Buying a computer in Prague

I treated myself to a new PC and monitor at the end of 2005. After far too much time spent researching components and retailers, I ended up getting the PC from Agen and my Samsung 214T LCD and Harmon Kardon soundsticks from Alzasoft. Agen got the bulk of my business partly because one of their branches is within walking distance (which proved to be mighty handy) and partly because I found their sales people a little friendlier. The Alszasoft folk were pretty cool, but also a little cold ‚?? when I showed one of the sales dudes the three configurations that I was considering, he basically waved them aside and printed out a bunch of Alzasoft‚??s own configurations, which were, to be blunt, a fleet of Skoda S100s compared to the Ferraris that I was contemplating.

Ok, maybe that‚??s a bit of an exaggeration, especially considering the fact that I settled for more of a Porsche or even higher-end BMW. Without further ado, here are the specs:

Motherboard: Asus A8N-SLI Deluxe
Processor: AMD Athlon A64 3200+ Venice
GPU: MSI NVidia 7800GT
2 GB A-Data RAM
HDD: 2 x Seagate Barracudas 160 GB
DVD: LG-4167B
Case: Thermaltake Kandalf VA9000 (silver)

Sticking with the vehicular comparison, this thing is more of a high-end SUV ‚?? the Kandalf is HUGE. And loud. And beautiful‚?? to me. Jitka was pretty pissed when I first took the beast out of the box (unfortunately I didn‚??t have time to do the build myself). And when I fired it up, the first thing I said was, ‚?úDamn, I should have invested in water cooling. ‚?Ě

Now, two of the reasons I got such a badass rig was to game, and to try my hand at overclocking. The components in my machine have a lot of tweaking utilities to play with in Windows and in the BIOS, which I did, which in some cases was a terrible idea (especially using Asus‚?? AI Booster ‚?? even OC‚??ing the CPU by 3% crashed the system, and it took one excrutiatingly stressful hour to realise that I could return everything to default settings through the BIOS). After two weeks of tinkering, downloading, clicking and cursing, I‚??ve decided to hell with OC‚??ing for now. With what I’ve got housed in my big Kandy 9000 , the minimal hike in frame rates is not worth the wear and tear that will result from cranking the graphics card and/or the processor past 11.

The reason I got to writing about my big beautiful PC today was because of the issues I had with Norton SystemWorks 2006 Premier. I started using Norton protection last year based on a mate‚??s suggestion. I was pretty happy with the 2003 version of SystemWorks and the 2005 version of the Norton Firewall, so I reckoned I‚??d splash out on the 2006 Premier this year. I know it‚??s a huge resource hog, but I figured what the hell, both my desktop and my laptop can handle it.

All seemed fine and dandy after loading it up, in spite of the longer boot up and shutdown times. Then I tried gaming with it. Everything, from World of Warcraft to Half-Life 2 (the highest-end game I currently own, unless Call of Duty 2 beats that) stuttered. It took me five days of all kinds of tweaks to realise that it was part of the beastly SystemWorks that was mucking up my system and that part is the GoBack utility. Just check the user comments on it at Amazon and CNet (for the standalone GoBack 4.0). Since I removed that, my desktop has been running much more smoothly.

I‚??m not sure how useful GoBack really is ‚?? by practicing safe surf, using common sense when downloading, and backing up files on a regular basis it seems somewhat useless, though I will gladly stand corrected.

One more thing ‚?? when I was shopping for my desktop, Jimaz was also in the running for my order. If you‚??re on the market for a custom-built PC, definitely speak with them. The staff is friendly and knowledgeable and some of the Jimaz folk speak English. Supposedly their customer support is great, and they definitely keep the price-performance ratio in mind when you‚??re talking with them (as do Alzasoft and Agen).

Jan 7, 09:51 (Filed under: Personal )

¬ę Cold-hearted Prague | Nodding off and toning up with Lush ¬Ľ

|