It dawned on me the other day that I’ve been running Windows Vista and Office 2007 full-time since December 2005. During that time, I’ve cycled more than a dozen desktop and notebook PCs through my office, using each one for at least a few weeks and getting as much hardware experience as I could with Vista.
Since Vista’s release last November, I’ve been slowly upgrading and replacing most of the PCs I use for different tasks. Over at ZDNet, I share my current hardware specs in Hardware notebook: What I look for in a Vista PC. Here’s the short version:
- CPU – On a budget, get AMD. Willing to spend more? You’ll get more performance from an Intel Core 2 Duo or quad-core with at least 4MB of Level 2 cache.
- RAM – 1GB is enough, but the upgrade to 2GB is cheap and does wonderful things for performance.
- Hard disks – I recommend having at least twice as much hard disk space as you have data. Now that 500GB drives are in the $100 range, they’re an easy desktop upgrade.
- Video – Onboard video gets a bad rap. Current versions of onboard video from both Intel and Nvidia are perfectly capable of running Vista’s Aero UI at full speed. I recommend a separate GPU if you use multiple monitors. I’m not a gamer, but everything I read from the community says serious gamers should avoid Vista for now.
I’ve been using the same desktop PC – a Dell XPS 210 – for more than three months now. It’s been stable, fast, and mostly trouble-free. In that time, Vista’s Reliability Monitor has been a surprisingly effective way to pinpoint and troubleshoot problems, a topic I plan to tackle in a follow-up post, Meanwhile, here’s a snapshot of its performance for the last month (for more details, see the longer ZDNet post):
If you’ve been running Vista for more than a month, you can check your Reliability Index easily:
- Click Start and type perfmon in the Search box.
- Click the Perfmon.exe shortcut, which should be the only listing in the Programs category at the top of the Search Results list (you’ll need to supply an administrator’s credentials in the UAC box).
- In the Reliability and Performance console window, click Reliability Monitor, under the Monitoring Tools category.
I have to admit, I was initially skeptical that this tool was more than a gimmick, but over time it’s proven to be a good indicator of a system’s health. In the example here, that steadily rising line is a good thing to see.
If you’ve been using Vista for more than a month, what does your Reliability Index look like? Anything about the data you see there that you find puzzling? Share your results and ask questions in the Comments below.