Being the nice son and daughter that me and my sis are, we decided to hook my mom up with a computer. For the record, my mom is the reason I have any semblance of computer skills. She and my dad purchased a 286/16mhz beast of a machine way back in the day for my sister and I. They upgraded that to a 486 and later to a 200mhz pentium before I took over the PC purchasing for the fam damily. She also showed me the ways of DOS and WordPerfect 5.1, and showed me the tao of keyboard shortcuts. She helped me install my first modem, even though she had no clue either. Good times.
Anyways, she was without a PC and just got a big fat raise that she wants to really prove she earned it. So for her birthday we decided to get a new Dell. Now, I was a firm believer that 99% of home users could simply purchase the cheapest PC out there, as long as it came with a nice monitor, keyboard and mouse. So, when I saw a deal for a P4 2.2Ghz with a 15” flat panel for $700, I was all over it.
The PC came today and so far, I've been quite happy with it. Some problems though. It only had 128mb of RAM. No biggie, I knew this was low going in, but I was surprised to see the thing eating up over 120mb upon booting up. Not good times. I was planning on throwing a 512mb stick into the thing anyways, but I was surprised at how much memory was being used out of the box.
So I went through the usual wart removal process. Cleanup the desktop of all kinds of offers, ran Windows Update (25 critical updates!), disabled the RealPlayer crap and turned off the dell assistence wizard. That helped, but there was still a 5mb process floating around. It turns out AOL has a process running on the PC even if I'm not using AOL. Just in case I did decide it was time to install AOL, I am glad to know that it is sucking up vital system resources so the freakin' install program loads fast. Screw you AOL - uninstalled. And I'm sure every one of you at one point or another have had the dream that involved Real and napalm. I love that dream. But I degress.
So I've got this thing patched, cleaned, defragged and inspected. No more rogue processes, or video players sitting in memory being useless. My only real complaints are that I accidently got the value harddrive, and I'm stuck with integrated video. Now, I'll take the blame for not dropping the extra 10 bucks to get a 7200 RPM harddrive over a 4200. I should simply know better. My bad. I might even switch them out for my mom for free. I'm that type of guy.
But for the video, I really had no choice. You simply cannot get a cheap video card anymore. My mom needs, at most, below average 3d performance. It would be nice if 3D text ran at 30fps, that's about it. But I'm stuck with dropping at least 60 bucks for a GeForce4 it seems. Anyways, if you aren't aware of problems with integrated video is that is hurts your memory throughput pretty severly because it is using your system memory for the video card. If I do things like switch applications, where the whole screen needs to be redrawn along with loading stuff into memory it's a noticable lag.
I've got a 2.2GHz chip chugging along waiting for the hard drive and video card to get it's act together. Oh well, these are the things I nitpick. My mom will hardly notice. I've got parts for my own machine on the way and I'm sure I'll be posting benchmarks and other fun stuff when those goodies arrive :-)