Upgrading a Cheap PC to Windows Vista Ultimate Edition: Surprises Abound!

by Todd Ogasawara

I decided to upgrade my cheap home PC ($500 after rebate eMachines T6420) from Windows Media Center Edition to Windows Vista Ultimate Edition (final release Build 6000) last weekend. It was something I wanted to do before the Vista wide launch at the end of the month. I'd been running Vista beta releases on test PCs for over a year and wanted to run the production release so I could blog a bit about it. I figured the upgrade process would make for a decent single blog entry. I was so wrong. It has turned out to be a much more interesting experience than I though it would (in a mostly good way, btw). So, I'm writing a series of blog entries on one of my personal blogs for the next week or two about some of the surprises I've run into. And, since I've installed Vista beta and RC over a dozen times, I'm surprised that I was surprised.

The first surprise was that the upgrade (not a clean install) went very smoothly considering the upgrade advisor gave me numerous warnings about my video driver, sound driver, and network interface.

The second surprise? Well, look for yourself. Note that this cheap PC does not have a dedicated video card with 128MB of dedicated video RAM. It has a system board graphics chip set that uses 128MB of shared video RAM (from the 1GB RAM installed).

I was very very surprised to see what appears to be full Vista Aero Glass features working on it.


2007-01-27 20:49:36
And I upgraded my 3 year old EMachine T2542 with a 256 video card, 1.5 gb memory, and sound card for Vista Premium when I most likly did not have too! I'm sorry I came across this web paqe. O well.
Todd Ogasawara
2007-01-28 00:27:34
Steven: You shouldn't feel like you upgraded component unnecessarily. The end result is that your upgraded system will give you a better user experience than my non-upgraded PC. For example, by upgrading to a dedicated graphics card, you freed up an additional 128MB of system RAM (no shared Video RAM). So, in effect, you have 640MB (with your additional 512MB) than I do. If you use Virtual PC, you will really benefit. I, for example, cannot run virtual machines with more than 340MB or so of RAM because I don't have enough free memory available.
2007-02-06 12:01:49
Very interesting. Since I'm on a budget and got a free Vista Ultimate through school, what is the minimum requirements(specs) in a box you think i will need to run it with Aero and also utilize Media Center smoothly? Any websites to direct me to?
2008-04-01 02:39:43
yeeeesss! now i know i dont have to buy a new graphics card just to get vista ultimate, since im not a big gamer, no wonder my ram showed up having lesser than it shoud and my video memory was much higher than usual:D