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Chapter 2. Getting Your Hardware and Sof... > Preparing Your Hardware for Windows ...

Preparing Your Hardware for Windows XP

The amount of hardware upgrading you might need to make to prepare your system for Windows XP Professional depends in great measure on how close your system is to the minimum hardware requirements discussed earlier in the chapter. Because Windows XP's user-friendly multimedia and system protection features demand more computer power than previous versions of Windows, a system which barely exceeds the minimum hardware requirements for CPU, memory, video, and hard disk space can make running Windows XP an ordeal instead of a pleasure. I've had slow machines with small hard drives and fast machines with large hard drives; faster and larger is better, both for you and for Windows XP.

The Motherboard and CPU

So, you want a general upgrade to the performance of your system? The cheapest upgrade you can make is probably to add more RAM (see below). But if your wallet allows, and you want to get to the core of your system for a serious upgrade, start with the motherboard. Don't bother upgrading just your CPU without upgrading the motherboard too. While CPU upgrade kits are available to allow some older systems to use newer processors, recent changes in CPU speeds, physical packaging, and electrical requirements mean you're much better off upgrading both the motherboard and the CPU if you need a speed boost. Even if you're considering a RAM upgrade, do the motherboard/CPU upgrade first because a new motherboard often uses a better, faster type of RAM than your current system does. Motherboard improvements roll down the pike every few months, and adding a new CPU to an old design isn't going to net you much.


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