Desktop PCs are generally intended to last two to five years, so when my desktop turned seven I started to worry. It’s a great computer (home-built using D.J. Bernstein’s standard workstation specifications), but it’s getting a little slow, it sounds like a 747 taking off when it boots up, the front USB ports have fallen slightly inside the case and the hard drive is about 80% full. Everything on the computer is backed up on a RAID 1 system and in my online backups, but I was starting to get nervous about the possibility of a catastrophic failure. Time to go shopping!
I used to be a little skeptical about tiny computers until I bought an Asus Eee netbook and fell in love with it. So when my husband in-house tech support suggested a nettop (Internet+desktop, it took me a minute to get it!), it seemed worth a look. After comparing various machines and their capabilities and features, we settled on an ASRock Ion (I purchased mine from NewEgg but that exact model seems to be sold out). We purchased a second internal hard drive to set up a RAID 1 system and also ordered a video cable to support my second monitor. Here’s the new setup: I posed my glasses case on top of it to show how small it is:
As with most nettops, the ASRock Ion machines consume very little electricity as compared to a standard desktop. This machine was about $400 total, and we estimated that it will pay for itself in about three years through decreased electricity usage. So far I’m extremely happy with it; any other translators out there making the nettop switch?
I also treated myself to a Unicomp ultra-clicky keyboard. The model I purchased is similar to an old-style IBM keyboard and treats you to a very audible “click” when you strike the keys. I don’t mind the sound and I find that the hard-strike keys improve my typing accuracy and cause less hand strain than my old “mushy” keyboard. Plus you sound very productive when you use a keyboard that makes that much noise!