Well, today I went ahead and upgraded my home PC. I really needed to do this for a number of reasons.
First, the system was just not powerful enough for some of the new games that have come out. For instance, I purchased two copies of Oblivion a while back. One for my son to use on his XBox 360. The second was the PC version that I would use. Well, turned out that none of the computers in the house could play it very well. Not even the dual core 3Ghz media center PC we use for the TV (graphics card just wasn’t quite good enough to smooth out the gameplay).
Second reason was that I’ve been trying to checkout the new Windows Vista OS. I can’t really install this on any other system in the house except my own PC (believe it or not we have 5 computers running in the house on a regular basis, one for each person in the family, plus the media center for the TV). I’ve been trying the various builds of Vista as Microsoft puts them out, but I’ve had sporadic device driver problems due to my older system. Plus the Aero feature was kind of chugging and the new media center hardly worked at all.
Finally, related to the above is the fact that as a programmer myself, I’ve wanted to play around a little with some of the new cool API’s for the media center in vista. So I really needed a solid computer to run it on.
My intent was not to get the most powerful system I could, but I did a little research to set some guidelines on what I was after. The research also helped me decide whether to buy a built system or build one myself. The last few computers I purchased as pre-built systems. It just seems sometimes to be cheaper to buy pre-built. This time it looked like I could leverage some existing items and just upgrade the motherboard, CPU, memory and graphics card. So I took a tri to Fry’s this morning with the following criteria: motherboard that supports dual core processor, sli graphics, ddr2 memory, sata, gigabit Ethernet. My plan was to find the cheapest board that met this criteria. This should get me into the modern age of gaming, and I should have room to upgrade as needed.
I found a board for around $120, added to this a AMD 64 Athlon X2 3800+ processor ($160), 2 GB of DDR2 RAM ($170), and a NVidia GeForce 7600 GS 256MB SLI ready card ($150), for a total of $600. Although not exactly needed, I grabbed a 200 GB Sata drive for $55. This gets back to meeting the requirements for current games, while also setting myself up for easy upgrades as needed. I’ve tested out Vista, media center and Oblivion. All appear to be working very well.