Tech Envy Redux: Not The Kind You Think

I’ve written about tech envy before, and how after a while I’ll begin to feel the upgrade itch, that my current technology infrastructure just isn’t what it could be. And while it’s true I’ve been drooling over the prospect of a new computer, my current bout of tech envy is coming from an unlikely source.

When using my work computer, I find myself jealous of my 6-year-old laptop.

On the surface, this doesn’t make sense. After all, shouldn’t a brand new workstation be blowing an aging gaming system out of the water? Maybe it is, but it doesn’t often feel like it. Get a few AutoCAD drawings open, and it starts getting bogged down. And it takes a relative eternity to boot up and log in. But it’s got better specs, right? Faster processor, better graphics card, and more RAM…

It does have those things, right?

I looked into the system specs of my work computer (as one does), and was surprised to see that it doesn’t have any more RAM than my personal laptop. Admittedly, my sense of things may be a bit skewed from having to try and sell people computers at Costco, but I would have thought there would have been some progress on that front. And while the processor is indeed fancier, AutoCAD is largely a single-threaded program, so there isn’t much to gain from having multiple processor cores. The work computer has a faster processor clock speed, so that shouldn’t be an issue.  And I’m not sure if the graphics cards are comparable, since one is workstation-focused and the other is (or was, back in the day) gaming-focused.

Maybe it’s just a matter of scale, and I don’t remember getting bogged down in AutoCAD in school because I was using smaller, less complicated files. It’s definitely a possibility. But earlier I had an epiphany (those seem to be going around). Not all of my laptop is stock any more. While I made good use of the warranty while it was still available, that merely swapped parts of equal performance. There’s one upgrade I’ve done since then that wasn’t a straight swap: my SSD.

Can a solid state drive really make that much difference compared to a platter-based hard drive? Apparently it can. I do remember commenting on just how snappy things were on my laptop after the upgrade, and how slow things felt when I had to temporarily boot to the old HDD to retrieve some data. So maybe I’m just spoiled now.

Even if I am, it’s definitely something I’m going to have to remember when I get around to building my new PC. I had briefly considered skipping the SSD to save some money, but now I’m not so sure. Would I just end up lamenting that my brand new gaming baby felt less snappy than last week’s (read: half-decade’s) news? I don’t know, but it’s definitely food for thought.

Either way, being jealous of an old computer still feels weird, no matter how unlikely you are to go out and spend money as a result.