Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Dell Studio XPS 8100 home PC (Part 2)

... continues from Part 1 ...


The Dell 0T568R motherboard (OEM by Foxconn)  in Studio XPS 8100 computer has 4 slots for DDR3 SDRAM 1333Mhz dual channel memory. This motherboard can support up to 16GB of memory.

I have chosen 8GB (4 x 2GB) of memory for my computer. In fact, the default 4GB (2 x 2GB) is already sufficient for normal use, but I planned to use virtualization with VirtualBox and allocate 2GB for each virtual machine, therefore I go for 8GB at additional cost of RM390 from the default 4GB configuration. Anything above 8GB will need to buy for the 4GB RAM module and the price will be very high.

Dell equipped my computer with 4 Kingston KP223C-ELD  PC3-10700 dual channel DDR3 memories, running at 9-9-9-24-2T 667MHz with Enhanced Performance Profiles (EPP).

Hard drive

The Dell 0T568R motherboard (OEM by Foxconn) with Intel H57 chipset  in Studio XPS 8100 computer has an Intel SATA RAID controller which supports for either RAID 0 or 1 only.

By default, it comes with 1 x 1TB Seagate 3.5" ST31000528AS Barracuda 7200.12 SATA 3GB/s hard drive with Native Command Queuing (NCQ) and 32MB cache. Its maximum data transfer rate can go up to 300MB/s.

I've decided to get another 1TB hard drive for additional RM481 and go for RAID 1 for data protection against hardware failure. (Now I realized that this cost is actually very high, as we can get the same hard drive for less than RM200 in DIY market.)

Dell formatted the hard drive into 3 partitions, one is for its utility and diagnostic tools, another is used to store a factory installation of OS image (and those pre-installed software) for disaster recovery purpose. The main partition is a big C:.

It is simple and easy to separate the C: partition into two (C: and D:) and can be done within minutes.

On 20 September 2010, I wrote about "Resizing harddisk partition in Windows Vista or Windows 7".

Optical drive

By default, Dell Studio XPS 8100 is equipped with single 16X CD/DVD burner with double layer write capability. It is a Hitachi-LG HL-DT-ST DVD+-RW GH50N SATA writer.

There are options for Blue-Ray reader, Blue-Ray writer, either in combo drive or dual drives. However, the cost is pretty high.

It is good to have Blue-Ray together with display card and monitor that supports HD, but as the Blue-Ray movie discs are selling at high price, and the Blue-Ray data discs are also selling at high price. Considering that I might not be keen on Blue-Ray products due to its price at the moment, I've decided to stick with the default DVD+-RW writer.

Note that the reading and/or burning speed of a combo drive is slower than the single drive in those Dell's optical drive options.

Interestingly, the DVD+-RW writer of this Dell Studio XPS 8100 is concealed behind a cover, with its open/close toggle button beside that cover.

... continues to Part 3...

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

My Dell Studio XPS 8100 home PC (Part 1)

I've just replaced my aged Pentium IV 2.4GHz home PC which had served for many years, with a new Dell Studio XPS 8100. It was the same time when I bought my Dell SX2210T 21.5" full HD widescreen multi-touch all-in-one active-matrix LCD monitor. If you have been reading the "IT talks" section of this blog all the while, you might be well awared about this from my sharings along the process.

The Pentium IV PC which had served me for 8 years is still working fine, and I've sold it at minimal price to its new owner. It was my great asset with superb return on investment. I remember I bought it at around RM4k, and over the years, I've used it to write books & articles, coding for programming projects, analyse stocks, perform online trading, etc. Hopefully this new Dell Studio XPS 8100 with Core i5-750 processor will reap even higher ROI for me from now on.

Now, let me share with you the process of chosing this new home PC.

DIY or branded?

My previous Pentium IV PC was a DIY one. This time, I've chosen Dell because:

  • The Dell Studio XPS 8100 has a competitive price that is very close to DIY the same specs myself.
  • I can buy it with 12 months interest free credit card instalment.
  • Its price includes warranty and insurance (1-year XPS Premier Service, 1-year CompleteCover accidental damage protection)
  • Its price includes 1 year 24x7 Priority User PC phone support
  • Its price includes 1 year 2GB Datasafe online backup. Not very big, but good enough to remote backup my important document files.
The processor

I've chosen the Intel Core i5-750 processor. By the time of buying, there wasn't any option to choose for Intel Core i5-760 yet as the i5-760 was just launched. Otherwise, I would have chosen the later as the price difference is minimal to i5-750.

I didn't choose an i7 processor because i5 with 4 cores is good enough for my use. The hyperthreading feature in i7 to boost its 4 physical cores to virtually 8 cores is nice, but bear in mind that whenever hyperthreading kicks off, the CPU temperature will rise sharply, and power consumption will increase tremendously too. Therefore, if you can live with i5 with 4 cores without hyperthreading, you probably won't need to go for i7, and in long run, that could save you money for less electricity consumption.

On 21 June 2010, I wrote about "Main differences among Intel 64-bit processors: Core 2 Duo, Core 2 Quad, i3, i5, i7, ...".

Operating system

I do support for genuine OS and application software as long as the cost is reasonable.

For Dell Studio XPS 8100, there are only some variations of Windows 7 to choose. I've chosen Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit edition. I need 64-bit because I'm going to choose 8GB RAM. I don't need the additional features in Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate.

Unfortunately, this Dell Studio XPS 8100 package does not comes with the Windows 7 DVD. I only get a piece of yellow paper with instruction to burn my own Recovery DVDs.

The installed license key is also different from the one printed on the sticker on top of its chasis. I believe it is a generic Dell OEM Windows 7 license key for Home Premium 64-bit edition.

On 16 July 2010, I wrote about "Is Windows 7 Home Premium good enough? Do you need Professional or Ultimate edition? ".

On 12 September 2010, I wrote about "Workaround for Windows 7 to have multi-panel [All Programs] like Windows XP ".

Security software

Actually, I don't like McAfee, but I was forced to choose the cheapest one from the list, as I was told it is part of the package which cannot be taken out.

As soon as I received the computer, I've uninstalled the pre-installed McAfee Security Center and installed with Norton Internet Security which I bought at RM100 for 1 year subscription for 3 computers.

On 19 August 2010, I wrote about "Intel to buy over McAfee for $7.68 billion ".

On 27 August 2010, I wrote about "Best antivirus / security suite in 2010".


I've chosen the Dell SX2210T 21.5" multi-touch monitor with webcam. However, the price of this monitor in the Studio XPS 8100 package didn't have any discount and stood at RM1,584. Therefore, I've chosen "no monitor" for the package instead, and purchased the monitor separately at the discounted price of RM1,099.

On 23 September 2010, I wrote about "My Dell SX2210T 21.5" full HD widescreen multi-touch all-in-one active-matrix LCD monitor ".

On 27 September 2010, I wrote about "Free multi-touch screen games and fun applications for Windows 7 by Microsoft ".

... continues to Part 2...

Monday, September 27, 2010

My Logitech V120 laser mouse designed for laptop

The optical mouse I used with my laptop has become faulty. It will keep on double click even though I just single click on it. I decided to replace it with a new mouse, perhaps with one that still can work on glass and glossy surface.

I found out that A4Tech has come out with their Glasser series of optical mouses with their Dual Focus Lens technology, and claimed to work smoothly even on transparent glass. Another technology that can let the optical mouse work on glossy surface is to use laser beam instead of infra red.

So happen that my faulty mouse was from A4Tech brand, I decided to switch the brand to Logitech this time.

Logitech produces mouses with their Darkfield Laser Tracking technology, but the cost is relatively higher than their normal laser mouses. After some consideration, I've finally bought the Logitech V120 laser mouse, which is designed for use with laptop.

Despite lacking the Darkfield Laser Tracking technology, this Logitech V120 laser mouse can still work on glass surface, although not as smooth as on rough surface.

It is a wired mouse with USB connector to the computer. Being specially designed for laptop use, it has a short cable so that it won't tangle around. It also comes with a longer USB extension cable, so that it still can connect to a PC with some distance away.

In fact, the cord can be neatly winded into its base, with the USB plug snapped securely into place to protect the laser lens. With its compact size, it is easy to carry with no tangled mess.

Its price varies in different shops, from RM39 to as high as RM59. I bought mine in Thunder Match for RM39 only. It comes with a 3-year limited hardware warranty.

Hint: Click on the "Older Posts" link to continue reading, or click here for a listing of all my past 3 months articles.