After 6 years, I’m getting a new PC

It’s been six years since we bought a new PC. In March 2005, we got our Dell Dimension, and it was good for its time. A P4 3.6 GHz Intel processor, later upgraded with 3 GB of RAM, later upgraded with a 320 GB and 200 GB hard drives, and a decent-for-its-time Nvidia video card. One of the highlights was the move to a 19″ LCD monitor to replace the hulking CRT monitor taking up valuable desk real estate. Over the years, I’ve survived and recovered from one hard drive failure, done the minor upgrades, done a few rebuilds, and migrated from Windows XP to Win 7.

Sadly, I’ve  reached the end of the upgrade road. I’ve upgraded what I can, but there’s not much more I can do. I could use a new video card, but that would necessitate a new power supply. However, the weakest link in the chain won’t be improved — my single process P4. It’s time to move on up to a quad-core processor. I’m debating purchasing vs. building my own, but I’m leaning towards an outright purchase. HP seems to have the best deals, but building my own would allow me better components. However, building a new PC with similar components will cost me $400 more than just buying a PC. The only reason I think I would want to build my own is that the video cards that HP is offering with their “high performance” PCs are not that good, according to reviews. I suppose they’ll do for now, and I can replace the cheapo video card at my liberty in the future. I’m still evaluating though.

I’m looking to keep the PC purchase at about $1000 or less, and I’ll probably live with my 19″ LCD for now, but I have my eyes/heart on a 24″ or 25″ HD monitor. I’d love a large monitor. Here are the specs:

  • Intel i7-2600 CPU (quad-core, runs up to 3.4 GHz)
  • 8 GB of DDR3 RAM
  • 1.5 TB hard drive (will buy an external HDD for backup later)
  • cheapo Radeon 6450 video card (but I want to upgrade to a 6800 later)
  • Blu-ray player and DVD burner
  • Integrated audio (because that’s good enough, no matter what they tell you)

The last wrinkle in this situation is the recent announcment that Intel is having an issue with their brand-spankin’ new Sandy Bridge I7-2600 line of CPUs and chipsets. I’m planning to get a Sandy Bridge, but I may be delayed in my purchase by a few weeks until the end of February before I can order the machine (or the parts.)

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