Re: What Hardware? (Was: ...dtp software for windoze)

Subject: Re: What Hardware? (Was: ...dtp software for windoze)
From: Matt Ion <mion -at- DIRECT -dot- CA>
Date: Mon, 3 Jul 1995 15:56:42 PDT

>> Where you need the CPU speed is in the graphics - not so much in creating,
>> as in scrolling past. CPU speed is totally wasted while typing, while
>> staring at screen. But when you put that file in motion on your screen,
>> the faster the clock speed, the faster it scrolls. Searches are also CPU
>> dependent, but they are relatively rare.

Actually, this is not 100% correct. While a faster processor may jam the
graphics down the video card's throat quicker, sooner or later you're going to
run into that video card's limit of speed. I would NEVER want to do graphic
work (any more :) on a machine equipped with a Trident 8900 (a oldie but
goodie; reliable, cheap, and DOG-slow) or other un-allerated video card. My
brother just stepped his machine up to a 486blc75 with 16MB RAM but still
using his 1MB Trident, and it's still brutal waiting for screen refreshes at
1024x768x256 (the 8900 doesn't go beyond 256 colours anyway).

Remember, too, that a larger monitor will make everything else look bigger,
including the pixels. So you'll likely want to run at a higher resolution and
greater a colour depth. This requires more memory ON THE CARD. And of
course, to move more data around requires more processing power. Taking that
power from the CPU is not nearly as effective as have a co-processor on the
video card itself, especially in a multitasking system (not too much of a
worry under Windows, anyway).

Now personally, I've had good experiences with ATi video cards. If you're
going to a 17" monitor, I'd suggest at least a Mach32-based card (Mach32 is
ATi's 32-bit video chipset) with 2MB or more of memory, preferably VRAM
(faster video RAM) as opposed to DRAM. This should allow you to run up to
1024x768 at 65k colours, or 800x600 at up to 16.7million colours. Cost
shouldn't run any more than $300 or so, and is well worth it. If you really
want to get nuts about it, #9 makes a 192-bit video card with 8MB VRAM (direct
192-bit connection between the video coprocessor and the VRAM) that will give
you up to 1600x1200x16.7m at 80Hz refresh :)

Also, get a montitor and card with variable refresh rates, as high as you can
afford. Faster refresh means less flicker and will save you a PILE of
eyestrain.

>> 2. Load onto your existing home machine. It will work. Loosen up the HD
>> as much as you can. See how it goes.

Make sure you have a FAST HD too. Putting an old drive with 25ms access time
into a screaming 16MB 486dx4/100 is like feeding your Ferrari engine its
gasoline through a 1/16" tube. I've seen Maxtor 1280s (1.2GB) at Software,
Etc. for less than $300. They run 9ms access at something like 7000RPM.

>> 5. If you are NOT satisfied with the home operation and still feel
>> spendy, go for the BEST, BLAZINGEST CPU you can afford, with 8
>> meg.

Addendum: Stick with 80x86 at this point in time, rather than going P5. A
486dx4/100 with 16MB RAM will cost only a fraction more than a P5 with 8MB
(Right now, here in BC (remember this is in Canadian dollar, in the land of
the eternal sales tax). I can pick up a 72-pin 8MB SIMM for around $450, or a
16MB SIMM for $670. You do the math :), and as Dick pointed out, memory is
probably more critical than CPU power for this type of work. Keep in mind
too, that with all these amazing, honkin' 32-bit machines with gobs and gobs
of RAM, you're still limiting yourself with a 16-bit operating system (DOS)
that can only REALLY use the first 640k of it.



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