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2008
Feb
28

New Desktop PC, Windows Vista

Categories: Random Thoughts, Tech, Apps, Gadgets

Well, after using a laptop as my primary (and actually only) PC, I have decided to start using a desktop again. Primary reason is hard disk speed. My MacBook Pro has been configured with a 7200rpm drive upon order, but still, I find it to be the slowest component of the laptop. With recent technological advances in Intel processors, video cards etc, the hard disk progress has fallen behind. The market appears to be heading towards the use of solid-state-drives (SSD), however these are still very expensive.

Anyway, I decided to also take this time to start learning building my own PC from scratch, instead of buying a pre-built one, or having it configured from local PC stores. So I ordered all the necessary components (motherboard, processor, video card, sound card, casing, power supply, hard disks, RAM etc), and thankfully I found a reliable seller who has been helpful in picking the best components and recommending other items. I told myself if I mess up something, I’ll just call someone to build the system for me. Luckily, it only took me a few hours and the system was up and running. I got a 10,000rpm drive as the main HD, and it does make a VERY noticeable difference.

I also installed Windows Vista 64-bit, and I was really surprised. First, I was worried about Vista driver issues in general, and even more concerned that the 64-bit version would make things even worse. I installed 4GB RAM, so 64-bit is the way to go. As it turned out, I actually had only minor issues. I think it paid off that I tried Vista when it is mature enough. Actually, just a day or two after I installed it, SP1 just came out.

Even my old printer is supported right away. iTunes is working fine with my iPhone. No problem with the video card driver. The only major issue is the SoundBlaster card driver. From time to time, I will lose sound from the speakers. A few google searches, and it looks like this is a known issue with Vista having 4GB or more and Creative’s sound drivers. Creative has released new drivers supposedly to address this specific issue, and I am using it, but it just doesn’t work for me reliably. Taking off 1GB RAM solves the problem, but that defeats the purpose of going the 64-bit route to take full advantage of at least 4GB RAM. Anyway, I can live with this sound issue for now, there’s always the on-board sound, plus I’m finding ways of getting back the sounds reliably.

Applications-wise, I did not have major issues as well. I encountered some compatibility issues with a casual game I am using for research purposes, and this was solved by turning on Windowx XP-SP2 compatibility. Warcraft 3 didn’t work, I’m sure there is probably a workaround somewhere, but since I am not playing this game much anymore anyway, I just let it go. I didn’t have problems with newer games either (BioShock, Crysis).

My back-up program didn’t work though, which I was expecting since this program has not been updated in a long time. So I just searched for an alternative program, and the problem is solved. The new program has more features anyway, and it’s easier to back-up the settings as well. Vista actually has some back-up capability built-in, but it’s too simple for my needs.

In general, I have been very satisfied with Vista. It doesn’t really differ that much from XP, but things actually perform faster than I expected. Of course, this is also likely because of the 10,000rpm drive and a newer, faster processor, but this is the first time I am getting noticeable improvements upon replacing my primary PC.

So what happens now to my MacBook Pro, and my previous love for MacOS? I actually contemplated on getting a Mac Pro, so I can still get the best of both worlds (Mac OS and Vista). However, it’s too expensive, and at the time, the 8800GT NVIDIA card (which is what I want) has a 4-6 weeks wait time. No regrets though. I saved a lot, which went into buying a new Dell 27″ LCD as well (it’s still not here, but I expect to receive it next week). Since I still need to do some tests with MacOS, I figured I’d just sell my MBP and buy either a regular MacBook, or the newer MacAir.

While I do love the Mac OS, at this point I still can’t make it as my development OS, mainly because most of the applications I am using are still exclusively for Windows (not to mention games). True, I can probably find similar programs for Mac, but I don’t want to go through all that trouble. I figured what I really need is to have a fast desktop for my development PC, then have a small Mac laptop for testing and also when I travel.

Now, it’s time for me to get some inspiration so I can work on my game projects again…I just realized it’s been 2 months since my last post. What have I been doing lately?!! 🙂

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