Home PC Tenth Anniversary
The Dell Dimension 8300 in 2007
In the early 2000s, Intel Corporation offered a $1,000 benefit to
employees towards the purchase of a new personal computer. The goal of
the Home PC program was to increase computer usage among employees at
home, and hopefully to encourage other companies to offer similar
programs (the latter didn't happen).
I ordered my Home PC from Dell in September 2003. I bought a high-end
configuration with a then-blazingly-fast 3 GHz Pentium 4 processor and
ample memory and storage.
A Decade of Progress
It is interesting to measure the progress made by the computer industry
since the Home PC of 2003. To do that, I went to Dell's website and
configured a modern PC from the same market segment. The results are
A Decade of Desktop PCs
|Model||Dell Dimension 8300||Dell Alienware X51||Improvement|
|Processor||3 GHz Intel Pentium 4||3.4 GHz Intel Core i7-4770||-|
|Display||19 inch CRT, 1600x1200||24 inch LCD, 1920x1080||1.1x|
|Price||$2,180 (2003 dollars), $2,770 (2013 dollars)||$1,450||1.9x|
Moore's Law states that the number of transistors on an integrated
circuit doubles roughly every two years. Over the course of a decade,
we would expect to see five doublings, or a 32x improvement.
The growth in memory capacity from 1GB to 16GB is a direct consequence
of Moore's Law. The CPU performance improvement is an indirect
consequence of the additional transistors on the CPU die. The growth in
hard disks follows a similar trajectory as the growth in semiconductors
even though the two technologies are completely different. All of these
parameters grew by roughly 16x, or four doublings, over a ten year
What happened to the fifth doubling? The answer is in the price: for the
same price as the 2003 PC, one can buy two PCs today.
Comparing the 2003 PC against two 2013 PCs, we see that the computer
industry has succeeded in doubling speed and capacity every two years.
Unfortunately, display manufacturers have not been on a similar
Given such rapid improvements in technology, my Dimension 8300 didn't
stay stock for long. Within a year, I had upgraded the memory to 2GB, the
hard disk to 400GB (2x200GB), and the operating system from Microsoft
Windows to Slackware Linux. This has remained the machine's
configuration to the present day.
I also put in two repairs, the graphics card and fan. I was happy when
the fan needed replacement. The Dell Dimension 8300 was one of the
loudest production PCs ever, making as much noise as a vacuum cleaner.
The replacement fan is notably quieter.
I used the Dell Dimension 8300 as my main PC from 2003-2006, and
afterwards it became my backup server. A backup server is a good use
for a computer that, by the ever-increasing standards of the computer
industry, is now a turtle.