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May 9, 2011

New Sandy Bridge Workstation

A couple of weeks ago I finally purchased all of the components I needed to upgrade my main computer. My old one from a couple of years ago (AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600+ processor, 4 GB of RAM, 7200 RPM HDD) wasn’t bad for some simple programming or other “basic” tasks, but it was lagging behind when trying to run multiple virtual machines plus perform any of those “basic” tasks. After holding out for a while, waiting for the Sandy Bridge i7 processors to launch, I finially made the necessary purchases:

Reused components:

I stuffed all of this into my existing Lian-Li PC-A10 case (the PC-A10 is getting a little bit older now, but it’s hard to find something that matches its nice clean look and sharp lines).

The performance improvements are huge, mostly I think made noticeable by the SSD. I installed Windows 7 from a USB flash drive and the entire install took literally minutes. Booting into Windows takes just seconds. Applications launch as fast as I can tell them to. The speed of SSDs has all been said before many times, but after experiencing the use of one myself, all I can do is reiterate and preach what has been said to me.

Under normal usage, it’s really nice to see all eight threads of the i7 hardly even register as doing any work. The i7-2600K’s stock speed is 3.4 GHz, and without any effort at all (auto overclocking with the stock heatsink) can be ramped up to 4.3 GHz. I haven’t pushed it yet, but I’m looking forward to see how high this processer can be pushed.

VMware Workstation now runs as smooth as butter with RAM to spare and actually being able to dedicate a complete processor core or more to a virtual machine. Now, my virtual machines run seamlessly within my desktop environment and I look forward to actually taking advantage of the VM Teams funtionaility within VMware Workstation.

Overall, the system is great, and I’m still blown away by the performance differences that have been gained with the new components. I’ll post an update in the future as I’m sure there will be a few bugs to iron out.

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