Questions and Comments on Building

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progster
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Questions and Comments on Building

Postby progster » Fri Jan 04, 2008 12:38 pm

This topic is for open discussion on whys and wherefores, questions, comments, experiences, anecdotes, etc. of building your own computer(s) from parts.

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progster
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I Went With Vista

Postby progster » Fri Jan 04, 2008 1:01 pm

A good friend of mine and I recently built very similar machines. He went with 32-bit XP, and I went with 32-bit Vista.

Before making my choice, I seriously considered:

A comparison matrix for the various editions of Vista is found here .

I investigated 64-bit versions primarily because they support more physical memory (far more than your mobo can hold), whereas 32-bit versions are limited to supporting 4GB, less the amount mapped by device drivers (i.e. more like 3.2 GB of addressable RAM). I ultimately decided against going 64-bit at this time because of many poor experiences reported by users on the Net, and because the vendors of the apps I use most have not yet made any special efforts in their code to make a 64-bit OS more advantageous to use.

I decided in favor of Vista over XP for a number of practical reasons.

  1. All the commercial trading software I use runs fine under Vista (TradeStation, AmiBroker, Telechart, Blocks, NeoTicker, StrataSearch), so there is no need to choose XP for that reason.
  2. Vista is the future, XP is the past (though it may linger for a long time). By going with Vista now, I avoid an OS upgrade later. OS upgrades are a major hassle.
  3. Microsoft's new technologies will increasingly be "Vista-only". Count on it! It's head-in-the-sand to think one will never want or need any of Microsoft's future tech.
  4. Vista offers some specific features that I like. Immediately coming to mind is the flexibility it offers for putting favorite locations inside of the generic file search dialogs. Once you are used to it, I think the more organized Start menu is an improvement too.
  5. Vista has a security model at the OS level that is superior to XPs. Note I did not say "Vista is secure". That would be an overstatement! Nevertheless, security matters, and a relative advantage is better than no advantage.
Helping to inform my decision was having some prior experience with Vista, which I have running on a laptop. Vista is not trash. It might not represent the exact next steps that you or I would have chosen for the follow-on to XP, but it is here now, it works well, and if you are building a fresh machine, I think there is a strong case that starting with Vista today will save you alot of hassle in the long run over starting with XP today. (BTW, I see no need at all to move a well-functioning existing XP machine to Vista.)

Specifically, I decided to go with Windows Vista Home Premium because I didn't need anything offered by the Business or Ultimate editions. I prefer Acronis software for backups (making Vista Business pointless), and I have no need for (or prefer other solutions for) the media features of Vista Ultimate.

That's a quick summary of my own OS considerations and choice for my new quad-core computer.

I know others will come to their own conclusions (same or different) for their own reasons. I'd be interested to read postings from others who have faced the same choices.

DataMiner
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Re: Questions and Comments on Building

Postby DataMiner » Fri Jan 04, 2008 5:36 pm

The progster and I recently collaboarated on and completed construction of very similar computers, as he described in his post above. We're getting some good experience on the trials and tribulations of DIY computer building and employment!

As progster mentioned in his post, we selected different operating systems for our builds. Both of us reviewed the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of XP and Vista. We both concluded that the 64-bit versions are not yet attractive enough to use for the kind of system we wanted to build. Vista was attractive to me for many of the same reasons as progster posted. However, after much cogitation I finally chose XP Professional for my build. The primary reaons were:

1. My distributed home network uses Ximeta NDAS technology for network accessed storage. This technology is often faster and more convenient for small business users than the more common (and more flexible) NAS technology. At this point in time, Ximeta's Vista-compatible NDAS driver is not stable on my XP machines (my other machines on the network would retain Windows XP regardless of OS choice for the new machine). Since Ximeta requires that all machines sharing NDAS devices use the same NDAS driver, and since network transfers between machines is a critical part of my business, this problem either rules out Vista temporarily or would require me to invest in more expensive NAS storage devices.

2. My HP scanner has no Vista driver, and HP says there won't be one (it's an older model). So going to Vista would require me to purchase a new scanner.

3. A minor reaon for me is that Vista uses much more memory than XP and is a little slower than XP. Since my intended use for the machine includes some very speed critical and memory intensive work, this makes XP a bit more attractive. Memory would not be an issue for me if it could be expanded to 8 GB. But 4 GB is the limit for 32-bit operating systems, and only about 3 GB of that is really usable. Any memory the operating system hogs is memory not available for apps and in-memory data. The speed advantage of XP over Vista is not very much, but see my comment below regarding XP Service Pack 3.

4. Another minor reason for me is that I'm not fond of the new Vista interface. However, it can be retro-configured to some extent and if there were no other issues with Vista I would have selected it anyway.


After learning that Windows 7 will be released in just a year, I decided to just skip Vista and hold out for Windows 7. By that time, I will hopefully upgrade scanner and network storage hardware/drivers. And with some luck, perhaps more software vendors will support the 64-bit version of the operating system, making it attactive enough to procure. This will enable breaking the 4 GB memory barrier and running faster apps.

My recommendation to anyone faced with a decision between XP and Vista is to see if all your hardware and software is fully supported in Vista. If so, I would definitely recommend Vista for all the reasons progster described, especially if you like the new interface. An additional advantage is that installation of Vista is probably easier than XP. For example, if you're using a recent RAID controller, Vista has many of the drivers already. XP will require the drivers to be installed via floppy using the old "F6" method during operating system installation. This can be a pain.

If, like me, you find that Vista falls just short for your situation, XP will be supported for a long time. Service Pack 3 is going to be released for XP early this year, and from beta tests (see http://www.pcworld.com/article/id,13991 ... ticle.html ), it appears that this service pack will widen XP's speed advantage over Vista even more.

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Re: Questions and Comments on Building

Postby jar » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:01 am

Progster,

I am thinking about building a new machine and was wondering if you would do anything different pertaining to the hardware?

Also, what video card did you use?

tia,

jar

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progster
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Re: Questions and Comments on Building

Postby progster » Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:51 pm

Jar,

For the machine described above, the video cards I used were: GIGABYTE GV-RX24T256H 2400XT .

Key point for me was reasonable price along with both VGA and DVI outputs. I use monitors with both VGA and DVI inputs, hence I can watch 2 machines on a 4 monitor rig this way, just pressing the input buttons on the monitors to choose the source machine for each one.

Bleeding-edge super-speed video as for the most advanced gaming is not necessary for trading displays, IMO. Hence, this is an area to economize on, within reason.

Building a new machine today, probably all the parts would be different. That's the nature of the progress in hardware ...

- Progster


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