This is the last post I will write using the Dell XPS 420, a machine that has been in service for use a little more than five years now. Since I acquired it back in January 2008, the XPS 420 has acted as an immensely powerful tool in a variety of tasks. A generally well-received machine for its time, the XPS 420 is praised for its reasonably high performance-to-cost ratio and solid performance as a mid-range machine. In practise, the XPS 420 is reliable, capable and has aged reasonably well over the past four years it has been in operation. The XPS 420 I fielded has the Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4 GHz), 3 GB of DDR2 RAM, and an ATI HD 2600 XT video card: a configuration that is more than sufficient for word processing and web browsing, and capable of running a reasonable number of games, including Halo 2 Vista and Crysis on medium settings. For the past four years, this was my workhorse machine, although recently, common, everyday operations such as printing a PDF or opening Microsoft Office, has proven to be a taxing request for this system, and as such, I had resolved to build a new machine upon the completion of my undergraduate academic program.
- I’ve fielded the Dell XPS 420 in all of my endeavours: classified as a media machine, the system has served exceedingly well during its active periods, taking on things of varying importance, from studying for the MCAT and writing my thesis to writing this blog and pwning n00bs in Halo.
- However, all good things must come to an end. Thus, it is now that I choose to declassify the information surrounding my old system.
The decision to upgrade the entire system was a difficult one, as it is quite challenging to part with a computer that has been through everything in my entire secondary school and undergraduate career; necessity trumps nostalgic value. With this said, the amount of work this machine has performed is nothing short of impressive; the XPS has been used for everything from compiling SPARC code remotely, profiling Java projects, writing academic papers for course-work and publications, and completion of research grant applications, to more casual activities, such as converting anime into a format suited for iOS and getting killtaculars in Halo 2 Vista. Having written my undergraduate thesis project and countless other papers, this machine has seen everything from the release and discussion of the Gundam 00, Haruhi, K-On! and Strike Witches movies, to my transition from secondary education into undergraduate education. It is a private Ragnarok Online server, and once was my means for playing World of Warcraft with friends on another private server.
- This experience brings to mind one of Char Aznable’s quotes: “I’ll show you that a superior mobile suit has its limits when it goes up against a superior pilot!” This holds true of the disparities between one factor or the other are sufficiently large, but as initially unskilled operators of capable technology gradually improve, skill alone is insufficient to guarantee victory.
- When it was first deployed, the XPS 420 was the single most powerful machine that any one fielded at my secondary school. It has since been eclipsed by machines of similar price, including the next-generation machine I will be constructing on short order.
Therefore, the decision to retire the Dell XPS 420 was not a light one. After careful consideration, I have opted to go with a custom build running Windows 8. While I am not at liberty to disclose its specifications, I can say that this machine will be significantly more powerful than the ASUS G75 Series G75VW-NS71 Notebook, a machine that one of my competitors uses. Costing 1400 dollars, this laptop is equipped with an Intel Core i7 3610QM (2.3 GHz clock speed) and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670M (336 shader units); these specifications put a more expensive machine as having lesser performance compared to a less costly, more powerful machine. Whereas a great number of vocal parties have decried Windows 8 as a poor decision on Microsoft’s part, claiming it as an attempt to ensure that Windows remains competitive against Apple while removing functions users have come to familiarise themselves with in the past. However, I see Windows 8 as a necessary evil: in order to adapt and keep up with the latest technology, individuals should make an effort to familiarise themselves with new systems as they are released. Windows 8 is touted as the fastest and most secure version of Windows, being able to operate well on both traditional and touch interfaces. As such, I am willing to give Windows 8 a shot; this is similar to the reaction some gamers had when making the jump between Halo 2 and Halo 3, where several of the key bindings were altered, resulting in players switching weapons or unscoping when they made to melee. Players would soon adapt and the complaints faded to oblivion. The similar case is expected here (in my case, at any rate): it will take me a while to pick up the nuances of Windows 8, but once I do, I expect that my complaints will be minimal. Granted, my experience with computer technology allows me to pick things up faster than usual, but nonetheless, I contend that most individuals griping about the changes, especially those aforementioned competitors, are those who cannot step outside of their comfort zones and adapt to new technologies and approaches.