Screenshot Thumbnail -- Click to view full sizeI do not have a ultra-powerful (and ultra-expensive) system. It isn’t even a new system as I tend to use computers until they die of old age. Buying a new computer every year or two would make me feel geeky, but it such frequent purchases do nothing for the bottom line — and when you are in business for yourself, the bottom line is more important than the satisfaction I would get from always having the latest and greatest system.

I purchased my current computer in the summer of 2014. Although my previous computer was still going strong, my wife and I had come into some extra money and decided to upgrade my system to one with an Intel CPU. Frys had a refurished HP Envy 700-327c at a very good price at the time, so I bought one and still had money for a couple of upgrades.

The HP Envy 700-327c has an Intel Core i& 4770 hyperthreaded quad core CPU running at up to 3.4 GHz (3.9 GHz in it single thread “turbo” mode) with lots of cache, 16 gigabytes of RAM, Intel HD Graphics 4600, onboard sound, Bluetooth 4, 802.11n wireless, gigabit ethernet, 1TB 7200 rpm drive, eight USB 2.0 ports, four USB 3.0 ports, a card reader, and a DVD burner. The main operating system is 64-bit Windows 7 Professional, but I always have Linux running in a virtual machine as well. . The system’s weak points are the graphic card and its 300 watt power supply (which would need to be replaced to upgrade the graphics — the system has a free PCI Express x16 slot for a graphics card). Fortunately, I’m not a gamer and the integrated graphics are just fine for my purposes.  This system does very well in the Windows Experience Index ratings (7.9 is maximum, 1.0 minimum), even in the graphics department:

Processor: 7.7
Memory (RAM): 7.8
Graphics: 6.6
Gaming Graphics: 6.6
Primary Hard Disk: 5.9

I added a couple of upgrades to this system: a 3TB secondary hard drive and a SanDisk ReadyCache. The secondary drive allow me to store data (and a lot of it) separately from the software on the 1TB main drive. The ReadyCache is a 32 GD solid state drive set up as a cache. It gives me many of the speed advantages of a SSD without the expense of buying a large enough SSD to hold Windows and my large selection of software. My system boot time is 25% of what it was without the ReadyCache and my frequently used programs start almost instantaneously — not bad for $40.  I moved my wireless keyboard and mouse and my 4 TB USB 3.0 external drive from my old HP p6774y machine.

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As you will notice from the screen shot above, my system is anything but a standard Windows 7 system. The desktop is heavily modified by some of the tools in my tools list. You’ll also note that the modifications simply extend the standard interface, they don’t try to replace it as a lot of the desktop mods you see on places like Wincustomize do.

My previous system, purchased in the spring of 2011, was another inexpensive but powerful system — an HP p6774y. This system has AMD Phenom II X4 840T quad-core processor running at up to 2.9 GHz with lots of cache, 6 GB of memory (which I upgraded to 12 GB), a 1 TB 7200 rpm hard drive, 802.11n wireless, ATI Radeon 4200 integrated graphics, onboard sound,memory card reader, and DVD burner with Lightscribe. The main operating system was 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium. This system is currently on a shelf in my office closet, but will eventually become a home file server.