UPGRADE YOUR SMARTS BEFORE YOU TACKLE YOUR PC'S
Catalogs and Classifieds
Often, the decision to upgrade your PC depends on how well your present machine serves your computing purposes. Once you've decided to upgrade, you have to figure out how far to go.
Here's where catalogs and classified ads come in. Use these resources to help you weed out what's affordable and what's not, what's a good value and what's nowhere near worth the money.
Say, for example, that you need a faster computer. You have to run your microprocessor at 16 MHz or you'll fall asleep over your spreadsheet program. There's more than one way to speed up a computer. Don't just buy an accelerator card; it may not be the best upgrade path. Check the catalogs and classifieds for your options, and choose the one that gives you the most features for the least money. For example, you could invest in a math coprocessor if most of your speed-intensive work is related to number crunching. On the other hand, it's cheaper (though much trickier) to add a faster crystal to your system.
Try software and small-scale enhancements, too. Sometimes you can get all the extra power you need from a disk-cache program or from a better hard disk-management strategy.
You'll find yourself in safer waters, though, if you make friends with someone who can advise you technically. No matter how cheap an upgrade option is, it will cost you big bucks if it breaks your computer.