Way in 2005 I built my current machine. Its an AMD Athlon64 X2 4400+ using the socket 939 chipset with 4GB of RAM on an MSI K8N Diamond motherboard. I also put in two Gainword 7800GT cards into it because it was going to be my gaming machine as well. Over the years additional drives have been added but the core components have remained the same. Time has passed and caught up with this machine so I decided it was time to create my new development machine again.
I checked out and around for a while before deciding on what to buy. I looked at the existing AMD offerings and Intel chips and for the first time in 10 years I decided to go with the Intel platform.
I choose the Intel Core i7 930 which is a quad core CPU with hyper threading which effectively means that Windows sees the CPU as 8 processors when you look at it in the Device Manager or in Task Manager.
The 930 allows a decent amount of over-clocking ability if I should ever need it. Its not overly expensive and compared to the next chip up in the 900 series its just over half the price.
So once I picked the CPU, I went on to the motherboard. I looked at the varying options out there and decided on a fairly decent motherboard from Gigabyte the GA-X58-UD7 which contained fairly everything AND the kitchen sink. Supports SLI and CrossFire technologies, USB 3.0 (or SuperSpeed USB if you will), a large number of SATA connections, 10 in all with support for eSata and the new SATA3 600 devices. So all in all, a hefty amount of kit squeezed onto an ATX board.
After that it was off to get the RAM and this was my downfall. I choose ECC RAM instead of non ECC RAM. It was only when I got all the parts from the online retailer which was Komplett.no in this case did I discover my mistake. Actually, it wasn’t until I installed the RAM and the system wouldn’t boot did I uncover my error. Thankfully Komplett took back the RAM and refunded me on that part so I could buy the non-ECC RAM PC3-10600 DDR3 RAM that the i7 supports. Currently there is 12GB in there using 3 slots so I can expand it to the full 24GB at a later stage.
I installed Windows 7 Ultimate x64 edition and everything bar the extremely new NEC USB3.0 chip was recognised straight out of the box.
Running the Windows Experience Index gave me a score of 5.5 due to the gaming graphics performance of my 5 year old graphics card. The CPU and RAM both got scores of 7.5
The computer is definitely much snappier and the whole experience is much better. Virtual machines load in a matter of seconds due to the fact that I can assign two processors and a chuck of RAM to them. As upgrades go there was a lot of bang for the buck. I was lucky that I could reuse most of my drives, my PSU and my GFX card.
The total cost of the build was about 11000 Norwegian Kroner which is 1,385EUR. If you are in the US this price doesn’t bear thinking about as components in Europe are more expensive.
A quick comparison on newegg.com for the same components came in at 1286USD or 7500NOK. A considerable difference. And if you ask why I didn’t order from the US. Well return policies in Norway are quite good and the warranty periods on consumer goods range from 3 to 5 years as standard due to legislature. And import tax would have negated the amount of savings I would have got and I would have lost the extremely nice warranty on my new parts.
Overall I am extremely happy with the new performance of my developer machine.