Monday I was having a conversation with some folks at the station. They were surprised people build their own computers.
This entry will be very dense and geeky. Don’t feel obliged to read it. To most people it will make little sense.
I ordered the components for my new computer Tuesday. Most of the order will be here Wednesday with one (important) piece arriving Friday. I have dealt with NewEgg before so this speed is no surprise. They ship from NJ and CA.
The machine will be built to speed up video and still production. Photo files have gotten much larger and difficult to easily handle. Video files, also larger, are often encoded in a way which makes them very CPU intensive when played or edited. My old computer is sometimes outmatched. Transocding video or making a large panorama can take hours!
I’m not sure this computer’s power will be very noticeable for web surfing.
There was more than one goal in mind while spec’ing out the components. Obviously, it had to be fast. Secondly, there was the matter of noise. Third… well you can spend as much as you wish! I wanted to show some restraint.
In the reviews for the pieces which will go in this box I searched for the words noise and silence.
The CPU or ‘brains’ will be an AMD Phenom II X4 945. I went with AMD instead of Intel strictly on price. The Intel chips are a little faster but they’re also a lot more money as are the compatible motherboards.
This chip is a quad core meaning there are four very fast computers in this one package. Today’s software can handle that allowing simultaneous programs to zip along without bothering each other.
As computer chips have moved through their generations the sockets they are plugged into have changed. This chip uses an AM3 socket which also supports DDR3 memory. That’s the fastest you can get. The machine starts with 4Gb, but there’s room for more and today’s 64 bit operating systems handle more.
The motherboard is from ASUS. They have an excellent reputation. This has the features I need, but most motherboards do. It doesn’t have integrated video, which most boards do have, but which I didn’t need.
Originally I’d spec’ed out a video card with ATI chips. My friend Bob said there had been some compatibility with ATI and Linux (this system will boot to both Linux and Windows 7, though not at the same time) so I moved to an Nvidia card. Both are very fast. I needed two output channels as I use two 19″ montiors for 2560×1080 resolution.
Video cards are becoming more important as some video/photo editing math has been moved from the main CPU to the processor on the video card which is specifically optimized to perform these calculations.
My power supply is an OCZ because the overall buyer ratings were good as was the price and the comments which mentioned noise. Seven hundred watts should be more than enough. Good grief, it had better be!
The case really puzzled me. I’m not sure how to quantify this purchase which seems like it should be nothing more than a commodity–a box with standardized hole spacing to mount the whole shooting match. I settled on a CoolerMaster which got good reviews and had audio, USB and Firewire ports on the front.
Sorry, no LED encrusted fans, cold cathode lights or ruby red tansparent side panels. Some people customize the look as if these computers were hot rods. That’s actually not far from what this machine will be but aesthetics are low on my list.
Just in case I hadn’t gone far enough I added a noise dampening kit which mounts soft sound absorbent pads on the case’s walls. It was under $10 and seemed like good extra protection.
There’s a ‘small’ 250Gb SATA drive coming as the system drive. The 1Tb drive currently in my main computer will move here for data. Two DVDRW drives will come from older machines as well.
As mentioned earlier this will be a dual boot machine. There will be a partition for Ubuntu Linux and another for Windows 7. It doesn’t make sense not to have a Linux side.
Monday I was having a conversation with some folks at the station. They were surprised people build their own computers. It’s a very small minority and probably getting smaller. Years ago there was a price saving. It’s much less now.
It is very easy to do. The whole shooting match shouldn’t take more than a few hours to complete–maybe less. It can all be done without instructions because most components can only go in the right place!
I’ve designed systems before. There is a definite sense of accomplishment when you know the computer’s performance has been enhanced by decisions you made.