My computer had never worked properly since I put in together in late 2005. I got random static bursts, and most USB devices would crash the system if left plugged in. I replaced the motherboard in desperation six months later, but it didn’t help much – the same problems came back. Research suggested the CPU and motherboard (both of them!) conflicted in some bizarre way, but no solutions were forthcoming, and I eventually gave up removing this or that piece of hardware every few weeks to see whether it made a difference. I didn’t have the money to replace both, so I lived with it. This happens sometimes with technology – it just never works right, and you end up having to buy something new. I got used to working around the problems for a couple of years, but a confluence of problems last month finally did me in. Before February it would have been a luxury, but it crossed into the sensible-decision bracket, so I didn’t have to feel guilty. I was going to need more RAM and a new hard drive anyway, so I finally gave in and ordered a totally new system, this time based around Intel rather than AMD.
I’d decided early on that my priority would be processing and editing photos. I’m not bothered about playing games – I’d like to be, but nothing other than guitar hero has grabbed my attention for ages now – so I concentrated on RAM and CPU power at the expense of graphics. My friend Ben helped me choose the most appropriate equipment, and we ended up with a Q6600 quad-core processor with 4gb of RAM, plus a larger HD. It all arrived yesterday morning and I put it together in the afternoon.
The hardware setup took a few hours, after which it worked first time, which is a rarity! I then spent as long trying to talk the XP install into understanding the SATA drivers, and my twitter followers will know how frustrating that became – sorry! After that, though, everything was smooth as Captain Jack. XP is now all installed and I’m nearly done getting it all configured.
Lightroom and Photoshop are mind-bogglingly faster. Adobe products are one of the few that can take full advantage of four processors, and the extra RAM1 means much less hard-drive thrashing. I can switch between the two programs without having to shut down everything else, and this morning I was happily editing in both programs with Firefox and iTunes running in the background. This is exactly what I wanted – editing photos should be much less frustrating now, and for the next few years of my uni course.
A couple of weird little problems have solved themselves, too. I was having issues with a) my mouse double-clicking when it should be single-clicking, and b) my router dropping packets so random bits of websites would fail. Both have Just Gone Away.
I tried not to get too wound up over the old problems – there are worse things in life than the odd crash, or having to remember to unplug a card reader – but *tempts fate* it’s really very nice to have a stable system. Totally worth it.
- only 3.5gb is accessible as I couldn’t stretch to a 64-bit OS [↩]