The last desktop computer I bought was in 2007. It was pretty good for the time (or at least as good as I could custom-build for ~$1300 including monitors and peripherals), but it has been showing its age for a while. Sometime in the next year, I plan to build a mega-computer, designed to handle running 4-5 VMs simultaneously and allowing my laptops to connect similar to a vmWare View workstation, so that I don’t use up their scarce resources like I am today. Unfortunately, that computer’s going to be pretty expensive (I have it spec’d out at a bit over $4000).
To get me through the meantime, I decided to try to upgrade my current computer. My plan was that I would buy some more RAM, maybe get a solid state drive, and upgrade Windows to 64-bit. This plan fell apart about ten minutes after I began: the motherboard I had was limited to 4 GB of RAM, and I was at that amount already.
So then I decided to get a new motherboard. But then I’d need to get a new CPU, new RAM, and a new video card (it was 5 years old, too, so although it still worked fine for a lot of stuff, it was beginning to show its age). And I wanted to do this today, so off to the local giant computer chain I went. While there, I also found a great deal on SSDs, so I threw in one of those, too. I figured I could re-use my case, power supply (which I had upgraded to a 650w Antec model), two SATA drives, DVD burner, wireless network card, and sound card.
Sometime after installing the new motherboard, I took a closer look at the thing and realized that it’s not 2008 anymore: there were no PCI legacy slots (goodbye sound card and network card) and no IDE channel (so long, DVD burner), so I had to go out and get a wireless USB stick—cards are apparently passe now—and DVD burner. I only have cheap speakers for this computer, so the onboard sound is acceptable.
The total price for this was about $950, but I now have 16 GB of RAM, a solid state Windows installation, a mid-range processor, a good video card, and have slaked my urge to spend $4K on a computer…for now… Eventually, I’ll donate this machine to the spousal unit and build my mega-computer, but at least I can play The Sims 3 without having it crash and lose hours of micromanaging… Oh, and the 7-second bootup is so nice.