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Chuck Wintle
01-26-2014, 5:29 PM
Does anyone here build still build there own desktops? My last was about 4 years ago...starting to think a new one is needed.

Dave Richards
01-26-2014, 5:34 PM
I built one a few years ago and would highly recommend it for anyone who wants a better computer. I was going to build my next machine but hit on a very good deal from a shop that builds them up so I decided to bypass building it myself. I would never buy a desktop off the shelf, though.

Bruce Page
01-26-2014, 5:41 PM
I've never built one myself but my last 3 have been custom built by a local shop that I trust. My last off the shelf was a Gateway bought in 2000. It was so loaded with extraneous junk software that I vowed never to go that route again.

Kev Williams
01-26-2014, 8:20 PM
The wife got me an HP laptop back in '09 I think. Had Vista on it. Within weeks it was taking like 20 minutes to boot up. I did email and internet with it, and very little else. Shutting off all the user account controls helped a lot. From then till about a year ago I only used it on our boat. But my new engraving machine required another computer so I put it to work. That lasted about a week before my head hurt from pulling my hair out.

I blamed Vista for it.

Then after a little research on "bloatware", I decided to do a complete system restore. After a hard swallow I clicked the "yes" button, and within a few minutes, my computer was like new again. First thing I did was go into the 'uninstall programs' folder, and anything that said HP, Norton, Symantic, McAfee, AOL, Messenger, RealPlayer, Quicktime, and virutally anything else that wasn't absolutely necessary, I uninstalled.

And a year later, this laptop, even with Vista, is faster than, and just as reliable as any of my other computers! --Except maybe the new HP desktop the wife gave me for xmas. All the bloatware immediately got dumped off that computer too.

That all said, since my new HP is almost useless as a work computer to run my machines (thanks Windows 8), I've been toying with the idea of building my own. What I need a quad-core 4.? gig processor, 8 gigs of ram, 500gig solid state drive, any 'reasonable' video card, 6 LPT ports, 6 serial ports, 6 USB ports, running Win XP pro AND being able to run win98 as a VM with DOS being able to read the dongles I'll be plugging into the LPT ports...

If I could build such a machine, it would do the work of the FOUR computers I'm using now...

Brian Elfert
01-26-2014, 10:29 PM
I gave up building my own PCs back in the late 90s. I'm on my third PC since 2000 and they have all been Dell for one reason or another. First thing I do when I get a new PC is to install a fresh copy of the OS with none of the extra stuff. I built my own PCs to save money, but it doesn't save that much anymore if you buy a legal copy of the OS. I'm not a gamer or else I might build my own PCs.

John Coloccia
01-26-2014, 11:24 PM
I don't bother assembling from components anymore. I did 15 or 20 years ago because I couldn't buy what I wanted. Now, it's just a matter of buy the basic computer you want, and add whatever cards you want...and these days, all that means is upgrade the on-board graphics card to whatever graphics card floats your boat. All of computing these days (and for a while now) is I/O bound, plain and simple. There's nothing you can assemble that you can't just as easily buy more or less off the shelf, and prices are such that assembling from components is just a complete waste of time and energy, IMHO. There's a reason why all of the catalogs, magazines and brands from the 90s have disappeared. The problem is solved. Spend your time on other things.

Chuck Wintle
01-27-2014, 6:56 AM
I don't bother assembling from components anymore. I did 15 or 20 years ago because I couldn't buy what I wanted. Now, it's just a matter of buy the basic computer you want, and add whatever cards you want...and these days, all that means is upgrade the on-board graphics card to whatever graphics card floats your boat. All of computing these days (and for a while now) is I/O bound, plain and simple. There's nothing you can assemble that you can't just as easily buy more or less off the shelf, and prices are such that assembling from components is just a complete waste of time and energy, IMHO. There's a reason why all of the catalogs, magazines and brands from the 90s have disappeared. The problem is solved. Spend your time on other things.
John,
I agree the pricing of computers makes it less attractive to go the DIY route but for those who like to muck around and get into the nuts and bolts of it there is some satisfaction in getting the parts together and have a working computer at the end.

Eric DeSilva
01-27-2014, 9:28 AM
The desktop I use at home was self-built. My problem was that to get something really quiet I ended up having to do it myself. I used a case and related heatpipes from http://atechfabrication.com/ -- while there is a thermostatically controlled fan in the case just in case, it has never turned on. With an SSD on board and most of the storage in a remote NAS, the loudest thing is the DVD/CD drive when it has to spin up and actually do something. It was a pretty painless build and the machine has never given me a lick of trouble (knock on wood).

Jason Roehl
01-27-2014, 9:37 AM
I don't bother assembling from components anymore. I did 15 or 20 years ago because I couldn't buy what I wanted. Now, it's just a matter of buy the basic computer you want, and add whatever cards you want...and these days, all that means is upgrade the on-board graphics card to whatever graphics card floats your boat. All of computing these days (and for a while now) is I/O bound, plain and simple. There's nothing you can assemble that you can't just as easily buy more or less off the shelf, and prices are such that assembling from components is just a complete waste of time and energy, IMHO. There's a reason why all of the catalogs, magazines and brands from the 90s have disappeared. The problem is solved. Spend your time on other things.

In addition to what John said, even if you do source all the parts yourself and come up a little cheaper than what you could buy off the shelf (you can if you know what you're looking for), you're short an operating system and useful software. If you use open-source software, great, but that's more mucking around, particularly with the OS (Linux is very good, but it still doesn't support everything and requires more "under-the-hood" knowledge). If you use Windows, then you'll be dollars ahead to buy off the shelf. Not to mention you'll at least have some warranty support that covers the whole computer rather than having an off-brand component fail, then the support is sketchy (and they're likely to blame your other off-brand components).

Grant Wilkinson
01-27-2014, 10:19 AM
I'm with Eric. I still build my own because I want QUIET. I admit that I like the tinkering aspect of it, too, but the sound levels are the big deciding point for me.

Curt Harms
01-28-2014, 10:14 AM
Well, I don't think you'll find something like this at your local big box store:

http://slipperyskip.com/page23.html

Frank Drew
01-28-2014, 11:11 AM
I'm with Eric. I still build my own because I want QUIET. I admit that I like the tinkering aspect of it, too, but the sound levels are the big deciding point for me.

Are PCs particularly noisy? I have an iMac and I can't hear a thing from it until I get maybe an inch away from it, and even then there's just the faintest hum.

Benoit Rochon
01-28-2014, 11:15 AM
Depends. Do you play games or not?

If you do, build your own. If you don't, just buy one for 4-500$ from BestBuy. For Internet/Word, you don't need a high HP computer. And for game, you need something that has a powerfull powersupply and the expansion slot.

I still build my own. You invest more than a brand-name PC, but it lasts longer imho

Jerome Stanek
01-28-2014, 1:05 PM
Are PCs particularly noisy? I have an iMac and I can't hear a thing from it until I get maybe an inch away from it, and even then there's just the faintest hum.

not any noisier than a high end Mac. It is the fans that make the noise and some high end video cards and extra fans for cooling can be loud.

Eric DeSilva
01-28-2014, 3:56 PM
Are PCs particularly noisy? I have an iMac and I can't hear a thing from it until I get maybe an inch away from it, and even then there's just the faintest hum.

My wife's iMac isn't bad, but whether PCs are noisier than Macs is sort of a difficult question--lots of PC manufacturers on the one hand and the noise from Macs varies from line to line (e.g., pro v. iMac).

Different people have different sensitivity to it as well. And how annoying it is also has to do with the environment it is used in--you might tolerate a small amount of noise if you only use your computer a couple times a day. But it might be a different matter if you are sitting in front of it for 8 hours a day.

In my case, the computer was going into a high end home theater/audio system. So even something minor, like a fan, was going to be distracting.

Prashun Patel
01-28-2014, 4:07 PM
Sadly, desktops and laptops have become disposable. Buy a low/middle of the road computer; it'll be better than anything that exists that's more than 3 years old. When it gets to be 3 years old, and something breaks - which it will - plan on getting a new one.

Kev Williams
01-28-2014, 5:56 PM
Buying off the shelf is fine, for 5 bills my wife got me an HP quad-core 8-gig ram hot-rod. With Windows 8. Uh oh. I need computers to run various graphics software, some of which is from the 80's and 90's, and more importantly, it has to run my machines, most of which aren't spring chickens either. Short version: Windows 8, and for the most part Windows 7 is totally useless to me. I use a computer to work, do email, and I chat in a few forums. THAT'S IT. I need a ton of ram and processor power to run some of the programs, and plugs that will attach to my machines...

Larry Browning
01-28-2014, 6:36 PM
Buying off the shelf is fine, for 5 bills my wife got me an HP quad-core 8-gig ram hot-rod. With Windows 8. Uh oh. I need computers to run various graphics software, some of which is from the 80's and 90's, and more importantly, it has to run my machines, most of which aren't spring chickens either. Short version: Windows 8, and for the most part Windows 7 is totally useless to me. I use a computer to work, do email, and I chat in a few forums. THAT'S IT. I need a ton of ram and processor power to run some of the programs, and plugs that will attach to my machines...

As long as you have this old software from the 80's and 90's along with these older machines with their old outdated interfaces, you are going to be stuck with having to use old outdated computers and operating systems. As time marches on, finding a computer that will work with you existing equipment will become harder and harder. At some point you are going to have to face the reality of needing to upgrade your machines and software to run them. We are now firmly in the 21st century, it is time to leave the 20th century behind.

Alan Caro
01-28-2014, 9:02 PM
Chuck Wintle,

I've had twelve computer systems in the last twenty years, and two were home-brew.

There are positives to building > a satisfaction in making something useful, building improves the ability to fix it, and it can under certain circumstances be an important savings. On the negative side is the amount of research of specialized and compatible parts, ordering of same, assembly, configuration /loading operating system and applications, testing, and troubleshooting. Each of these steps requires learning sometimes fairly complex interrelationships of hardware and software, but on the other hand, the components are more compatible and increasingly easy to put together.

I wold say the dividing line between building or buying is whether building will provide capabilities that would be too expensive to buy ready to use. By this, I mean that people requiring very high performance for example that run scientific calculations, simulations, 3D CAD modeling, video processing, rendering, and so on can save thousands by building themselves. If I were to buy a dual Xeon E5-2687W system with 64 GB RAM and a Quadro K5000 as an HP z820, it might cost $17,000, but I could have similar performance with a home built for $12,000. This works of course with high end gaming systems too, where people will spend $3,500 on video cards set in SLI and with $700 cooling systems and so on. The more specialized and higher performance, the more can be saved.

For systems for ordinary uses, the prices of branded computers are attractively low, it's ready to use, has instructions, and importantly- a warranty.

One other tactic that has worked well for me- and provides some usful tailoring to need, is to buy a used but quite high end system and then upgrade it to need. For example, in 2010 I bought a 2008 Dell Precision T5400 > with a Xeon x5460 3.16GHz four core Xeon, 4GB RAM, and Quadro FX580 (512MB) -that cost $5,000 new, for $500. To this I added a second Xeon- that was $1,300 new, my price $80, +12GB RAM, and a Quadro FX4800 (1.5GB) that was $1,200 new, $150 to me, a new Western Digital RE4 enterprise drive and added Windows 7 Ultimate, so I had a total of about $1,000 in it. This system was used until this past December and was often running fro weeks continuously, doing very complex 3D modeling for architecture and industrial design, renderings, and graphic design- never a failure in four years. The best part is that he performance is up to a useful peed and it's still worth about $800, so I had a very strong, beautifully made workstation that I could never had afforded new for about $50 per year of use. For my current system, I had an astounding deal off eBay on a new HP in November, I changed the graphics card and added an SSD and RAM, and it has really excellent performance for about 1/3 of the retail cost.

The other option is to have someone build a system to your specifications and work it all out. Many local shops will do this, but have a test drive on a system they built and check the price of the compopents list before committing- it's woth it in some parts to have really good ones..

So, there's really four options in replacing your system > new branded, home build, upgraded high end, or commissioned.

If you would like to consider building a system, if you'd like to list the uses and programs you use, and a budget, I can provide a list of parts. I mostly work with CAD and graphics workstations, but here's are two examples that would offer high performance for the cost. The first one a more general use system using the AMD 8350 eight core which has very high performance for the price. The second is more hard core imaging system- CAD, rendering, 3D animation, rendering.

I > PixelPusher CadarificGraphiBlaze iWork Amdisty 9000 ™?^(SM)_$800_REV 11.2.13

1. AMD FX-8350 Vishera 4.0GHz (4.2GHz Turbo) Socket AM3+ 125W Eight-Core Desktop Processor FD8350FRHKBOX > $200

2. GIGABYTE GA-970A-DS3P AM3+ AMD 970 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX AMD Motherboard > $85

3. 8GB Kingston HyperX Blu 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C9D3B1K2/8GX > $57

4. EVGA 01G-P4-2650-KR GeForce GTX 650 1GB 128-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready Video Card > $110. (There are several very good choices for the graphics card in the $110 to $175 )

5. WD Blue 1 TB Desktop Hard Drive: 3.5 Inch, 7200 RPM, SATA 6 Gb/s, 64 MB Cache - WD10EZEX > $65

6. SeaSonic S12II 430B 430W ATX12V V2.3/EPS12V 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Active PFC Power Supply > $60

7. LIAN LI PC-7B plus II Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case > $80

8. Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (Full Version) - OEM $140

_________________________________________

TOTAL = $797.

II > PixelDozer Cadamodagrapharific Blazomatic iWorkarama SemiWalletJoyScream 5001 ™$#™_12.8.13

1. Processor> Intel Xeon Quad-Core Processor E5-1620 v2 3.7 / 4.0GHz 0GT/s 10MB LGA 2011 CPU, OEM> $295 (Superbiz) (Passmark CPU score= 9199, rank = No. 38) (This CPU will run the first two cores at 4GHz)

2. Noctua NH-U9DXi4 90mm SSO2 CPU Cooler > $70 (This kind of cooler is above necessity for most uses, but rendering running all the cores full bore can make very hot CPU's)

3. Motherboard> ASRock X79 Extreme3 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard $199.99 (Though I like the C6XX chipset for Xeon workstations, the X79 is in the fastest league)

4. Memory > 16GB (2X 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 ECC Unbuffered Server Memory >about $150. (Check current motherboard compatibility list) (Note, this suggests 8GB modules to allow for upgrade to 32Gb without discards)

5. GPU > NVIDIA Quadro K2000 VCQK2000-PB 2GB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Workstation Video Card $420. ( This is a very good card for your uses, but if you are slightly adventurous and want a great card for the next six years, consider a "new other" Quadro K4000 (3GB) for about $550-600 off Ebahh. Quadros are meant to run all the time full speed and I've never had a failure with used ones)

_____5A. GPU OPT’L > NVIDIA Quadro K4000 VCQK4000-PB 3GB GDDR5 PCI Express 2.0 x16 Workstation Video Card > $755

6. HD 1> Samsung 840 EVO MZ-7TE250BW 2.5" 250GB SATA III TLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD) > $170 (The Samsung 840 series are among the fastest SSD's. I have a Samsung 840 250GB, and without any files- only the OS and Applications (see the list at bottom) equal about 180GB, so I have about 65GB remaining. If your OS and applications total under about 90 GB then the 120GB SSD is sufficient but otherwise I recommend the larger capacity. With the larger capacity, you can have plenty of space for an "active files" folder on the SSD and run them off the SSD while working. I could actually put a big portion of all my files (about 80GB) on. Large files such as video and big 3D models open and save almost instantly. Backups are saved to the mech'l drive at the end of a work session and then moved to the mech'l drive when finished for archiving. Again, you might be able to use the SSD in this way with a 120GB)

7. HD2> Western Digital Black WD2003FZEX 2TB 7200RPM SATA3/SATA 6.0 GB/s 64MB Hard Drive (3.5 inch) ) > $156 (This is the new, very fast 1TB platter series, 5-year warranty) (Another tactic would be to have 2X 1TB and in RAID 1 for backup- this is what I'm intending. Keep a pristine- updated but never used-system image in a partition on the mech'l drive and a copy on an external backup drive that can restore the OS, applications, and all settings in case of SSD corruption or failure)

8. PSU> SeaSonic X Series X650 Gold ((SS-650KM Active PFC F3)) 650W ATX12V V2.3/EPS 12V V2.91 SLI Ready CrossFire Ready 80 PLUS GOLD Certified Full Modular Active PFC Power Supply $120.

9. LIAN LI PC-7HX Black Aluminum ATX Mid Tower Computer Case $100.

10. ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM $17.

11. ASUS Black 16X BD-R 2X BD-RE 16X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 12X BD-ROM SATA Blu-ray Burner BW-16D1HT > $110 (current 12.8.13 newegg rebate =$90) (Note 16X speed)

12. Microsoft Windows 7 Professional 64-bit (Full Version) - OEM $140

TOTAL = $1,948 or $ 2,303 (+$355) with Quadro K4000

The above system could be made comparable or even lower in cost by using a 120GB SSD (-$65), 1TB mech'l drive (-$65), less expensive CPU cooler (-$25) and less expensive case (Corsair Carbide Series 300R Black Steel / Plastic ATX Mid Tower Computer Case >$70 (-$30) Total = $1,763.

_________________________________________________

Sorry for such a long post!

Alan Caro


HP z420 (2013) > Xeon E5-1620 quad core @ 3.6 / 3.8GHz > 24GB ECC 1600 RAM > Quadro 4000 (2GB)> Samsung 840 SSD 250GB /Western Digital WD1003FZEX 1TB> M-Audio 192 sound card > AE3000 USB WiFi // HP 2711X, 27" 1920 X 1080 // Windows 7 Ultimate 64 > Autodesk Building Design Suite, Inventor Pro, Solidworks, Adobe CS MC, Corel Technical Design Sketchup Pro, WordP Office, MS Office Pro [Passmark system rating = 3815, 2D= 760 / 3D=2044]

Dell Precision T5400 (2008) > 2X Xeon X5460 quad core @3.16GHz > 16GB ECC 667> Quadro FX 4800 (1.5GB) > WD RE4 500GB / Seagate Barracuda 500GB > M-Audio 2496 Sound Card > Linksys 600N WiFi > Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit > HP 2711x 27" 1920 x 1080 > (earlier versions) AutoCad, Revit, Solidworks, Sketchup Pro, Corel Technical Designer, Adobe CS MC, WordP Office, MS Office Pro [Passmark system rating = 1859, 2D= 512 / 3D=1097]

Jason Roehl
01-29-2014, 8:22 AM
Just an FYI, you can find MS Win 7 Pro 64 for about half that if you poke around online. It may be a branded version, but I have about 3 copies I bought that way, and they all work just fine, just a Dell reference here and there (and none of the computers they're installed on are Dells).

Chuck Wintle
01-29-2014, 3:25 PM
Just an FYI, you can find MS Win 7 Pro 64 for about half that if you poke around online. It may be a branded version, but I have about 3 copies I bought that way, and they all work just fine, just a Dell reference here and there (and none of the computers they're installed on are Dells).
I have seen windows 7 64 bit for around $80 on-line but this is a download only and they email the 25 digit code....i was a bit hesitant but maybe its legit as you mentioned probably a dell specific brand but will work on any machine.

Curt Harms
01-30-2014, 9:38 AM
I have seen windows 7 64 bit for around $80 on-line but this is a download only and they email the 25 digit code....i was a bit hesitant but maybe its legit as you mentioned probably a dell specific brand but will work on any machine.

I just found out that a source of Windows 7 .isos previously available (Digital River) was shut down today. It was legal and was used by Microsoft's tech support. The trick was to have an activation code appropriate for the version. The shutdown may be part of Microsoft's effort to force everybody onto Windows 8 through the Microsoft store? Sucks if you have a legit Win 7 activation code but no reinstall media though.

Myk Rian
01-30-2014, 2:18 PM
I used to build my own, but it isn't worth it any more.
I bought a PowerSpec G310 machine from Micro Center for under $700 that came with Win7 Pro loaded, and Win 8 DVD.
Nice machine, very capable of gaming.
http://www.microcenter.com/product/420117/G310_Desktop_Computer

Jim O'Dell
02-02-2014, 11:39 AM
I've built the last 5 computers we've owned, except the laptop. Just getting the software loaded into the wife's new I5 computer. Spent more than I should have, and I'm using the on-board video and audio, which is very good for what we use computers for. Keep in mind, the 4th generation Intel processors need a specific PSU. Something about the way the computer goes to sleep. There is a list of certified PSUs on the Intel site. Glenna's old computer is on XP, and going to Win 7 Pro meant a lot of things had to change. Had to get a new scanner, part of the higher than expected expenditure for the computer, as there were no updated drivers for the old (12 years?) scanner. You can get Windows for 129.00 or less for an OEM unit. Can't be moved to another machine later as a retail purchase can be, but I've used these on the last 3 I've built and no issues. These last 3 have also used Intel MB. They aren't the over-clocker's choice, but seem to be very solid. I could have saved 80.00 by using an I3 processor like I have in mine, but wanted to see what the I5 was like. I also could have saved another 50 or so on memory, but I've had great luck with Corsair memory, and went ahead and got her 16G of the Vengeance memory just in case her music notation software needed it.
My fight with her new computer was that she needs to be able to use some old software, or spend another 150, or more, to update. If you have a similar situation, you can run XP as a 'virtual computer' within Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate. It sits there like any other software, but allows the old software to work. Seems pretty seemless and it is a free download from Windows. So all in all, I have about 850.00 into this computer including the new scanner. Closer to 1 grand if you include the wireless keyboard and trackball mouse. The old case is about all I didn't have to replace!!!! And her old computer will go to my shop to play music! Hope this helps. Jim.

Myk Rian
02-02-2014, 11:48 AM
My fight with her new computer was that she needs to be able to use some old software, or spend another 150, or more, to update. If you have a similar situation, you can run XP as a 'virtual computer' within Windows 7 Pro or Ultimate. It sits there like any other software, but allows the old software to work. Seems pretty seemless and it is a free download from Windows.
I also use a Virtual Machine, but it's VirtualBox instead of the Microsoft version. Microsoft no longer supports their version as of 5-6 years ago.
I have XP and Android installed as VMs.