So I'm battling disappointment with blatant consumerism, and ordered a new computer. Actually it's right on schedule, I bought my current Alienware computer two years ago. That's my usual schedule, every two years I get a brand-new computer, and my wife gets my 2-year old one. Which means the computer that actually gets chucked out is 4 years old Dell, a Pentium 640 3.2 GHz CPU with a Nvidia Geforce 7800, and 2 GB of RAM. The Alienware computer I pass to my wife is an Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.4 GHz CPU with a Nvidia GeForce 8800 GTS (640 MB), and 4 GB of RAM. So in a quite logical extrapolation the computer I ordered is a quad-core i7-920 with a Nvidia GeForce 9800 GTX (1 GB), and 6 GB of RAM. Double the number of cores every 2 years, add another 1000 to the GeForce serial number, and add another 2 GB of RAM. :)
Yeah, I know, the video card is nothing to write home about. I could have gone for a new GX 285 or 295 or something. But the 9800 GTX supposedly draws a lot less power, is more silent, and is quite stable. It might not be bleeding edge, but it is fast enough, especially if I mainly play World of Warcraft and not GTA 4. If that turns out to be insufficient in a year or two, I can always replace it, or add a second 9800 GTX in SLI mode.
So where things get fast is the new generation of Intel quad-core processors, the i7-920 is a big step up in speed. Needs the latest generation of motherboard as well, so I got a Gigabyte EX58-Extreme. Add 6 GB of OCZ Reaper DDR3 fast memory, and a Western Digital HD Raptor 10,000 rpm hard drive, and the whole system should be visibly faster for anything where graphics isn't the bottleneck. As the fast hard drive is relatively small, 150 GB, it'll only have the operating system and programs on it. The data go to a 1 Terrabyte normal hard drive.
As I said, my previous computer had 4 GB of RAM, but actually he only could use 2.75 GB, because of the 32-bit Windows XP operating system. With the video card of the new system having more memory, with Windows XP I would now have even less RAM addressable. So now I'm forced to finally switch to a 64-bit Vista to be able to actually use the 6 GB of RAM. Well, I think I'll survive now that Vista is two service packs further advanced, and all the drivers are developed for it. My company is going Vista this year too, and it's good to have the same operating system at home and at work.
The whole thing costs just under 2,000 Euro, which is 1,000 Euro less than the previous machine, and should be ready in a week. I finally gave up on Dell / Alienware, not because their computers were bad, but because getting them sent by UPS, and having to send out pieces for replacement by UPS was such a hassle. Now I'm buying locally in a small computer store not far from my home. Have to support the local economy in times of crisis, do I? :)