 MB of memory. I will run some benchmark tests to be sure I am getting the most from the memory. I will run the tests with the current 24 Meg, with 80 Meg, and also with just 64 Meg. This will tell me exactly how much of an improvement I am getting.

As for the processor, I am leaning heavily toward AMD's K-6 in the 266 MHz or 300 MHz version. This chip has 64 KB of on board cache. That's twice the 32 KB found on Intel's Pentium MMX chips. Also, Intel only goes up to 233 MHz in its Pentium MMX line.

I will be getting PowerLeap's PL-ProMMX socket. This allows a Socket 5 computer to accept these later chips. PowerLeap sells the PL-ProMMX in combination with a chip, or by itself.

Prices are a flaky situation depending on when AMD has cut their price, and when retailers can cut theirs. When I checked (May 25) PowerLeap wanted $249 for the PL-ProMMX with the AMD 266 MHz K-6, and $349 for the PL-ProMMX with the AMD 300 MHz K-6. On the same day, Insight wanted $167 for the AMD 300 MHz K-6. PowerLeap prices the PL-ProMMX at $55.

Bought separately (on May 25), I could get the 300 MHz K-6 and PL-ProMMX for $222. I will be closely following these prices over the next couple of months.

Once again, I will run benchmark tests to determine the exact improvement I get from the processor upgrade. Once the upgrade is complete I will probably buy Wing Commander Prophecy. It recommends a Pentium 166, so I am not going to get it while still running a Pentium 100. I am also considering getting Monster Truck Madness 2. I have read good things about the game. MTM2 has a minimum requirement of a Pentium 133.

I will have all the benchmark results here for you when they are complete. I will try to do the memory upgrade first, since I am most curious how memory effects Window's performance.

When will I upgrade? Fairly soon. I have two bills to pay off, and then I will shop for the upgrades. I should have the stuff by the end of summer. I am thinking of getting the memory for Father's Day then get the processor at the end of summer.

Stay tuned. If you have experience with these kinds of upgrades I would love to here from you. I am most interested in the actual performance gains you have seen.