WinModem vs. Standard Modem Resource Requirements, etc.

Posted on 2004-08-01
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hello all,

   I am aware of the fact that a WinModem uses system resources & software to process modem information, etc. while a standard hardware modem uses on-board IC's to mod/demod, etc.  However I remember a time when WinModems were heavily scorned because of the limited resources of a PC.  Now that we are at the 3.0Ghz, etc.  Is it that big of a deal?  Practically speaking, I have a friend with a 750 P3 and needs a cheap modem.  I know that $30 for a good modem is cheap, but that is how much he spent on the PC!  The pc is fine, however the question is, to WHAT extent, generally, will a WinModem degrade a PC's performance with regard to these specifications:

Stats are as thus:
P3 750
256 PC133 RAM
32MB VidRam (AGP)
HP Vectra mobo
Onboard NIC/Sound
WD 5200RPM 10GB

It's a solid machine for the price.  Any thoughts?


Question by:jennifer_borman
  • 2

Author Comment

ID: 11691067
Please note that I would normally get a standard modem.  But this is definitely a cost/performance issue.
LVL 31

Accepted Solution

rid earned 1000 total points
ID: 11691200
Generally, it is true that a more powerful machine doesn't get impaired by a winmodem to the extent older machines were. However, also generally, it is undesirable to use more "layers" than necessary to perform the functions you want done. So, winmodems will probably still have an impact om performance, even if it is a small impact, and there are more software components that can break and create problems for you (drivers going into conflict or just not work as expected etc.) than are involved with a hardware modem.

As an aside, if you ever do something outside of the  normal run-of-the-mill dial-up things with the modem, it seems winmodems arent quite as flexible and useful as real modems. The quality and life expectancy seem to be lower for winmodems as well, at least if you use threads here at EE as any kind of reference.

Expert Comment

ID: 11693978
Run a software modem when you have the 3GHz processor you alluded to.  I would not expect to find a price difference significant enough to make it worth using one in the machine you described.  The upside is supposed to be that the WinModem is easier to upgrade [so what?].  PC hardware is so cheap now, a decent Rockwell chipset modem can likely be had for $9 US.  Overworking a P3 is not good.

Author Comment

ID: 11725158
Thank you both for the excellent and quick responses.  Very usefull information!

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