It’s Time For Me To Build A New PC

I spent part of yesterday afternoon in at MicroCenter Tustin. I’m getting ready to assemble a new computer, my third build.

Building your own PC is a lot easier than it sounds. There are a limited number of components necessary. You just buy the pieces, plug and play.

OK, there’s also the anguish part where you pray it will fire up when plugged in. I’ve been mainly lucky in that regard.

PC sales are down. For most folks the box they bought a few years ago is still plenty fast to get the job done. Computer makers are victims of their own success!

My problem is different. I need a machine that can easily handle the immense files used for photography and video. And, since I’m doing more web development&#185, two wide screen monitors would be nice.

My specs are fluid, but here’s what I’m looking at:

  • Intel I7-4770K CPU– This is the brain. It’s a quad core chip that runs fast and can be overclocked to run faster.
  • ASRock Z87 Extreme4 ATX LGA1150 Motherboard — All the components plug into the motherboard. This one has sufficient USB and other ports. I’m not totally sure how different different motherboards really are, but there’s a lot of buzz about ASRock.
  • Samsung 840 EVO 250GB 2.5″ Solid State Disk — There will be two drives. This first one is for booting the machine and loading programs. A solid state drive is VERY fast, especially compared to a conventional hard drive. They’re also more expensive with less capacity.
  • Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB 3.5″ 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive — This hard drive will be used for storage. Video files are immense! 2TB means 2,199,023,255,552 bytes. When was the last time you had two trillion of anything?
  • EVGA GeForce GTX 660 2GB Video Card — Most motherboards have video already built-in. The programs I want to use take advantage of the GTX 660’s “cuda cores,” which handle much of the math involved in manipulating stills and video. That means editing, rendering and transcoding will speed along.
  • Windows 7 64bit — There’s a lot of controversy between Windows 7 and 8. Some folks feel Windows 8’s touch/tablet oriented design makes it less able in a keyboard/mouse environment. I’m very unsure. This could easily change.

Beyond this there’s 16 gb of RAM, case, power supply, CPU cooler, DVDRW and a few other assorted parts.

I posted to the “buildapc” section on Reddit, but was disappointed with the level of advice I got. Feel free to throw your two cents in. As it is, I’ll be forced to make some choices without as much knowledge as I’d like.

Helaine asked how long this will take to build? After I get the parts, it should go together in a few hours on the kitchen table. Not much more than a screwdriver is needed. Maybe this weekend?

&#185 – I’m in the middle of redesigning the site for Connecticut Hospice. Their old site has served them well, but it needs to be updated for style and made easier to wrangle.

Before It’s Earned…

With DopplerDesign up and running I’m spending more time (is that even possible) in front of a PC. Now it’s mainly work time.

I’ve noticed my main computer is getting too slow for the tasks thrown at it. Time for a new PC!

A few months ago I was going to write a blog entry about the death of desktop computers. For most people there’s no need to get a PC that’s tied to one location. Laptops and tablets are what’s selling. This is a special case.

I expect to edit lots of photos and video, both CPU intensive tasks. The new box will need a fast CPU, a fast video card, lots of RAM and a solid state disk. I plan on using two 1920×1080 monitors.

A few years ago my friend Peter noted we’ve spent the last few decades buying computers that cost about the same, but do a lot more. My first “PC compatible” had a 40 MB hard drive. In addition to the SSD the new machine will have a 1 TB drive. That’s 25,000 times more space.

Imagine if we could do that with closets!

Did I mention I’ll have to build this computer? There’s none off-the-shelf configured the way I want… at the price I want. You can surely spend a lot if you’re not careful.

Building is not as difficult as it might seem. Each part has only one matching slot on the motherboard. The question is, have I’ve ordered all the needed parts?

Since this is custom in every way, there will be no instructions. I’ve done it before. They always fire up and run the first time.

OK, I do get nervous when I hit the switch that first time.

By mentioning the new computer here I take the first step. The actual build is probably a few months away. Over that time I’ll obsess over and refine every piece of hardware on the list.

You can look and see the current specs here.