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System upgrade

My current home computer is a piece of sh*t. It’s slow, it’s loud, it’s slow, it crashes, it flickers, it stalls, it’s slow and it’s slow.

My current home computer is a piece of sh*t. It’s slow, it’s loud, it’s slow, it crashes, it flickers, it stalls, it’s slow and it’s slow. It’s tucked under my desk right now, buzzing and making an ozone smell, and I’m honestly afraid it’s irradiating my testicles.

I started out with an old, old box – circa 1994 – and tried to upgrade it here and there, but I soon discovered that it just doesn’t work that way.

I upgraded to a larger hard drive, but it turned out that my version of Windows 95 wouldn’t recognize anything bigger than two Gigs. I upgraded to Windows 98, and suddenly I had problems getting on the Internet. A bottom of the line sound card I purchased to listen to MP3’s either doesn’t work with Windows 98 or my motherboard, and I didn’t have $50 an hour to pay a computer expert to tell me I would need another upgrade.

Now I know I should have bought a new system, a fast one where every component works with every other component, with pre-loaded software and a fan doesn’t sound like it’s a powered by a two-stroke engine.

Money, as always, is a problem. What with this eating compulsion I have, the cost of living, and my CD-a-paycheque fix, there’s very little of the kitty left over at the end of the month to plunk down on a machine.

Luckily, most places will allow you to make monthly payments, which raises the cost but lessens the sting.

I haven’t committed to anything yet, but I am officially shopping.

You might have heard their jingle on the radio, and probably had a little trouble getting it out of your head – it’s almost as insidious as that Intel sound bite.

They have a few storefronts, but do most of their business online, building computers from scratch or putting together complete systems from brand name components and giving you a deal.

For $1,049, I can get a PC with an Intel Pentium III processor at 933 MHz, 256 MB SDRAM, a 40 GB hard drive, a 8x4x32 CD-Rewriter, Integrated 3D AGP Video, KLH speakers and subwoofer, Corel WordPerfect Office 2000, a 56k v.90 modem, Windows Millennium Edition, AND a 17 inch monitor. That’s a lot of computer, and it includes a two-year warranty.

And this is one of their mid range systems.

For $1,359, I can get the same basic system with a 1400 MHz processor, 512 MB of SDRAM, an nVidieia GeForce 32MB DDR Video card, a SoundBlaster Live Value sound card, and Hollywood surround sound speakers. I’d have to buy the operating system software separately, but this is more like it.

By customizing, I can upgrade any of the features which already put my own computer to shame.

Next time you’re in Future Shop, heads up. They frequently have in-store deals on the shelf that are hard to beat, but you can also find a few gems online. The best bang for your buck on their Web site was a Cicero with a 1 GHz AMD processor, 64 MB of RAM, a 20 GB hard drive, 8x4x32 CD rewriter, 10/100 NIC network card, stereo speakers, 32 MB AGP Video, and Windows ME.

If portable is what you’re looking for they have an online special on Compaq notebooks – 633 MHz processor, 13.3 inch display, 64 MB of RAM, 10 GB hard drive, 8x DVD-Rom and CLIK drive for $1,599.97.

For a while there Dell was the first name in online computer sales, and they still drive a hard bargain.

With an 800 MHz processor, you can get a Dell Dimension L800cx for $1,334 with a 17 inch monitor, 128 MB SDRAM, 20 GB hard drive, 12x8x32 CD rewriter with 10 free CDR’s, a SoundBlaster sound card, Harmon Kardan speakers and subwoofer, Intel 3D AGP video card, Microsoft ME, Microsoft Works Suite 2001 with Money 2001, Music Match Software 6.0, and 56k v.90 datafax modem.

They also have excellent deals on notebooks, which you have to build to your own specifications. Building a similar computer to the one above will cost around $1,690 or $50.48 a month with no money down. It also comes with 800 MHz processor, Microsoft Office Suite, 128 MB of SDRAM, a free colour printer and a Logitech Web camera.

International Business Machines is celebrating 20 years in the personal computer business this year with some excellent deals. For a while they coasted on their reputation, but prices have come down recently to compete with all of the other companies offering PC’s.

For $1,299, you get a Pentium III chip at 1000 MHz, up to 512 MB of SDRAM at 100 MHz, a gigantic 60 GB hard drive, an Intel 3D AGP graphics card, a 8x4x32x CD rewriter, an audio card, speakers, modem, network card, Windows ME, Lotus SmartSuite Millennium/ Norton AntiVirus/SuperVoice/Adaptec CD Recording software, Acrobat Reader and the list goes on. That doesn’t include a monitor, but it’s still a good deal.

Compaq can build you a home system with a 900 MHz processor, 128 MB 100 MHz SyncDRAM, a 40 GB hard drive, an 8x4x32x CD rewriter, a network card, modem, 8 MB AGP 3D graphics card, integrated sound card, and tons of software, including Windows ME, Adaptec Easy CD Creator, and Norton Internet Security for $1,350 without a monitor. A 17 inch Compaq Presario monitor is an additional $400.