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Friday, April 20, 2012

My Next PC Will Be Home Built

My 3 year-old HP m9600t is now starting to be flakey. 3 years is about the usual amount of time it takes for a desktop to die, but the nice thing about owning a PC (versus a Mac), is that you can usually reuse components over time, provided you didn't buy a proprietary machine and build your own. Since the machine is still mostly working, I can leisurely pick over components, etc., and buy stuff as they come on sale. However, I'm happy to use my blog as a platform to shop for components. My suspicion is that I'll be able to keep my existing HDDs, and video card (Radeon 4850), though it would be nice if the machine gave me an upgrade path. Here are my priorities:
  1. Fast enough to handle lightroom and video editing.
  2. Quiet. This means large fans running at low speed.
  3. Power efficient. No more desktop PC behaving like a space heater.
Requirements:
  • Must have hot-swappable hard drive bays. I would like to have 4 hard drive bays, though I could live with just 2 if necessary.
  • Must be easy to work on. No more pinching my fingers to install memory or hard drives.
  • Plenty of USB slots (USB 3?).
  • Room for upgradability
  • Must drive my 27" monitor together with my 24" monitor.
  • Reliable. I'm not willing to put up with flakey BIOS and such.
Nice to haves:
  • Built in memory card readers for SD cards and CF.
  • High quality sound.
  • Blu-ray
Non goals: small. I'm ok with a big monster. Gaming is a lower priority than absolutely raw power needed to make Lightroom, Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Adobe Premiere Elements fly. I guess mostly what I'm looking for is motherboard, case, fans, power supply recommendations. It's easy for me to shop for CPUs, memories, and HDDs myself. I look forward to recommendations from my social network. (No recommendations for Apple products need apply)

5 comments:

Martin √únsal said...

I like the Antec Nine Hundred case with Supermicro CSE-M35T hotplug rack. You can fit up to 3 of the hotplug racks in the Antec case (15 drives) if you are insane, but 5 drives is enough for me. I bought this stuff several years ago so there might be better options now. The fan in the SATA rack is loud so you might want to get a quieter one or put a speed controller on it. Also I think the CSE-M35T doesn't support SATA 3 speeds. OK this is not sounding like a recommendation anymore but I really do like this stuff, just has its limitations.

Greg said...

What is the nature of the flakiness?

Marstein said...

Well, I did build just about the machine you describe. I bought an Antec P190 PC case that has extra padding in huge, quiet fans. Today I might get a water cooling system. They have become easy to install and operate and are silent.
I like the Gigabyte Intel Z68 ATX DDR3 2133 LGA 1155 GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3 motherboard. That brand seems to be very reliable I bought the Intel Core i5-2500K processor, but new ones are coming out all the time. 8GB of memory seems to be plenty and the fast kind does not seem to have a significant (>1%) speed improvement. An SSD drive is highly recommended, although you'll need an additional traditional drive to hold lightroom pictures.
I am not sure if graphics cards these days allow color calibration for two monitors, but it would be good. A $150 graphics card should play games just fine, spend less if you don't game.

Piaw Na said...

Right now, the machine will not boot with my gps plugged into the usb slot. Occasionally, my USB devices would mysteriously drop from the machine without warning.

Piaw Na said...

You can do color calibration for 2 monitors, but it's a pain, so I only calibrate the main screen.