I generally run lot of virtual machines on my desktop. For any development activity, I use VM’s. These days, the cost of machines plummeting, I got my self a new machine recently. My considerations are these:

1. Lot of memory: I need to run VM’s.
2. Lot of parallel processing: Again, needed to run VM’s.
3. Not so much for the high graphics controller: I am not a gamer. I suck at most games, including computer games. All I need to do is to run two monitors from my machine.

I wanted to, but cannot make a case for an SSD. I know it makes the system blindingly fast, but they are still pricey. I don’t want to spend $450 on a small SSD now. I looked at the big players like DELL and HP and was not happy with the offers. They seem to focus on Xeon based servers which are marketed to the SMB market. As an enthusiast, I want to pick and choose my parts. I finally ordered a computer from Avadirect. It’s prices are very reasonable (I calculated the cost for me to assemble and it came to be a difference of just$75 or so) and the delivery times are OK (it took them two weeks to deliver).

Here are the parts I chose:

• Case : I wanted a middle of range case, that is cool enough. I went with COOLER MASTER, Elite 335 case. I went with a standard 585W power supply.
• Motherboard : Here I had an option for the Z68 based motherboard (modern, supports sandy bridge, but can only support 16GB memory for now – when the larger chips become available, it can support up to 32GB). My other choice was X58 chipset based which can support 24GB right now. The cost is just about the same, but opted for Z68 chipset only because I want to have that sandy bridge advantage.
• Memory : The maximum it can support – that is 16GB of DDR3 1333MHz memory.
• Disks: Two Seagate 1TB barracuda disks at 7200RPM. They are not the best, but they are quite good.
• Graphics : Even though I could run off the motherboard, I wanted to have a dedicated card. I chose a lower end GeoForce GT520. If I were redoing it, I would have chosen a different one. The problem with it is while it supports two monitors, it supports 1 DVI, 1 HDMI, and one VGA. I have two DVI at home. Bummer!

All in all, it set me back by a \$1000 dollars including shipping.

If anybody is looking for getting a machine custom built, I can recommend Ava direct. It is exactly what it seems.