Archive for Tuesday, June 8, 1999


June 8, 1999


Please tell me why my desktop system with a P233 and 48 megabytes of RAM runs twice as fast as my laptop with a P150 and 32 meg RAM. The noticeable difference is when I am "online" . . . downloads with the laptop are very slow, double the time compared with the desktop.

The major difference between the two is that the laptop is running Windows 98 while the desktop runs an updated Windows 95.

There are many factors that determine the overall speed of a computer. I do not believe the difference between Windows 98 and Windows 95 is a major factor in your speed difference. There are some laptops that have problems with Windows 98 and it would be a good idea to check the Web site of your laptop manufacturer to see if there are any known problems with running Windows 98 on your machine.

In addition, the difference between a Pentium 150 processor and a Pentium 233 processor can be significant. Doing a bit of research, I found out that no Pentium 150 processors for notebooks shipped with MMX technology and most Pentium 233 processors would have MMX built in. Between the processor speed difference and the MMX difference, that could make the desktop machine appear twice as fast.

Also consider that components for a laptop tend not to be as powerful as those for a desktop. Designers have to worry about heat and power on a laptop and have trouble putting the latest and greatest technologies into such a small package. Your desktop probably has better video and a faster hard drive than your laptop.

A nice Web site to test your machine and compare it to other machines in the same range is

However, from your description, your biggest complaint is download speed. Download speed is directly affected by the speed of your modem and your communication software settings. Make sure your laptop is not only using a 56 K modem, but also is using a V.90 upgraded protocol to give you 56 K access. Also check with the Internet service provider you are dialing into to see if it has problems with the modem you are using on your laptop. If you don't have a 56 K modem for your laptop, you can purchase one for about $125 at most computer stores.

Finally, make sure your laptop is set to use a 56 K dial-in number to fully take advantage of your 56 K modem.

-- David Greenbaum is director of Geeks on Wheels. You can send him questions at or at Geeks on Wheels, 1-888-Geek-911, toll-free nationwide.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.