Monday, 8 February 2010

HAL 9000

It's no secret that one of my main interests is computing. In fact, other than playing bass, I'd say it's even a hobby. Because of this, I'm active on a couple of online forums (fora?) including the excellent bit-tech and eeeuser. Rather than post my specs in my signature and in a myriad of different topics I'd like to have everything in one place.

To that end, this is my main pc as of the time of this writing.

Case: Antec 300 (with 2x Sharkoon 'Golfball' 120mm fans in the front)
Motherboard: MSI 770-C45
Processor: AMD Phenom II 955 Black Edition (3.2GHz, Quadcore)
CPU Cooler: Zalman Flex
Memory: 8GB Corsair Dominator (1600MHz, DDR3)
Graphics Card: XFX GTX280
/ drive: 30GB OCZ Vertex Turbo SSD
/home drive: 500GB Western Digital Black
/storage drive: 1500GB Western Digital Green
Optical Drive: LG Writemaster DVD Writer
Power Supply: Corsair CX400

And the other bits:
Operating System: Ubuntu 9.10
Monitors: 2x Samsung SM226BW (22” 1680x1050 each)
Keyboard: Saitek Eclipse II
Mouse: Logitech RX720 (on a Razer Exactamat)

This system is pretty new to me actually. I had originally planned to build a Mini-ITX system that eventually became my server (due to the evil Zotac's lies!) My original aim was for the most powerful system possible that was both quiet and not super expensive. I mean, yes, I could have bought an i7 and some more, triple channel, RAM. But what are the performance gains really? I have no doubt that my system is twice as good as a pc that costs half as much. But is something that costs twice as much (or more) as mine really twice as good? I have always believed in buying slightly behind the curve. Cutting edge always costs proportionally far much more for a few percent performance gain. And next year it won't be cutting edge any more, and it will have dropped tremendously in price. Yes English people, that was a sentence that began with an 'And' and then I had a comma followed by an 'and'. And I don't care.

The quad core seemed pretty necessary, I do a fair amount of multitasking and there are several linux programs that make use of two or more cores. The memory was simply because I know Corsair Dominator to be good and because at the time I bought it, all RAM was ridiculously expensive so I thought as might as well buy good stuff. The HSF is easily the loudest thing in the PC. I would like to replace it sometime soon with the Titan Fenrir, especially now that the limited edition is out. But that requires money and time to remove the mobo. I can't get any more memory until I swap coolers as the low-but-wide Scythe blocks the first two DDR3 slots. (NOTE, as of April 2010, I have solved this problem!)

The GPU pretty much had to be a nVidia because I wanted to use vdpau. Originall I bought a 9500GT but then I started gettin into pc gaming again. Result: GTX280. Oh well, at least it won't need upgrading for a while.

Another indulgence I allowed myself was in the storage department. SSD's have really taken off since 2009 and are fast becoming mainstream. The advantages they provide as a boot drive are numerous and can be found all over the web if you don't know already. Suffice it to say that a good one is an order of magnitude faster than any hard disk. Expensive per GB, the sensible solution seemed to me to be a small SSD as a boot drive and then a big HDD for storage. There's a performance-orientated 500GB 'black' drive as /home for day to day use and a cool and quiet 1.5TB 'green' drive for internal backups and bulk file storage. Those 1080p movies aren't small files you know.

Screenshot and a close-up of conky:



In other news, my dissertation is finished! I'll be looking to try and update this blog more often now, also look out for my server details and the 'why I need a new laptop' post.

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