Thursday, November 16, 2006


Build Your Vista-Ready PC

  • Thursday, November 16, 2006
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  • Ah, Vista. The much-anticipated operating system was starting to look like an albatross around the collective neck of the folks in Redmond. But after a far-too-long gestation period (and after cutting some boldly ballyhooed features), Microsoft has finally shipped its first release candidate.

    Whether you plan on upgrading or not, one thing is clear: The impact Windows Vista will have on the world of PC hardware will be huge. Microsoft is able to influence the entire hardware industry, even including non-Windows systems. And the changes aren't just one-way. Redmond has adjusted some of its plans for Vista because of the way hardware is evolving as a result of other pressures. For example, Windows Vista will support an unprecedented level of DRM (digital rights management) at the behest of the content providers.

    It seemed a good time to build a system that's ready for all of Vista's new features. Approaching this task, I had a few goals in mind. First of all, I wanted a score above 5 (out of 5.9) on the Windows Experience Index—­a benchmark test from Microsoft that's embedded in Vista and serves as a rough guide for consumers to the OS's performance.

    I also wanted a high-performance system—budget concerns come later, like Vista itself. I wanted plenty of room for future growth and expansion, and to test Vista's ability to configure storage options without the use of a ludicrous floppy disk, as Windows XP demands today. I also wanted a system that was relatively forward-looking, so it wouldn't be obsolete in 2008. Here's how I did it.

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