Windows 7 + Phenom II is a winning combination
The small 320GB hard drive in my desktop is getting filled, so I bought a bunch of 1TB external ones. But a small internal drive is always a limitation. So I decided to do some upgrade. And I found the simplest and probably the cheapest upgrade is to get a whole a new PC powered by AMD technologist and Windows 7.
I was buying a Windows 7 Notebook (a beautiful Gateway machine powered by AMD Turion X2) at BestBuy, and the guy managed to sell me a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium for $50. So I decided to build myself a Windows 7 desktop. What a joy for a man who does not wear suits.
My configuration: Phenom II X4 805 (2.5 GHZ); GigaByte MA785GMT-UD2H; 1.5TB Seagate drive; 4GB DDR3; and a $34 case+350 watt PS. Adding the $50 Windows 7, total cost about $450.
The Phenom II X4 805 cost me only $80, which was a bargain. I was going to buy the Athlon II X4 620, but at this price, the 805 is a better deal.
There are a lot of dirt cheap Nvidia based AMD MBs out there. But they are pretty much obsolete. The AMD OverDrive utility only supports the ATI 700 series chipset. Also, the 785G IGP has much better performance.
I have to praise the MA785GMT-UD2H motherboard. It has ATI Radeon HD 4200 graphics and VGA+DVI+HDMI, eSATA, i1394, Optical output for audio, GbE... Most importantly, the motherboard is mATX but with 4 memory slots. The build quality is very good by just looking at it. But remember, this MB needs DDR3 memory. There is another one that supports DDR2.
I hurriedly plugged in the CPU, the memory, and the system POSTed. Then I installed the hard drive, copied Windows 7 files onto a USB key, and changed the BIOS to boot from USB, and Windows 7 installed without any problem. Then I used the Easy Transfer program to move data from the old PC to the new one. The program did a fairly good job of keeping the original data. I did need to manually adjust Mozilla Thunderbird to use the old data though.
Using the AMD OverDrive program, it determined that I can bump bus reference clock by 24MHz, resulting in a 2.8GHz speed for the poor X4 805.
So right now, I am typing from this Windows 7 computer. Actually, it is predicting what I am typing...
The system is so stable and so fast... I totally forgot the hateful days when Vista was crashing or freezing...
I also managed to play some 3D games. The 4200 is about 20x faster than any Intel IGP out there. If you buy an Intel PC with Intel IGP, your kids are gonna curse you for not being able to play runescape or WOW. So buy some decent board with decent graphics to improve your user experience as well as family relationships.