Truth be told, this was a luxury buy. My old computer is still perfectly adequate for 99% of what I need to do. The 1% is the copy of Flight Simulator X that I asked for and received for Christmas. My old machine has some pretty decent hardware, but FSX brought it to its knees (frame rates of around 10 fps), even at the least intensive settings. I knew this going in. I'd downloaded the FSX demo a couple of years ago, and that choked the machine, too.*
* Of course, not being able to run FS2004 on my previous machine was why I originally built Swifty/Suzily a little over three years ago. I have done additional work on it since, but there's really nothing I could add that would get it to run FSX properly. The tyranny of the new...
The good news is that late 2008 brought the arrival of two amazing pieces of hardware, the ATI 4800 series of graphics cards and the Intel Core i7 cpu. Both were rated as best in class, and both were available in best buy configurations. The amazing top of the line Core i7 costs about a grand, but the still pretty terrific low end is only a little more than $200. Same thing with the ATIs, but cyberpower haveme a price I couldn't refuse on the 1 GB 4700 (over my original best buy choice of a 500 MB 4850). There's also 6 GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 500 GB hard drive. And it has a wireless card in addition to two ethernet ports, so I can set it up anywhere. The whole shebang cost me a little under $1250. (The only snafu was FedEx home delivery, who are made of fail.)
I did have to do a little customizing on Flash II**. It turns out that gameports are officially obsolete, so new audio cards (like the Audigy that I'd included on Flash II) don't come with them anymore. That sucks if you happen to have non-USB legacy hardware, like my vintage set of Thrustmaster rudder pedals. No big deal, though. I just swapped out the SBLive card on Swifty for the Audigy, and everything is fine.
** I have run out of sibling nicknames to use. My father never gave my two youngest sisters nicknames, and I just can't bring myself to name a computer after babysis's real name. So I have started over.
I don't plan to make Flash my main machine. I've got so much stuff on Swifty that bring it all over would be painful, and it's not like things are slow. Besides FSX, I may bring over some other games, although Sims 2 is probably the only other game I have that would show an improvement. OTOH, if I ever need to do some video editing, I will certainly move that stuff over. The one fly in the ointment is that I did not buy a copy of Vista 64 with the machine, so about half of the available RAM is currently unavailable for use, XP being only 32 bit and all. I downloaded the Windows 7 beta, which is 64 bit, so I might fool around some with that. Or wait until a copy of Windows 7 appears at work.
Meanwhile, I've got FSX up and running, and it's running amazingly well, with frame rates of 60 or more (20 is adequate). That'll slow down some as I install add-ons, but still, it's pretty neat.