Well I finally broke down and decided it was time to upgrade my old PC.Â To be honest I couldn’t of asked for a better computer, I’ve had it since 2004 and it’s cost me nothing but a new hard drive once.Â To me this is prove of why I always tell people the best computer money can buy is the one you build yourself.
Sure you can walk into your local Futureshop or PC Shop and get a pre manufactured/assembled PC, but you have zero guarantee as to what is inside of that PC.Â In most cases large manufacturers use subpar components in order to keep prices competitive.Â Small PC Shops are notorious for advertising certain components but giving you low cost alternatives in the final product, not to mention that their computers are usually more expensive then just buying the parts yourself.
As I’ve always built my own computer, this time was really no different.Â I had been toying around with the idea of buying a Mac Pro, but I just couldn’t justify the cost, not to mention that I’ve been successfully running OSx86 for months on my PC.Â In order to continue doing so I had a couple of requirements for my new PC which seems to be a theme of mine as of late.
First my new PC had to be power efficient.Â I find myself becoming a lot more eco-friendly, and I feel that having a PC that is efficient can really help to reduce everyones carbon foot print.Â This leads to my second requirement, which was my number one requirement in my previous PC, the computer had to be QUIET.
If there’s one thing I hate more then anything else, it’s having to listen to the hum of 5 fans churning away inside someone’s PC.Â I don’t understand how people live with this.Â I spend a good amount of time next to my computer, and the last thing I want is to have to listen to fans.
My previous PC utilized a lot of power efficient components that I could passively cool, in order to minimize noise.Â I also made use of one of my favourite cases the Antec Sonata II this quiet case included a lot of ducting to help air flow and minimize the number of fans needed to cool your components.Â It also came with hard drive shock absorber mounts, and a heavy aluminium construction to eliminiate vibration noise. Unfortunately the interior ducting was also the most annoying part of this case, adding new components was a pain, and tucking wires became an issue as the ducting really got in the way.
My third requirement was that my new PC be built with components that I knew would last for at least the next couple of years.Â I’m a firm believer of paying money up front on solid top of the line components that I know will not be obsolete in a few months, and that are well manufactured.
With these three requirements in place I spent some time wrestling with what components I wanted to include, and where I was going to get the best price for these components.
One of my first problems was whether or not to splurge on a quad core cpu. I had really considered the Intel Quad Core Q6600, but after doing some reading (Especially this article over at Coding Horror) I really came to the conclusion that the Quard Cores would probably go to waste on me. Not to mention that the Quad Core uses a 65nm process, and definitely violates my power efficiency requirement.
After eliminating the quad core from my list of potential CPUs I had to decide what dual core processor I wanted and to be honest this wasn’t a difficult pick for me.Â The new Wolfdale based Core2Duo processors from Intel are power efficient and use a 45nm design which allows them to be overclocked to insane levels.Â These CPUs are only marginally more expensive then their 65nm counterparts, and since my local PC shop was having a sale on the Core 2 Duo 8400 I decided to pick it up for $190.
My next problem was choosing a suitable video card.Â I knew first that I had to choose something from Nvidia, as driver support for ATI based cards is abysmal in Linux, and OSx86.Â This somewhat limited my choices, and with so many high end gamer cards made me wonder if I’d ever find something to suit my needs.Â I really wanted something that was passively cooled, since in most PCs the bulk of noise originates from the Video Cards cheap fan.Â After doing some thinking and reading I decided that the highend 8800 series was out as it was difficult to passively cool and definitely violated my power efficiency requirement.
My next card was the 9600GT which I really did consider thoroughly.Â Gigabyte has a new passively cooled version of the 9600GT that I thought would make a perfect fit, however I couldn’t justify the $200 it was going to cost me.Â I am not an avid gamer, in fact that last game I ever played on my PC was Command and Conquer Tiberium Wars, not the most graphic intensive video game.
With these cards eliminated I stumbled across an ASUSTek Silent 8600GT, which seemed to fit my needs quite well.Â This card is passively cooled and does not require and extra power connection.Â This card was also on sale at my local PC shop, so I managed to score it for $75.
I now had to find a suitable motherboard to connect all this stuff too. Â I’ve always been fond of Asus motherboards and have been using them exclusively in my personal computers since 1998. Â I’ve yet to really ever have an issue with them, so it was obvious to me that I would be putting one in my new computer as well. Â My first job though was to verify what Asus boards worked best with OSx86. Â After doing some hunting around the web I found that the P5k-E series of motherboards had good compatability with OSx86, and were solid performing motherboards based on Intel’s P35 architecture. Â I found a P5K-E on sale at my local pc shop for $160.00.
Having my main components in hand, I decided that I’d have to get a new case to house my new components. I decided on the Antec P182. Â This case was designed with the help of SilentPCReview there are tons of reviews of this case on the net, so I won’t go into full details as to why I chose the case, but it definitely fit my needs, and fit my budget as well. Â I fitted the P182 with an Enermax Modu+82 525w powersupply. Â Unforutnately I couldn’t find a lower wattage powersupply. Â I would of prefered the 425W Modu+ 82, but things don’t always work out for the best. Â I’ll be keeping my eye out for something a little lighter in the future and will probably make the switch. Â I do have to say though, this power supply is incredibly quiet. Â Usually power supplies are always humming along, but with this one I barely even notice when the fan kicks in.
I filled the rest of my PC build up with the usual components, 4gb of ram (A definite requirement for anyone who does any type of software development), a DVDRW drive, and a Seagate NCQ 500GB hard drive.
Overall the new PC is everything I dreamed it to be. Â Finally my PC isn’t struggling to run Tomcat, MySQL, and Eclipse at the same time, finally Itunes loads in a reasonable amount of time, and most of all finally it doesn’t take me hours on end to Rip a DVD.
Here’s a final spec list for the build including prices for all the items
Bringing the grand total to $873.96!!!!
When you consider that the same PC from Dell or HP would cost you a lot more then that, it’s pretty satisfying to know that not only did you save yourself money, but you enjoyed yourself while doing it.