Squeeze new life into your PC

Instead of buying a new computer, upgrade your old one

With faster machines cropping up almost daily, the life span of a midrange PC is a little more than two years of service. Physically, the computer you bought a few years ago is just as sound as any new piece of hardware. Ideally, it could probably last you a decade or two-as long as you didn’t add any new software or surf the Net. Realistically, that’s not likely to be the case.

Like most PC owners, you’re faced with the tough decision of what to do with your aging computer. You can sell it, hand it down, or donate it to a nonprofit group. Another option is that you can upgrade your PC. By installing a new processor (CPU), you could boost your PC’s performance.

You should be able to upgrade your computer for less than $600 compared to the $1,500 you could spend replacing it. If you were to sell your old PC, you would probably get $200 for a typical business desktop-a 350 MHz Pentium II with 64 MB of RAM and a 6.4 GB hard drive-that you paid $1,840 for nearly two years ago.

You can find software and hardware upgrades at big retailers such as Best Buy, CompUSA, and Office Depot. Don’t overlook such e-tailers as Buy.com and Computers4Sure.com

There are at least three vendors worth checking out. They offer at least two different upgrades for systems with Intel, Cyrix, and AMD processors. They are PowerLeap (877-278-5327, www.power leap.com); Evergreen Technologies (800-733-0934, www.evergreennow.com); and Kingston Technology (877-546-4786, www.kingston.com).

For less than $200 you can upgrade a 75Mhz Pentium-compatible PC to a 233 MHz Intel Pentium processor comprising MMX and 3DNow! multimedia with Evergreen’s Spectra 233, Kingston’s TurboChip 233 or PowerLeap’s PL ProMMX-233. Owners of a Pentium Pro computer with Socket 8 motherboards can boost their processing power to a 533 MHz Intel Celeron with PowerLeap’s PL-Pro/II for roughly $220. If you have a 233Mhz or faster Pentium II PC with Slot 1 motherboards, you can add a 500 MHz Intel Celeron Processor with Evergreen’s Performa 500 (for $179.99) or a 400 MHz Celeron Processor with Evergreen’s Performa 400 (for $119.99).

The best thing about these upgrades is that you can do them yourself. Installing a processor is literally a snap. There’s always a “but”-if you have a no-name clone, you might have a better shot at no-hassle, low-cost upgrading than if you have a model from big computer makers, such as Compaq, Hewlett-Packard, and Gateway.

Just to be on the safe side, take the time to find out the specifications of your system. Meaning: consult your computer owner’s manual as well as technical support (manufacturer) before attempting to take matters into your own hands.

ACROSS THE WEB