Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Wow Starts Now

Yesterday I completed the upgrades to my computer and including installing Windows Vista. I spread the upgrades out over about a month's time. Here they are.
  1. Upgrade video card. My old Nvidia GeForce4 4400Ti had been really good to me. It was the second highest card from Nvidia (topped only by the 4600Ti) when I bought it in 2002, and it was a good investment. It lasted five years. I upgraded it to an ATI Radeon 9550. That's very much an economy card compared to the old Nvidia, though still a nice upgrade. I don't game anymore, so it didn't make any $ense to through a lot of money at a gaming card. The Radeon is passively cooled, so it really made my system a lot quieter. Price $70.
  2. Upgrade memory. This was the biggest upgrade, in terms of both performance and price. I had two sticks of PNY 256 MB PC2700 DDR2 RAM in my old system. I replaced that with two sticks of GSkeil 1GB PC3200 DD2 RAM. So not only is 4x the amount of memory, it's faster memory to boot. It's pretty high quality 2.5 latency RAM with nice heat spreaders, too. Price $180.
  3. Upgrade hard drive. With the video card and memory upgrade, I had more than enough horsepower to run Vista. However, I wanted to do a clean install of Vista, while not losing any old data, and keeping XP around just in case Vista had issues with my hardware (though I seriously doubted this.) My old HD was a 180 GB IBM Desktar IDE drive. It's a nice drive, 7200 RPM with 8 MB of cache. My motherboard supported both IDE and SATA hard drives, so I decided it was time to go SATA. I bought a 200 GB SATA2 Western Digital Caviar SE. My motherboard only supported to SATA (1.5 MB/s) not SATA2 (3.0 MB/s) so this was the trickiest part of the install. I had to user the jumpers on the drive to tell the HD to only server 1.5 MB/s of data. That worked great though. Price $60 (OEM on Newegg) + $10 (SATA cable from Fry's = $70.
  4. Upgrade Windows. I decided to go with Vista Home Premium. I got it for $120 OEM on Newegg. I installed on the new HD. It was very quick and painless. It recognized XP sitting on the old drive and gave me this as a boot up option. Install time was under 30 minutes. Price $120.
So there are my upgrades. I've had no driver problems so far. Vista boots up and shuts down really quickly. I will try out more of my peripherals soon, like my SD card reader, iPod, and printer.

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