8.08.2007

Computational!!!

So: finances permitting, I'm en route to build a new computer. And it's all about this case. The coolest thing about desktop PCs, circa 94 - 99, was the existence of the actual desktop PC, the kind that sat on your desk and had the monitor stacked on top. You had easy access to your drives and peripherals and didn't have to fiddle around with running cables down to a tower on the floor. This is why (IMHO) the original iMac took off: people liked having everything together in one package.

Thus, the plan is to build a MicroATX (that means: real small) desktop PC from parts. What I'm finding really interesting about pricing the components is that it's so, so much cheaper than I remember. For instance, this is Dell's kind of hi-end home offering right now. And it's 1000 bucks. I'm able to do the following for 400:
  • 320GB SATA hard drive
  • 2 GB RAM
  • 2.6Ghz Athlon Processor
  • 512MB ATI video card
  • Motherboard
  • Case + 400W Power supply + the usual fixins'
(Apples are right off the chart, price-wise. The only thing you can get for less than 1000 is a Mac mini, which are cool, but a lot less powerful than the system I'm building.)

Granted, I already have CD/DVD drives and a monitor, so I'm able to save some money there, but the price difference is still huge.*

The real question is going to be reliability. As PCs have increased their power demands, it's become harder and harder to keep the components cool. I mean...this system is going to have a power supply 150 Watts more powerful than my bass amp! Having all of those electronics crammed together in a MicroATX-small space is bound to stress the cooling abilities of the case + the fans. I've been very fortunate in that my generic-ass cheapo beige box PC has been chugging along for six years; I'll just have to build the new one as carefully as I can and hope for the best...

*Side note: I'm still available for computer builds / repair. I charge beer. A six-pack of Fat Tire will get you a long way.

3 comments:

ransom said...

I dig that case. Pleasantly computer-lab.

It reminds me yet again of the strange but strong aesthetic associations I have between geekery and music and stuff. I frequently think of Radio Shack pegboard rows on sunny days when listening to Shout (which is all the funnier since Radio Shack has been useless for electronic components since probably not long after that album came out...)

In any case, I had a great trip the other day to Norvac, where the pegboard full of capacitors and diodes and transistors went on for aisles and aisles, and there was decent '80s pop on the radio. It was pretty much correct except for the 20-ish employee who looked like a vanilla ice fanboy (white sweats?) and didn't know anything. Mercifully his coworkers were more useful.

But I digress. Hopefully this best of both worlds (pretty iBooks and crunchy Linux boxen) thing treats you well. I look forward to hearing about the results.

kungfuramone said...

Yeah...I wish I could build it in to an old-school desktop computer case for looks, but it just wouldn't be able to hang with the cooling requirements.

And so far the linux box + apple laptop have been a winning combination taking my apartment by storm. Although I never did figure out how to get CUPS to allow print jobs over the wireless network....

Chrissy said...

Computer question:
I use mozilla firefox and it fucks with everything. I cant see myspace videos (but I can see YouTube videos). It says something about adobe flash player (I have the latest installment) but I know its firefox.
Also, there is a work related website which I can access from home (or any computer with internet) to do my timesheet and all kinds of other cool stuff, but firefox just wants to load and reload and reload and reload the pages. :| I have to press the stop button on the browser at juuuust the right moment to actually be able to use the site. I dont get it.

:|