So, here is my final â€œlow budgetâ€ performance desktop recipe:
1 Athlon 64 X2 4200+ AM2 socket with el cheapo ECS C51GM-M motherboard $200 (Fry’s Electronics – no rebates!)
2 GB PC6400 RAM (only running at DDR 400MHz) $150 (Fry’s Electronics after rebate)
1 Nvidia GeForce 7600GT KO $180 (Circuit City – after rebate)
2 300GB 16MB cache SATA disk drives $160 ($80 / each Fry’s Electronics with no rebates!)
1 500W Power Supply (SATA enabled) $10 (Fry’s Electronics after rebate)
1 DVD+-R/RW dual layer burner (already had)
1 Aluminum high end case, 24â€ Flat Panel 1920×1200 display(s) (already had)
Had a chance to install 64-bit Vista Beta 2 over the weekend… WOW! Iâ€™m (somewhat) impressedâ€¦ Vista rates my system at a 4.5 level (which I guess is pretty goodâ€¦ was at a 2.5 level before upgrading to the 7600GT video card). Vista isnâ€™t bad, dedicated 80GB to it and had to install it first. It automatically recognized both CPU cores too. The worst thing about Windows these days is the crazy activation / genuine advantage scheme they require. So, after Vista is officially released out I might upgrade to their MSDN universal package… weâ€™ll see.
Next, I installed Ubuntu 6.06 â€¦ upgraded to include XGL advanced graphics. The onboard GeForce 6100 video just didnâ€™t cut it running a 1920×1200 desktop with XGL enabled. After upgrading to the 7600GT, WOW! It looks better then my Mac! I had to edit the grub bootloader to add the Vista partition. I can now dual boot between Vista and Ubuntu. I also installed the K7 specific kernel that is SMP enable to recognize both cores.
Installed CGWD to enable XGL â€œthemesâ€ of window decorations (ala Vista)â€¦ window borders now have that â€œglassâ€ look of Vista, and can be frosted/blurred when not in current mouse focus. I next installed gparted to configure that extra 300GB drive. I have some other ATA based drives I was going to add (the mobo supports ATA IDE devices) but decided to keep this solely a SATA based system and will hook them up via external firewire if/when needed.
Pretty nice little system for the money. I want to see if the dual DVI connectors on the video card can be active with the VGA connector on the mobo, giving me three video outputsâ€¦ then, I can drive my 3 24â€ flat panels for a huge desktop, the way I currently have it setup on my Mac. That is next weekends project.