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Windows 7 and Core i5

October 25th, 2009 · 7 Comments

I’d been running Windows 2000 on a Pentium 4 computer for several years, and I was starting to feel the limitations. On the Pentium 4, newer programs ran slowly and some of the big C++ compiles I did took forever. With Windows 2000, though I still think it’s perhaps the best OS Microsoft made (from the point of view of convenience, simplicity and stability), there are more and more programs that will not run on it. Lately the computer has been unstable, probably from a corrupted OS, and at the thought of reinstalling Windows and reinstalling all my applications I decided I might as well install all my applications on a new computer. So…

First, I bought the components for a new computer: Motherboard, CPU, case, hard drives, memory, etc. At the center is an Intel Core i5 chip. Intel came out with the Core i7 chip a year or so ago, and though very fast it was also very expensive. Just a couple of months ago they released the Core i5 version. A little slower but much cheaper. Kind of a mainstream, little-brother version of the i7. I think that within a year or so, Core 2 Duo/Quad will become extinct and the Core i5 will replace it as the primary Intel CPU.

I wasn’t sure which motherboard to get until my brother Don recommended a particular Gigabyte board. Looking into it, it was indeed well rated and filled all my needs.

Next, I needed to decide on an OS. I was tempted to reinstall Windows 2000, but since Windows 7 was being released on the very same day I assembled my computer, I decided to go for it. Fortunately, as a university student (proved by my university email address), I could take advantage of the $30 student special. That was really the clincher. I couldn’t stand the thought of giving Microsoft $100 or $200 dollars, but $30 seems reasonable.

Installed, up and running, and I have to say I’m pretty happy with it. It seems to be snappier than Vista (though that could be partly due to my fast computer), and they’ve fixed some of the irritations with Vista. And buying it on the first day it is released, it should have a long life before I have to think about upgrading for compatibility reasons.

Tags: Computers, Tech & Science

7 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Dale // Oct 26, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    Sounds cool! I would like to install Windows 7 on my new laptop but I just got Access 97 to run on Vista. I had to steel some files from my old computer, update to SP2 and download Jet3.5 to get it to run. Even though I can get into W7 for free I don’t want to go through that again.

  • 2 Richard // Oct 26, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Did you go with the RAIDed drives? What size?

    What irritations has 7 fixed over Vista?

  • 3 Daryl // Oct 26, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    Dale, the upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 is much easier. In most cases, if you have something working in Vista it will work in W7. But I don’t blame you for being gun shy.

    Richard I did RAID the drives — 2 x 500GB drives at RAID 1, so the data is mirrored. That way if one drive fails I have a completely current backup. If a virus infects, or something gets corrupted, or accidentally deleted though, it can infect or corrupt both drives, so I will still need to keep separate backups. (I know you know this, but perhaps someone else reading doesn’t.)

    One improvement with W7 is that UAC (User Access Control) now has 4 levels instead of just on or off. That’s the little window that pops up asking “Are you sure?” with almost every thing you do in Vista. You can turn it off in Vista, but it makes sense for security to have it on at some level.

    W7 is (reportedly) faster booting and faster running than Vista, though I haven’t actually tested that. My new computer sure boots faster than my old Win2000 Pentium 4, but that’s hardly apples and apples.

    Networking seems much improved. I hate to try to network a Vista computer. It can’t see the XP machines very well, and they can’t see it. It takes a lot of futzing around with security and network settings to get anywhere with it, and even then it’s iffy. With W7, however, I just connected it to the network and it quickly found the other computers and I could access shared files on them.

    There is an “XP Compatibility Mode” where you can run older programs that may have problems with the newer OS, or with the 64 bits. This is only available on Professional and Ultimate, I think.

    W7 runs on less memory than Vista. I helped someone set up a new Netbook, with an Intel Atom processor, 1 GB RAM, running Windows 7. I could sure tell the difference from my new computer; it was a dog in comparison, but it was quite usable. I doubt that it would have been on Vista. Of course, it was “Windows 7 Lite”, a version designed for netbooks.

    The GUI has some nice features, like shaking a window to close everything else on the desktop, or bumping a window against the top of the screen to maximize it. Mousing over an icon on the bottom bar will pop up a small, live version of the window or windows. Hardly earth shaking stuff, but once you get used to using them it can make it easier to use and navigate.

    I don’t have enough experience with either Vista or Windows 7 to say much more. Mainly it just feels better. Vista felt like a kludge, while W7 feels like they got it right.

  • 4 Donna // Oct 26, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    You’re not the only one I have heard that from. Someone I work with (an Apple fan) even suggested it might be worth my while to upgrade my Vista to W7. He said there are many features that are now similar to the Mac OS. But like you, for $100 or more, I don’t think so. At least not yet.

    What did you do with your old computer? Surely it’s not lying around in pieces cluttering up your office?

  • 5 Don // Oct 26, 2009 at 7:49 pm

    I’ve been running Vista since shortly after it came out. I also ran Windows 7 RC for several months. W7 is certainly better than Vista but I don’t think Vista is all that bad. It has a few things that bother you until you find the tweaks and then it’s fine.

    I do agree that the networking Vista and XP leaves a lot to be desired. It might be worthwhile making the move for that.

    As for the goodies you mention Vista does have the live version icons on the taskbar. It doesn’t have the other 2 though. Another thing Vista Ultimate has and I suspect so does W7 is the ability to have a movie as your background.

  • 6 Daryl // Oct 26, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    Donna, I’m not done moving everything over to the new computer, so the new one is in the Family Room, while the old one is still in my office. Not sure what I’ll do with it when I’m done.

    Derek said he didn’t think you could do a movie as the desktop in W7, though maybe in Ultimate.

  • 7 Don // Oct 27, 2009 at 9:57 am

    Having a movie as your desktop background is a gee whiz thing but it really sucks the horsepower. I think W7 Ultimate is the only version that also has it.