How much does RAM affect the processing speed?

Computer purchase

Made-to-measure hardware

It doesn't always have to be the best of the best. Those who buy in line with their needs get a considerable amount for relatively little money.

Over complete basic equipment

Anyone who buys a PC today is already receiving an overly complete set of basic equipment. However, you should always ask which software is included and what is actually inside. This applies above all to the graphics card, where manufacturers sometimes save, and the working memory (RAM). The most sensible thing to do is to upgrade it when you buy it and to make sure that there are enough slots for expansion cards on the main board - the motherboard. However, given the rapid pace of the computer industry, you cannot buy “future-proof” anyway.

PC newbies: buy what you need now

Therefore, for those new to PC, it is better to get the computer you need now and buy it the next time as additional needs emerge. Experience has shown that this next time will already take place after three to four years.

Microsoft Office Edition 2003 SSL

Tip: The Microsoft Office Edition 2003 SSL is sold at a reduced price for pupils, students, teachers and families with pupils or students. Each authorized household can install it on up to three PCs. This license is “lifelong” - a period that, given the fact that software products are rapidly becoming obsolete, will not exceed a handful of years. In practice, this means at least as long as the software is offered and the users do not change the operating system.

Linux needs intensive occupation

Incidentally, Linux is still an alternative as an operating system, but it requires intensive study of it. You should also keep in mind that the software itself is free, but the support is not. As far as the decision between desktop PC and notebook is concerned, the question of equipment and performance differences has become less important because notebooks have clearly caught up.

Desktop PCs are cheaper

What remains is the still significant price advantage of desktop PCs. And if you don't necessarily have to be mobile, you can use the flat TFT screens to counter the argument that notebooks take up less space.

Tube monitor or TFT screen

Tube monitors are inexpensive but bulky, while TFT screens are flat but more expensive. TFT screens with a diagonal of 15 or 17 inches correspond to tube monitors with 17 or 19 inches. Tube monitors, like TV screens, write the picture line by line. The result is a slight flicker that tires the eyes. However, they react faster and are more accurate in color and nuance in the display, and the screen display can be better compared with the printout.

Expensive ones with digital connection (DVI)

In the case of TFT screens, the width and height of the image are determined by pixels (immobile luminous dots), which gives a fixed resolution. 1024 x 768 pixels are currently the most common. The high-priced models have their own digital connection (DVI), which enables signal transmission from the PC without an intermediate analog step (and in some cases also higher resolutions). Problems with TFT screens are caused by pixel errors (defective luminous dots), visible as white, colored or black dots. Tip: Try before you buy.


Wireless radio systems are becoming increasingly popular or infrared keyboards. Many users appreciate the fact that it can be easily stowed away in the desk drawer, otherwise the advantages are limited because the keyboard very often has a fixed place near the screen. Disadvantage: The wireless ones only work with batteries. It makes sense to try out the keyboard and pay attention to the keystroke and volume.


The mouse with two buttons plus is almost standard today Scroll wheel for "scrolling" on the screen. There are also radio and infrared models here. The cable is actually more annoying with the mouse than with the keyboard. An alternative that takes getting used to, but is valued when space is scarce, is the trackball - an inverted mouse, so to speak, with which not the device but only the ball on top is moved.


Active speakers (with built-in amplifier and volume control) are recommended. Game freaks choose a surround system. Anyone who values ​​usable sound - for example when playing audio CDs - shouldn't be too frugal. A headphone connection directly on the box is practical.

DVD / CD drive / burner

Can be found in the combination of DVD player plus CD-RW burner (combo) or as a DVD / CD-RW burner. The specified playback and burn speeds are always based on the normal running speed of an audio CD. A DVD burner can be useful when used for preserving video recordings or backing up hard drive contents. Otherwise there is hardly such a large amount of data in the private sector (storage volume 4.7 gigabytes / GB). Several hundred digital photos, for example, fit on a CD-R with 700 megabytes / MB.

Floppy disk drive

Already pronounced dead several times, it is still often present and the 3.5-inch floppy disks are a simple and cheap medium for exchanging data between two PCs. The USB memory sticks are the successors, but older PCs often do not have a USB port.

1 LAN / modem

A LAN network card (Local Area Network) is increasingly being installed as standard. It is used to connect several computers used in the same household for data exchange, to share a network printer, etc. In times of broadband Internet access, however, built-in modems (for conventional dial-up connections) are becoming increasingly rare. An external USB modem can help.

2 parallel interface (LPT)

Connection for the printer, if it is not USB (Universal Serial Bus) compatible.

3 monitor connection

Output of the graphics card. Also suitable for video projectors. Better equipped PCs also have a digital monitor connection (right).

4 TV out

For analog copying of videos to the video recorder or the connection of the TV set, e.g. for movies from the DVD drive.

5 power switch

For completely disconnecting the PC from the power supply.

6 USB interface

Mittlerweiler indispensable, universal connection for digital cameras, scanners, printers, USB mice and others. The devices can also be connected in series, the PC recognizes them automatically. For reasons of comfort, it should still have four USB ports at the rear and two at the front. Otherwise you have to make do with a USB hub, a kind of distribution socket. The current USB 2.0 ports are only partially compatible with USB 1.0.

7 i-Link (Firewire, IEEE 1394)

Connection for the rapid transfer of large amounts of data (e.g. from digital camcorders or external hard drives). Become rare.

8 audio inputs and outputs

For external speakers, headphones and connection to the hi-fi system. There is also a microphone input. Become rare.

Card reader

Partly built-in card reader for memory cards (Compact Flash & Co) and direct reading of data (e.g. digital photos). Depending on the model, suitable for one to six different types of cards. Inexpensive alternatives are external card readers or the connection between digital camera and PC via USB cable.

Which PC for whom?

1. Type of normal consumer: "The PC is a private and professional means to an end."

He or she uses the PC for home office applications, occasionally surfs the Internet, saves digital photos without delving into post-processing, has a few PC games at home and now and then listens to CDs.

The computer: That can be one of the many complete packages that cost around 1000 euros including TFT screen, keyboard, mouse, printer, basic software (and sometimes including speakers). Those who mainly print text documents should choose a laser printer instead of the usual color inkjet printer, taking into account the printing costs. In any case, a modem connection is sufficient to start with Internet access.

2. Type of player: "On the PC I break into new worlds."

For him, the PC is first and foremost a fascinating gaming device that makes him forget reality. He spends hours with the latest, increasingly complex 3D games and also uses the Internet, where he competes against like-minded people in online games. Of course, surround sound is one of them.

The computer: With regard to the requirements of current 3D games, the best of the best is just good enough. This mainly affects the graphics card, the RAM, the processor and the speakers. In action-packed games, a TFT screen can be a disadvantage due to its slower response time, as a dragging effect can occur. Broadband access (TV cable, ADSL) is the only option for the Internet.

3. Type of creative: "The PC offers unlimited possibilities."

For the creative, the PC is the private photo or film studio. He delves into the post-processing of his digital photos or video recordings, experiments with special effects and spends a lot of time on optimally coordinating the screen display and the photo print results.

The computer: It doesn't need the best of the best, but it should have 1024 MB RAM and 64 MB graphics memory. A card reader and a high-quality photo printer are recommended for photo editing, especially a Firewire connection, a DVD burner and possibly a second hard drive for digital videos. Due to its higher color fidelity and better adjustability, a 19-inch tube monitor makes more sense than a TFT screen.

What else is inside

hard disk

80 gigabytes (GB) is the lower limit for the PCs available today, but is sufficient for pretty much all home applications - including video editing. It makes sense to divide the hard disk into three partitions: for the operating system, the programs and the data. There are special programs for setting up the partitions.

wireless Internet access

The wireless version of the Local Area Network (LAN) for setting up small local networks.
Processor: Manufacturers are constantly outbidding each other when it comes to the processing speed of the processor chip, because impressive numbers are a selling point. In truth, very fast processors around three gigahertz are only interesting for PC games (and professional graphics programs). Power consumption also increases with speed. Incidentally, the speed specified for “Athlon” processors is always related to the performance of “Pentium” chips. The specification "2800+" means, for example, that the processor is at least as fast as a "Pentium" with 2.8 gigahertz.

Random Access Memory (RAM)

The volume of the main memory influences the processing speed, but also the power consumption. So more RAM makes more sense than a faster processor. 256 megabytes (MB) of RAM are at the lower end of the recommendation today, 512 MB are more sensible and 1024 MB for video editing. Working memory divided into two chips (e.g. 2 x 256 MB) has the disadvantage that two slots are occupied and both chips have to be replaced when retrofitting, instead of buying just one. In any case, it is important that both memory modules have the same performance and design.

graphic card

The differences are big, but irrelevant for normal users. 64 MB graphics memory is common today and - with the exception of very fast 3D games - sufficient. The cheaper PCs sometimes use integrated on-board cards that are difficult to replace. Usually the term “shared memory” is an indication of this. Here the graphics memory is "split off" by the main memory, which can noticeably impair the performance of the PC.

Sound card

Cards from the SoundBlaster company or SoundBlaster-compatible products have established themselves as a quasi-standard. 16-bit cards with a sampling frequency (sampling rate) of 44.1 kHz deliver CD quality.