The History of a Dream: How the Ultimate PC Has Evolved In 15 Years

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handyman315

I keep looking at this year's Dream Machine and wonder how looks, per se, have so quickly become outdated.

Let's be honest, readers wait for the annual Dream Machine, don't we?  The Dream Machine issue turned me into a MaxPC fan years ago.

Take the side window, for example.  How did it so quickly become passe?  I don't get it.  I'm an old guy geek and I think it's just way cool to peek inside something that we could not easily look into for several years.

And lights . . . I hesitate to even mention them.  I'm sorry, you boys and girls at MaxPC brought me out of the "closet" back about 2003 and I ain't goin' back in.  For about $20 I can turn that mundane box into a veritable Christmas tree.

Form over function?  No way, I'd never advocate that.  But folks, we've about got these babies where we want them function-wise, right?  They hum.  So what's wrong with a little form as well? 

. . . but then again, I thought pocket protectors were cool.

____________________________________________________

Leonard: "We need to widen our circle."
Sheldon: "I have a very wide circle. I have 212 friends on MySpace."
Leonard: "Yes, and you've never met one of them."
Sheldon: "That's the beauty of it."

_____________________________________________________________

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Jelson

I agree completely, just had to say that.

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bensen408

I have my reasons for favoring the aesthetics of the Dream Machine from 2003... I just wish I could do as neat a wiring job. It looks like my hair first thing in the morning. Eeek!

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handyman315

I'm a 65-year old geek who "grew up" (in the 70s) on PCs with 6-inch green screens and with Windows being an interesting concept.  I suffered through IBM's baby blue mainframes before you young turks ever thought about beige. 

When simple beauty emerged in 2003, mostly with your fine magazine's annual Dream Machine, I embraced your freshness, your boldness, and the finite thought that a home PC need not be ugly.

Alas, you've come full circle, and with my hero Gordon no doubt leading the way.  You young folks do know the term, "Butt Ugly", right?

Sad, but we are destined to repeat our mistakes, aren't we?

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BlueX273

Fasinating and quite freaky (in a good way) how much the performance of computers increased! Not to mention, how much their prices droped! Gee... I can only imagine how powerful computers get by 2015. Mabye 16 core CPUs, 10TB total storage, 20GB RAM, 20GB VRAM? I can't tell at this point... XD

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ar09

Those trinitron monitors... makes me want to buy one and replace my lcd with it.

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flatlinebb

I just replaced my aging Dell trinitron 20in monitor with a 24in Viewsonic LCD two months ago. I loved those big huge CRT's.

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violian

It's really amazing how fast PC technology and prices has changed in the last 12-15 years (after realizing how much I haven't changed). I always remembered as a little kid drooling all over in the PC-department at our local SEARS. I always had my eyes on this one Packard Bell PC. My parents eventually got us one: a 700MHz Intel Celeron, 32MB RAM with 15GB storage and a CRT monitor for $1500 !!  Ouch, that was a lot of money in those days because back then, a full cart of groceries would only run $50-70.

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paradissis.1

Hell my first PC back in 1992 (I think it was 1992) was a Gateway 486DX4 100mhz, 1mb ram, 2gb hard drive.  It played Doom like a champ.  It cost my father $4,000.  I still remember how proud I was of that system since none of my friends had one like this.  About a year later my friend bough a Pentium 66mhz system that was faster than mine and I was SOOOOOOO jealous

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Mark17

Great article. It's amazing how far technology has come in the past 15 years. I think that MaximumPC should make a prediction as to what the specs of their dream machine will be 10 years from now. Then, in ten years we can look back at the prediction and laugh at how incredibly bad was. Just a thought.

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Metalmorphasis

In perfect condition,wrapped in plastic! Maybe you will all see it on E-Bay someday?

 

And yep, Moore's law. We all haven't seen nothing yet!

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Cache

Fascinating read--although I can't help but wonder what the cost-adjusted prices would be (in today's dollars) for each of the dream machines.  I may look that up in a couple hours just to satisfy my curiosity. 

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Cache

Year Cost Adjusted Inflation %
1996 $5,070 $7,043.23 38.9%
1997 $4,944 $6,714.14 35.8%
1998 $4,934 $6,597.79 33.7%
1999 $2,399 $3,138.64 30.8%
2000 $11,987 $15,172.74 26.6%
2001 $5,712 $7,033.99 23.1%
2002 $7,728 $9,363.17 21.2%
2003 $10,985 $13,012.75 18.5%
2004 $12,328 $14,224.84 15.4%
2005 $12,870 $12,870.00 11.6%
2006 $9,850 $10,649.58 8.1%
2007 $11,595 $12,189.06 5.1%
2008 $17,285 $17,498.71 1.2%
2009 $3,525 $3,581.32 1.6%
2010 $15,782 -- 0%

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lunchbox73

I'm curious what the "truth about Windows 98" was? :)

The first Dream Machine I remember reading was 2004. Good times.

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Nyarlathotep

I was wondering the same thing.

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fx2006

now,

can you imagine the parameters of 'dream machine' after another 10-15 years?

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gendoikari1

I wish there was a chart showing the system specs for every DM. Say, comparing what $5,000 got you in 1996 to what $3,500 got you in 2008.

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Keith E. Whisman

That would need to be more of a pie chart kinda deal but it's also pretty obvious that with the increases in costs came increases in awesomeness(es).;)

I remember reading each one of those dream machine issues. The shear prices of those computers drove me to want to work that much harder so I could afford better hardware in my PC.

Looking at the performance of the hardware in the dream machines has helped me to build awesome gaming machines over the years. It's easy to figure out what you can skimp on and what you need to spend a lot on to achieve high frame rates with high quality settings turned on in my games. 

Maximum PC has always tried to go out of their way to build the most extravagant and powerful computer money can buy without concern for cost. Most people can't afford to do that, but knowing what can actually give you high performance does help to build a high end machine at a fraction of the cost of Dream Machine.

 

Thanks Gordon for all your hard work... I hope you realize how lucky you are to get to play on such great hardware. Just being able to touch some of that hardware makes my sweaty... 

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ak

There should be a chart listing the rating of the looks of the case. I noticed that the aesthetics of the cases have improved consistently from the original dream machine. That is until this year's, 2010, dream machine case which is beyond ugly.  

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gordonung

Looks are subjective. We can vote right now. My vote is for Dream Machine 2000. No-nonsense beige box with a face full of optical drives. And I mean optical drives:  SCSI CD burners, a DVD-ROM and an Ultra SCSI  CD-ROM! Plus a Zip drive and a floppy drive! It's like a classic muscle car man!

 

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lunchbox73

LOL, that is a pretty sweet case. What is that, like 4 feet tall??

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Jelson

......."I noticed that the aesthetics of the cases have improved consistently from the original dream machine. That is until this year's, 2010, dream machine case which is beyond ugly.".......I could not agree more,

On a second note, I almost forgot monitors used to be that thick,....ugh, I sure don't miss having to lug those around, to many near drops.

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Keith E. Whisman

Well looks are subjective. I've been told that the A10 Warthog is an ugly plane but I think it's one of the most beautiful ones out there. To me, DM2010 looks great. It's functional and appears to be engineered excellently. It appears to be easy to work with and can hold a ton of gear. In fact it can hold pretty much anything you want to put in there. 

I've always judged a case by capabilities and quality over looks. That's why beige boxes lasted so long..

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ak

The only redeeming quality of the DM 2010 case was that it could fit the large oversized EVGA motherboard, otherwise it was an overpriced box that you have to put together yourself. Have you taken a look at the company's website who makes the case? They are now selling the exact case MaximumPC used: http://www.mountainmods.com/maximumpc-dream-machine-2010-p-593.html

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Peanut Fox

Every case over the last 5 years has been whored out after MaximumPC said it had the muster for the DM.  You'd be an idiot of a salesman not to.  The only reason HP started selling Black Birds in limited quantity was because MPC graced their cover with it.  HP was also asking a grand for it.  Yes, a grand.  For just an empty box. No gear.  I think they did a total run of 50 or so. 

Mountain Mods has been around for a while now, and a lot of people that choose to go with their gear seem pretty happy about it.  I defiantly wouldn't call them no bodies on the PC case scene.  Being a smaller company, I'm sure they are ecstatic to get this kind of exposure. 

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