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08/16/2011

Speed up your computer with a redeemable card?

Bought a new computer but it's feeling a little slow? Perhaps a magical 'upgrade card' will help it go a little faster.

Intel has a way for people to speed up their computers without even setting a finger inside the case. But is it a way to genuinely help users squeeze out extra performance? Or is it a cash grab to get more money after the fact?

The company, which makes a vast number of the processors that make up the brains of desktops and laptops, is offering a service that allows users the chance to buy more speed for their PC.

After buying an upgrade card, users hop online and enter a special code into a website. Once the card has been redeemed, users unlock their PC's hidden speed potential.

But how does that work? Is there an upgrade card for the VW Beetle to make it go fast like a Porsche, without having to do any work under the hood?

The upgrade cards work on Intel’s Sandy Bridge processors – the Core i3 2312M, Core i3 2102 and the Pentium G622.

After redeeming the code, special software is downloaded to the computer that unlocks more cache and more clock cycles.

How much more speed will you get? AnandTech posted some estimates, predicting anywhere from a 10 per cent bump in performance to a 23 per cent boost.

This isn’t the first time Intel has done something like this. About 11 months ago it had a similar program, with cards costing about $50. It’s not yet known how much the upgrade cards will cost this time around.

The program appears targeted at lower-end, entry-level processors. On one hand, it’s a nice way to get better performance a few months after shelling out hundreds of dollars for a computer (once there’s a little more coin in your pocket). For novice users, it’s also nice to upgrade a computer without taking things apart.

 On the other hand, some might be disappointed to know their computer wasn’t sold with its maximum potential flicked on. Like buying an HDTV that only displays standard definition until you buy an extra upgrade.

What do you think about the upgrade cards?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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