· by Steve · Read in about 3 min · (555 Words)

I finally got around to ordering some upgrades for my machine here, something I’ve been meaning to do for ages but just never seem to find the time. I haven’t upgraded the core of my main machine for over 2 years now, mainly because these days I spend far, far more time coding than playing games and thus not only do I not have time to tinker with the hardware much anymore, but having a graphics card that’s not the latest and greatest is actually a bonus - I’m always scared I’ll get sloppy if I’m working with the best all the time.

However, I could really do with having access to a SM3 capable development machine, and because my main machine is always nVidia based (ATI on the laptop) I’ve gone for a 256Mb 6800 GS, which is in the mid-range now and thus pretty good as a base. I’ve also had to replace the motherboard with an nForce4 SLI (I don’t have PCI express on this board), a hence a new chip and RAM (to match the socket 775 and DDR2). This was another reason I’ve put this off - it was bound to be a cascade-purchase. And no, I won’t be using the other SLI socket just yet :). At least the faster RAM and CPU should hopefully shave some time off my builds, I’ve only gone for a P4 630 (3.0 Ghz Prescott in old money), which is relatively modest but better than my ageing 2.5 Ghz non-Prescott chip, and a good price considering CPU prices seem to accelerate exponentially at the moment. I’ve also gone for a new case, since my current one which I bought second hand off a friend is pretty badly designed - the CPU fan only just fits under the PSU, a really crappy design and I’m not convinced the new one will fit. I’ve gone for a Thermaltake Tsunami which wasn’t a bad price and looks well laid out.

For anyone who’s wondering why I didn’t go for an AMD - there are 2 reasons. One, I use VTune which loses some features on non-Intel chips, and two, I like the no-hassle stability of having both CPU and motherboard chipsets from Intel. I’ve dallied with AMD in the past before and lived to regret it, due to a seriously erratic set of Via chipsets which took months to become fully stable. Yes, I saved money on the hardware compared to a similarly specced Intel setup, but it wasted enormous amounts of my time searching for solutions to crazy problems - and since time is my most precious asset, I’ll live with giving up a little in the bang-for-buck stakes in return for solid reliability and lack of farting around. I’ve never had anywhere near the same level of problems with Intel setups, so that’s what I tend to stick with now. It might not be a fair reflection of the current situation, but once bitten, twice shy.

While browsing around various sites looking for stuff to buy, it never ceases to amaze me the lengths some people will go to for their custom PCs. An example is water cooling - whilst I can appreciate the attraction of a fanless, quieter cooling system, some are just bizarre - from the sci-fi chic to the frankly disturbing.