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It....is....alive!


Ashoka the Great

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OK, so remember a while back when I asked for opinions about a new computer? I was basically thinking of updating to an AM2+ system with a modest amount of memory, a reasonably small hard drive and all that.

So....ummm....it didn't quite work out that way.

My computer is now nearly finished. I just need to go out and buy a copy of Win 7 and, apart from a couple of minor modifications, it will be all done. Earlier today I installed Linux on it, simply to ensure that everything was connected, working, and not about to burst into flames.

Oh, hang on a sec. I haven't told you what I've put together. It looks something like this:

Motherboard - ASUS M4A77T/USB3

CPU - AMD Athlon II X4 3.0GHz

RAM - 8GB (4 x 2GB) Mushkin Silverline

Boot Drive (Windows only) - 60GB Corsair SSD

Programs/Storage Drive - 500GB Western Digital Caviar Black

Video Card - ASUS 5450

Some may ask why I went so cheap on the video card. As I explained before, I'm not a big gamer, and all of the games I play are anywhere from 3-8 years old. I simply don't need anything else. This card is DirectX 11 ready and could even be used in a Hybrid Crossfire configuration down the road. (I'd need a different motherboard for that, however.)

As to why I picked an Athlon II over a Phenom II, I checked out CPU benchmarks and found that a higher-end Athlon II CPU performs quite well when compared with a lower-end Phenom II:

AMD Phenom II X4 955 3,938

AMD Athlon II X4 640 3,507

The Phenom II represents a mere 12% improvement over the Athlon II, but at a price that is 33% higher. I doubt most users would notice much of a difference between the two, especially in light of the hard drive configuration I have.

Having an SSD as my Windows drive was an idea that occurred to me only a couple of days ago. While I'm certain it's hardly a unique set-up -- mostly because it makes so much sense -- I nevertheless was quite pleased with myself when I thought of it.

And wow....what a difference from booting Win XP on a P4 2.66 GHz using some kind of no-name drive when compared to firing up Linux on an SSD. The SSD I picked up has read/write speeds of 285MB/s and 275MB/s, respectively. In other words, blink and you might miss the boot-up process entirely.

When I saw this, my jaw dropped (literally) and I blurted out something eloquent like, "Holy !@#$!"

For the first time in a long time, I had a multiple nerdgasm.

I don't have pics yet. My wife insists that not only is our camera full but not one of the treasured pictures on it can be deleted until they've been transferred over to something a bit more permanent. I dunno....something about my youngest son getting an award and my daughter's school play. Nothing that comes close to the importance of sharing my new PC with a bunch of strangers on the Internet. (As I typed that, I experienced a moment's shame when I realized that on some level I actually meant what I was saying. Then the shame passed, and I went back to being annoyed.)

I have a couple of minor tweaks to make beyond simply installing Win 7, but I'll save those for the photo shoot.

I must tell you, though, that sitting here typing away on my old PC while my new one sits unused just a few feet away has made me feel something I've not felt in a long time. I don't know quite how to describe it, but it's very much like being a kid and noticing, a couple of days before Christmas, that there's something under the tree that despite it's wrapping is clearly what you've been asking everyone for.

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Yeah, hard drive speed is basically the primary bottleneck in most modern computer configurations. You'll notice a pretty huge difference with the windoze install too.

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fff this makes me want to replace my piece of crap even more

There's a place near me that is part of an Ontario-wide chain of computer stores. They do sell already-assembled PCs, but the bulk of their sales are aimed at the 'enthusiast' market.

By keeping an eye on their weekly specials and 'Daily Deals' over the last few weeks, I have been able to build my computer for considerably less than half what it would have cost to buy as a finished product. For example, my Antec 'High Current Gamer' power supply cost me $49. My case cost a mere $24.

If I'd gone out and bought all the parts at once, it probably would have cost a helluva lot more than the ~$400 (w/o Win 7) that I've put into this.

So take your time and do it. There's no reason for it to cost a fortune.

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