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Is there anything you consider as making mistake in your choice? Any big disappointments?
I am looking into Dell Precision workstation, 64-bit Vista Ultimate, one quad Xeon 3.00 GHz, 4GB RAM, four SATA HDDs (RAID 1 for two logical drives), two dual graphic cards 256MB each (for up to four monitors).
Purpose: Day to day tasks, Adobe CS3, Office 2007.
Our designers and programmers use some regular computers, i.e. around 2,8 C2D desktop PCs. They say they are fine.
Quad Q6700 @ 3.6 Ghz
4 GB 1333 DDR 3
4 x WD Raptors in a Raid 10 Config
2 x Nvidia 8800 GTS
Abit IP-35 Pro Mobo
4 Monitor Setup
This machine is "beefed up" as I process large data feeds and run other custom written code on it, in addition to normal web development and design usage.
Is there anything you consider as making mistake in your choice?
No mistakes in the past, but still learning :)
My experience is that CPU power is not the factor to consider. In current configurations the CPU is mainly waiting for memory to fill its cache. The more cores in the CPU, the more they are waiting.
Therefore you should choose the mainboard with the fastest FSB speed available. Look also at motherboards and memory configurations which support interleaving. If you want a safe configuration take a motherboard with ECC memory, although it has its price.
If you want RAID, use some sort of hardware RAID. Even the cheapest hardware RAID implementations allow you to restart with one failed harddrive (assuming you are using RAID 1, 5 or 10 and not 0) without changing your configuration. Software implementations fail in certain circumstances or sometimes force you to replace the defective disk before a restart can take place.
Choose quality I/O devices. Remember that you work with them directly, not with the internals of your desktop box. There is a huge difference in quality and ergonomics of keyboards, mice and monitors. The monitor should ideally be tested with your videocard, because not every combination of videocard and monitor gives the same results, especiall with an analogue cable. A DVI / HDMI digital connection beteen the videocard and monitor is preferred, because analogue VGA cables are not designed and generate quite some blur at the 100MHz+ speeds if you want to fill a 1600x1200 or similar screen-resolution at 60Hz. Test also in non-standard modes. My VGA card/TFT combination gives much better results at 1600x1200@70Hz than at 1600x1200@60Hz. You wouldn't expect it because of the higher frequency used, but the display is much sharper at 70Hz.
I've figured that if you're not sure about all components, you certainly can simply push it to its limits and get the most expensive machine that will satisfy you for sure, but...
I built two Dell Precision configurations - T3400 and T7400
The list looks the same except processors:
Intel™ Core®2 Extreme QX6850 (3.00GHz/1333MHz/2X4MB L2)
Quad Core Intel® Xeon® Processor X5472 (3.00GHz,2X6M L2,1600)
Price difference ($CAD): $1,300 even.
I thought it would be that Xeon, but when I compared sole processor prices online I found difference no bigger than $300.
I wonder if the chassis of T7400 is thousand bucks. ;)
I mean, I know that motherboard for Xeon could be more expensive, but those that support this processor (5400 chipset) are in mid $500s.
I am not comfortable to spend 3-5 grand onto parts and build it myself with basically no warranty, plus possibility of braking stuff while building, just because I had a bad day.
Besides Dell, I checked HP online, but they say “see dealer” for workstations.
Instead of being a sweet job and spend, it has become a tough one.
There is also a memory difference. The T3400 can be used with 667MHz memory where the T7400 with the processor you selected uses 800MHz which is more expensive.
And I could imagine that the power supply of the 7400 is larger en therefore more expensive. A few years ago 300 to 350 Watt was enough for almost every desktop but with today's processors and videocards, high end desktops use powersupplies in the 600 Watt range. More dissipating power also means larger fans, etc.
I can't advice you which one to choose, it depends on how heavy you will use them and your needs for the future. but both configurations are more than adequate for every day use.
What worries me now is buying brand new super-desktop and getting 64-bit Vista on it. On one side, I see that as the only reasonable way to go.
On the other side, with so many complaints about Vista, how safe I am to by Dell T7400 today? What is our future if Windows is our only choice? I like to keep up to date since new stuff is made for what’s current. Or I should abandon that concept?
I decided to buy a low end maxed-out server: the HP ML110 with 4 disks in 2xRAID1 and 8 GB memory. Total price was below EUR 1000. I have installed 64 bit linux on it and use it now as file server and development machine. That offloads the Windows laptop enough to keep it running smoothly for the comming time. For me this solution gives me air for at least one year before I'm again at the decision point what to do with my laptop. Hopefully the Windows Vista land has cleared by then.
I don't know about your current computer but if it is mainly diskspace that you are looking for you might first upgrade on that side without making a final decision. NAS solutions are not terrible expensive and you can use them also with your future computer. But Adobe CS3 loves CPU power and memory and if there is your problem now, the only two options you have is either Vista-64, or a temporary install of XP with an upgrade once Vista has proven to be a good choice.
The machine I have now is to be replaced. I built it about four years ago or so. P4 at 1.8Ghz with 1GB of RAM. Disk space is not an issue at all.
That is why I 'm looking into Dell T7400. One quad-core Xeon at 3.00Ghz with 4GB of RAM (800MHz). Four drives for two RAID 1s. First pair 160GB, 10k and second pair 500GB, 7,2k.
From processing perspective any decent CPU would do it nicely today but then I could not have dual graphic card or four hard drives. They force you to buy the most expensive option unless you’re ready to give up on something.
With all this and having Adobe CS3 Web Premium and Office 2007 Ultimate waiting to be installed, it sounded to me as a crime not to put 64-bit Vista Ultimate on it.
I should ask Dell if I could have XP with upgrade option. It is just that while I don’t mind re-doing OS from time to time (best cure for Windows), I hate to go through re-registration of important software or to find out I cannot activate it anymore.
Getting really close to finally give out that credit card number to a rep. A man never feels guilty about throwing money onto a computer or a car. ;)
I finally decided to upgrade and went looking for quiet. I ended up with a Dell 4700C slim desktop. Roughly a 2.4ghz CPU and 512 megs of ram, which was the style at the time. And a nice, small and quiet machine.
I've been running linux on that machine now for probably 3 years, maybe 4. Rock solid, no problems with OS or hardware.
If I have to upgrade, I'd go the same route, a small quiet Dell running linux. But I've got absolutely no current plans to upgrade that machinee. It's been running fine for years and I wouldnt' get any speed or functionality benefit out of a new machine.