Choice is probably still the best reason to buy a PC

coolermaster-silencio-450There are three computers that I use daily. My media center (a Linux box that runs XBMC), my laptop, and the desktop PC in my office. Last week, that last box fired a warning shot across my bow. After a day of processing very large Photoshop documents, the power supply died. When I retrieved the original invoice, I was surprised to find that I’ve been using this machine since April of 2007.

Six years is a long time in computing. For one thing, it is the average lifetime of a hard drive. And yet, despite its aging Core 2 Duo processor and low-end 4 GB of RAM, my desktop wasn’t particularly sluggish. Not real signs of wear or tear, no strange noises from worn down fans. I still use it daily, and it’s fine.

Top-notch components

I think this is because I hand-picked all the components that are inside it. The power supply was a very quiet Zalman one, the motherboard is from Asus, and the hard drive was made by Samsung. I spent a lot of time picking “low noise” yet “high performance” parts, and had a shop build the perfect PC for my needs.

A unique new PC

Of course, I needed an upgrade. Eventually, this PC is going to die, and could probably use some extra performance. As soon as I started envisioning my new perfect PC, I realized that none of the big PC vendors was selling just that machine. Not even close.

My needs were relatively simple:

  1. A low noise case and high quality power supply
  2. A fast Core i7 processor
  3. Lots and lots of memory
  4. No dedicated graphics
  5. The ability to connect very high resolution displays
  6. A small, fast SSD
  7. A clean Windows-install with no bloatware

Some of these things are high end, others are decidedly not. Off-the-shelve machines – be it from Apple, HP or any other brand – usually pair fast processors with large storage and fast graphics cards. But I don’t play 3D games and I rely on my NASes for storage. Lower end machines usually don’t have things like DisplayPort or SSD drives. This is why being able to dream up a computer from thousands of possible parts is great. And installing Windows yourself is an added bonus. No 30-day antivirus trials for me, thank you very much.

You should try this

The PC industry is dire straits. And while many blame Windows 8 and the economy, it’s also apparent that manufacturers are dropping the ball. Off-the-shelve PCs are usually expensive, bloatware-ridden and composed of cheap bulk components. Fortunately, there’s a way around this. Many shops still offer custom-made PCs. They’re usually a little bit more expensive, but I think they’re well worth it.

Roy | November 20, 2013 | English,Gadgets | Comments (8)
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  1. Sounds like a good excuse to give your business a Christmas or even Sinterklaas present 🙂
    Getting a simple video-card will make it easier to get the high-end video-ports you need, not hard to find with passive cooling either.

    Have fun with the search..

    Comment by Henk van den Bor — November 20, 2013 @ 3:47 pm

    • I went with an Asus H87M-Pro motherboard that outputs 4K over DisplayPort without the need for dedicated graphics. It’ll be put into the Coolermaster case pictured above with an i7 4770, 16 GB of RAM and a Samsung SSD, and delivered next week (with a bit of luck). Can’t wait :).

      Comment by Roy — November 20, 2013 @ 4:30 pm

  2. Did you consider Mac?

    Comment by Rogier — November 21, 2013 @ 10:05 am

    • Yes, but since I’d end up running either Linux or Windows, not OSX, on it, that made little sense to me. Also, Apple does not sell a computer that fits my needs as precisely as my new custom-built PC will.

      Comment by Roy — November 21, 2013 @ 10:55 am

  3. And I am not able to afford to buy the new computer. I live in the Russian village)

    Comment by skukryniks — December 18, 2013 @ 7:25 am

  4. Thanks for the post. I have exactly the same needs as you and have been looking for an adequate mobo for a while. It is a pity that most vendors have such poor search engines on their websites.

    Still, I was wondering if it would not be better to buy a cheaper mobo and dedicated graphics (fanless…) : modularity is interesting when you consider upgrading a system. Do you think that having a DisplayPort interface is important ?

    By the way, would you mind sharing your media center config ?

    Comment by Kuzco — January 2, 2014 @ 10:02 am

    • My “media center” is a simple Asrock ION330 running Ubuntu and XBMC. It doesn’t capture/record any TV or anything, it’s just a lightweight PC hooked up to my TV.

      DisplayPort supports higher resolutions than most HDMI ports. The first 4K displays are out there, and my guess is that 2014 will become the year of “retina” desktop monitors.

      Comment by Roy — January 3, 2014 @ 4:18 pm

  5. I agree with you, “Off-the-shelve PCs” are expensive and composed of cheap bulk components! I’m more the LEGO-type-guy, I prefer to make my own PC buying the components that I want! But I’m afraid that we are a dyeing specie. More and more people go and bye PCs in the “supermarket”!

    Comment by yogi — May 12, 2014 @ 11:19 am