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Computer builders out there? [Feb. 8th, 2012|04:54 pm]
John
There was a time when computer building was easy. You bought a case and power supply - they were always bought together, unless you were weird - and a motherboard, processor, memory, video card (you young whippersnappers have it easy with integrated video! In my day we had to buy an IDE controller with basic serial/parallel ports combined! And we *liked* it that way! And we didn't have these new fangled *giga* bytes - we had plain old fashioned *kilo* bytes, and sometimes just over a hundred of 'em!), put it all together, and booted it up checked all the connections, made sure the memory was seated properly, checked the power connections, carefully plugged in the hard drive cables again, and booted it up swore off computer building forever and ever, and then made some more adjustments, and, oh, thank *god* it's working!

Um. Where was I? Oh, yeah, easy.

I have a refurb computer that never worked "well". (Okay, it ran four virtual SQL servers, plus a virtual domain controller, well enough to do some extensive testing of SQL Server topics - and they were all very responsive, for all that I wasn't doing too much with them.)

Now, alas, its primary function, playing videos, is working poorly. Interestingly, although the drives seem to be working fine, they're showing slow file transfers. I'm not hardware geeky enough to diagnose this, and for a 2 year old computer bought refurb, it's probably not worth buying a new one.

There's part of me that would love to replace this mini-tower with a mac mini - such a pretty, tiny computer that would play my videos beautifully, and it would be nice to have a Mac around the house in case I was ever curious about this-or-that in Macland.

But then I look at the specs - only *two* cores? So little drive space? Okay, power draw is wonderful, but what about my contributions to World Community Grid? And, Macs use a proprietary high speed uplink - I can't use USB 3.0 or e-sata for external hard drives. That just won't work.

So, I guess I'm likely to build a new machine, but I'm confounded by one problem.

Processors now list a number of watts.

I think video cards do, too (and that can be pretty hefty!).

What else do I need to figure out how big a power supply I need? Is there a standard draw for a SATA drive? How about for fans? And is there an additional draw for "the motherboard" in addition to the draw for the CPU?

I've seen 700 watt power supplies - I've also seen 200 watt power supplies. I'd rather have a 700 and not need it, but I'd rather have a 400 when I just need a 350.

Also: I'm almost certain to go with AMD, 6 or 8 core, with latest build (Zambezi?). Any of my friends want to say "NO! Stop, you fool!"

Does anyone know what video cards are good for playing Last Year's Games? I find myself completely confused by video card descriptions. This one has 73 trillion GPUs, and that one has 4.3 terabytes of DDR3X memory, and... and... dude, I just want a *decent* card! Or, has on-board video gotten good enough that I can actually, honest-to-goodness skip this, until I try to play something and find it's just not fast enough?

(Just to clarify: my goal is to always buy a card that will at least play Last Year's Games - these are usually in the $100-$150 range, IME - because I see no point in spending hundreds to be able to play This Year's Games which, face it, I'm not going to have time to play *anyway*.)

Anyone else have any suggestions, past the transparent case, and purple running lights? If I'm not overclocking, do I need extra fans? Is it possible to build a case that is semi-impervious to cat hair? (*I* don't need to worry about this, yet, but my beloved has long-haired cats, so it will be a concern, eventually.)
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: susandennis
2012-02-09 05:59 am (UTC)
I think purple (and blue and even red sometimes) running lights are not bright enough. My green is the wrong shade, I thought, so I swapped it out for blue but the blue was just not blingie enough so I put the green back in. Just check before you commit.

The rest is just fluff in my opinion :)
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[User Picture]From: tigerbright
2012-02-09 01:39 pm (UTC)
The reason I have a Mac Mini and my husband has a MacBook is that I am NOT doing tech support in my own house.
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[User Picture]From: kightp
2012-02-09 08:02 pm (UTC)
If you can craft me a computer that will be purple *and* impervious to cathair, you will win Major Geek Boyfriend Points. Like, enough to redeem for valuable prizes!
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[User Picture]From: marypcb
2012-02-10 12:55 pm (UTC)
to allow air out, you have to allow hair in; vacuum occasionally and put on a hard surface, not carpet

the power supply rating is to match the graphics card and the various internal devices you plan to fit; 700W is a bit of a monster. Pick an nvidia card with a midrange price and you'll get midrange performance; integrated Intel graphics isn't quite up to gaming and AMD's integrated APU - CPU/GPU only really shows up in notebooks. AMD, to me, aren't really matching/surpassing Intel's Core line - Sandy Bridge Core i5 and i7 are *really* impressive.

if you're set on building, enjoy; if not, look at small desktops designed for enterprise desks, media PCs on VIA nano boards designed to go behind PCs or 17" notebooks that can drive and external monitor - they all give you something on the smaller, neater side.
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