Saturday, February 5, 2011

My Brand New (Slightly Defective) Desktop Computer

My last desktop was nothing impressive. Actually, it was showing its age and I was already planning on building a new desktop in a few months. The Pentium D with only 2 GB of RAM and a modest graphics card was running along smoothly until the power supply decided to give out. After replacing the power supply, the capacitors on the motherboard decided it would be a good time to burn out.  I actually built my last desktop to be replaced, not upgraded.  So, I decided to take browse around Newegg and this is what I ended up with:

Including a new optical drive (my old DVD burner only had a PATA connection), I ended up costing around $475.95.  My goal was to say under $500 and I managed to do that while still ending up with a powerful desktop.

Two days after placing the order that Intel announced that the Sandy Bridge chipset was defective!  That explains why I can't link to my motherboard on Newegg because it was pulled down and can no longer be purchased.  The flaw only deals with 4 out of the 6 SATA ports on the board.  My computer is up and running, I'm just slightly restricted on how I can use it until there is a replacement motherboard available in April.  Serious defects aside, I'm very happy with my new desktop.


While the built in Windows 7 benchmark does not give too much context, this is definitely the fastest computer that I own, no contest.  Overall I'm very happy with my new setup and there have been no problems so far.

The biggest complaint that I currently have is my hard drive situation.  All of the data from my old desktop is sitting on a 1.5 TB drive that is about 2/3 full.  I'm using a 320 GB drive in my desktop now and have things back to a somewhat functional order.  Normally I would just add the old drive as a secondary drive, but with those dead SATA ports that would translate to no optical drive or an optical drive connected to a defective port.  Ideally I would just swap the drives, but that requires a third drive to temporarily store all of my data on during the transition.  I still haven't decided how to solve this problem.

The biggest change that resulted from my new desktop is that my Windows Media Center that uses the USB over the air TV tuner and is connected to my Xbox has moved off of one of my old laptops.  This has resulted in a few improvements, but the biggest one would be additional storage space once I figure out how to improve my hard drive situation.  The quad core i5 with 8 GB of RAM does not even notice the media center running in the background.

While I'm quite happy with my new setup, it is only the first half of my upgrade.  My current plan is, once I can afford it, to finish the upgrade.  The missing components would be a new case, a bigger power supply, and additional 8 GB of RAM, and a graphics card.  I'm not a PC gamer, but I can still appreciate some of the benefits of a high quality graphics card.  This series of updates would end up costing around $500 bring the total cost of my desktop to approximately $1000.

While I wish I could have waited a few months to upgrade my computer, it is nice to have my workspace back up and running so I can continue making progress on my thesis.  Even though I have my laptop, the power of a desktop and the large screens definitely make it easier for me to make progress.

2 comments:

NicholasBell said...

I'd say you did really well on price/performance ratio. I spent almost 4 times as much on mine, though I guess spending $500+ on the graphics card alone might help do that... (I also had to buy a few things you already have or haven't gotten yet.)
What sort of benefits would you personally gain by getting a discrete graphics card? It looks like your computer should already be able to handle non-game media consumption pretty well.

Jared Hatfield said...

I'm not sure if you included the cost of a monitor in your overall cost for your computer, but my two 24" dell screens weren't cheap. :p

The sad thing is about my new setup it looks exactly the same. Actually, it looks like I have a Dell computer because I have two Dell monitors, a Dell keyboard, and a generic looking black and silver computer case. The only changes I made were on the inside.

Right now the only benefit I can think of for getting a discrete graphics card would be that I could connect both of my graphics through DVI. Currently one is connected through DVI and the other VGA. My motherboard actually has an HDMI and DisplayPort connection as well, but you can only use two ports at a time in certain combinations. A few of the applications that I use can also be accelerated with a graphics card, so I would see a small benefit here and there.