Mac Modems: Internal vs. External

Which type of modem do you really want? The choice is no longer a choice, but a demand. External modems are by far more popular and better equipped. The thing that consumers are really looking for is performance. Then, what about an upgrade?

An internal modem may save you some room on your desk, but many of them are really not worth it. You may not save a serial port, because if you have an internal modem, this will take an internal modem slot. This card will block the serial port so that it can not be used until the modem card is removed from the slot. However, you can buy new internal modems for the G3/G4, which will save you port space. OK, so there may be some difference in port space. So what about performance? That is almost simple. Many internal modems do not have their own compressor, so it has to use the computer's CPU. The result of this is bad system performance. The screen can look choppy, programs will take longer to open, and you sure don't want to perform any large tasks. If you had an external modem, it would use its own compressor and your computer would have regular system performance. You wouldn't even know if you were connected or offline. Some internal modems are almost completely software made. So if you can upgrade a slower internal modem to a faster speed, your system performance will decrease even more. So is that really worth it? In most cases, no. If you have an internal modem, check to see what exactly it is made of. If it does have it's own hardware and is completely separate from the computer's CPU, then you should be fine. If however it does share time with the CPU, it will cause the problems described above.

If you are stuck with an internal modem, you can replace it with an external modem by removing the internal modem card. You may need an authorized dealer to remove the card and connect the serial port if needed. Or, if you know the guts of your computer, you can remove the card yourself and simply connect an external modem to one of the ports. However, you could experience some software conflicts and other problems. You may need to remove all of the internal modem software. You should refer to your computer manual for more information. Also, make sure you read any appropriate info for your modem to check exactly how it is set up. This can inform you if the modem has it's own hardware, or if it shares with the computer. Not all modems are the same, and your configuration could be different.


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