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Processing Vista: Is Your CPU Up To The Task?

Vista's coming -- and whatever you think of Microsoft's new operating environment there's one thing you can put money on: Vista will put more strain on your computer than anything else you've probably ever seen before.

Most of the emphasis in the scramble to adjust to these new hardware needs has centered on memory. For example, a major reason that Vista will be a pain in the bus (thank you, Microsoft, for deciding that an operating system should be an operating environment) is, of course, Aero, its hoity-toity graphical interface. As you might expect, that's going to put quite a strain on your computer's graphics subsystem. Although Vista will scale back on Aero effects if your system is too poorly equipped to use them all, are you really ready to admit that you're running a hobbled computer to anyone? It's doubtful. That means at least a new graphics card.

But wait, there's more. If your graphics memory starts to run low, Vista is designed to borrow from your system memory to fill its needs. We have all said for years how terribly wrong that is because it robs overall potential system performance -- you might also want to get yourself a bit more memory.

However, if your PC is strictly for business, or if you're more interested in grunt than glitter, you may need to start thinking about your CPU. In fact, once you've assured yourself that the rest of the components are up to the new OS, but your PC is still dragging its feet, the only place to turn is your processor.

All CPUs Are Not The Same
Swapping in a new CPU is relatively easy. (Messy, yes, especially with cleaning up the heat sink compound, but physically easy.) The difficult part is actually before the physical swap: Figuring out what you need and what your system can accept.

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