Building the Perfect Beast (Part Three)


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  1. #1

    Building the Perfect Beast (Part Three)

    In the future, experts predict that when an organ fails, weíll just grab genetically engineered parts off the shelf and plug them right in. Itís the ultimate act of recycling. Why throw away a perfectly functioning body because a part or two are failing?
    If, or when that time comes, Iím already familiar with the procedure. When I build a computer, I donít expect the whole thing to fail at once. When I get a random crash, or a BSOD (Blue Screen of Death), I know something caused it. Throwing away the whole box is as stupid as writing off a person that needs a bone marrow transplant.

    Itís just the way things are today. Humans are disposable, things are disposable. I suppose thatís a reason I still build my own computers. I donít have a medical degree, but I know how to keep things alive. I hate people wasting their lives, and I canít stand folks wasting resources.

    Donít lie to yourself about your old computer getting ďrecycledĒ. China, our big land-fill buddy, recently announced that they have enough of our junk. As a matter of fact, they have enough of our waste recycling to keep their plants busy for the next 5 to 8 years. You have a better chance of being recycled into Soylent Green than your old computer has at a second life.

    When my old PC started ďdyingĒ, I kept her going for a couple of years. I donít have a clinical staff to consult with, so itís all Trial and Error. After reloading Windows, then playing around with the RAM settings, I figured this was terminal. Funny thing, I was able to get my system to run after starting it three times. You ever see that Austin Powers movie, ďWhere is Dr. Evilís secret lair? Where is Dr. Evilís secret lairÖĒ Mufasa wasnít talking.

    But I eventually figured out it was the motherboard. Well, I was pretty sure. Regardless, the individual parts themselves averaged an age of six years. Iíve ďoverclockedĒ my computer a few times, which stresses the system. I figured I could re-use or sell some of the old parts, but overall, it couldnít be kept on life support. It was time to start over.

    For my new build, I was going with almost exclusively new parts. Even the case. I normally re-use cases, because Iím not vain and donít care what the damn thing looks like. But my old PC case was just tired. A screw on the back was missing, and the side panel didnít fit right. I liked the industrial look it has, including the rust that presented where the glow-in-the-dark paint didnít cover.

    So, one of the first things I added to my cart was a new PC case. It had three big built-in fans, USB 3.0 ports, even handy little removable dust screens. As a bonus, it came with tempered-glass sides so you could see insides of your rig (vain, I knowÖ Iím a hypocrite). It was a full-sized ATX case, and it looked like it would have good airflow. The reviews were solid. $60. Sold.

    There were a number of different motherboards that would work with the processor I was looking at. The X470 was newer and would support the next series of processors after my new one dropped in (relative) performance. MOBOs are knida minimalist these days, with a cleaner appearance and less legacy plugs. But it had more than enough SATA connectors for what I needed. 4 memory slots, which is standard. The one I chose had two PCI Express slots, in case I wanted to run two video cards in the future (which I willÖ ĎMurica). The MOBO supported overclocking, both auto and manual. The MOBO bus had programmable LED lights, built-in vanity. On the practical side, it also had a plug for the new M2 storage that I might buy later. $120.

    I went expensive on my CPU, which I usually donít. NewEgg got me with one of those ďItís a deal, itís on saleĒ things, and I bit. The recent flagship for the enthusiast AMD builder is the Ryzen 7 2700X processor. It has an AM4 socket, more stable at higher overclock speeds. I wasnít planning on overclocking too much, but hey. It also came with a ticket to redeem an AMD 50th Anniversary custom tee shirt. I admit, I overbought, but the processor is where a lot of system bottlenecks will happen. Not on my rig. But my confidence cost me $260.

    The video card was going to cost me as well. But as much as you need to invest in a quality CPU, you donít skimp on graphics. You ever have choppy video? Not me. While GeForce makes good cards, once again I found the best value in the Radeon branded AMD cards. The RX 500 series offered the most selection in the under $200 range. Their cards generally performed at the level of other $250 to $400 cards. I went with the highest card in the series, the RX 590 (YES, it was on sale, how could I not). It is a solid, beefy graphics processor. With more memory and bigger fans than most entire computers had 10 years ago. $200.

    As mentioned earlier, donít waste your money on huge amounts of super-fast RAM. I knew my Ryzen processor needed to be tweaked, along with the MOBO, to support higher clock-speed memory. Not doing that this time (manually). I bought two sticks of 8 GB 1933 MHz Corsair memory. Of course, before that, I went to the MOBO manufacturerís website to make sure the memory was supported. ALLWAYS DO THIS! Donít start your build with memory that you have to keep adjusting to make your system stable. System performance with memory between 1933 MHz and 2500MHz is negligible and not noticable for most users. Set me back a measly $80.

    I cannibalized the Solid State Drive (SSD) off of my old system, which was kind of a gamble. SSDs do develop bad sectors over time. They are also cheap and easy to install. If it fails, the big hassle is reloading Windows. I also purchased two 1 TB hybrid disk drives. I planned on striping them in a RAID array, creating a single 2 TB logical drive. Thatís a lot of storage, for real cheap. $100 total.

    Because I might install a second power-hungry video card in the future, I bought a 850 watt power supply. The Corsair unit has modular cabling, which makes for a clean install and better system air flow. Corsairís reputation for reliability sold me. Theyíre not much more costly that the second-tier products. I think their MTBF (mean time between failures) averages in the hundreds of thousands of hours. A good investment for $120.

    I bought a new optical drive. They spin all the time and get hot, so even the better quality ones can burn-out prematurely. For the ASUS DVD-RW, $25.

    I purchased all the parts from the same vendor, but for some reason the motherboard came separately. But the rest all came at once, the case in one box, and the remainder in another big box. I already had a full copy of Windows 7 Pro, and had not heard any compelling reason why I should upgrade to Win 10.

    Next up was disassembling my old system, assembling my new PC, then building my son a computer out of leftover parts. Because, with all humility, even my left-over parts are good. If you know the difference between price and quality, this stuff really isnít that hard.

    Doc Frankenstein is on the job. Just no lightning, please.

    "Wubba Lubba Dub Dub!"



  2. #2
    This part, yet again, was more technical but I feel that it really offers an exploration into your buying process and serves to illustrate you presenting the topic as a case study in what works and what doesn't. Your tone is very strong and the illustrative processes, combined with facts and figures, highlights what you are offering to your viewer through this well written (very nice) piece of work. Your little quip at the end added a tinge of wry humour to the piece that I suspect any readers will appreciate. The formulation is VERY well done.

    Nice!

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