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Well, the final barriers are breaking down. It all started back when I asked GDNet to persuade me to buy a new machine. The first campaign was startlingly successful: I went out and got myself an Asus W2JB notebook. It's a delightful little box, and I've dribbled about my infatuation with it at great length in the archives of this very publication.

Unfortunately (for my wallet at least), there's still a void to fill in the soul of my inner geek.

Originally, I settled on the laptop because I was about to do some travelling. I've now finished the travelling, and have no plans to travel for at least the next three hours, so a laptop is no longer all that useful. I mean, it's still awesome for sitting on the sofa and surfing while I watch the World Cup - but it just doesn't hack it for work.

The way I see it, the problem is simple. There are three aspects to computing: work, gaming, and mobility. I've got the gaming covered, and the mobility. (I'll resist the urge to thump my geekchest about the specs of my gaming and mobility machines; if you really care you can find them in the thread linked above.) That leaves work relatively unsolved.

Up until now, for the past several years, I've been working on an AthlonXP 2400+. I only recently managed to convince myself to spring for the RAM upgrade from 512MB to 1GB. It sports a jaw-dropping GeForce4 Ti 4800, which was hot when I bought it, but now can barely even handle the stuff I work on when set to minimal quality. Heck, I'm stuck back in the era of EIDE hard drives.

That wasn't really a huge problem for most of that time. When I needed Shader Model 2.x support, or framerates with more than one digit, I'd just sidle over to my gaming machine at the other end of the apartment, and use it. The only downer there was that I have no display for the gaming rig aside from my LCD projector, and writing code on an 84" wall is not exactly pleasant. This equates to a lot of trotting back and forth between my two machines. It also means I can't do anything color-sensitive during the day, because even with the window blocked out the sunlight makes it hard to see subtle shades of color on the projected screen.

I could have lived with that. I did live with that. It wasn't idyllic, but it got the job done, and more importantly for my inner miser, it was cheap.

But then came the W2JB, and I discovered the bliss of Dual Core processing. And developing on a machine that can actually run the software you're writing. And SATA hard drives. And so on.

One of the niggling inconveniences of my current workstation is that, for some stupid reason, I've kept it rigged with a crap generic keyboard that came with an ancient IBM machine I had ages ago. The keyboard has horrible tactile feedback, is loud as all-get-out, and has the Home/End keys squished up between F12 and PrintScreen for no apparent goddamn reason. Needless to say, it's annoying. Yet somehow I never got around to replacing it with a keyboard that's... shall we say... not total crap.

Anyways, recently my gaming rig "died" (northbridge fan bearings decided to go on vacation to Mexico or some such). That left my nice Saitek backlit keyboard unclaimed, along with my really, really, really nice Razer Diamondback Plasma mouse (which has a BLUE LED and infrared sensor, so it looks really slick). For the heck of it, I've connected them up to my workstation. Bar a little futzing with the sensitivity on the 1600dpi mouse, it's been pure bliss. I especially like having the extra mouse buttons for various macros and hotkeys.

So now I'm spoiled. I've done development on a non-suck machine, and I've swapped out my generic $10 peripherals for quality Human Interface Devices. I'm sure you can guess where this is going next.

That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I've started pricing a new development machine. Yayy for me, perhaps. It's hard to communicate why this is such a big deal to people who aren't familiar with my epic reluctance to part ways with my cash. (To give you some perspective, I currently have an estimated $55 US in loose coins sitting on my desk. I'm that anal-retentive about money.)

Here's the parts I'm looking at:
  • AMD Athlon64 X2 3800+ (Manchester core) CPU

  • Asus A8N-E motherboard

  • 1GB Crucial Ballistix DDR400 performance RAM (quite possibly 2GB)

  • Asus Radeon 7900GT [EN-TOP overspec model] video card

  • Seagate Barracuda 300GB SATA3.0Gb/s hard drive

  • Silver XBlade chassis

Plus of course I'll need a new Saitek Eclipse keyboard and another Diamondback Plasma. Scrounge up a few cheap miscellaneous bits like a DVD/CDRW combo drive, and I'm all set.

I'm facing about $1250 in damages, all told, courtesy of NewEgg (as usual). That's a hefty chunk of change on top of the laptop, but somehow I'm convincing myself that it's justified by noting that I'm getting better spec for half the price. As absurd as that is, somehow it works on my psyche.

I'll probably end up sleeping on this one for a fairly long time, but I've already specced and priced parts, which means chances are good I'm going to eventually break down and buy it.

And when I do, I'll be developing like nobody's business. The productivity will be blinding. (And it'll have to be, because I just spent all day shopping for computer parts instead of working...)

[Update: the inner stingy bastard decided to price a 6600/256. I can pick one up for $75 off NewEgg, bundled with two games. So it's almost like buying the games and getting a free video card... tempting.]
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Guest Anonymous Poster


I am not impressed by your self description of being anal retentive with the losse coins. If you were REALLY anally retentive, you would have them rolled into coin rolls, stacked and marked.

Get 2GB of memory.

I want to upgrade my PC, no, toss it out, and build a new dual core rig for gaming. Unfortunately, I am going to wait to see what the Intel Conroe does to the market on or about July 24th.

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They're all stacked by denomination in groups of (mostly) even amounts, so that they can be summed easily. About a third of them are rolled, but I can't be bothered to go buy coin rolls for the rest (too cheap [grin]).

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Dell is moving to AMD64 soon so they are having literal fire sales on Pentium D workstations -- you can pick up a good quality Precision workstation with a monster of a Quadro card in it for less than a grand.

Buy it off the shelf if you can, Dell has these insane deals from time to time on "double your memory/HDD/CPU for free" upgrades that building your own PC can't match anymore. I played this game last summer and ended up paying about $200 too much for a self-built AMD64 PC that Dell matched a week later with a three-year, full-parts warranty, software and OS license on top. [crying]

Damnable shifty buy-in-bulk, oh-no-we-have-too-many-high-end-components-left-on-the-shelf deals. I'll still build my own machines for the super-geek aspect of taking a PC apart on the dining room table, but it is very tempting to just buy from an OEM and get the nice warranty attached.

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If you can wait for Conroe - do it. Conroe has shown to be very impressive in benchmarks, and rumor has it AMD will be dropping their AM2 prices big time soon after Conroe is released. This means you can get cheaper better gear in a month instead of buying now [grin].

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I know what you mean about dual-core bliss, I got a dual core laptop and haven't looked back. :)

The bitch about buying a new PC is that there will ALWAYS be some new technology on the horizon that would make it better to wait 3 months - my philosophy is to get what you want when you want it.

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Guest Anonymous Poster


yo, theres no such thing as a Radeon 7800GT. ATI makes the Radeon cards(7000's, 8000's and 9000's are quite old now, new cards are the x800's and the x1000's) while Nvidia had the GeForce cards, their flagship being the 7800GTX, although i think they have higher now, but I'm not sure.

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Heh, you're right... that was a typo on my part. I was debating between a Radeon X850XT and the Geforce 7900GT-TOP, and ended up going with the 7900, but didn't properly edit the post.

Eh, crap happens.

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