I suspect NCQ will only have an effect if the request queue for the drive is 3 or more requests long. This will presumably only happen with 3 I/O intensive processes/threads reading simultaneously, which will almost certainly only happen on a server.
Agreed. According to storagereview.com tests, NCQ in desktop scenario usually doesn't increase performance.
I can imagine that using p2p programs in background and running some disk intensive program in foreground may benefit from NCQ - but I've not seen tests about such usage, neither have I SATA drive to make such test myself
Switching to dual core will have very little effect unless you use a specific program that might benefit, perhaps a game that does physics calculations in a separate thread or whatever. It might help with serving intensive games like Battlefield 1942, or doing video encoding or such. Discounting special cases, dual core is pretty much moot.
I don't agree. Even if you're using just single program at a time, overall windows usage will become smoother. If you're using antivirus or any other highly demanding background service, dualcore is noticeably better. If you're using some special programs, like VirtualPC or VMWare or you want convert some media in background, then dualcore is a must.
What about games, then more and more games will benefit from multicore processors. No serious gamer won't buy singlecore processor anymore, game makers are pretty aware of this
As for memory, it depends on how much your programs require. It is probably true that some new games can benefit by having >1GB memory which may mean slightly less swapping or load time, but probably hardly noticeable. Certainly some heavily laden servers use >1gb memory. As somewhat future-proof (don't hold your breath), I think 2GB would be sensible in a new machine, but I wouldn't consider it a drastically needed upgrade generally (until Vista).
I don't agree. In addition application memory consumption, tehre's always some system memory need, most noticeably for system cache. There are many programs, benefitting directly for 2GB memory, eg: new games, video/3D/image manipulation software, development tools, database utilities. And of course Vista will be happy on 2GB
What about upgrading - you should watch for you PC memory consumption after running all your main and demanding applications. If you've got 1GB of memory and peak memory consumption doesn't go over 1GB, then you don't need 2GB. If peak goes over 1.2-1.5GB or more, then 2GB will make system faster. "Fractional" sizes of memory (1.5GB etc) make no sense.
We should all be wary of the word 'better', it is one of my least favourite words. Whenever someone says something is 'better', they usually don't go on to explain why. 'Better' is used in place of an explanation and when told that one must decide whether to trust the person without hearing any explanation at all.
So I don't readily take anyone's word that something is better sans explanation. I've been burned too many times.
Agreed. That's why I attempted to explain my thoughts here