Thursday, July 1, 2010

Now that Pentium III computers are on the market ...

Q I have a simple question, Doc, and I bet I’m not the first to ask it! Now that Pentium III computers are on the market, is it time to upgrade my shack PC? I’m only using a 200-MHz Pentium machine at the moment.

A The Doctor has been hit with this question about a dozen times this month alone. I expected it, though. Hams are obsessed with having the latest and greatest hardware— whether it’s PCs or transceivers.

The simple answer to your question is “no”—at least not now. Unless you have an urge to run processor-intensive applications such as video editing, sophisticated games and so forth, your current PC is fine. In fact, I can’t think of a single ham application that would require anything beyond a 200-MHz Pentium, much less a Pentium III. That’s not to say that you won’t run into ham software that absolutely requires more microprocessor muscle someday, but that day has not arrived yet.

If you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you feel you must invest in a new computer, I’d suggest that you look into a 450 MHz Pentium II. With the advent of Pentium IIIs, prices for Pentium IIs are falling like proverbial rocks. The performance differential between a Pentium II and III is not that great (there is virtually no software on the market yet that takes advantage of the Pentium III architecture). So, a fast Pentium II should be more than adequate for your ham needs well into the foreseeable future.

From QST July 1999