6.5 years is a long time in the world of technology. When i bought my last desktop PC, Man Utd were European Champions, Windows Vista was the flagship operating system from Microsoft, the original iPhone was the only iPhone on offer, the iPad hadn’t been invented yet and Myspace was still the largest social network around… Google Chrome, Instagram, Whatsapp didn’t exist and the likes of Dropbox and Twitter were in their infancy. Bebo was sold to AOL for $850m (and 5 years later, bought back for $1m by the guy who sold it)…
Old PC -v- New PC
The PC i bought in May of 2008 was a Dell XPS 420. The specs were as follows:
- Q6600 Quad Core Processor 2.40GHz, 1066Mhz FSB, 8MB cache
- Memory 4GB Dual Channel DDR2 667MHz [4x1024MB] Memory
- 19-in-1 Bluetooth Media Card Reader
- Hard Drive 500GB Serial ATA non Raid (7200 Rpm)
- DVD+/-RW (read/write) 16x max and DVD (Reader) 16x (2 drives)
- 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT card 1 S
- Wireless : Internal Wireless 802.11n PCIe Card 1 S
After 3.5 years, the graphics card packed in and i also replaced the power supply, doubled the RAM to 8GB and added another hard drive. It’s worked smoothly ever since and still works fine today although it can get quite loud and run quite hot. I had been tempted to get a new Mac Mini and had been waiting all year for a Mac Mini announcement… it came a few weeks ago but was rather disappointing. I believe Windows has gone backwards with Windows 8 and Apple’s new Yosemite is a game changer. Why then did i buy a new Dell PC? Price and value.
In short, a new Mac Mini with an i7, 16gb of RAM and 1TB fusion drive costs €1,419. For €845, i got this Dell:
- 4th Generation Intel Core i7-4790 processor (8M Cache, up to 4.0 GHz)
- 16GB Dual Channel DDR3L 1600MHz (4GBx4)
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 750Ti 2GB DDR5
- 2TB 7200 rpm Hard Drive + 32GB mSATA Solid State Drive
Disadvantages of the Dell? It’s bigger, heavier, noisier, not as pretty to look at and will have poorer resale value… but on the flip side, it’s easily upgradeable unlike the new Mac Mini. Combined with the almost €600 saving, the XPS 8700 was just a smarter choice for me and what also played a role was the preview of Windows 10 that was announced recently. It looks like Microsoft have dropped the Windows 8 approach of ‘one size will fit all’ which is the primary reason why Windows 8 has flopped… flopped isn’t a term you’ll hear Microsoft use but in my own experience, there are quite a lot of windows 8 users who are using it against their will – because they’ve been forced to use it as it comes bundled with new PCs… in fact since windows 8 was released, I’ve had several requests from people asking me to help them downgrade to windows 7 because they perceive the learning curve to be so sharp… which it is of course if you’ve been using XP / Vista / Windows 7 day in, day out for the past decade or more. Most people just want to open and close apps as quickly as possible, plug and play printers / usb drives and not have to jump through hoops or a quirky new UI to do any of that. Windows 10 will look familiar to most people, therefore it will be perceived as a better / nicer operating system – that’s my prediction.
Need for speed
My old desktop had become a bit laggy in Photoshop and with several CPU hogging applications open. I don’t think i ever managed to max out the 8GB of RAM but i would typically be using 4-6GB. 16GB on this new PC is complete overkill at the minute but fast forward 2 or 3 years and it may not seem so excessive.
The main difference i noticed between the two machines is startup time… my new XPS boots up in 22 seconds (using a stopwatch from time i press the power button to getting to the desktop). The same process on my old XPS takes about 80 seconds, but seems to take another minute or so before the system is actually ready to do anything…
Rendering video or working with large Photoshop / Illustrator files is also extremely smooth. Although this new machine isn’t whisper quiet like a Mac Mini would be, it’s significantly quieter than my old PC and weighs in at 1.5 stone – a full stone lighter than its hefty predecessor.