As I mentioned last week, I've been contemplating which of the parts laying around here to use in my new PC. It's been over two years since I upgraded my main box, and during a stretch of more than two years, I've used the same installation of Windows 2000. Hard to believe. At the heart of the old DamageBox was a KT266A-based Shuttle AK31, and with Win2K, it was rock-solid stable for years. Recently, though, it developed a bit of a tic where the display memory would somehow get scrambled in Windows and all would go bad. I am sure it was a software problem, but it was time for hardware upgrade, anyhow.

When it came time to choose which processor and motherboard combo to use in my new box, I spent at least two hours just sitting here deliberating over the choice. In the end, for various reasons involving which hardware I might need for future reviews and the like, I settled on an Opteron 146 with an Asus SK8N motherboard. This combo is very, very similar to an Athlon 64 FX-51 system, only 200MHz and a name's worth of difference. I installed 2GB of registered DDR333 memory, a Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB, my M-Audio Revolution 7.1 sound card, an 80GB Western Digital JB-series hard drive, and an older 40GB drive for extra storage. I plan to make a RAID 1 mirror with a second WD 80GB drive (or maybe a pair of Raptors?) once I get my hands on the new ForceWare software from NVIDIA. Everything's wrapped up in a gorgeous black Antec Sonata case with black floppy and DVD RW drives. (More about the Sonata in a review soon.)

Building a PC is easy, but installing all the software I need and copying over things like mail rules is a daunting task. I gained a few things worth having with WinXP, though, including ClearType (at last!) and Remote Desktop Connection, which can replace VNC as my remote access solution, since RDC is faster than VNC and resolution independent. And, heh, that's probably about it.

All in all, it's a very decent upgrade. I'm especially enamored with the smart looks and quiet operation of this new system. The speed is nice, too, I suppose, but I've not gotten into CPU-intensive work much yet, and my old box had the same model hard drive in it. I guess it's time to install some games...

Oh yeah: Go Chiefs.

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