Computer Usage – Stupidity Continues to Be a Problem

While lurking around the PC Magazine website, I spied an article from a month ago, that I missed until now. I usually read most of the articles on the site, but at this point, some seem not worth my time, as I’ve seen and heard most of the basic things written about.

The article is titled “It’s Time to End the PC Memory Game”. The author, now editor-in-chief, starts this paean to the ‘gods of computer usage’ by talking about why laptop PCs get shipped with too little memory, then after a long, and detailed explanation, states that no one should be saddled with a computer that uses the lowest possible density of memory chips to fulfill the memory order.

Well, doh! Why does Lance think these companies are in business? No company is going to use more costly parts where less costly will do. This is stuff that should be taught in the fifth grade, and no one should get out of elementary school without knowing what the words ‘caveat emptor’ mean.

Actually, the problem is not as cut and dried as he makes it seem. There is sometimes a reason for using memory in lower densities than otherwise might be used. Many modern chipsets use pairs of memory DIMMs to achieve dual channel usage, effectively widening the data path by a factor of two. This can, but does not always, provide quite a memory bandwidth gain. This may have been the case with the laptop Mr. Ulanoff writes about.

Mr. Ulanoff then writes about the memory usage of XP and Vista, and wonders why the computer companies will allow a laptop to go out of the factory with too little RAM. Again, it is because they can! If the unit works without throwing up some system errors, it is deemed suitable for use. Besides, all computer companies make much higher profit margins on upgrades after the sale than by loading up the system from the outset. Once again, this is stuff that should be known before the system is first purchased.

This is the sort of stuff that long ago, anyone who hung out by reading computer magazines knew, almost from osmosis, as it was on the pages a lot. When purchasing a laptop, but it as you will need it, as upgrading can be very problematic. Things have gotten better than back in the ‘dark days’, but still the rule applies. Laptops are not as easily worked on as desktop machines, so get everything needed before the original purchase.

The limiting factor in many cases of computer problems has been, and continues to be, the nescience of the user. Remember back to elementary school again – forewarned is forearmed.

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[tags] PC Magazine, memory, laptop, dual channel, memory density, caveat emptor, RAM [/tags]