by March 31, 1998 0 comments

We all want what we can
possibly never have. In fact there is no such thing as
the ultimate dream PC. No budget can ever be sufficient,
no monitor big enough, no amount of processing power good
enough… So then, why are we doing this to ourselves, a
pursuit almost certainly to end in failure, a story that
almost nobody will agree with? The answer is
simple–it’s a dream, so let’s not hold
back here (particularly as nobody’s paying for it).
Let’s dream about our dream PC with the best and the
fastest components available. Who knows maybe someone
will actually be able to fulfill this dream.

The chip

Let’s start at the
heart (or brains, if you think that way) of the
system–the CPU. We would definitely want a
multi-processor system (yeah, even if you don’t have
any multi-threaded apps, except for Photoshop).
Today’s PII processors can only work in single or
dual CPU configurations. However, being manufactured on a
0.25 micron process, they can be overclocked comfortably.
(So we really don’t have to worry too much about
clock speeds.) Hence a 333 MHz dual-CPU configuration is
as far as you can get for now!
The chip: Two 333 MHz (or higher) PIIs–overclocked
to around 400 MHz

Motherboard

The motherboard naturally
would have to support a dual CPU configuration. As it
also supports a 100 MHz bus, the Intel 440BX (soon to be
released) would be the logical choice. If you can’t
wait use the 440LX.

We’d also definitely
go for an onboard Ultra Wide SCSI-3 adapter. Adaptec are
the market leaders and widely supported by almost all
operating systems. An onboard 10/100 Mbps ethernet
adapter is also a good option as it takes care of several
configuration and installation problems. AGP support is
also a definite plus point (even though we’re not
actually going to put it to any good use. Read on to find
out why). As far as manufacturer’s go, Intel would
be a strong choice as they have all the inside knowledge
of the chip, slot, and chipset. Top quality manufacturer
such as ASUS, FIC, and Abit aren’t far behind.
The motherboard: Dual Processor Intel 440LX-based
motherboard with AGP support, onboard Ultra Wide SCSI ,
and an integrated 10/100 Mbps ethernet card

Memory

The ultimate dream PC
would have more RAM than it could possibly ever need.
Recently, we once got an out-of-memory error on a system
with 128 MB. (Yes, we had umpteen windows open, but then
that is part of the game!) So anything less than 256 MB
of SDRAM is not worth considering. Currently,
its a good idea to go for the new Corsair SDRAM DIMMs
with onboard EEPROM, as stability issues still exist with
various motherboards and RAM brands.
Memory: 256 MB of SDRAM

Hard disk

You’d want a really
really big hard disk. Our choice would be the big 10,000
RPM, Ultra Wide SCSI Seagate Cheetah–you’d want
an 18.2 GB. You’d also probably want a dedicated
cooling fan to go with the Cheetah, or else you could
probably fry eggs on it.
The hard disk: Seagate Cheetah 18.2 GB

Graphics
card

Even though a motherboard
with an AGP port was suggested, which we all know is for
top quality graphics, we’re not going to use it for
3D at all. The best display adapter configuration you
could probably buy today is an AGP Matrox Millennium II,
WITH two (yes, two!) Diamond Monster 3D II accelerators
based on 3Dfx’s new Voodoo 2 chipset. Why two cards?
That’s because the Voodoo 2 supports a Scan Line
Interleave mode which allows two adapters to work
together in parallel, doubling the performance of
the card. (Quake II rocks!) Why an AGP Millennium then to
provide the interface to the monitor. This is quite a let
down actually. It would just help to save a PCI slot. The
AGP feature wouldn’t be used at all.
The graphics card: Matrox Millenium II AGP with two
Diamond Monster 3D II

Monitor

Monitors should be big.
For full experience with Windows systems, games and
multimedia, you need a big monitor that supports the
highest refresh rates possible. The new LCD displays are
tempting, but they still aren’t up there with the
top of the line CRTs from Iiyama, ViewSonic, and Sony.
17″ is entry-level dream class. 20″ is better!
The monitor: 20″ Trintron

Sound
system

Multimedia is an area
where its easy to get carried away. Creative’s
SoundBlaster AWE 64 Gold is top of the line for desktop
PCs, but not for a dream. The best sound card you can buy
is probably Ensoniq’s Paris, which is a
professional, 128-voice, 32-bit PCI card. It comes with
an independent mixer console and professional audio
mixing software. Match that with a Bose surround sound
speaker system, and you have a full digital sound theater
in your home.
The sound system: Ensoniq’s Paris sound card with
Bose Acoustimass Multimedia speaker system

CD-ROM
drive

CD-ROMs are old hat,
DVD-ROMs are in. The second generation of DVD-ROMs is
compatible with most types of CD-ROMs, including
CD-ReWriters. The Creative Encore kit offers 2x DVD-ROM,
20x CD-ROM access, and features top quality MPEG-2 output
both to monitor and TV.
CD? No, it’s the Creative Encore DVD kit

Floppy
drive

Floppies are passe! You
need something better. A Zip drive? Nice, but then you
would not be able to share itsy-bitsy files with lesser
mortals who have only floppy drives! So, it is an
internal SuperDisk drive from Imation for you. This one
can read normal floppies as well as its own 120 MB disks.
The floppy drive: Internal SuperDisk drive

Keyboard

There are keyboards and
there are keyboards! The best one you can get in this
part of the world–at least the most stylish
one–is the Microsoft Natural keyboard. And now there
is the Natural keyboard Elite.
The keyboard: Microsoft Natural keyboard Elite

Mouse

When it comes to a mouse,
our verdict is split. For right handed people, it is the
Microsoft Mouse whereas for the left handed ones, we
recommend the Acer mouse.
The mouse: Microsoft for the right handed and Acer for
the left handed

Joystick

A joystick is a very basic
peripheral for any dedicated gamer. And that is the least
your dream PC should be having. The Sidewinder Force
Feedback Pro from Microsoft is our choice, what with
tactile feedback adding a new level of realism to game
playing.
The joystick: Microsoft Sidewinder Force Feedback Pro

Modem

That about rounds off the
PC per-se. All you need to add is a sleek, but roomy
cabinet with a good SMPS. But before we sign off back
into the world of the real, two more things that you need
to pick up. A modem and a UPS. We would have really liked
an ISDN modem. But ISDN is yet to be available outside
the metros. Till then our choice is the ZyXEL U-336S.
Costs a pretty penny. But worth it in performance,
features and looks.
The modem: ZyXEL U-336S

UPS

With all this equipment,
one would be downright shortsighted without a good UPS.
We would go in for a 500 VA UPS with lots of backup time
(obviously, you would not want to stop working as soon as
power goes off!). Which one do we recommend? For the
answer to that one, wait for the next issue, and our UPS
shootout!

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