Ordered a New Computer

Getting sort of sick of having to reboot my horribly flaky Windows system 10 times a day (I kid you not), I've finally succumbed to getting a new system.

Despite being a geek for the better part of 40 years, I didn't buy my first computer until I was 30 (and I still have it below my desk — almost 10 years old, it's the machine with which I wrote my last two books). In the years since, I've bought two laptops, a system for Fumie while we were in America, and systems for both of us here.

I built my current system from parts, building exactly what I wanted.... except stability and disk performance. So this time I opted for a pre-built mass-market (hopefully no-headache) system, from Dell.

Because I want an English version of Windows, and I want it to be pre-installed by the company that builds the machine (again, the emphasis being on “no headaches”), my choices were limited. HP also sells them, but I hate my last HP printer so much, I just couldn't think about going with HP.

Dell lets you customize a machine extensively during the order process, which is great. I ended up getting a fairly bare-bones system — it has, of course, CPU, memory, power supply, disks, graphics card, and the like, but the only “extra” component I added was a Firewire card. I didn't even get a monitor, but that's because the Dell 20" LCD I've had for years is still spectacular.

I'd decided a week or so ago to get it, but hadn't placed the order because the current promo special wasn't something I would benifit from. My waiting paid off, because when I looked yesterday, I found that they had a one-day 10%-off special. Sweet! Saved $300.

In the end, I ordered a Dell® Precision 390 with:

  • 2.66 GHz Intel® Core 2 Duo E6700 Processor (4MB L2 Cache, 1066MHz FSB)
  • 4GB Dual-Channel DDR2-SDRAM (667MHz, ECC)
  • SATA RAID 10 disk controller
  • Four 320GB SATA 3.0Gb/s NCQ 7200rpm Disks
  • ATI® FireGL V3400 Graphics Card (128MB DDR, DVI × 2)
  • DVD +/- RW Dual-layer multidrive
  • Windows® XP Professional (English)
  • IEEE1394 (Firewire) board and front-panel port
  • 13-type front-panel card reader
  • Dell Entry-level English keyboard/mouse

I could have gotten a 3.7GHz dual-core Pentium D system, and on the surface 3.7GHz sounds faster than the 2.66GHz I ended up with, but after surfing around, it seems that the newer generation of Core 2 processors beat the living daylights out of the previous-generation processors, even though the latter are running at 40%-faster clock speeds.

Apparently, these Core 2 Duos can be massively overclocked while still maintaining reliability. I've seen reports of 4GHz for simple air-cooled setups. Unfortunately, Dell won't let me do that. Oh well.

My primary use of the thing, besides work, will be for photo processing, which means mostly Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop. Lightroom is much more demanding, needing every ounce of CPU and disk performance pretty much all the time. (In comparison, Photoshop doesn't really require much disk performance, and its CPU needs are more on and off.)

Sort of off topic, but I was so impressed with Lightroom when I first tried it that I bought Adobe stock. At the moment it's doing well enough that the profits (were I to sell) could buy me about five of these new systems, which is nice. (Had I bought the stock just a week earlier than I did, it would have added another three of these systems to the current paper gain — doh!) And it might sound odd, but I wish I hadn't bought the stock. You see, I also bought Apple Computer on the same day, and it's done much better than Adobe. In retrospect, I wish I'd put it all into Apple.

(Traditionally, experience has shown that I come from the “Buy high sell low” school of investments, so these nice gains are woefully off my normal track record, so the long-term investor would be wise to heavily short both of these companies.... at least until I sell! 🙂

Anyway, Dell's web site tells me that my machine will be shipped from “overseas” on about Dec 18th, and that it'll take about a week to get to me after that. So it looks like I have a Christmas present from myself to look forward to....


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