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When to Buy a New PC

We've gone through four generations of Personal Computers over the years:

  • 1980: An Apple II+ (SynerTek 6502 CPU)
  • 1986: A Commodore Amiga (Motorola 68000 CPU)
  • 1997: A Gateway 2000 (Intel Pentium MMX CPU)
  • 2001: A Dell Dimension 8100 (Pentium 4 CPU)

The signal for us to upgrade has always been when our old PC has been surpassed by an order-of-magnitude (i.e., 10X) in CPU speed, RAM and data storage capacity by newer models. Here are a few charts to illustrate the comparison between the 4 models shown above. Note that these performance charts have logarithmic scales. (Otherwise, the screen wouldn't be tall enough to show the comparisons!) On these logarithmic charts, each horizontal line going up the axis represents 10X the previous line.

There is one final chart to show. This one is not logarithmic because it doesn't need to be. It shows the price we paid for each of the four PCs, expressed in constant 2004 dollars:

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