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Can your old PC run Windows 10? The answer will surprise you

Gordon Mah Ung | July 31, 2015
For a modern operating system with a vast range of capabilities, Windows 10 is an incredibly lean and mean operating system.

Windows 10, amazingly, installed just fine on the S12. Like the Pentium D box, however, the processor almost continually runs at full load doing the most basic tasks. Opening five-media heavy websites meant waiting an inexorably long time for the computer to respond to other instructions.

I'll give the S12 and Windows 10 this, though: The new Edge browser was capable of playing Youtube videos with far fewer hitches than Chrome.The last Netbook I played with years ago would not play Youtube videos in the Chrome browser without major hitches. The S12 with the Chrome browser and Windows 10 was no different, as it would continually drop frames and pause playing a 720p movie trailer. 

My Verdict: It works and installs just fine. It doesn't make the Netbook experience any better. Let's be frank, Netbooks were poor performers when they came out with Windows XP, so Windows 10 won't magically make them better. If you're running Windows XP and must have Windows 10, it's a better choice because at least it's a supported OS. If you're on Windows 7 or Windows 8, the move isn't a bad idea, either, as you get access to a more modern OS. 

A "real" laptop

The last machine I tried was a 2008-vintage Lenovo X61 that originally came with Windows Vista. Equipped with a 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo T8200, and 3GB of DDR2 RAM, I literally rescued this laptop from an e-waste bin, where it may have been sent because of problems with its WiFi card. All I know is the X61 worked fine except the WiFi, so my browsing was done over the LAN port. 

Of the three here, it felt the fastest and snappiest. That's no surprise: The dual-core T8200 is a good little CPU, and for general computing tasks is very usable. Drop an SSD in there and for most people, they'd never know the difference between this seven-year-old PC and a modern laptop.

It's far from it, though. Opening the five media-heavy sites in the Edge browser put a hefty load on the CPU, while a 2015 laptop would almost idle. 

My Verdict: This is a very usable experience. If I ran on a tight budget, a Windows 10 upgrade over, say the original Vista, along with cheap SSD, would give me another couple of years' service for general computing.

My recommendations

I think the 2006-era Pentium D is a borderline lost cause for all but the most basic computing tasks. Even there, it's almost useless for basic computing tasks, as the CPU seems to be under heavy loads constantly. The same goes with 2009-era Netbook: Underpowered even when they first came out, you'd better take yoga lessons to prevent you from smashing it into the ground in frustration. Windows 10 loads and runs, but it's pretty painful once you start to actually do anything.


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