FOR THOSE WHO CHERISH SPEEDINESS

FOR THOSE WHO CHERISH SPEEDINESS

I've been working on ways to speed up my computer. As all computer geeks know, speediness is next to cleanliness, which is next to - well, you know the drill.

I decided to add a turbocharged video card, a mouse with a 2,000 horsepower engine and a hard drive that leaves others in the dust.My hands were shaking as I removed the Diamond Multimedia Viper II video card ($159) from its box and popped it into the AGP slot in my computer.

Packed with 32 megabytes of SDRAM and options you can only dream about for video cards in its price range, it handled graphics-intensive programs (games) and software-driven DVD (movies) like a pro. The one drawback? You need to have a high-speed accelerated graphics (AGP) port on your motherboard to use it. Even my Pionex Pentium III couldn't handle it at top speed.

Another video card I like is the 16-megabyte Voodoo 3 3500 ($149.95) from 3dfx. This has taken a lot of hits in the computer press, but it was more than suitable for anything I needed to do. And I could take full advantage of it using a standard AGP slot.

It handled 3D graphics and DVD as well as the Viper II and has a built-in TV tuner card. But if you want pure processing speed, the Viper II leaves it at the starting gate.

If you're using an older Pentium computer, you can buy a PCI version of the card. It may be a bit slower in handling graphics, but you'll hardly notice.

The mouse I used was the Razer Boomslang 2000 ($99.99). There is a cheaper one - the Razer Boomslang 1000 ($69.99) - but that wasn't good enough for this computer geek.

The 2000 hooks up to the USB port on your computer (which means you can only use it if you're running Windows 98 or 2000). Once it's installed, your cursor flies across the screen. In fact, the manufacturers warn you to adjust its settings to a slower speed until you get used to it.

Now, why would I want to use a 2,000-dpi mouse? Simple. Your average mouse can track movement at 400 dots per square inch. When you can translate the movement of the mouse on your desk to four or five times the average, you increase the speed it moves on the screen and its accuracy.

It's definitely worth the bucks. But there's also a downside. The first time I installed the mouse, its software rewrote some files Windows needs to boot up; my computer would lock up before activating Windows 98. Luckily I was able to restore Windows to its pre-Razer settings.

The second time, I was more careful and paid attention to warnings that files were going to be overwritten.

Now for the piece de resistance: I installed a Quantum Fireball LM Plus 30-gigabyte hard drive with a rated speed of 7,200 revolutions per minute. This cut the time it takes to read data to about eight milliseconds, compared with 11 or 12 with 5,200-rpm drives.

Believe it or not, it does make a difference. My bootup time was cut in half as was the usually agonizing time it takes to get into Windows 98.

Installation was fairly simple. My computer's BIOS (setup) recognized the hard drive as soon as I installed it, and it was formatted and ready to go within minutes.