Monthly Archives: December 2008

2008 – A year of hardware updates

After quite a few years of relative inactivity, I went a bit mad this year and bought lots of new hardware. I thought I’d jot down a few notes on my purchases in case anyone is interested.

8 core Apple Mac Pro 08 with 10Gb of RAM

My new main desktop machine, purchased in February 08 to take over from my Mac mini. Massive overkill for most things, but it’s great to be able to run Mac OS X, Windows and Linux on one box without running out of resources.

Went with the optional 8800GT graphics card and WiFi, but did the RAM upgrade and disk upgrades myself to save money.

I never seem to max out the processors, but run a few different VMware sessions, added to Safari’s usual memory leaks, and 10Gb of RAM actually seems quite tight. Will be upgrading to 16Gb when I spot a good deal on some 2Gb DIMMS.

Rather than doing a RAID setup, I went with a single 750Gb SATA disk, a Seagate ST3750330AS, which had a 5 year warranty compared to the usual 3 year warranty on most hard drives. Hopefully that means the disk is pretty high quality. The 750Gb main drive is backed up to a 1Tb Western Digital disk configured for Time Machine. Note the different drive manufacturer (in case one manufacturer has problems), and I went for one of their 5 year warrantied server class drives, the WD1000FYPS.

Then to make things safe against natural disaster, I have a pair of 750Gb Iomega Ultramax external disks backed up by Carbon Copy Cloner. This pair of drives are alternately rotated out of my house to another location, so I have a safe backup offsite.

Dell Vostro 1500 with 3Gb of RAM

This is my workhorse laptop. Came with Windows XP (don’t want Vista on a basic laptop), now dual boots XP and Ubuntu. 1.4Ghz Core2Duo and Intel graphics, so nothing too powerful, but no compatibility issues.

Had a Vostro 1400 for a while with Nvidia graphics, but ebayed it when the recent Nvidia overheating problems were announced.

The 1500 is pretty heavy, and the 15″ screen doesn’t have the best viewing angles, but it’s very solid, and was very cheap for the build quality. 3Gb of RAM gives me enough space to run a VMware session fairly comfortably, should I need to develop on the move.

Samsung NC10 netbook

Dumped my Nokia N800 this year, having bought an iPhone 3G. Picked up an MSI Wind, which I really loved, but the battery life was pretty appalling.

Ebayed the Wind and picked up a Samsung NC10 (upgraded to 160Gb). Amazing battery life (6-7 hours), and great build quality for the money.

Only downsides are the screen and touchpad aren’t quite as nice as those on the Wind.

This little machine can do 90% of the things a Macbook Air can do, for less than a quarter of the cost. Runs Firefox and Google Chrome very well indeed. Prefer Firefox as the fullscreen F11 mode is a godsend on netbooks.

NEC 1970NXp with Neo-Flex stand

Picked this old NEC monitor up of eBay very cheaply. It’s an MVA panel, not like the usual TN panels found on cheap monitors. Attached an Egrotron Neo-Flex stand, rotated it through 90 degrees, and it makes a great portrait monitor for reading RSS feeds and documents.

Dell 2709w monitor

After a brief romance with a 30″ monitor, I decided to replace my old Dell 2405FPW with a 26″ or 27″ display, as it would easier to read with tired eyes (yes, I should spend less time on the computer). Initially bought a Hazro 26″, but ran into lots of quality issues with that, so went for a Dell 2709w instead.

No entirely convinced with the touch sensitive buttons, but the display itself is great. A 27″ display at 1920×1200 turns out to be perfect for my eyes.