So my birthday was a few months ago and I received a couple gift certificates and some cash as gifts. At the time I was thinking that I would save the money and combine it with anything I received at Christmas and a few bucks I saved in the meantime and buy a PS3 when they become more widely available in the next few months. I’m more interested in the mediahub/den computer aspects of the machine, so the 60 GB model is the only thing I’m considering. With accessories and a game or two, the PS3 would probably run me about $1,000.So I got to thinking…. My main home computer is an MPC Millennia with a 3.2 GHz P4 and 1 GB of RAM. Though the hottest thing around when I got it, there are several subsystems that have seen major evolution in the industry. First and foremost, the newest processors are x86 64 bit and dual core (there are even some new quad core processors available now). Just after I got my current machine, the PCI Express bus became standard, adding much greater throughput on the board, especially for video cards. The 8X AGP in my current machine is long in the tooth, to say the least. The RAM is much slower than current DDR2 DIMMs. The hard drives are SATA 150 instead of the newer SATA 300. The mainboard has only 2 SATA connectors so expansion is limited. Given the limitations of the current system, I don’t think upgrades would do it for me. In addition, I’d like to replace my current homebrew PVR with this MPC machine, especially because the cooling system in my current PVR computer sounds like a damn airplane, interfering with watching recorded shows at a reasonable volume.
So what I am going to do is to price out some components to see how close I can get to an acceptable machine with upgradeability and just above entry level parts in all of the above categories. First, I would like to buy a new Intel Core 2 Duo processer, but I would like to get a mobo that would support a quad core upgrade in a year or two – though this component may be too new to be reasonably priced. I’d like to get a middle of the road PCI-E graphics card, and the mobo should be SLI enabled in case I want to add a second card in SLI configuration later. I’ll need a nice new case and power supply with an ultra-quiet cooling system. I’d like to get at least 2 GB of DDR2 RAM to match the Core 2 Duo; this might also be pricey. Finally, I’d like to get a large SATA 300 drive (at least 500 GB) with a big cache and possibly ondrive flash memory for Windows Vista’s new ReadyBoost technology. I will probably dual boot XP Pro and Vista.
I’ll post the results of my research and then, if I decide to build this machine, document the process here. It should be a lot of fun at the very least.