There 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.
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:
- A low noise case and high quality power supply
- A fast Core i7 processor
- Lots and lots of memory
- No dedicated graphics
- The ability to connect very high resolution displays
- A small, fast SSD
- 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.