Custom PC or Droneware?

It is really fun to build your own desktop computer, but three years ago I got a $2000 allowance from my company and a new exciting project. I wanted to be productive as soon as possible and didn’t want to scrimp and save for the sake of it.

For the first time I turned to Dell and got a good Pentium-D system that I am still using today. Well.. sort of using.. It runs 64-bit Vista but is struggling a bit with my VirtualPC images.

I was really happy with my Dell. Even that one unfortunate time that the hard disk corrupted, they sent out a new one straight away. If I didn’t do any development work I could see myself happily using this for another 3 years. Did I mention is is very quiet?

But with Windows Server 2008 and Hyper-V, I really want an upgrade to true 64bit goodness with 8GB and 4 cores. A new machine is needed.

I read Jeff Atwood’s blog post on building your own machine with interest. I agree with him that it is a good thing to build your own PC, although I would disagree that knowing how it fits together helps me too much with my development tasks. I really like his tip for use a small 10,000 RPM Rapter drive as the main drive though, and I will use it.

But go back to building a custom machine? I’m probably going to go with a Dell XPS desktop system, and buy the extra RAM and Rapter disk for it separately. I’ll get the ‘lowest’ version of Vista that comes with it and install Windows Server 2008 instead.

After reading around, I was happy to see that it isn’t actually too difficult to run new games on Win Server 2008 as well 🙂

Update: 10/08/2008

Well, I ‘almost’ did it. For some reason, the Dell XPS machines support a maximum of 4GB of RAM. The sales rep told me that I should consider a ‘Precision’ workstation which can handle this, although they cost $1000 more.

If a $2000 Dell machine is only capable of 4GB, then it really makes me wonder about the quality of its components.

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