Top 10 Questions Asked By PC Buyers Today
Dual or Quad Core?
As we sit on the verge of the Core i7 age, it would seem that anyone who is interested in keeping their new PC for more than a few months should not really consider a Dual Core. Yes, it is absolutely true that the Duals can actually perform better than some Quads in various single threaded applications, but the Dual age has come and gone, as the minimum popular configuration for i7s will be Quad. In fact, a server-intended Core i7 CPU will be released with eight cores on one chip. The critical mass point where most popular software will be coded to fly on multiple cores (and the more the better) is coming soon, possibly as early as Summer 2009. Therefore, don't limit yourself to an CPU configuration that will be outdated within a short while. Go with Quad or better. Triples? Er... I don't know why anyone would buy a Quad with a faulty core that has been shut off to be a Triple, so my opinion of these CPUs is lower than whale dreck.
Should I wait for Core i7?
This seems to be the big question facing almost any PC purchaser right now. The expected release dates seem to fluctuate between any day now to just before Christmas, and it is not yet completely clear which Core i7 CPUs will be released in 2008, nor what their prices will be. It is expected that there will be a $300, a $600 and a $1,000+ i7 but your guess is as good as mine. Given that Core i7 is a major architectural advancement, just because the CPUs are available and affordable does not necessarily mean that the rest of the components will be. No clear motherboard pricing is available yet, and setting up DDR3 RAM memory in sets of threes is going to cost a pretty penny. Even with the cheapest $300 Core i7 adding a $300 LGA 1366 socket X58 chipset motherboard and 3x2GB DDR3 RAM sticks could bring the price of just these components painfully close to the $1,000 mark and that would be before hard drive, case, power supply, etc. are factored in. Let's also remember that the first adopters of new PC technology are not only milked by high launch pricing but are often barraged by bugs, incompatibilties, and other headaches, so the cautious, wise PC buyer (and I'm not one of them) would likely wait until mid 2009 before taking the Core i7 plunge.
Intel or AMD?
What about SLI/Crossfire?
What about them? As far as I'm concerned, with the release of the Nvidia GTX series and the various AMD-ATI Radeon 4870s, SLI and Crossfire are outrageous overkill that no one outside of the most berserk gamer would ever need to consider.
Should I go with RAID?
Although I love many of the various RAID configurations and agree that they definitely have a place in the enterprise sector and among a rarefied breed of enthusiasts, prosumers, scientists, video editors and their ilk, RAID still remains a pricy and essentially unneeded luxury for most common, average PC users.
How about Solid State Drives?
They are still in the "expensive toy" stage. The Price/Performance Ratio is still way too high to interest anyone but specialists or people on corporate expense accounts. There will come a time in the not too distant future when SSDs will be the common hard drive and the entire concept of spinning disks in a PC will be seen with all the nostalgia now reserved for floppy drives, but that time is still at least a couple of years in the future.
Should I get a 1 kW+ Power Supply?
Yes, if you want to power your plug-in hybrid car from it. Again, for most PC users, a good, solid quality 500-600W clean power PSU is more than they will ever need.
How about a 1TB Hard Drive?
Yes and no. Yes, if you are a maniacal downloader who believes it's necessary to keep a permanent copy of every Jerry Springer, Oprah and Maury show ever aired as well as every music CD ever issued. No if you look at your current hard drive usage and come up with a number that's 200 GB or less. I work on my PC all day long, have well over a decade's archived work on it, at least 15GB of media, and I currently am using up a grand total of 41.7 GB. I need a 1TB drive like a hole in the head, and I suspect most PC users are in the same boat. Besides, have you ever tried to defragment a 1TB drive? I hope you've set your long weekend aside!
What about Water Cooling?
Given that I've cheesed off every high overclocker on the planet with my earlier Hubs, I can now feel free to address the other 99% of PC users and state that any form of liquid or phase cooling is just an outrageous waste of money. Modern CPUs run way cooler than the thankfully gone Preskillets of old, so an expenditure of around $40 will provide you with a fine HSF that will keep your processor nice and cool on air for years to come.
Which Operating System?
Windows Seven. Until it is released make do with whatever you're running now. With any luck it will only be another year or so and then the great Microsoft Operating System Limbo will mercifully be over. If half of what is being rumored about W7 is true, it's going to make everyone forget the Vista mess. However, if you aren't running proprietary software or have specialized requirements, you might want to consider no operating system at all. There are various motherboards coming onto the market which allow you to boot directly into a web browser with essentially no conventional operating system at all. Once online, you can avail yourself of the various Google (and competitors') web based cloud computing applications and end up having a phenomenal computer system that does everything that the vast majority of PC users will ever want to do without spending a single penny on software and without stealing any of it either! The era of free online applications is upon us, and soon the outdated paradigm of shelling out thousands of dollars for various Suites will be nothing but a nasty and expensive memory.