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OPINIONS

Leaner Computing: Less Might be More
By: DMOS
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    2004-09-23

    Table of Contents:
  • Leaner Computing: Less Might be More
  • The Heat and the Power
  • I Want Low Voltage
  • Tell Me What You Think

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    Leaner Computing: Less Might be More


    (Page 1 of 4 )

    How much power does the average user need in a PC? DMOS argues that most PCs are overpowered and more than most people need.

    In the last few years, I've noticed a trend in the computers I build for people.  As time has gone on, many of the computers tend to be overpowered for the needs of the people using them. I know -- too much is never enough for some of you. Me as well.  But when it comes to what's necessary for "Joe Sixpack" who just checks his email, does some websurfing, and might do the odd demanding task here or there, does he really need one of those full size, all out boxes? 

    I'm going come out and say "no".  If you've been to a university the last two years, you'd understand what I'm getting at. At the institution I attended, laptops are outselling desktop systems. And it's been that way since my third year there. That brings up two points. People increasingly want portability in their computers, and are fine with somewhat reduced performance compared to the kind of desktop they could get with equivalent dollar input. 

    Now, I've got a funny anecdote that will disprove that first point, at least as far as my experience proved. I had a few different housemates as I moved through the 4 years at school. Roughly a third of them had laptops. Two people, of all of those individuals, did I ever see move his/her laptop from the desk and carry it to campus. And of those two, one of them had that laptop for that single purpose, as he also had a full desktop computer. The "Brick", as we likened it, was only still in use to provide easy Internet access as well as entertainment regardless of where we were. It also was good for impromptu weightlifting sessions.  That's all you can really expect out of a Pentium II 300 based laptop.  But that archaic thing did exactly what we needed. And thinking about it now, that's really all most people need. 

    Think about that for a second. If a PII based laptop running a dual boot of Windows NT4 and Gentoo performed well enough for some notoriously impatient electrical engineering students to not throw it out the nearest window, why the hell is Joe Sixpack buying an Alienware or Dell XPS?  Now, I'm not going to say we should all be running technology from 1997, but this does prove that for many applications, the hardware, specifically CPU technology, has gone well beyond what is necessary for most people. 

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