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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Windows 7 here I come?
Got a new PC, mostly to try out Windows 7. HP e9180f from Radio Shack (which I'm supposed to call "The Source" these days). It's... well it's ok, lots of fancy stuff hardware-wise, I'm blogging this on it right now, but seems a bit flaky around the edges. Have had one blue screen, one instance where it wouldn't sleep/wake properly (was stuck on a black screen, I had to shut it down), problems with Windows Update (maybe due to the bluescreen) meant I had to use System Restore to rollback, then weirdness with NIC card update meant I went to HP and got their recommended driver rather than the one MS offers. Oh and also one time Firefox seemed to get stuck in virus scan for downloaded Irfanview installer... wouldn't work until I rebooted.
Hmm, when I list them all seems quite a lot of problems really.
It is fast, Intel i7 920 with 4 cores hyperthreaded, makes it look like 8 CPUs to the OS.
Did a PhotoSynth test versus the AMD 3-core HP a6530f and the new machine was twice as fast (2.5 minutes vs. 5 minutes).
I also did a bit of an endurance test, downloaded all 6.5GB of the World of Warcraft current edition (yes, gigabytes), then the 1.2GB of updates, then played the game for a while - although this is more of a video card stress test than a CPU test, it did keep the network, disk and RAM busy for hours, and there weren't any problems.
In general I wouldn't recommend buying towards the high end of the range, you're much safer and will get more bang for buck in the midrange. I don't think it's worth it for most users to have a machine that is pushing the limits of storage/RAM/CPU. My HP a6530f may not have three balanced RAM channels of 3GB each or whatever the heck the e9180f does, but the a6530f has been pretty solid for almost a year now. I did have to upgrade the power supply in the a6530f in order to be able to drive a reasonable video card for WoW, but the whole thing came in under $1k including the power upgrade and video upgrade.
Submitting the Windows 7 request was fairly painless, HP has a whole system set up (Internet Explorer only though). If you run it on the target machine, it scans for the serial number and does everything, all you have to do is upload a pic/scan of your receipt. Then you have to wait for "approval" of your submission. Win 7 won't be out until October 22, 2009 so it will be a while yet before I have anything to report.
UPDATE: Oh and if you're getting an HP, you may have to get a replacement keyboard and mouse - the HP keyboards are heavy on multimedia buttons (which I never use) but have very shallow flat keys, which I find to be unsatisfying for either typing or gaming. I use the chunky keyboard (that I think came with my old Dell) on the a6530f. Be aware that the e9180f has no traditional PS2 keyboard or mouse port (the "purple and green" ports), only USB (I don't actually know what you can get in terms of PS2 to USB adapters; I know there are ones to go the other way.