Upgrading My Desktop PC

mechanicFor the last several years, I’ve always built my own Desktop PC instead of buying a pre-built system (from HP, Dell, etc.). I like the fact that I can select every single component that gets installed in my system, and thus have control on issues like quietness, speed, etc. So far, my current system (Intel Core 2 Duo at 1.83 GHz, and 2 GB RAM) seems to be running fine with Windows Vista 32-bit. My primary usage for my Desktop PC is web surfing, email, programming, web page building and testing, and TV recording and processing of video files. I don’t do any gaming, so I don’t have a need for a super-high powered system with intense graphics. But, every few years I decide on upgrading my system for faster hardware based on the latest technology.

I’m at the two year mark now with my current system, and I’m considering my upgrade options. As it turns out, my system is still close to the current technology and far from being obsolete. So what options do I have for upgrading?

First, I was thinking of upgrading the CPU from a Intel Core 2 Duo (1.83 GHz) to a Intel Core 2 Quad CPU (3.0 GHz). Having effectively four processors instead of two (at a higher clock speed) would certainly help when processing videos in the background while I’m using my PC for other tasks. Luckily, my current motherboard (ASUS P5N-E SLI) will take the Intel Quad processor so I won’t need to swap out the motherboard for this upgrade.

I was also thinking of switching from Vista 32-bit to 64-bit to have access to more installed memory. I currently have 2 GB of RAM installed, and it would be nice to increase that to 8 GB and have access to all of it using the 64-bit Vista OS. RAM is pretty cheap now, so now’s the time to upgrade. But that brings up another big issue: Moving to the 64-bit OS.

When you buy Windows Vista, the install disk comes with both 32 and 64-bit versions, so I have the choice of installing either one. When Vista 64-bit first came out, most people avoided it since some legacy hardware (e.g., printers, scanners, etc.) didn’t have the necessary device drivers. In addition, some older software would crash under Vista 64-bit. However, I noticed that Dell and other computer manufacturers are now selling their systems with Vista 64-bit installed, so I’m feeling a bit more comfortable with moving to that OS version. Of course, only time will tell if I have any incompatibility issues, but I think it’s worth the try.

In checking my favorite online store, Newegg.com, I see the following prices for the items I’m considering for my upgrade:

Intel Core 2 Quad Q9650 3.0GHz 12MB L2 Cache – $325.00 US (recent price reduction)

OCZ Gold 8GB (4 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM DDR2 800 – $82.00 US

I double checked the ASUS web site to make sure these components are compatible with my existing motherboard, and everything looks fine. So, for around $407.00 US , I can upgrade my Desktop PC to a hopefully faster system. Since I already have Windows Vista (Retail), I should be able to reinstall the 64-bit version with no additional cost.

Of course, I’m planning to clone my system disk just in case I have problems with Vista 64-bit, in which case I can easily restore my disk back to it’s pre-installation state. If and when I do this upgrade, I’ll make a postings documenting my experience.

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