Laika v2 (Desktop)
As much as I adored Laika, my super-compact desktop PC, it didn't take long to start falling behind in terms of performance. As I added more system-intensive software, such as a newer version of Lightroom, its performance really faltered. When it started having occasional hard-lockups, I decided to upgrade it.
For all intents and purposes, this is a new computer in the same case, including a new version of Windows. But, I kept the name, the compact case, and a few other components. Laika now contains a 3.3GHz Core i5 quad-core processor on an ASRock P67 Extreme4 motherboard, with 16gb of Corsair DDR3 RAM, and a 150gb WD VelociRaptor primary hard drive. The video card is the same, a 768mb Quadro FX1800 workstation/professional card, as well as the high-performance CPU cooler and the case (obviously). It's a massive improvement.
One other fun feature is the addition of an INEO hard drive dock. This product is a lifesaver, and I highly recommend it to anyone who routinely works from multiple computers and has too much stuff to fit on a thumbdrive (like photographers, programmers, and web/graphic designers). It's a traditional external hard drive, which can be connected via USB or ESATA to any computer. However, in a desktop machine, it comes with a dock that can be installed inside the case, making the drive readily-connectable without cables or taking up desk space. Plus, unlike similar products from StarTech and Silver Stone, the INEO enclosure looks fantastic, very stylish and a perfect match to a black aluminum case.