I admit it.  I like FAST computers.  Who wouldn’t?  I recently had the opportunity to road test the latest screaming Windows-based PC with a 1.7 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor under the hood, the fastest currently shipping Pentium 4 Processor from Intel.  In a word, it’s sweet.Not too long ago, the pundits were complaining that the P4 was not worth the price of the upgrade over the P3.  Well, not any more.  This new Dell I’ve been playing with is quite a bit faster where it really counts over the fastest P3- and earlier P4-based computers I’ve ever seen.  This is the Dell Dimension 8100, set up for the business user, but it’s what’s inside and under the hood that really counts.

Let’s get to the meat of it.

The operations where speed counts include using processor-intensive applications, such as PhotoShop.  Performing operations in which I want to make numerous changes to an already large photo file seemed to be done in no time.  Gaming is another processor intensive pastime, and here, too the P4 was just smokin’.

Since I now, FINALLY, have DSL (which is superb, from Pacific Bell) online gaming is quite a remarkable experience.  It’s the difference between driving a plain old Chevy and then stepping up to a loaded Corvette.  Both are Chevrolet automobiles, but when you step on the accelerator with the lower end model, it’s just not the same, rich and satisfying experience as when driving the ‘Vette. Both will get you there, eventually, but which would YOU rather be driving?  I’ll take the ‘Vette, thank you.  This Dell has Windows 2000, the professional version of Windows, and most games are not compatible with this operating system.  Still, I had the online experience and that, with the combination of DSL AND this rippin’ Intel processor, made for an exciting time.

How about video editing?  If your PC is equipped with IEEE 1394 compatibility, also known as FireWire, then you can simply connect just about any Mini DV camcorder and, given the right software, do some pretty fun and fancy video editing.  As part of the process, the computer will have to do some serious numbers crunching to render, or compile, the final edited video so it can be put back out to the camcorder in its final form.  The Intel 1.7GHz P4 processor is capable of really flying through the finished product in what would seem to be no time at all.

Whether you’re creating an on-line photo album, editing and then burning your own photos to CD, creating a music video, watching a DVD movie, burning your own music CDs with a CD-RW drive, playing the absolute greatest games available, or just about anything else, speed like this gets you there faster.

Just think about the difference between a nice, sedate Chevy and a Corvette.  In the ‘Vette, mash the throttle and hold on.  There’s something entirely satisfying knowing that, at any given time, you can mash the gas pedal and launch yourself forward with tremendous thrust.  Am I making myself clear?  That kind of raw power is sometimes exactly what you want.  The power is always there when you need it, or just want it. Otherwise, the car (or computer) just loafs along until you need all that power again.  It’s awfully nice to have.

Things are only going to get better.  Many applications are not yet optimized for this new Intel Pentium 4 processor.  But, they will be, and then, applications will run even faster.

So, the bottom line, dear readers, is this.  Speed is great.  The faster the better, in most cases.  Now, let’s look at cost.  The fastest is always the most expensive.  Some of you MUST have the fastest.  The cost of all this raw power will surprise you.  Systems such as the one I am testing spec out, including a 17-inch LCD display, for about $2700!  However, the best price versus performance is usually just one notch down from the top.  That’s what is referred to as the sweet spot, and that’s where the value is.  Do your own comparisons and you’ll see what I mean.  The 1.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4- equipped PC will be a bit less than the top of the line, and so on.  I’ve checked online and seen other systems with this top-of-the-line processor starting at way under $2000, and much less if you already have a monitor you would like to use.

Another area worthy of discussion and note is the comparison between the Intel-based PC and, say, the Macintosh.  I am often asked about this subject.  Inasmuch as the way each platform – the Mac and the Windows-based PC – goes about the job of computing in entirely different ways, processor speeds DO NOT EQUATE with each other, number for number.  This 1.7 GHz (that’s Gigahertz) Dell is NOT necessarily faster with certain applications as compared with the fastest Mac, currently at 733 MHz (that’s Megahertz).  So don’t let ANYONE try to steer you differently.  The reasons to buy an Intel-based PC versus a Mac should not have to do with processor speed because the numbers alone are not a proper comparative factor.

Let’s just say that the speed of this Dell, or any PC with the Intel 1.7GHz Pentium 4 will not disappoint ANY user and, remember, it’s only going to get better.  I’m going to hate having to send this one back!

For more information on the Intel Pentium 4 family of processors, visit HERE and use their interactive shopping guide to help decide which processor best meets your need for speed!

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