I’m looking to buy or build a new development machine. My current machine is a Dell 490 case with an Intel Core 2 Quad processor running at 2.4 GHz. 16 GB of RAM and two 750 GB hard drives. I have a second machine (Core 2 Quad at 2.0 GHz, 16 GB RAM, two 500 GB drives). Together, the systems make for a pretty reasonable development environment, but they’re starting to show their age. The machines can’t easily be upgraded with newer technologies (USB 3.0, SATA 3.0, etc.). Worse, those machines are noisy.
I should be able to replace both of those machines with a single machine, and not lose any required functionality. I figure if I can load it up with a fast processor (perhaps two quad-core processors), 64 GB of RAM, and two 2-terabyte drives, I’ll be in good shape. With two video cards and monitors, I can easily have two virtual machines running concurrently. With four monitors (a possibility), the system should rock!
My number one requirement is that the system be quiet. I realize that there will be some noise. That’s unavoidable. But these 490s are crazy loud. I don’t really notice how loud until I turn the machines off and am amazed by the quiet.
I’ve seen Jeff Atwood’s most recent Building a PC blog (from a year ago), and he has some good suggestions. His needs and mine often differ, though. In particular, he thinks that 24 GB of RAM is overkill. Some of the stuff I do will eat 24 GB with no trouble. I have programs that can make good use of 64 GB or more.
One other thing I’d really like is an SSD to hold my boot partition as well as a “scratchpad” area that I can use for large data-intensive tasks. A 128 GB SSD is quite reasonable: from $150 to $250. 512 GB will go double that, but might be worthwhile.
There are other things that’d be nice to have, but my basic requirements are:
- Quiet case.
- Quad core or possibly dual quad core (unless somebody has an 8-core processor).
- Minimum 32 GB of RAM. Preferably 64 GB.
- Space for four SATA drives, plus DVD.
- Space for two dual video cards (total of 4 monitors).
I don’t know yet what that’s going to run me, but price isn’t all that important. I sit in front of these machines for 12 hours a day. If I can build one that saves me time and makes my work more enjoyable, then it’ll pay for itself pretty quickly.