Well call me old school, but I still like a bangin' desktop for my main home PC. For the general user mostly not moving beyond the bounds of the web for computer use any machine from a laptop, netbook, tablet, or heck even a smart phone will suffice. However any serious users doing coding in .NET with VS.NET, video transfer + editing, gaming, photo editing, etc. you really need a *real* machine that can handle the load. Nothing more scalable and well built then a sweet looking mid-tower loaded with lots of horsepower.
Recently I began assembling my new main home PC and I love it! I have found that building a PC and maybe updating just memory, video card, or even CPU will last much, much longer than purchasing any kind of store bought machine. Case in point, the last PC I built was in the fall of 2003. It was a Socket 478 Asus Motherboard mid-tower. It lasted me until I built this new machine just a few weeks ago. How? I upgraded from a Celeron to a P4 Extreme Edition, updated the RAM, updated the video card, and got almost 8 years out of it. Still a fantastic machine I gave to my brother-in-law because it still ran XP really well. Hopefully I get several years out of my new machine as well.
Because of this gap I never experimented with any RAID configuration, etc to increase the PCs main bottleneck: the magnetic disk hard drive. With my new build I wanted all of the best but yet still be on a budget. I was determined to use a Solid State Drive (SSD) for the primary OS drive, and a decent HDD for the additional space needs. Once I caught wind of the new Intel i7 'Sandy Bridge' line of processors, I knew it was time to build. Not only are the Sandy Bridge Generation 2 i7 processors about 1/2 the cost of good Generation 1 i7 processors, they are faster too.
My budget was to be around $1000-$1200. The hands-down best place anywhere to get good deals on computer hardware is http://www.newegg.com Between their 'Shell-Shocker' deals, coupon codes, sales, and overall low prices, I was able to build my new machine for under $1200. I am not including the OS because that is a given. My build was using Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate. So let's get to the parts ->>
LIAN LI Lancool PC-K63 Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case - Cost $99 via 'Shell-Shocker' deal. The case is fantastic! There really are no screws, everything snaps into place. Cable management is routed through guides so there isn't a big mess. There are several blue LED fans which make the case stand out too.
Well how is the overall performance when benchmarked? Well I don;t have any fancy tools, but using Windows 7's 'Windows Experience Index' the machine scored a 7.0 on a possible 7.9 scale:
The end result? Windows 7 64-bit installed in 12 minutes, the machine boots to desktop ready for use in about 15 seconds, and shut down time is about 4 seconds. Opening applications like VS.NET 2010? Almost instant. AWESOME! Hope this machine lasts me 8 years like my last one, to get everything out of it. I think every developer should have a machine like this. If you get a chance to build one similar, I highly recommend it.