Friday, May 27, 2005

New PC

A couple of weeks ago Linda let me know that I needed to be prepared to teach a SQL 2005 class after I get back from Corpus Christi. Nowadays Microsoft classes almost always come on Virtual PC Images, so I started thinking about how I was going to prep. Sure, I have a copy of Virtual PC on my laptop, but in our experience you need a lot of RAM and processing power to have a reasonable VM experience. My laptop is only a 1.1 P3m with 512 MB RAM—not really enough for the demands of a VM host machine. I started looking online at laptops.

After considering at the options at the usual places like CompUSA, Best Buy, Circuit City, etc., I was frustrated. I wanted something portable, but with a lot of kick. But as I found out, the more power you get, the less portable the system becomes—I didn’t want a laptop with a 17” screen that weighed more than 10 pounds! Another annoyance is I wanted 2GB of RAM. The most built-in RAM you can find the stores is 1GB. It’s always installed with two 512MB SODIMMs. That means if you want a system with 2 GB RAM, you’d have to buy two 1 GB SODIMMs and replace the RAM you just bought. Grr! Eventually you find yourself staring at a 3.0 GHz HP with 1 GB RAM for $2,099, thinking there has to be something better.

Then I looked at the so-called “gamers’ systems” like Alienware, Voodoo, Falcon NW, and Sager. They have systems to make a geek drool—up to 3.6 GHz systems with up to 4 GB RAM, dual DVD-RW drives, and RAID-0 support on the motherboard for superior performance. All of them seem expensive, though (up to $5K in some cases), and none of them have a reputation for good customer service.

Today around 11:00 we had a power outage at work and a mandatory evacuation of the building. I decided to go shopping and ended up at Microcenter staring at the custom cases. Some of them were pretty small, and I started thinking, why not build a custom system? It's cheaper than buying one and I can get exactly what I need. The cases aren’t pretty; in fact, the one I bought looks like a toaster. But it had a built-in motherboard with an Ethernet card, 4 USBs, an AGP slot and two PCI slots.

So, here’s what I ended up with:

“Barebones” case/motherboard$200
P4 3.0 GHz$209
2 GB RAM$250
WD 160 GB HD (7200RPM)$59
Video: e-GeForce AGP 6800 (128MB)$189

Not too bad, considering!


At 11:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've seen this. It really does look like a toaster. I expected to see some pop-tarts spring up out of it.

At 12:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Considering the savings, I would think the toaster look would be quite acceptable!


Post a Comment

<< Home