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Needed: Beginners' guide to upgrading.

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I just got my hands on a 2001 Gateway (super cheap) so I was wondering what steps I could take or the options I may have in upgrading this thing. Unfortunately I am TOTALLY and entirely new to this sort of thing, but figured this would be a great place to start. Please bear with me as undoubtedly some of my questions will be, well, stupid.

I was wondering if anyone here could steer me to a good guide online that would help me with these major questions before I start ripping the thing apart:

1) How can I best and most quickly figure out exactly the kind of machine I have here. What are its vital stats, its equipment,and all that. How best do I take an inventory of all that I have here.

What I have been able to find are these figures:

AMD Athlon 1.10 GH processor
Windows XP, 2002
128 MBs of RAM
14 GB of hard drive space (18.6 total capacity)
Total Virtual memory: 446.83 MB
Page File space: 319.50 MB
56K modem
Standard CD-ROM drive (1329 KB per second)
3 1/2 inch floppy drive

Now I am certain there's more that will be important in my quest here, but I still have to figure out what half this stuff does already anyway.

2) What kind of equipment will do what for my system? I am looking to build a solid machine here, but before putting any money into it I need to know I'll be able to get this machine up to speed for less than what it would cost me to buy a new pc to begin with. For instance, here's a couple things that I know I'll want to have on this pc and have it run well beyond the minimum specs...:

Macromedia Flash, Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Adobe Photoshop, various (ahem) games, a DVD/CD RW, a solid sound card, solid graphics card, and in general just a nice, medium class upgraded pc with above average graphic and sound capabilities. Small office/home sort of use.

3) Once i figure out what I have and exactly where I want to go, what kind of things should I invest in and be careful of in getting started. I have this grand vision of being able to do a little bit of tinkering, maybe downloading recent drivers, picking up a couple choice pieces of equipment I can install in the box- and have a relatively inexpensive to build yet well above average machine for less than buying a new pc... but I know there are going to be pitfalls. What should I be mindful of as I begin this process?

Or, should I just scrap the whole thing and buy a new pc anyway...

I would appreciate any advice you may have for this humble beginer, and thanks so much for your time already in reading my query!


Chip D. Wood
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You could go to the above link and download Everest, it is a program that will tell you about all your hardware.

I would add more ram, Windows XP will run ok with 128mb but much better with at least 256mb or more depending on what and how many applications you are using at any one time.

If it has intergrated video maybe a new video card especially if you are doing any gaming.

The hard drive maybe small by todays standards you may have to add a second as the drive fills up.

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