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Performance Aspects and Priorities
One of the biggest problems with the way many people consider performance is that they treat it as a single entity. In fact, there are many different aspects and factors involved in overall PC performance. There is no single number that can properly express the performance of a PC system, and anyone that tries to tell you otherwise is "selling something". Many hardware manufacturers are guilty of this, especially CPU makers that want people to focus far too much attention on the speed of the system processor.
There are several key components that are most important in terms of their influence on the overall performance of the typical PC. These are the CPU (system processor), system memory, video card, and hard disk drive. How important each of these is relative to the others depends entirely on how the system is being used. In some systems and for some applications there are other components that are as important to overall performance or possibly even more important than those four.
Here are some sample applications or uses of PCs and a brief discussion of what the performance priorities typically are for them:
Those are only a few examples, but they give you the general idea. When designing a PC, you have to decide which areas of performance are most important to you. How important the various factors are, and in fact the degree to which performance matters at all, depends entirely on how you use your system. Unless you have an unlimited budget, you will end up having to trade off performance in one area for performance in another, to some extent. At the same time, most PC users should watch out for a lack of balance in the key performance-related components and also in the capacity of the system; see here for more.
Tip: In the pages discussing selection tips for individual components, I describe the performance
impact and importance of each component.