The lowdown on super PCs

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Super PCs

What is it? By the standards of the moment, a super PC has the fastest Intel or AMD processors available, at least 512M of expandable RAM, a large 7,200-rpm or faster hard drive, at least one fast CD-RW optical drive, one DVD-ROM or a rewritable DVD drive, video and sound cards with plenty of RAM, dial-up and 10/100 Ethernet cards and plenty of IEEE 1394 FireWire and USB ports. Mid- or full-tower cases allow for plenty of expansion capability.

What's the price? Depending on the type and quality of components you choose, most super PCs are priced between $2,000 and $3,000.

When do I need one? You likely need one for high-end graphics, computer-aided design, digital photo editing, and digital video capture and editing tasks.

When don't I need one? If your main computing tasks involve standard word processing, spreadsheet and e-mail applications, save your money and buy a unit priced around $1,000.

Must know info? To get the best price and features, consider configuring your own super PC online and ordering it from a reputable PC vendor. One tip: When searching online for cutting-edge PCs, check vendors' Web pages for 'Home' or 'Gaming' machines. You'll generally find a larger selection of options than you will by clicking on business, corporate or government categories.

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