I just want to buy a computer!

Last month one of the computers in my office crashed – it was just too old and could not keep up anymore with today’s demands of an engineering/GIS office. Because I really needed to replace it as soon as possible, I decided to get a new computer for myself and give the one I use now to my staff. Having successfully purchased many computers for the city over the last 15 years, I was not prepared for the aggravation, uncertainty, and hours of research required to make the right purchase decision for this new system. I am laying my experience out for all to see in case anyone else has recently been going through the same aggravation – misery loves company and all that I guess.

With the state of operating systems, graphic cards, media and communication tools, hard drives, and processors, I have to admit that I had a hard time figuring out the best configuration for the applications I run: primarily ACAD Map 3D, ARCGIS, WATERGEMS, MS OFFICE, Corel PSP. (It is not unusual for me to run all those applications at once along with having a browser and email open.)

I read reviews and info online and asked around to get some ideas and found a lot of opinions. Sifting through them all has seemed to narrow it down to the following which I admit may not be a valid analysis to a computer professional, but this is what shook out for me:

– Everyone told me whatever I do stay with Windows XP Pro
– NVIDIA graphics card – this was a tough one because at first everything said use the Quadro series for CAD and then I saw discussions about how the Quadro is for OpenGL and the newer systems are all going to the Direct 3D so companies are moving over to the GeForce cards. I got some opinions from CAD people I know and decided on the Dual 8800 GTX cards – total 1G
– Biggest hard drive config I could find with this setup: 2 – 200G 7200rpm
– Sticking with the Intel® Coreâ„¢ 2 Duo T9300 (2.5GHz/800Mhz FSB/6MB cache) – based on price

The other items in the configuration that I chose were not at all as difficult to decide upon – 4G Ram and 17″ screen. Anyway, the only company that had all this in one package was Dell (even though I so wanted an Alienware). Today, I tried to call Dell to finally order, and after being transferred for an hour was finally disconnected. I do not intend this to be a slam on Dell – I have had outstanding product and service from them in the past – it just seems to fit into the whole experience somehow.

Anyway, I have a Canal Boat Grand Opening to attend now, and when I come back, I am going to order a computer!