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Bob D'Amico 09-04-2007 02:09 AM

An Upgrade Plan
So here I am ready to drop down some major dollars on a Mac Pro but I have this uneasy feeling that Apple is going to upgrade it sometime between now and late winter 2008. I hate getting screwed like that especially since we're talking major dollars. My decision is to "hold" on the Mac Pro acquisition until I get a better fix on Apple's plans for that model.

Do I pursue the Ultimate Windows PC concept? After much study and investigation plus talking with a few IT professionals the answer is no, it's better to wait for prices to drop on the Intel Quad Core CPU chip, wait for more software that can operate on a 64 bit machine [not an issue with the Mac pro] but most of all wait for MS Vista SP2.

Unfortunately I know that my current PC, the hard working, fully rigged out, Dell Dimension 8400 is going to crash and deliver up a Blue Screen of Death pretty soon. I'm backing up to an external hard drive as well as uploading files to my server to protect my data. All this is taking a lot of time and I'm also wasting an hour or more each week tweaking the system to get rid of any "garbage" slowing down performance or causing occasional glitches. This is why Microsoft Sucks.

I've decided that the best thing to do right now is to do a clean install of Windows XP and reconfigure the Dell with some hardware I can also use for the future Ultimate PC.

Current configuration:
  • Intel Pentium 3.4 Ghz CPU
  • 256 MB nVIDIA GeForce 6800 Graphics Card - 2 DVI inputs
  • 4 MB Crucial Ballistic RAM sticks
  • 160 MB Western Digital Hard Disk
  • 500 MB Maxtor Hard Disk
  • LaCie 160 MB [Maxtor] External USB Hard Drive
  • LaCie 250 MB [Maxtor] External Hard Drive (networked)
  • Generic DVD-R, CD-R/W Drive
  • NEC DVD-R/W CD-R/W Super Drive
  • 3.5" Floppy Drive
  • 7 USB 2.0 Ports
  • 1 Firewire IEEE1394 Port via PCI Card
  • Network Adaptor: Broadcom NetXtreme 57xx Gigbit Controlller
  • SoundMAX Digital Audio (MOBO integrated)
  • Logitech 5.1 Surround Sound System
  • 20" Dell LCD monitor [1680 x 1050 display resolution]
  • 24" Dell LCD monitor [1920 x 1200 display resolution]
  • Intel V9x PCI modem
Here's Step 1 of the "plan," if anyone has some advice or warnings before I start, let me know.

Purchase a 2nd 500MB Maxtor Hard Disk and a PROMISE FastTrak TX4310 PCI SATA II Controller RAID Card. During the XP clean install I will set up the two 500MB disks as RAID 1 (Mirrored). I will use the current 160 hard disk as well.

Step 2 (later): Purchase (pix above) a dual link DVI, PNY GeForce 8800GTX 768MB 384-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP Ready SLI Supported HDCP Video Card. (I will have to remove the Intel PCI Modem card to make some room in the case for this double size video card.) Although I'm currently using Dual Monitor displays I will purchase the 30" Dell LCD monitor (2560 x 1600 resolution) which needs the dual link DVI. The current 20" Dell LCD will be temporarily mothballed.

Once or whenever MS releases Vista SP2 my plan is to build the "Ultimate PC" by using components from the Dell, the two 500 MB hard disks, the PNY GeForce 8800 GTX, the Promise RAID Controller card, two of the four 1 MB Crucial Ballistic RAM sticks and reconfiguring the Dell to "normal" with the original nVIDIA 256 MB GeForce 6800 Graphics Card, the Western Digital 160 MB Hard Drive and the 20" Dell LCD monitor.

The rumor mill says that MS should release Vista SP2 by the spring of 2008 which would be perfect timing since by then Genevieve Sophia should have the PC I gave her a few months ago totally corrupted with spyware and malware that I'll just throw it away and give her the Dell. :rolleyes:

All Comments, Advice & especially Warnings are Welcome

Bob D'Amico 09-04-2007 02:20 AM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
PS If you think all of the above is a lot of money you should see my 2008 software budget :wow:

tonymo 09-04-2007 03:36 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
Just as a lesson learned here, what are the indicators that tell you there could be a malfunction as you desribed ?

Bob D'Amico 09-04-2007 03:56 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
I could spend an hour writing up these random events but here are a few:
  • Norton Ghost can't make a system image.
  • Spybot S&D can't complete a scan of the system.
  • CA AntiVirus not protecting Outlook email client.
  • CA Spam Scan takes 7 or 8 hours to complete.
  • PC "loses" the printer.
  • Constant MS Outlook errors.
  • Some Java applets crash whatever browser I am using.
  • During shut down some background programs have to be "terminated."
  • Restart occasionally switches to Safe Mode although shut down was normal.
  • CPU Usage bounces around, up to 70% while PC is idle.

Bob D'Amico 09-06-2007 12:50 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
Some good news, if it's correct. According to Dell tech support my current NVIDIA GeForce 6800 Video card can support the 30" Dell LCD. Not sure what the display resolution will be, probably 1920 x 1200 so I will still need to eventually upgrade the video card.

Also I see that Dell today is selling the 30" LCD at -15% making it $1,274.00 :nervous:

I need to do a lot more research on video cards and talk with some professional video editors before I make a purchase. I'm not interested in games so I might be better off with 2 lesser cost cards rather than the GeForce 8800 GTX.

Apple had one of their big announcement events yesterday but it was all about the iPod, nothing on the Mac Pro so it's still a waiting game.

PCMedics 09-07-2007 07:32 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
Depending on what you want to do as far as video editing and monitor size then the 8800 may very well be overkill. Even the lesser cards can easily display high def resolutions. Frame rate is more the effect of faster video cards. What is it you want to build the new machine to do for you ? Tom @ PC Medics

Bob D'Amico 09-07-2007 08:06 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
Audio and Video editing with Adobe Creative Suite 3.

I spoke today with two different video editors at two different TV stations, they both said "Buy the Mac Pro" as well as buy two less expensive cards with SLI links.

One of them also said the company just upgraded one of their Windows workstations with two GeForce 8800 cards (SLI linked). He said it "rocks" but still prefers the Mac Pro.

I don't think that Steve Jobs is going to send me a credit for $500 if Apple updates the Mac Pro shortly after I buy one. See the flap over the iPhone $200 price cut on the 8GB model.


IPhone Owners Crying Foul Over Price Cut
New York Times
Published: September 7, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 6th In June, they were calling it the God Phone. On Thursday, it was the Chump Phone.

An early adopter left an Apple store in Manhattan in late June with one of the first iPhones. He might wish he had waited.

People who had rushed to buy the Apple iPhone over the last two months suddenly and embarrassingly found that they had overpaid by $200 for the year's most coveted gadget.

Apple, based in Cupertino, Calif., has made few missteps over the last decade, but it angered many of its most loyal customers by dropping the price of its iPhone to $400 from $600 only two months after it first went on sale. They let the company know on blogs, through e-mail messages and with phone calls.

On Thursday, in a remarkable concession, Steven P. Jobs acknowledged that the company had abused its core customers? trust and extended a $100 store credit to the early iPhone buyers.

Our early customers trusted us, and we must live up to that trust with our actions in moments like these, Mr. Jobs wrote in a letter posted to Apple's Web site.

PCMedics 09-10-2007 08:41 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
The mac advantage to audio and video editing has shrunk some since the macs have gone to Intel cpu's and architecture inside. The advantage now will be more determined by the coding of the applications. Now you should expect only a 5 to 10% advantage no equally equipped machines. Mac will still win in those apps that are coded properly by that margin. Mac is less likely to see virus and spyware problems as sever as windows for now till they gain enough market share for the writers of bad software to see profit in doing it. I also agree that your original video cars were overkill. Go for a good 8600 level nvidia or the 320 meg version of the 8800 and spend the difference on the fastest cpu in your budget as well as the most memory the system will hold. a 10000 rpm hard drive with a min 16 megs cashe or the same drive in raid 0 then normal speed drives for storage or reuse drives you already have .

Tom @ PC Medics

Number5 09-12-2007 03:36 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
The quad core rocks.
I just got two machines with those in em. I guess it also helps having 15000 RPM drives too though. Talk about moving data FAST.

Bob D'Amico 09-13-2007 03:32 AM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
I think you must mean 10,000 RPM drives, 15,000 RPM's don't exist.

In the next few years we'll see Solid State Disk Drives replacing Hard disk drives. Right now the prices are super high and I believe the biggest available is only 32GB.

Number5 09-13-2007 12:18 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
15000K RPM drives do exist. Check new egg.

Bob D'Amico 09-13-2007 01:12 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
I stand corrected, don't know how I missed that. Man they aren't cheap :eek:

I need at least 1 TB to hold all my data, that means I would need 7 drives and costing something like $3,300 plus tax if I was to buy 15K drives. :uhoh:

I'll have to stick with 7,200 SATA drives for the time being. They are still a whole lot better than the 5-1/4 inch floppy disks I used back at "the dawn of the PC." :D

RobS 09-13-2007 01:14 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
floppy disks??? what about tape? both magnetic AND paper ?? :D :D

Bob D'Amico 09-13-2007 02:38 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
OK tape I remember and 64KB RAM but Paper and cards, not in a PC! At least I don't have any recollection of that aside from mainframes.

Do you remember the 1957 movie Desk Set with Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn?


Desk Set takes place at the "Federal Broadcasting Network" (a transparent alias for NBC, given that the exterior shots are of Rockefeller Center). Bunny Watson (Katharine Hepburn) is in charge of its reference library, which is responsible for researching and answering questions on all manner of topics, such as the names of Santa's reindeer. She has been involved for seven years with network executive Mike Cutler (Gig Young), with no marriage in sight.

The network is negotiating a merger with another company, but is keeping it secret. To help the employees cope with the extra work that will result, the network head has ordered two computers (called "electronic brains" in the film). Richard Sumner (Spencer Tracy), the inventor of EMERAC and an efficiency expert, is brought in to see how the library functions, to figure out how to ease the transition. Though extremely bright, as he gets to know Bunny, he is surprised to discover that she is every bit his match.

When they find out the computers are coming, the employees jump to the conclusion the machines are going to replace them. Their fears seem to be confirmed when everyone on the staff receives a pink slip printed out by the new payroll computer. Fortunately, it turns out to be a mistake; the machine fired everybody in the company, including the president.

The movie's real importance, though, is as propaganda, using that term in its most favorable sense of a public relations effort to convey a message of social significance. At the beginning of Desk Set, right after the credits, is a message about how much IBM helped in making the movie; at that time IBM had not quite finished establishing its dominance over the computer market, but computers were already starting to replace whole offices of clerical workers, and most Americans did not know much more than that about computers. This movie would prepare them for what computers were about to do to their society.

In the movie, Sumner is a computer engineer (called an "efficiency expert" then but perhaps a "systems analyst" now) who is installing the two computers he has just sold FBN: one for the payroll department, and one for Watson's reference department. This showed, decades before the Internet was ever dreamed of, that besides its role as a calculating machine, the computer would revolutionize information storage and retrieval, too.

The room-sized EMERAC units (which is the size computers really were then) are portrayed as big, mechanical babies that need a safe environment (preparing people for the air conditioning requirements, both temperature and filtration, and other engineering considerations of real computers) and human beings, not only to program and maintain them, but to love them, too, for them to be able to carry out their intended missions. The explicit moral of the story, articulated by Sumner/Tracy so no one can miss it, is that a computer is not a monster that will take people's jobs away but a tool that will make their work easier and more enjoyable. One of the implicit morals is that computer people may seem a little quirky at times, but they are basically nice people.

RobS 09-13-2007 02:49 PM

Re: An Upgrade Plan
HA I'll have to look that movie up :)

well, you're right, no paper tape on a "pc" per se, just the original "pc"'s the DEC series minis, including some "desktop" verions *LOL*! Can't recall all the numbers.. the bigger siblings were PDP11's, PDP5's, but there were some "desktop" or "console" versions as well... all available with paper tape drives.

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