New OptiPlex

2009-October-18th

A few days ago, last Thursday to be exact, I finally made the decision to actually get a new surplus computer. I know that back in January/February I'd said that I wanted to go the rest of the year without buying any new computers, which admittedly I've done an extremely bad job of this particular month. It seems like it happens every October though, and I figured that this time, I'd go ahead and make my Octoberly computer purchase something that happened early enough in advance that the new machine was already in its place by the time NaNoWriMo starts.

So, I hauled my rear end down to the NAU surplus store, and took a look at the systems they had. At first I was looking at OptiPlex GX240 and GX400 systems which had listed prices of about $65 or so, just so that I didn't end up spending all of the cash I had, however I was approached and told not to worry about the prices too much, and that they had so many computers in stock, they'd probably let any given system go for about half of the cost.

My eyes immediately jumped to the OptiPlex GX270 and precision 340 class systems. The two systems particularly that caught my eye were a Precision 340 with a 2.53GHz Pentium 4 processor, 512mb of RDRAM and a 40gb hard disk, and an OptiPlex GX270 with a 3.0GHz Pentium 4 with HT, 1GB of DDR ram and a 40GB hard disk. These were priced at $135 and $125 respectively.

To save a few bucks, and to get a generally slightly better system, I went ahead and got the OptiPlex GX270, which for the past few days now has been hanging out in my room. I initially meant to install a desktop version of Ubuntu on it for testing that, and run SETI on it, but I'll admit that I gave up on the installation of Ubuntu really easily, and made the decision instead to make the Windows XP installation somewhat safe, and install the BOINC client on that machine. And so for now, the GX270 is hanging out running SETI and ClimatePrediction on it's room-heating P4 chip.

After having had it running for a few days, I must say that the GX270 is really a far nicer system than I had thought it would be. The system is both quieter and noisier than I expected, in different ways. It has a much more even and deep noise than Flatdell which could be for a variety of different reasons. I suspect a big reason is because this machine actually has a large enclosure to work with and to fill with heat before the fans need to go too crazy, plus larger air pathways tend to mean quieter and more efficient airflow. I also had expected that the machine would probably rattle like crazy, in the same way a lot of the GX280s I have used would. However, that's simply not the case. This machine either hasn't been disassembled enough to rattle, or there is some other difference that means it really makes no undesirable noise. It's quite great actually.

There's a lot of potential in this machine, not necessarily as upgrades go, but just computationally, it's still a reasonable machine and it could hypothetically be used for such activities as hulu, web/file serving, or even experimenting with various operating systems as I see fit. It doesn't have a permanent role yet, and just because of its electric usage, I don't know yet what permanent role it might get, but we'll just have to see.