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I often get asked by people who seek to upgrade their PC that they need a PC "just for browsing and e-mail". Now, if this was 1996 or even 2000, that would indeed be a trivial requirement. Browsing? Sure, it's all just pure HTML, browsed one page at a time. E-mail? Sure, it's just a dumb e-mail client.
My point is, that browsing has evolved into a deceivingly requirements-heavy endeavour, and a "PC that's good for general-purpose Internet browsing" needs actually to be quite beefy, unless you're an atavist that still uses lynx and w3m, and PINE for e-mail. Thoughts?
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Playing back YT videos is a prime example of something that has become deceivingly resource-heavy. A Pentium @ 2.4 GHz is pretty much the bare minimum to play 240p videos seamlessly from within a browser, which is crazy if you think that with such a rig, you can seamlessly play "offline" video files of much higher resolutions, including and exceeding HD content. And yet, just a few years ago, I remember that a Pentium 4 was more than enough to play 240p videos, even within a browser. What the FUCK went wrong?
And while you could put the blame of the craptastic performance on the sucky flash-based "video players", you would think the introduction of the HTML5 [video] tag would smooth things a bit, since each browser can now have its own, internal, super-optimized (?) player, but no, it actually even got a bit worse on average. ON such old rigs, I find the only acceptable way to watch YT videos is to use a YT downloader app and watch them on an external media player, with about 100x the performance. Seriously, WTF?!
FWIW, I noticed that CPUs that come with large caches for their classes (e.g. older desktop AMDs vs equivalent Intels, and Centrino Intel CPUs of a given generation) are somewhat more adept at this particular task, including the dual-core Atom N570 CPU in a netbook I recently got for free (that little beast is deceivingly powerful, and capable of running 64-bit Windows 7, with upgraded RAM).