Every few years I go through the same process of updating my desktop PC and this year is one of those years. It’s not one of my favorite things in the world to do, but it’s inevitable nonetheless.
The old desktop has performed well. I built it from scratch and have replaced the motherboard/cpu/memory in it several times, to the point that it’s currently running a ATX motherboard with a 4th generation Intel i7 processor, NVIDA OpenGL compatible video card and 32 gigabytes of memory. Still, that’s ancient by PC standards. Intel is up to 10th & 11th generation CPU’s these days, and the performance of the systems based on the newer CPU’s is much better than my current obsolete system. I milked a little more life out of my desktop by replacing the boot-disk with a 1TB SSD but that’s not cutting it these days as the slower performance is beginning to slow down my workflow, though I can boot my system up in about 15 seconds.
I decided to take a different approach this year on my PC upgrade. Enter the 10th generation Intel i9 processor.
Purchasing a new motherboard, new CPU and replacement memory is a little cost prohibitive, so I decided to do away with the desktop PC all together and just buy a new laptop which I can used as either a docked desktop or a mobile pc when I’m on the road. So, I bought a Dell XPS 17, i9 core laptop with 64 gigabytes of memory and a 2TB SSD disk drive. Not cheap, but it reduces my clutter from a desktop and a laptop to a single laptop that serves both purposes. Not to mention that the new Dell laptop is an absolute screaming demon of a computer that can handle anything I can throw at it. The new laptop also gives me a much nicer ability to create 4k and eventually 8k video, which will be a new shtick for my photography pursuits down the road. An added benefit is that I will be able to clean up a lot of junk on my office desk.
To complete the transition, I ordered a 5 disk Thunderbolt/USB-C external hard disk docking station and a Thunderbolt USB hub, which will allow me to move my hard drives from the old desktop and run them from the laptop. If you aren’t familiar, the Thunderbolt/USB-C interface is the newest type of USB port that Apple uses on the MacBook Pro and is also now being included on some of the Windows PC’s hitting the market, such as the Dell XPS 17 laptop. The Thunderbolt connector is a big improvement over the older USB 1, 2 & 3 ports, meaning it doubles the data transfer rate and also serves as a HDMI, and power connector. So, I played with the new laptop and it will actually run two external monitors via Thunderbolt, plus connect the disk array via Thunderbolt. Combine that with a new Thunderbolt hub that will allow me to interface just about anything from the old USB stuff I still use to the laptop, I can now run the laptop as a desktop with only one connection to the laptop.
Once I’ve connected the new stuff to the laptop, I’ll have a 3 monitor portable workstation that I can use to work from the office or on the road and I’ll put that old desktop behemoth of a desktop PC into mothballs. It will still be usable for a while, but I won’t be using it for anything important.
Today’s mission is to get my second desktop monitor color calibrated. I’ll also start loading the software on the laptop that I use and move all my business files over to the laptop. Once that’s done, I can return to my regularly scheduled activity of editing photos, surfing the web, sending emails and playing solitaire, all from the comfort of my office chair.
It’s a good thing I still have enough knowledge about building and configuring PC’s that I can do this without having to rely on someone who isn’t really interested in getting involved. I’m assuming at some point in my cognitive degradation as I grow older, I’ll be relegated to eating cat food and watching car show reruns on an out of date iPad.
Until then, may the registry editor gods shine upon me.