My Dear Spouse recently upgraded his desktop. He's getting into producing his own YouTube clips now, and the old box would not run the required software. We were going to turn the old box into a "family" computer (and who knows, that day may yet come) when I said, "Waaait a minnit..."
The old box had also been retired for alleged performance issues, but I suspected it was an overload of Civilization, Diabolo and other games that was stressing it. One reformat later and I had a machine perfectly capable of surfing the Web and writing some documents.
The hitch came when I tried to install Finale Songwriter, which I use for making sheet music. "Requires 256 MB RAM," said the installer. What? Didn't I have 256 MB of RAM? I figured it was one of those computery things where you're specced at 256 MB but you only get to use 247 MB or something.
Well, there was a computer show in the neighborhood. I researched what kind of RAM I would need and have just maxed out my computer's allotment for under $75. It wasn't really any cheaper than buying it on Amazon.com, but I got it today, and it wasn't more expensive, either. (Except that I had to pay to get into the show, but of course I didn't know what the prices were going to be until after I was in.)
I don't use a whole lot that makes the increase in speed apparent. OpenOffice now loads in about a second instead of three or four; that's the big thing. But now I *should* be able to handle running just about as many apps at once as I want to, without a lot of problems. Yay! And all for a whole lot cheaper than a new system that I really don't need.