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Do I need a new computer?

Discussion in 'Tech Talk' started by DBradD, Jul 6, 2005.

  1. DBradD


    Likes Received:
    Apr 24, 2005
    I am embarrassed that I've fallen behind in computer knowledge over the years so much that I have to ask this question. I guess I'm just a user nowadays.

    My computer just ain't cuttin' it, so I'm wondering if I need a whole new computer or if I just need a RAM upgrade, OS upgrade, or something else entirely.

    Some background: I use my computer for e-mail, word, excel, etc. It has no trouble with those. I also use it for mathcad, matlab, mathematica, and some fairly rigorous finite element vibrations calcs. These applications do a lot of large matrix manipulations (like 100,000x100,000 systems), numerical solutions of large systems of differential equations with very small time increments, etc. To make matters worse, I commonly have 6-8 applications open at once, such as excel, word, outlook, and mathcad. I keep a lot of stuff open because I cut and paste a lot of info back and forth between programs. For example, I'll run an analysis in SAP and then ctrl-c/ctrl-v some result over into a report that's in Word. I never, ever play any games or DVDs on the computer, but often have realplayer going in the background.

    My computer is slow and unstable. I have to use task manager to end tasks way more often than I think is reasonable. Also, operations seem to go as slow as they did 3-4 computers ago with similar applications. For example, if I update a variable in mathcad, it'll take 8-10 seconds to recalc everything, which is extreme considering what little it's doing. A couple of months ago, I was doing some symbolic calculus with Mathematica and it completely locked up and croaked for anything but the simplest problems.

    I bought my computer at the first of the year. The following are the specs that I know anyway:

    Dell Inspiron 1000 Notebook
    30GB HD, about half full
    Windows XP, Home Edition, Version 2002, Service Pack 2
    224MB RAM
    Celeron(R) 2.20GHz
    Wireless card internet connection to a desktop unit elsewhere in the house.

    I do not know any other specs, but could probably dig them up if anybody knows of any key missing ones.

    I'm interested in increasing stability and speed but am not thrilled about the idea of buying a whole new computer this soon. Would increasing RAM help? I don't even know if it's possible to increase the RAM on my computer. How about a better OS? I need to stick to something Windows because clients use it.

    Should this computer be doing ok with the given tasks? Sometimes I wonder if there's a virus or something else going on. I use McAfee and scan often. Is it unrealistic to use this computer for engineering tasks?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. bohr

    bohr rm -rf /

    Likes Received:
    Apr 11, 2003
    That's some serious computing for a celeron!!

    I guess it's really a money issue. What are you willing to spend? All those calculations will need something faster than the celeron architecture. I doubt RAM is going to help with much. Sure, it will probably make your apps stay open, but it won't increase the computation times for your algorithms. I'd go P4. Shoot, dual processors would be the way to go, but you want a laptop right?

  3. Hauptmann6


    Likes Received:
    May 22, 2002
    Portage, MI
    One thing that would help is to put more ram into it. Windows XP will you all the ram you have just to run. That leaves nothing for the rest of the programs. Put a couple 512 sticks in and it should speed it up nicely. That will run you around 100-130 depending on ram type. Check and don't bother with the manufacture as they are always more expensive.