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Computer Performance

The performance of a computer is determined by a number of factors, all of which work together. Often a single item that is functioning poorly will cause a bottleneck resulting in poor performance.

CPU: The model of the CPU and its speed are the first factors that determine computer performance. Generally, the CPU so far outperforms the other components, that poor performance is usually due to other factors. One important factor in the performance of the CPU is the amount of on-board cache memory. If the CPU has sufficient cache memory it can queue future instructions and data in cache. Since access to cache memory is far faster than that to RAM, the overall processing performance is improved. On-board cache memory helps especially where the CPU is involved in processing of graphics.

RAM: If a computer does not have sufficient RAM, it has to make use of the hard disk to store intermediate data that it would normally store in RAM. This is referred to as virtual memory. Since hard disk access is much slower than access to RAM, this will slow down the computer. The more RAM a computer has, the less need there will be to make use of virtual memory.

Number of applications: Modem computers are designed to run more than one application at a time and to allow applications to be working on multiple sets of data at the same time. For example, a user may be working on four documents at once. However, the more open applications and documents there are, the more this will place a burden on the processing power of the computer. For best performance, only open the applications and documents you need. Close others.

Graphics cards: The graphics card is the unit that converts the signals from the CPU into a form that can be displayed on the monitor. A good graphics card can take over many of the tasks of the CPU in generating the output. This leaves the CPU free to do other processing tasks. The quality of the graphics card is a key factor in the performance of a computer, yet is one which is often overlooked.