Getting New Boxen

Well, after some considering and waffling I’ve decided to upgrade the computers in my office. Unlike the last time this will not be the main workstation (which is humming along just fine) but the “secondary” windows box and Firefly’s system as well. I found Discovery Computers, a new store in town (to me, it’s two years old) which seems to have decent build your own system and as a bonus, is 5 minutes down the road. I’d even pay their $50 assembly fee to not have to deal with putting it all together myself (maybe). At least they give you the option of paying the Microsoft tax or not.

As a bonus of course, is that these systems would be erhm…. used for the business, meaning that a) it’s a write off, and b) it’s not really “my” money, which is nifty.

I spent some time yesterday putting together a decent middle of the road system for Firefly (AMD 2600+, 120G, 512M, CDRW, undetermined video card at this time) and a slightly better system as a development server (1G ram, 8M cache on the 120G hard drive, unknown video card). Basically hitting the price point on each item as I went along. Still not sure what video cards to get though. I haven’t stayed in the loop as far as that goes, so I’m undecided. For Firefly I almost went for the A7N8X-VM with integrated video, but the benchmarks seemed to say that it just wasn’t there, and while her games aren’t the most graphics intensive, having that system as a spare for LAN parties would be a bonus.

So I’m told by my buddy Oneiros that ATI is the way to go (though the benchmarks say that if you have $700 to spend on a nVidia FX-5900 ultra that’s the way to go… however, “real” money or not, and company write off or not, that sort of cost offends me :). He suggested the ATI Radeon 9700 (not the newer and higher priced 9800) but they don’t show that card in their web store. It’s not Linux so I don’t have to worry about getting something that’s got good Linux support like the nVidia cards. I’m going to talk to them tonight though, so we’ll see how it is. I may just throw caution to the wind and get a good video card. It may be a “Windows development” computer for the company (which it will be), but if it’s a shit hot gaming box that’s just a nice bonus <g>

For the motherboard I’m still trying to find the real differences between the A7N8X, and the A7N8X-X. The -VM has integrated video, the A7N8X-DX (which I have on my Linux box) has Dolby sound and dual ethernet ports), but not sure about the other two.

Other than that the rest is pretty standard. Just need to really figure out what video cards to put in them.

And after it’s all done I will have two “spare” boxes to do with as I please (already spoken for, sorry faithful readers… and no, I haven’t gone through my other old hardware yet 🙂

So today after work I’ll go there, present my printout from their webstore, see if they can do it and in what sort of time frame (ie: can I pick them up tomorrow night), get suggestions on the MB and video card, and then go home.

4 Comments on “Getting New Boxen”

  1. I have the ATI Radeon 9700 Pro in my primary gaming machine at home. LOVE IT!!!! Excellent choice, but be aware of the eternal issue of ATI drivers. I have had to wait nearly a week after buying a new game (cough..Neverwinter Nights: Shadows of Undrentide) for ATI to release updated drivers. Anyone who has any history with ATI knows exactly what I’m talking about.

  2. When I make Nat’s SUPERMACHINE in the near future, I will probably be going with onboard RAID with two dual 40- or 80-gig 8MB cache HD’s just because Nat will need that kind of speed for photoshop, InDesign, etc.
    For mere mortals, RAID is super overkill, probably more of a PITA than a help.
    Just a note: I mentioned teh speed increase of the iMac (now fMac) because your iMac is not SO far behind mine in Mhz, etc. However, find that the fMac is pretty much as fast as I need it to be. No games on it, really, and CPU-intensive tasks are not great (Ogg ripping was much faster on my Celeron laptop, for example), but for a desktop and most mundane tasks it is more than enough. Just a word for the wise if you ever want to upgrade and can get a cheap HDD with a decent amount of cache on it…

  3. I jsut made a system with the A7N8X-X board, and I like it a lot. Doesn’t have some of the nifty features that I would ike that the other boards have (onboard RAID, better audio, dual NICs, FireWire), but it is a nice solid “basic” motherboard, very stable.
    As to the hard drive, GET the 8 MB cache. My iMac felt like a whole new computer when I went from a 5200 spin drive to a 7200 spin, 8 MB cache drive. Anything that is disk intensive becomes way faster and more responsive. Of course, Wim will try to entice you into the world of SCSI (with good reason, 15000 RPM SCSI drives ROCK)……

  4. EngleDude – yea, on A’s board I got the -x, on mine (which will be using the 2×512) I got the normal a7n8x which has the dual speed ram when using two chips. Ditto on the 8m cache. Of course, going from 5400 to 7200 would have been a HUGE jump anyway for the little mac 🙂
    And yea, 15000… drool
    I was thinking of looking at board with onboard raid and whatnot, but the benefits of SW raid over HW raid in pure portability won over. That and while it’s a company write off there has to be a limit on $ right 🙂