Uprgrade priorities : Hardware or software?

  TATHS 12:28 04 Sep 2010

I have a 10year old computer running XP(SP3).
It has a Pentium 4 chip running at 100MHz and 2GB memory. There are two internal hard drives - 15 GB for the programs and 50GB for data being worked on. Back-up is to a pair of external 250GB mirrored drives which also act as archives. Athough running satisfactorily (albeit getting slower in booting up) there are various indications that it could be coming to the end of its life.
It is used predominantly for text, OCR and DTP work digitising Edwardian and Victorian technical manuals, plus emails. There is no video or gaming interest so a specialist graphics card is not needed, but faster access to memory would be an asset. Photo-editing is mainly confined to re-orienting and minor cropping and blemish removal of scanned material. I don't have a camera.

Should I go for a high spec, 64bit Win7, machine and hope most programs continue to work or would it make more sense to go for a lowspec, but upgradeable, machine running all the latest software when many of the functionsin them will probably never be used.

  a member 15:49 04 Sep 2010

you dont need paticularly high spec ,for what you use the PC for , so a medium spec machine with a 64 bit processor and 4 gb or more memory will perform the tasks you now do at around 4 or 5 times the speed . it cost big bucks to get hihg spec machines for the smallest of increase in speed . your older programs are unlikely to work with 64 bit but there are free one around (do a google search ) that will probably surprise you .
since 2004 I have been biulding all my own computers from scratch myself and have biult dozens for friends , prices are pretty low at the moment on hardware , the most expensive single item would be the Operating system .
if your machine is 10 years old you really need to move on , it will pack in when you least expect it and you will lose everything you have stored ,new machines can not only work much faster and more efficiently but hard drives are as cheap as they have ever been ,I recently installed a 1tb Sata 300 hard drive that cost just £62 . thats a huge amount of storage space .

  TATHS 20:01 04 Sep 2010

Thanks Merlinex. I suspected that was the case. The external disk drives are fairly recent and only get used a couple of times a day maximum so I will probably keep them in use for a bit. Is it worth having a double boot OS with 32 and 64 bit as alternatives? That way I might be able to run my present programs while experimenting with alternatives?

  a member 21:02 04 Sep 2010

nothing wrong with dual booting 2 or more versions (32x64)the machine I am surfing with right now has windowsXP (32bit) Vista(32bit) and windows 7.... 5 variants in 32 and 64bit.
you could also concider a PC with virtualization enabled and that will allow you to run XP from within windows 7 .Many modern PCs have this feature .
dual booting will allow the use of older printers or scanners ,that rarely get drivers for later OSs.

  Pineman100 15:49 07 Sep 2010

I agree that a 10-year-old XP machine is not really worth spending any money on.

But you don't need a huge amount of power for your normal computing tasks. So why bother with a 64-bit Windows 7 machine? You're much more likely to be able to run your existing software on the 32-bit version (in compatibility mode).

If you're concerned about whether your peripherals will work under W7, visit the support section of their websites and check for W7 driver software.

  a member 18:05 07 Sep 2010

I will tell you why I suggested windows 64bit ,and its not for any power /speed hike reason .the simple fact is that 64 bit has been around for some time and most 3rd party software makers could not (or would not) support it .but there has been a huge change in attitude with windows 7 ,I spoke to a manager at our local PCWORLD ,he told me that PCWorld was selling almost all 64bit machines now with a veiw to dropping 32 bit systems completely by the next Major launch of a windows OS. this ties in well with rumors that microsofts next OS (lets call it windows 8) will only be offered in 64bit .
also you will be hard pushed to buy a processor now that is 32 bit . intel and AMD offer excusively 64 bit processors now with the big push towards multi (more than 4 cores) chips .
if you bought ,or biult a 32 bit system now it would be highly compromized as to what softwares and support will be available for it withing a short time.
and finally you can buy dual /triple and quad core processors ,for under £100 these days with motherboards even cheaper .
overall if you intend getting a cheap PC ,then 64bit is the way to go ,you will find some places still offer 32bit systems ,but only a small difference in price .
look at it from this point of view ,do you want to buy a machine that may well run your software and be a bit quicker but with very little support , and unlikely to run future softwares that have been written for 64bit .or a machine that may well cost £30-£50 more but will be future proof as far as software compatibility is concerned .
your other option is to look around for a nice second hand machine , that will boost your performance and run all your favorite softwares ,while you save up for a new PC.
but make no mistake windows 64bit is taking off ,and the writing is on the wall for 32bit , it may take one year it may last for 4 .but I believe that you wont be able to buy a 32bit system a year from now ,(unless its second hand)

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