View Full Version : The bare amount of computer power required to stay productive

December 15th, 2010, 03:47 AM
What do you think is the bare minimal amount of computer power (hardware specs) required to do basic tasks on the computer (checking email, facebook, composing documents, etc).

This question originally came from my blog: http://tekkidd.tumblr.com/post/2319790657/what-is-the-minimal-amount-of-computer-power-we-need-to

December 15th, 2010, 05:21 AM
I imagine it would be something akin to your average nettop:

Processor: Dual core for balancing apps, but low speed (1.6ghz)

RAM: 1gb, enough for the operating system and more standard apps (office, web browser, etc...)

Hard Drive: This is more individual to your use of it, but 250gb should be enough...

GPU: Intel is fine, ION for special cases.

December 15th, 2010, 05:26 AM
I got an Acer Aspire computer with P4 1.5GHz, 128MB RAM, nVidia TNT VGA card and 20GB hard disk. Install with Puppy Linux. It can do most of the productive work you mention. I have even run it on an older computer like P3 600Mhz CPU. For even older computer if they are still around there is Tiny Core. I guess Chrome OS is not ready yet at the moment.

Windows Nerd
December 15th, 2010, 05:30 AM
The computer you mentioned from 2001 is the reasonable bare minimum to run a productive, graphical environment. It is possible to stay productive with all of the stuff you mentioned, just with CLI apps. The computer from 1995 probably would run stuff in a command-line environment much the same as the one from 2001 would in a graphical one. It depends on your comfort with the command line. If you grew up with computers that were exclusively command-line (like a DOS computer or older) you should probably not have a problem. Others who are point-and-click addicts and/or need a graphical environment would have a problem.

All depends on what you exactly require to stay "productive".

December 15th, 2010, 05:32 AM
I found it humorous that "Facebook" falls under "productive".

December 15th, 2010, 05:32 AM
Define productive.

December 15th, 2010, 05:44 AM
The computer you mentioned from 2001 is the reasonable bare minimum to run a productive, graphical environment.

A long way from 'resonable bare mimum' IMO. I was running a P3-866, 256MB (minus some for the shared i810 video) and 20GB HDD up till not that long ago for playing media files. Running sidux Xfce, so it wasnt even using an espically light setup.

Sure, it wasnt fast, but it did the job. For web browsing you could drop even lower and it would be fine.....well, provided that you're not a tab monster with a browser anyway.

December 15th, 2010, 05:51 AM
I have a box from circa 1998, 64Mb RAM, 133MHz cpu, 3Gb HDD, that I occasionally call into service if I anticipate having my server offline for more than a few minutes. Performance isn't great, and the fan's noisy, but at least it gives visitors something to look at, even if it's a message along the lines of "Sorry, some parts of this website are temporarily unavailable. Please try again later."

December 15th, 2010, 06:06 AM
With some creativity, you could create some embedded platforms using micro-controllers to do most of what you said (one at a time). You might be able to with an Arduino or even an ATtiny, but more reasonably an ARM7 or larger. Much depends on the efficiency required.

December 15th, 2010, 06:14 AM
I know someone who was doing everything listed using a celeron 633 and 128mb of ram up until a month ago when the mobo died. I'm sure that you could get by with less than that, even.

December 15th, 2010, 09:14 AM
For me, it would have to be a Core 2 Duo processor or better. The video card needs to be dedicated and I need at least 500GB of hard drive space. I have 1TB and I'm going to double that shortly:P...

But I like my Phenom II X4. 8-)

December 15th, 2010, 09:38 AM
Depends on what you want to do. For basic web/email/music/video/Office the ARM chip in the iPad, or any of the chips powering the iPhone/Android phones will do just fine. Honestly, that probably gets half the computer-using population right there.

After that it gets into what your needs are.

Dr. C
December 15th, 2010, 08:28 PM
To place things into perspective here is a comparison between the system requirements for Microsoft Office 95 and Microsoft Office 2010, a 15 year time span. The productive task: Write a business letter.

Microsoft Office 95
CPU 386DX or higher processor (486 recommended). The 386DX ran between 12 MHz and 40 MHz
Memory 8-16 MB

Microsoft Office 2010
CPU 500 MHz or faster processor
Memory 256 MB to 512 MB

So we are talking orders of magnitude difference in processing power and memory to accomplish the exact same task. This is by no means limited to Microsoft or propriety software. FLOSS suffers from many of the same software bloat problems. One can be productive with some very minimal hardware if one gets rid of software bloat. I recall being very productive on the original IBM PC. The trick to make an old computer productive is to run even older software on it.

December 15th, 2010, 09:16 PM
On my Commodore 64, I could type and print documents and check emails on Q-Link. I think I may have even had a basic spreadsheet program.

December 15th, 2010, 09:22 PM
22PHz processor, 8TB RAM, and 32TB SSD to store the OS code needed to run the CPU.

If you are just playing in the browser and such as you listed, then a P4 era CPU would be fine with 1GB RAM, but you would need a newer GPU for running any gaming or other 3D applications.

December 15th, 2010, 09:28 PM
I know I have a toaster around here someplace...:P

December 15th, 2010, 09:28 PM
Most of my computing power is geared towards being unproductive. Makes me wonder why I would ever buy a new computer.

December 15th, 2010, 09:31 PM
p4 is fine, but...

if you are dropping money on a computer, the bare minimum i would go for would be anything with a mobo that takes ddr3 ram and a 24-pin power cable in a standard ATX or MicroATX form factor (ie: not a shuttle). if it meets that criteria, the rest will be sufficient.

just because reliable legacy hardware is a pain to find, and ddr3/24-pin will be the norm for some time to come.

December 15th, 2010, 09:54 PM

100Mhz, if I am forced. ;)