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What happened to the days when...

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January 15, 2007 7:59:24 PM

...you built your computer, press the power button and you were off and running. I've built three now in my lifetime, and never did I have a more difficult time picking parts than this time. My other three--no problems. My next one coming in about a week...we'll see.

I always want to buy the best of the best because it works better and lasts longer. So I go to research this build and all I see are horror stories about this doesn't work with this, or only if you do this, this works sometimes, too old, too new, etc. Blah! I just hope and pray when the parts come in that this doesn't cause me nearly the headaches some folks have been reporting. You research a part here it has great reviews--works for this guy, doesn't work at all for the next. This build looks like it just may be a bit more adventurous than my last three--the current one I have was built 2 1/2 years ago and all I had to replace was the video card and that's only because I wanted faster ones. I hope those days aren't over.

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January 15, 2007 10:49:25 PM

Well, back when I did my first build in 1990, the stuff wasn't changing nearly as fast as it is today. My choices were 286 or 386 or 386DX, 640k or 1mb of RAM, 13 or 14 inch monitor and a 40mb IDE or 60 mb RLL hard drive. Oh, and do I add a 3.5" floppy or just get the more universal 5.25". Windows 3.1 was just out and quite the novelty. It wouldn't multi-task, but was easier to use than DOS, if you could keep it running. No modem just yet. That was an upgrade a little later so I could get on a BBS. Hmmm, 1200 baud or spring for a $300 2400 baud? All that for the bargain basement price of $2000.

And a year later? Hmmm, should I upgrade to a 486 or just stick with my 386? AMD? Who's that? RAM speed? Huh? DirectX who? Remember EVGA?

Anyway, not so these days. I buy simulators for the F-18 and we have migrated all of our visual systems to PC based equipment. The video cards we bought a year ago are no longer made. We could re-host our entire simulation on 2 cores now instead of 4. We could double our resolution if we re-procured all the projection equipment. So, we do life of type buys just so we can keep things running for longer than a year. PC technology changes way faster these days and there are A LOT more vendors with their own idears. They don't always get along.

So, I agree with you. My first 2 computers were real easy to build. These days, it's more of a crap shoot, especially if you're buying leading edge gear. Still haven't figured out why I need this speed demon as I don't play video games, but I plan to keep it for 5 years, so we'll see.

Tom
January 15, 2007 11:43:06 PM

So what's your speed demon look like? I've got all the parts for mine, but I haven't started building yet. Here's what it's going to look like.

E6700 C2D
evga 680i mobo
evga 8800 GTX
Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800 6400c 4
150 gig WD 10,000 RPM
BenQ DVD/CD with Lightscribe
Thermaltake 700W ToughPower psu
Thermaltake Armor Full Tower
Tuniq Tower 120 for cooling the cpu
Arctic Silver 5 for pasting
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January 16, 2007 12:00:07 AM

WHew, not as speedy as yours. I went cheap on the HDD (WD 16mb 250 GBx4). Wanted a RAID 10 and 4 Raptors were not in the budget. Went cheap on the video card (1650XT) as well. Wish I played high end video games. I bought Doom3, Quake4 and Oblivion just to see what they looked like, but got bored real quick.

Anyway, your system looks like a screamin' speed demon.

Tom
January 19, 2007 10:42:41 AM

What happened to the good old days when I could build a performance rig for under a grand. I built my old pc (4 yrs old now) for just about $1000. $350 of that went to the video card. I know the difference is largely that it was an AMD rig. The processor cost less then $100 as well did the mobo. Ram set me back another $150 for 1g of BH-5. And I stuck all that into a cool looking box that cost less that $100. It took about 6-8 weeks of digging to get just the parts I wanted but I felt pretty happy I had build a very good value pc. My other pc's before that were much the same story. Always best bang for the buck type of building.

Enter the Core 2 Duo era. It took me 3 months of digging to sort things out. But I finally ordered all the parts and the bill came to $1400+. I still have odds and ends to pick up but the core of its been bought. The cpu cost $320, mobo $185, ram $309, case $160, vid card $220 (excellent deal). All in all I've still stuck with my "most bang for the buck" building of a new pc. Prices have gone up as have selection.

I guess I shouldn't squawk about a 40% increase in price. The performance is way up there. I could have opted to buy an older AMD DDR rig and gotten away pretty cheap. It would be outdated and in the end I'd have to upgraded to a DDR2 mobo in a year anyways. Its just I used to get a kick out of taking a cheap CPU and overclocking it to high speeds. I'll still get a nice OC from an E6600 but its not that cheap ride anymore.

As for complexity and troubleshooting nothing could have been more complex than my old rig. I had an AIW 9700pro vid card. I think that card only worked with 2 different mobo's and you had to have a certain kind of power supply otherwise the surge from bootup would trip the breaker in the psu. It took us months to figure that out on forums. In the end my old system has been fantastic. Its just gotten old and lately its shown signs of instability (reason I am building a new pc). Its true these new systems have all kinds of quirks. Forum support seems stronger than ever though. I've already covered 95% of the issues I could run into during my build. In fact I already hit a wall. My pc won't boot up at all. Its because my nice new GSkill ram takes 2.0-2.1v and the pc wants to boot off a 1.8v stick of ram. A common problem but even still I had to order a 1.8v stick of ram I won't use for any other purpose than to boot up my machine so I can change the ram voltages.
January 19, 2007 12:50:19 PM

Obviously, I'm luckier than an average person. I've built 3 in the last 2 years, and the only obstacle was a defective stick of RAM which I promptly exchanged for a working one.
January 19, 2007 2:31:37 PM

And I've been really, really lucky I guess. I've built two over the last 5-6 years and not one of them had a hitch in its giddyup. Never knew so many people had so many problems.

But with such a wide selection available, it makes sense that incompatabilities are going to become more and more common. Forums are very helpful though.

I'm building a new rig just because I can't play my favorite games at all the max settings, like FEAR, Prey, MWN2, Oblivion. My machine is still a heck of a machine for everything else, though I think this new build is going to be eye opening in more ways than one. My current system built 2 1/2 years ago and I have not overclocked it:

Coolermast Wavemaster Case
Antec 500w PSU
Asus P4 P4C800-E Deluxe
ATI X850XT
1 Gig Kingston memory (regular stuff)
2 Serial ATA 7800 RPM Seagate 160 Gig drives in RAID 0
one 60 Gig Maxtor 7800 RPM
two CD/DVD Burners/Players
!