As I told James this morning, my venerable Windows workstation – a Dell Dimension XPS that was top of the line circa 1997 – is finally showing signs of winding down its long and meritorious service life. The PII 400 box’s primary hard drive is increasingly given to producing cricket-like chirping noises that, in my experience, presage the doom of a hard drive failure. I’m not particularly worried about the data – it’s more or less all been backed up on an external Maxtor One Touch – but it does mean that I’m probably not going to be able to wait for a Vista equipped workstation as I’d planned.
So I throw the question out to all of you: what would you recommend as a replacement for the box? Granted, compared to a 6 year old machine just about anything’s going to be a massive upgrade. But I need something that will run Vista, not to mention other rather performance hungry Windows software that I’m required to test – something borderline server-ish, in other words. Form factor for this one is desktop – I don’t need it to be portable.
Before someone gets paranoid that I’m “switching” back to Windows – as did Russell Beattie – put your mind at ease. I’m as happy as ever with Gentoo (despite Friend of RedMonk Jeff Waugh’s continuing jokes at my distro’s expense ;), and that will remain my primary OS. But I do need a Windows box not only to test the Windows OS and software I cover, but also for my iPod (yes, I’m aware that Ubuntu does support iPods, but I prefer iTunes to Banshee/GTKPod and the like – at least for now).
Any ideas? My first thought, actually, was one of Sun’s new Ultra workstations that Alex thought about and Tim mostly liked, but Ben’s lukewarm review gives me pause. While I’m far from a hard core gamer – apart from a problematic addiction to Team Fortress a couple of years back that I kicked only by removing the game from my current Windows box – I do want to be able to leverage the graphics hungry Vista features whenever they should arrive. Whatever I get, my preference is for the AMD chips at this point, based on what I keep hearing from hardware folks left and right.
The other important consideration here is price: I’d prefer not to spend tons of money, given that it’s not even my primary machine. I’m not restricted to a hundred bucks, but neither do I want to drop three or four grand. It’d be one thing if I was doing full time development, but my coding these days is mainly limited to shell scripts here and there, operating system and application testing, mucking around with MySQL or Postgres, or hacking up previously existing PHP/Ruby apps. Not exactly the kind of things I need a bleeding edge machine for.
So the question is, do any of you have any hardware they’re particularly fond of? Hardware’s not my thing, so I leave myself in your capable hands.