I have had the same desktop system for the past 3 years and over the past few months it seems the system is getting slower and slower. It is a Dell Optiplex with a 3.2G P4 process, 2G RAM and a couple hard drives and running Windows XP SP2. I primarily use this system for email, web browsing and some software development projects using Visual Studio.
My primary development system for client work is a Dell Latitude D820, 2.16Ghz Duo Core 2, 2G RAM and a 100G HD. This system has a 15″ wide screen with 1920×1200 resolution and bluetooth to handle a nice Microsoft 6000 wireless mouse. When it comes to laptops I find this hard to beat, but I still like the flexibility and speed of a desktop for development while I am home with dual monitors.
I had given some thoughts to just wiping the system disk out and either reinstalling Windows XP or installing Windows Vista to give it a try. After thinking about it I figured trying to make this 3 year old system last a couple more years was not worth the effort with systems today being so much faster and so many more features.
Since I have owned Dell’s for so long I decided I would replace my current Dell with a new Dell. I started looking at both the Dimension and Optiplex models but quickly realized the prices were higher than I expected to pay for what I wanted. My requirements were:
- Intel Duo Core 2, 2.40Ghz E6600 or AMD Athlon X2 5000+
- 4G RAM
- ATI or NVidia video card to support (2) DVI ports.
- 80 or 150G 10K RPM system drive
- Vista Capable
It’s very disappointing to find out Dell really wants me to order my system with a flat panel LCD monitor. Well, I don’t want an LCD monitor and I am not going to pay for it. It also seems I limited to the RAM I can get with 4G of Dell RAM being $500 or more depending on the system I settled on. After going back and forth on the systems it turned out I could not get everything in the box I wanted without sacrificing something, which is not an option.
I decided to start considering building my own system from off-the-shelf components. I used to build my own systems, but it has been a long time. I really thought there was no need to spend the time and energy to put together my own system with the likes of Dell, HP and others out there selling bundles. What I found was truely amazing, there are so many sources of information on building your own system, tweaking it and overclocking it. I guess I was out of the loop in system building for too long and the technology and market just kept growing. Who knew.
I started looking around for web sites geared toward system builders, gamers and all-around computer enthusiasts and found some very good sites with some very good reviews and who also have some great forums too. My initial findings for information revealed:
I also found some great sources of name-brand components with some really good prices:
I started reading about components; Intel vs. AMD, motherboards, memory, hard drives, video cards, CPU cooling, system cooling and a million little things that need to be considered to make the best buying decision.
In the next post on my Vista machine build I will discuss some of these items, the resources I found and the decisions I made about each component.