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Low-Cost Computers

PCs for less than $1,000.

This story appears in the March 1998 issue of Business Start-Ups magazine.

If you're in the market for a reasonably priced, no-frills multimedia PC for your home or office, here's good news for your budget: A small but growing number of companies are offering PCs that retail for less than $1,000.

How do sub-$1,000 PCs differ from their more expensive counterparts? While the less expensive machines are relatively fast, versatile and fully-featured, their processors, hard drives and other features are several notches below the top of the line in terms of capability. For example, while a PC that sells for $2,500 may have a 300 MHz Pentium II processor and a 3.2GB hard drive, a typical sub-$1,000 PC may feature a 180 MHz processor and a 1.6GB hard drive. These are fairly minimal capabilities and may not be adequate for demanding applications such as graphics or sound. However, this doesn't mean you're getting stuck with an antiquated clunker. Value-priced PCs can be upgraded to suit your changing needs by installing interchangeable components, such as additional RAM or a larger hard drive, which can be installed with relative ease. These additions are necessary if you plan to run graphic-intensive applications or run several applications under Windows simultaneously. There is a general trend in software design toward larger and more elaborate packages--some all-in-one office suites take up to 200MB of hard-drive space to install--so if you use this type of software, you might consider paying more for a large hard drive now, before you run out of disk space.

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