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Case O.S. C.P.U. RAM H.D. Sound Video Monitor Drives Modem Network
Mini-tower Vista Home Premium Athlon x2 3600 4GB 123GB
1 TB
1 TB (ext)
Audigy Nvidia 19" LCD
DVD writer
Card Reader
3.5" Floppy
56k 10/100
          Ace is my surrender to the new appliance like future, of the computer. This is pretty much a basic current commodity class computer. I have made a few small changes on Ace. It has an additional HD, of 1 TB capacity, to compliment the 250 gb drive standard on this machine. Ace also has an Audigy sound card added, and the RAM is maxed out to 4 GB. To maintain backward compatibility, I added a floppy drive. A standard PCI video card has been added to permit use of dual monitors. Other than these few minor changes, Ace is essentially the way it came from the store. Despite the expansion slots, significant upgrades are not really an option. The unit's 250 watt power supply severely limits expansion.
        Ace is an Acer Aspire T180 computer. It has an AMD Athlon 64 X2 dual core 64 bit processor. Ten years ago, this would have been considered a supercomputer, and would have been hidden away in some lab away from prying eyes. Today, this is a machine for browsing the Internet, playing games, listening to music, and perhaps editing the vacation photos and videos. Ace has built in media card readers for transferring data from today's variety of cameras, audio, and video recorders, as well as palm units. It also has front panel sound, USB, and high speed ports. As with most recent vintage computers, there is no floppy drive. With CD or DVD writers common, and data cards cheap, there is really no need for the old, slow, low capacity floppy.
        A photo of the motherboard is to the right. All cards and memory modules are removed, so that a better look at the board is possible. Ace is able to handle a pair of IDE drives, as well as a pair of SATA drives. It is equipped with one of each. It also has a pair of PCI slots (V 2.3), and a PCI-E x16 video slot. There are bays for one extra 3.5" drive, and one extra 5.25" drive, as well as a 3.5" floppy for the traditionalist. Still, with such a small case, a 250 watt power supply, and only a pair of slots, most expansion will probably be external. I have a pair of external hard drives, as well as an external LightScribe DVD burner hooked up to Ace. There is also a Dazzle video input device, a scanner, and a printer/scanner combo, The external hard drives have over 1 tb between them, and are handy for back ups. Other than that, they are not really needed, and I appear to be a long way from filling the 1.25 tb of internal storage on this machine, Still, I am beginning to do some video work, as well as audio dubbing, and do quite a bit of digital photography. I expect that in a year or two I will be looking for a larger drive.
        In the meantime, as much as I hate to admit it, Ace is everything I could want in a computer. With a couple of slight upgrades, it is an off the shelf, low end machine, unremarkable, and about as exciting as a refrigerator, or a television set. Still, we get quite a bit of enjoyment out of our refrigerators, and television sets, and you reach a point, where it is nice to have an invisible piece of technology, which simply works, and requires little from the operator.