Technology: Does a Higher Number Mean Much Better Performance?

When looking for a computer, or other technology, don’t let numbers confuse or fool you. For example, when looking for a computer, you might see a “basic” computer for $500, a mid range computer for $800 and a HIGH end computer for $1200. To those who don’t know, they might think that since they want to do photo editing they need the HIGH end computer for $1200. But guess what, if the $500 computer is a 2GHZ computer with a 40GB hard disk – you can do just fine with MOST basic tasks. I NEVER buy the latest and greatest technology. My desktop computers are often 3 – 5 years old and my PDAs often 2 – 3 years old.
USA Today writes For example, Gateway has a nasty little marketing thing going on. I was looking at its site the other day, thinking about a new machine for my Dad, and I checked the specs for the “Value-Packed” 3200 series machines. These, says Gateway, are “Perfect for: Basic Computing, Sending E-mails, Surfing the Internet.” They start at $500.
But you need to move up to the “Multitasking Power” of the 5200 series to get a machine that’s “Perfect for: Digital photography, Multitasking applications, Burning CDs and DVDs.” That runs about $850.
And if you want something perfect for “Demanding applications, Gaming, Video editing” you need to shell out $1250 for the “High Performance” 7200 series.
Those basic machines ? the ones that are only “perfect” for basic computing? They run at least a 2.66-GHz processor and sport a 40 GB hard drive and 256MB of RAM. Gateway thinks these aren’t perfect for digital photography or multitasking?
I’m running a 750 MHz machine that I build myself about five years ago. It has a large hard drive, but is otherwise ordinary ? no monster-machine specs here.
I do digital photography (with full-blown Adobe Photoshop CS) all the time, often with 25-MB images. And I multitask ? sometimes with six or seven things at once. And I burn CDs. The only time my machine shows its age is when I work with digital video; it takes forever to render something when I’m done editing. But the editing itself is pretty darned quick.