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My current computer (Purchased October 2007)

As a "techie" people often ask me what computer I have.

My work needs are mostly Word processing (LibreOffice), Email and Calendar (Thunderbird + Lightening), Virtualbox (to administer my web application servers and test machines on my Virtualbox virtual machines), Firefox (company web apps, surfing and web site testing). Usually many at the same time so lots of ram and a good hard drive is a must.

Occasionally I do some video editing and heavy duty computing. And sometimes there's no better to solve a tough problem then relax and do something else. Kick back with some video games to distract me and let my subconcious mind solve a technical problem. A decent CPU and video card come in handy for Spider Solitaire, let me tell you! ;)

Basically a basic upper middle price range computer with a few tweaks to match my needs (good video card + good SSD).

Parts

PartComment
CPU: Intel i5 3550 Quad core. Best price/performance CPU near the high end with good single-thread performance. I don't overclock so the "k" CPUs are a bad idea as they don't support some virtualization add ons.
two monitors: 22" Samsung SyncMaster 225ms LCD and ViewSonic 20" LCD. Why two monitors? For a 10% to 300% improvement in efficiency why not is really the question.
AMD 6800 series graphics card Supports two monitors. Decent at the time.
Memory: 16 gigs DDR2 ram It's rare that I use more than 8 gigs of ram. That's including editing multiple web pages, multiple Firefox tabs open, LibreOffice, several VirtualBox servers running, and whatever else I'm working on.
Storage: 128Gig SSD, 2x 1TB Hard drives At the time the 128 gig SSD had good price/performance. One of the Terabyte hard drives is used for my large files (video editing). The second one is used for a backup of the other two drives.
Motherboard: Asus Maximum Gene 4
Razor DeathAdder mouse Overkill but nice. Any 250Hz+ optical 3+ button scroll mouse will do. I used to use the fourth and fifth buttons on the side to raise or lower respectively the mouse sensitivity on the fly. Now I don't bother.
Microsoft Natural Ergonomic Keyboard 4000 I do a lot more typing than most people -- a nice comfy keyboard is a must. Several years later this is still my favourite keyboard. Only thing I would change is to have a version with less travel/force needed to press the keys.
RocketFish mouse pad I used to have a huge mouse pad. At first I thought it was great. After a while it or the mouse became less slippery so now I just use the mouse on the desk. The teflon feet on the mice seem to wear down and I think that's the main problem.
Logitech QuickCam Ultra Vision It's ok. I rarely use it so it's "good enough"
Antec 600 Watt power supply Anything 500+ watt will do.
DVD: My DVD burner also reads Blu-ray and HDVDs. I only have one Blu-ray movie, but I must say the quality of Blu-ray truly puts DVD to shame.
UPS: APC 1300LCD Enough juice to run this system and some and the network stuff (router, etc.) for 28 minutes if the power cuts out.

Impractical Wish list computer?

A high-end computer from the last two years is pretty much still good.
  • CPU? Something with good single-threaded tasks (which is 90% of computer tasks). But also good multi-threading performance.
  • Anything video cardnear the top of this list with good price/performance
  • I have my laptop set up as a pseudo third screen with synergy so a third monitor, or bigger monitors wouldn't be much better than what I have now.
  • SSD. This is one area where improvements in computing are actually being made. A newer SSD (larger + faster) is the only thing I'd definitely buy.
  • A bigger hard drive. I don't really need a bigger drive. But put a spare 4TB drive in each computer and use them as backups to clone the other computers.

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