How many PCs can dance on the head of a pin?

Subject: How many PCs can dance on the head of a pin?
From: "M. Dannenberg" <midannen -at- SI -dot- BOSCH -dot- DE>
Date: Wed, 2 Apr 1997 14:02:07 +0200

There've been a number of questions lately on appropriate PC
specifications, so I want to add my two Pfennigs worth. I think this
topic is relevant, because it's a question many of us are confronted
with, and would like to be able to answer without having to do a lot of

I think so far there's been far too much emphasis on processor speed.
Nobody seems to have mentioned disk I/O and graphics performance, even
though I think these are far more important than raw processor speed. A
Pentium 133 should make light work of most typical techwriting tasks
(which typically involve shuffling about large files), but it can easily
get bogged down with disk I/O. A SCSI controller makes a big difference
here, probably more than an extra 33 MHz of CPU speed would. If I had to
make trade-offs, I'd always go for the fastest possible disk I/O, rather
than for the fastest possible CPU.

The same goes for the graphics card, a PC running a GUI spends most of
its time drawing things, so the faster your graphics hardware, the
better the overall repsonsiveness of your system will be.
Finally there's RAM. 64 MB is definitely better than 32, I recently
upgraded and now I can switch between Word and Frame without the usual
half a minute of disk-scraping. This also helps if you have to run the
app you're documenting on the same machine as your word-processor -
which I'm sure most of us have to do.


Mike Dannenberg
midannen -at- si -dot- bosch -dot- de

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