For the vast majority of pricey objects, two and a half years of ownership is not an extremely long time. Take a car for example. You spend thousands of dollars on an object and after two or three years you still feel like you are breaking it in. You may have gone through a set of tires, or perhaps had some minor mechanical work done, but by no means is it time to replace the car.
Unfortunately, the same mentality is not held in the world of computers. While the price of electronic components are much cheaper (in general) compared to the price of cars, a substantial amount is usually invested into a good computer. The problem is that the longevity of a computer is much lower than the longevity of most other products. It is not that a computer mysteriously stops working after a short period of time and needs replacing, rather a computer just starts to feel old, loosing the speed and memory needed for today's high-end games and applications. Sure, an old computer will work just fine with the software available upon its release, but after a short period of time new applications seems slower and slower as time passes.
One solution is to keep the software that originally worked speedily with the older hardware: choosing to keep Office 95, Windows 95, Quake II, and the like. For most of us this is not a realistic option, be it for compatibility with other computers or a desire to play new games.
Another solution, one that may seem to be the only possible one, is a complete system replacement. It is true that after an extremely long period of time this is the only solution, however in many instances an aging computer can be saved simply by upgrading components.
Many of us choose to approach our computers in the same way we approach our cars, replacing parts rather than the whole. The problem is that in the case of computers there is no part analogous to tires. Almost every piece of an aging computer can contribute to its lackluster speed. Should you replace the processor or the video card? Does one choose to spend money on additional memory or on a faster hard drive? These are just a few questions those out there with a limited budget and an aging computer are facing. For an upgrader on a budget, it is often difficult to choose which single upgrade path to take.
Today we investigate possible modes of upgrade for owners of systems that may date as far back as May of 1998 or as recent as a few months ago: the AMD K6-2 and K6-3 series based computers.