Building a computer

Just what the title says, more or less. In the midst of a few other things, I’ve realized that while I’ve got a few computers, all but one are (in computer terms) ancient – and that one isn’t mine, it’s my daughter’s.

FWIW, the one my wife uses the most is eight years old, while the one I use is seven. Both were mid-line for the time, both have been tweaked from their original, and both are fine for most internet browsing and for email. However, both of us use our respective computers for more than that, and it’s those tasks that are pushing the boundaries.

My wife uses hers for video work. She’s been experimenting with movie work and has discovered the pain of video transcoding. Me, I play games. Not a lot, but some. (In fact, it’s gaming that pushed me into seriously blogging, and to be blunt I’ve not been as diligent since I quit WoW.) Both our computers are running XP. I’ve got a couple of other boxes doing network related stuff, both are running linux, and neither is capable of a serious load. (Let me put it this way. One is running with a Pentium. The other uses an AMD K5. As low traffic as my household net is, they’re fine for their various duties.

We now have background. Let’s look at the future.

Used to be you built your computer because it would be a better computer for less cost – wildly so, actually. Today… it’s a lot tighter. In fact, at the low end/entry level it’s flat cheaper to buy one off the shelf. You have to put up with the software they select (and I’ve hated many of the ‘operating systems for home users’ aka crippled windows), but that can be replaced if you’re willing to do a little work — and I am. The only reason to build low end is to ensure you get particular low-end hardware – say, for example, that you MUST have a Sony DVD (dunno why, but…), then you may have to buy your own.

Thing is, if I’m going to build, I’m going to go higher than low end. Not high end/cutting edge. I can’t afford it, I don’t need it. But in the middle, sure.

So I decided I’d put some of the process of examination here. See, the hard part is not putting the darn thing together. Very few people solder chips to boards. In fact, the “build a computer” statement is, for most of us, a lie. We assemble parts. Select a smorgasbord of components and plug together, sticking them in some sort of case – voila, we “built” a computer. The hard part for most of us, then, is picking parts.

So I’ll be running a series of these – gotta have something to keep me blogging. How am I picking my pieces? What’s driving the chain, and how am I getting my info.

Stay tuned.

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