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How To Buy
How To Buy A ...Pentium MMX PC

Processor Speed

Intel's Pentium MMX processor comes in 166MHz and 200MHz models. The 200MHz processor costs about $100 more but is worth it if you think you'll take advantage of the performance gain.


Because the MMX system is designed for multimedia applications, you'll want as much system memory as you can afford. Don't settle for less than 32MB. Also consider video memory requirements. A mainstream MMX system usually offers 4MB of VRAM.


Plan to spend $2,000 for a scantily furnished machine, $2,500 for a well-equipped mainstream PC with many options and $3,000 or more for a workhorse that comes with every available bell and whistle.


You'll probably need plenty of space to store images, presentations and other large graphics files. Many systems offer a 2.5GB hard disk as a minimum, while others have 3.8GB, 4.3GB or even as much as 6.5GB.

Just about every system is shipping with a 12-speed CD-ROM drive, and some will soon include DVD drives. You should also consider storage for backing up files. Some systems ship with-or offer as an option-either an Iomega Zip drive (which uses 100MB cartridges) or an Iomega Jaz drive (which uses 1GB media)


Make sure you choose a system that offers at least a 33.6Kb-per-second modem, so you can put the pedal to the metal when downloading Internet pages. You'll probably see 56Kb modems included soon.

Any multimedia maven or dedicated Internet surfer needs to seriously consider a computer with an Intel Pentium MMX processor. More than two dozen desktop manufacturers and about a dozen makers of portable computers now offer systems with MMX processors in 166MHz and 200MHz speeds. Although these PCs cost about $250 more than their traditional Intel Pentium PC counterparts, you can expect about 15 percent greater speed performing everyday tasks, compared to a Pentium with the same processing speed. The speed improves 60 percent when you're using MMX-enabled applications.

The MMX processor offers several enhancements over the Pentium. It includes 57 new instructions designed to manipulate and process video, audio and graphical data. Intel has doubled the on-chip cache size to 32KB so that more instructions and data can be stored on chip. The larger on-chip cache reduces the number of times the processor has to access the slower off-chip memory

areas for information. Finally, the processor uses single instruction multiple data (SIMD) technology. SIMD allows developers to customize applications to take advantage of the chip's capabilities. (See sidebar "The Hard News About MMX Software.")

Windows Magazine, June 1997, page 253.

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