atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#175: Computer musings

I keep thinking about buying some new hardware.

This machine is five years old. I got it in May of 2001, and other than installing 512 MB of RAM, bigger hard drives, and a wireless network card, I haven't upgraded it at all.

It came with 128 MB of RAM and a 20 GB hard drive. I put the 20 GB drive from my old machine into this one as a D: drive. I upgraded it to 512 GB within a few months of buying it.

Somewhere along the line I upgraded the C drive to a 40 GB drive. Then I put a 40 GB drive in as my D: drive. And earlier this year I put a 120 GB drive into the D: drive slot.

Come to think of it, I've also fiddled with the optical drives a bit. It came with a decent 8x CD-R/RW drive; in 2002 I upgraded it to a 48x drive. In 2004 I added a DVD-ROM drive; and now it has a CD-R/RW-DVD+/-R/RW/WTF drive which writes CDs at 52x and DVDs at...

...I don't even remember. Fast enough, anyway.

The last piece of software I actually went out and bought was "Myst III: Exile". I have looked at getting "Neverwinter Nights" but I doubt I will. Old software tends to fade away, and finding NN will not be easy.

I would like to significantly upgrade my hardware. This computer sports a Pentium III running at 1 GHz, and these days you can get a computer from Dell which runs faster than that...for $400.

The real problem is that I'm lazy. The P3 is no slouch in the computation department, and considering that most of the things I use this machine for don't tax its capabilities, I really don't see the benefit to upgrading. You do not need a multi-GHz-multi-core processor to run Word 97.

The only time I see any serious "chunking" is when I visit a web site which has a lot of Flash crap on it. I'm not talking about content; I'm talking about those stupid "click me" ads. Those things suck down too many resources.

So going to all the trouble of getting a new machine to where I could use it seems like largely wasted effort, to me.

The only thing I really need a more powerful machine for is things like converting video to be burned to DVD. I could see myself setting up a cheap-but-fast machine ("fast" compared to this one, anyway) and using it solely for video projects. One reasonable possibility would be to get a new motherboard and upgrade my previous machine--which I still have. I would have to convert the case to use an ATX power supply, since no one makes AT motherboards anymore, but I don't think that would be much of a problem.

I would end up having to build a new machine, in essence, though. Besides motherboard and processor I would also need an ATX power supply, memory, and at least one hard drive. This assumes that the new motherboard has built-in video, audio, and ethernet ports, of course. I'd want to install Windows XP in order to be able to use a hard drive larger than 137 GB, too. I'd end up paying, what? $400? $500? --to upgrade the old machine. And that being the case....

Dude! You're gettin' a Dell!

...just to save myself the effort of making all that stuff work together.

Yeah: a basic Dell Dimension E520 can be had for about $450, with 512 MB of RAM and an 80 GB hard drive. It has an Intel Celeron D processor, running at 2.8 GHz.

I prefer Intel processors. I had bad experiences with AMD (and other) processors when I worked as a computer technician. I know that AMD has vastly improved its product line since then, and that they're a perfectly valid (and much less expensive) alternative to Intel processors...but I still prefer Intel. Besides, the price only becomes an issue if you insist on having the latest and greatest in processor technology. I don't; I wouldn't be running a five-year-old system if I did.

So I'm not really sure where I get this "upgrade fever" from. I think five years is the longest I have ever gone without upgrading my primary computer; maybe it's force of habit.

*"Ever" meaning since I got my first computer in 1983, a Commodore 64. I got an Atari 520ST in 1987....

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