Your next PC will have some powerful technology, including a multi-core CPU, a few graphics cards, maybe a terabyte-sized hard drive.

With that in mind, I thought I'd design a perfect (think "loaded") PC. I'd put the machine in a quiet Antec case.

Processors. I want at least two, maybe four when the motherboards become available. For now, I'd take two AMD 64 dual-core chips running at the fastest available speed.

How many gigabytes of main memory can fit on the board? Four gigs for starters; eight might be better, although I'd like to see some data on the effectiveness of more memory.

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The operating system. The machine has to dual-boot Windows Vista and Linux. You can choose your own favorite Linux distro. The OS needs to incorporate Windows Media Center Edition software.

Hard drives. On its recent road show, AMD showed off a machine with 12 hard drives. That may be going overboard. I think I'd prefer 3 Seagate SATA terabyte drives arranged in a RAID array instead. These drives will be needed for scoring movies, among other multimedia uses.

Another possibility is a single terabyte drive inside the computer and a stand-alone backup drive outside. Whatever the case, it's time to start thinking in terabytes.

Graphics cards. This could get expensive, but you still must look to nVidia for a rocking GPU. One GeForce 8800, selling for about $700 to $800, is a good start. You could jam in four if you want to go crazy.

As long as people keep buying these pricey cards, nVidia will continue to improve them. Load up.

Networking. I like having two network access systems. The first would be a gigabit controller, which should be on the motherboard by now.

I'm holding off on 10 Gbps, since Windows can barely get out a half a gig, thanks to its bottlenecks. I'm unsure how fast Vista is in this regard. Linux, though, can easily surpass this. Still, a gigabit will do for now.

Let's also add a wireless backup — the best draft-n/pre-n 802.11n internal card you can find. Unless something changes, that means an Airgo chipset, the only MIMO that works at ultrahigh speeds.

Internal Optical Drives. There are no HD DVD/Blu-ray combo drives yet (maybe next year). Luckily, Plextor has a PX-B900A Blu-ray drive that burns Blu-ray and all DVD modes, including dual-layer.

Finding an internal HD DVD drive with the right qualities is still a problem, so I'd drop in either a second Plextor PX-B900A or a high-end Plextor DVD burner and leave the HD DVD unit as a standalone.

Monitors. Today's trendy setup uses three (typically, 19- or 20-inch LCD) monitors, requiring an extra display card.

I'd stick to one brand. I like the Samsung SyncMaster 931C for its price, quality and design, and especially its 2,000-to-1 contrast ratio. It's perfect for multiple side-by-side use.

But I'd think about moving to 24-inch monitors. I've been looking at a Gateway FPD2485W 24-inch widescreen monitor that gives 1,920-by-1,200 resolution in a sleek package. I suggest placing two of these side by side.

One advantage of the Gateway is that it is also designed as an HDTV monitor, complete with HDMI and Faroudja circuits for video. You can always pull it off the computer and put it in the bedroom!

That rounds out the perfect PC. I want one!

See John get cranky about technology in his new Cranky Geeks IPTV Show.

Go off-topic with John C. Dvorak here.

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