Posts

Thinking about new hardware, update about the Useful Windows Blog

Hello people of the internet.  I wanted to give and update and let you know what is going on with me and how it will affect Useful Windows.

I accepted a new job recently.  I am now working full-time in the tech field once again.  This is a great thing as it helps me come up with great how to articles that I hope to have done soon.  It also keeps me on the pulse of technology in general.

That being said I am making a little more than I was before so I believe it is time to consider upgrading my desktop that I built five years ago.

To understand why I built this computer the way I did you have to understand where I was at.  Five years ago I was working part-time doing remote tech support from home on my laptop which I had connected to my TV in my bedroom.  I was engaged and getting ready to be married later that year. I was not making a lot of money and was putting as much as I could toward my wedding but I knew I needed a better machine to work efficiently.

I gave myself a budget of $400 to $500 to build the best machine I could.  I knew I could build a machine better than I could just buy one preconfigured.  I reused some parts from a desktop I had built about six years earlier including the hard drive, power supply, case fans and case.  I also knew that the newer Intel Core i series processors had integrated graphic controllers and some of them operated at faster speeds than others.  With this in mind I decided against buying a separate graphic card to cut down costs as this computer was for work and not games.

What resulted was a desktop computer with an Intel DH55HC motherboard, an Intel Core i5 661 3.33 GHz processor and 4GB of Patriot ram.  I also bought an aftermarket CPU cooler and an internal DVD writer and memory card reader.  I later bought an 16″ Asus monitor to add to the little Dell monitor I had connected to the machine.  I was running Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows 7 Ultimate in a dual-boot configuration and continued to do so for some time.

After I got married I moved back out of my parents house (I had moved back in to help with bills after my mom lost her job) and left my dad the small Dell monitor as his had died on him.  I once again used my TV in my bedroom as my second screen as I kept the desktop in our bedroom.  Over time it became clear that my wife did a lot of photo editing on the computer and upgrades would be necessary.  Before that though my power supply died resulting in the first upgrade to an Antec 650 Watt power supply.  A few months later I would buy a graphic card running and AMD ATI Radeon HD 6750.

A year or so later my grandmother would get a new computer and I got the one I built for her back. From this I added a 500GB hard drive, and additional DVD burner and a second monitor (Dell 20″).  While clearing out some old computer junk from a local college I found some very old Altec Lansing Multimedia speakers and sub woofer.

The truth is, this is still a very good computer and would meet most people’s needs but it no longer meets my needs.  I am out of space as the original hard drive is only 160GB and is currently my data drive.  The 500 GB hard drive is used as the operating system drive with Windows XP Pro X64, Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows 7 Ultimate, and Windows 8.1 Pro in a quad boot configuration.  It also contains a lot of data and some virtual machines I use for testing to write articles for this site.  My wife uses this computer for work most days of the week and has gotten used to the multiple monitors but does not like how they are different resolutions.  She also downloads pictures from an SD and XD card to the computer and comments on how slow that process takes.  Unfortunately my motherboard does not have USB 3.0 and while I could add a card that does, why not just look at upgrading the whole computer.

So once again I start by looking at processors and am highly considering an Intel Core i7 4790K 4 GHz processor.  This should be more than enough speed to handle anything I can throw at this machine.  I will once again use an Intel motherboard as they are the best boards I have ever used.  I will go no less than 8 GB of ram but really want to start at 16 GB of ram.  Either a USB 3.0 or Sata memory card reader which will make downloading those pictures a snap.  I figure I will use a traditional hard drive for my testing operating system which will have Windows Vista Ultimate, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro, and Windows 8.1 Pro.  Then I will also have an SSD with Windows 10 on it, multibooting between five versions of Windows.  I am also considering getting two identical hard dives to have in a mirrored RAID to keep my data safe.  I will put this all in a new case with a new power supply.  I am lost on what kind of graphic card to get but there will be something in there.  I will probably have at least two monitors, maybe three. This time they will all be the same resolution if not size as well.

So I am curious if anyone has any suggestions on hardware, what has been good for them, what has been bad, etc..  I know this may sound like over kill for a lot of people but I really use this computer and when you are trying to run more than one virtual machine this computer reaches its limit.  When my wife is working and has a million things open it also slows down.  Granted this is due to the low ram size but to fix some of the other limitations and annoyances I might as well just upgrade the whole thing.  I do not have the money to buy everything at once but I figure I will buy a part or two a month till I have enough to start the build.

Thanks for reading and please leave any input in the comments.