Hardware

Saturday, April 22, 2006

I've been mulling ubout upgrading for a weeks now. It all started before my birthday. The Core Duo Minis just came out, I've been a Mac fan for years now but have given up that dream to follow less costlier solutions to personal computing. The Minis are priced a bit better than the rest of the Macs, but they're still more expensive than most PCs. One of the few reasons I would really like to have a Mac is because it runs software we use at work. Not that I bring work home, but it would really be much less of a hassle if I could run it from home when I need to. Sadly, that little piece of proprietary software will never run in an open source OS like Linux.

Another reason is space. We're moving to a smaller house in two or three months and this hulking tower of mine will be ill-placed anywhere within the confines of our new home. A Mini would be such a relief to use, especially so that you could use it as a media center of sorts. It has a remote for crying out loud -- LOL! The media center angle is another point I could use to convince the wife.

While it would be wonderful to own a Mini, I could get an equally-priced 64-bit SFF PC for the same price. A little bigger in size but it would be more powerful. Especially now that there's an SFF solution for DYIers like the Focus Nemesis available locally. You can really customize your PC with the specs you want. Small cases used to be available only with motherboards from the same manufacturer (Shuttle & Aopen). Now I have a choice. I can put anything I want in it. Maybe match that case with a micro-ATX motherboard like the Gigabyte K8N51GMF-9 and an Athlon 64 3200+ and you've got one good combination. Give it about 1GB of RAM and a 120GB SATA drive, and you've got zippy performance all the way through. I figure that would be the best way to go since it strikes a good balance between cost, performance and upgradability. You won't get all three when you buy Macs.

There are a few reasons though why my sane rational mind is telling me to hold back on that upgrade. One would be EFI. Everything on the PC side is still based on the twenty-something year-old BIOS. Macs already have EFI. The main advantage of EFI is that hardware drivers work outside of the Operating System. Dual-booting machines would have the same drivers whatever the OS, as long as both already support EFI. Another reason is AM2. AMD is finally moving its memory controller off its chip and will finally support DDR2. Before reading this article, I was racking my brain thinking about why there aren't any DDR2 boards coming out for the AMD platform. Well now I know why. Think looooonger long-term upgrade paths, my friend.

All this thinking is making head hurt. Maybe I should just throw caution to the wind and get one of these tiny things.

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