While adding memory or upgrading your hard drive might give your computer a boost, it's not the most cost-effective way to do so. It might not be possible if you've upgraded an older computer as much as possible, either. To maximize the life of your PC and minimize lag, there's PCBoost.

Installation is quick and painless, and you're greeted with a simple but effective user interface. The main screen shows you three main buttons: Change Options, Run Benchmark and View Statistics. You'll also see any programs that PCBoost has "accelerated," a process that begins as soon as you launch the program. PCBoost affects only the active program and not every program that may be running.

You can -- and we recommend that you do -- run a benchmark test to see how well your computer is performing before boosting. This will rank various items such as processor clock speed and your hard drive, and the program will give you an overall rank based on the average. Run this option once more after you boost your computer.

Boosting your computer is as easy as selection "View and Change Settings." A sliding scale allows you to choose one of the following processor priority settings: low, below normal, normal, above normal and high. You can adjust the priority setting of the active app with the slider, but you can't adjust individual programs. The higher the priority, the most efficiently that program should work. However, this may also cause other programs to stutter so you'll want to experiment. While your mileage may vary, PCBoost would be great for those demanding programs that use a lot of processing power.

For multi-core processors -- your computer likely has at least two cores if you purchased it in the last 5 years -- you'll see an option to use the fastest core available on this screen.

Advanced settings enable you to start the program when your computer starts and add certain processes. It would be nice to set priority for multiple processes or programs. You can access PCBoost at any time by the icon in the Quick Launch bar.

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