I’ve got a computer catalog … and I’m confused.

I have been oggling over the computers in the catalog recently sent by a well-known Canadian discount supplier of computers and electronics. After all it is the Christmas season. (But my PIII 550 desktop and PIII 450 laptop are just fine, thank you.)

I’m confused. I only know that the reconditionned P4s 2.0GHz with 128megs of RAM are worth the $230 or whatever they are asking give the market these days. Actually sounds like a great deal, although I think the first thing I’d do is pop in a few memory sticks were I to buy it.

There are Celeron D 3.46GHz units with 512megs for $300.

A Pentium D 2.8GHz with a gig of memory for $488.

An Intel Core 2 Duo 1.86GHz with 2gigs of memory for $670.

An Intel P4 3.0GHz with 512megs of memory for $250 .

I could go on.

The “disparities” for the laptops are much more confusing.

Now I’ve been dealing with computers for about 25 years. I’m by no means an expert; in fact, I don’t really know what’s going on under the hood. But I do understand is that AMD Athlod 2.6GHZ with a gig of memory for $549 might be a good idea; I hear that the AMD chips are way faster than Intel chips with the same cycle speeds. I don’t know why, but I believe my source. And I know that a Celeron is an intentionally crippled Pentium to respond to “market pressures” for a cheaper PC.

I think I got screwed a few years ago when I was sold a Celeron 533 for about $2000, monitor, keyboard, etc., etc., etc., included (no OS though.) Now I know that prices have dropped a lot since the year 2000; that’s not what bothers me. What bothers me is the thought that allegedly my PIII 550 desktop is self-appropriate — that is, the memory speed, bus speed, on-board processor cache memory, processor speed, and so on are more or less appropriate to each other, and that it’s the first computer I’ve had that is. No Ferrari parts in a jalopy, or Yugo transmissions in a Kenworth tractor. Well okay, nowadays it would be nice if it had USB 2.0 instead of USB 1.25 or whatever, but that’s a generational thing, not technological propriety. I’m not certain about the Celeron 533. It still runs XP and is even slower than when I abandonned it and gave it to my mother.

I think that said discount supplier is trying to confuse me the same way; I think that they have assembled a bunch of parts left and right depending on what they bought at a rock bottom price yesterday, called it a computer, and are hoping that dumb ol’ me can’t tell the difference between them. I figure that they are betting that the processor cycles in bold type and a cheap price tag will get me to pull out my credit card, figuring that these two metrics, possibly with a mention of how much memory is there, will clinch the deal. Of course today’s rock bottom prices are for different parts, so of course the computers they slap together tomorrow will have a similar price but different specs.

I could be wrong.

But I like my conspiracy theory. And I like the PIII 550 I have, that a few lifetimes ago was an online casino server. Seems about half as much faster running CentOS 4.5 (that’s a flavour of Linux) than the Celeron 533 running XP.