Thursday, March 30, 2006

Waiting for UPS

I apologize for geeking-out a bit on this post.

Five years ago I assembled my own computer I dropped a P3 800 processor in it with 256 MB of RAM and a 40 GB hard drive. I splurged and paid $254 for a Creative Labs 3DBlaster Annihilator 2 (GeForce2 GTS) complete with 32 MB of glorious, video sparkle—and Unreal Tournament, fragging goodness. Over the years I have upgraded the memory to 320 MB, added 160 GB of hard drive space, and installed a DVD reader. It has seen 5 different operating systems. Its daily tasks have varied from programming functions, games, the ‘net, homework assignments, and email. Although it has always served me faithfully, it can no longer keep up with my activities.

As my photography equipment has evolved, so have the sizes of the files I work with. At times I'll avoid a stack of pictures that need editing because I dread waiting for each of them to creep across the screen.

So, I’m assembling a new computer. In fact I just ordered:
  • P4 3.2 with HT
  • ASUS Motherboard with NVIDIA nForce4 SLI chipset and a fanless cooling system
  • 4 GB of DDR2 memory
  • 2 250 GB SATA 3.0 GB hard drives that I’ll RAID 0 together to make one 500 GB data drive
  • 1 160 GB SATA 3.0 GB hard drive for the OS (I may partition this for a dual-boot (xp64, Vista, OSX...)

    I still have a few items to pick up before it will all work, but the bulk of it should be here early next week. I’ve never done anything with RAID, so that should be fun. I went round and round deciding if I should just get one big drive or 2 smaller ones and I’m still not sure if I’ve chosen correctly. I do know, however, that the RAID will make it scream.

    To get 4 GB of memory was a little pricey, but I don’t want to do this again for another 5 years. Also, I’d really like to see how Photoshop performs with a 150 MB file and no need to cache anything to the disk. (I may actually get some of my big panos on the wall.)

    Blogger Rebecca said...

    Whoa, that was like reading Geek, I mean, Greek. I have no idea what you just said but I hope you have fun with your new computer.

    Thu Mar 30, 08:34:00 AM PST  
    Blogger Steven said...

    That sounds like a pretty sweet PC. This one is going to be so fast that it will probably have your panos done before you even have a chance to click your mouse. ;-)

    Are you going to use the software RAID that comes with the OS, or pick up some RAID hardware?

    Thu Mar 30, 08:35:00 AM PST  
    Blogger Lindsey said...

    Ooooh. Nice!

    I've been wanting to "roll my own" desktop for a few years now, but haven't yet had the money, time, and courage simultaneously. It's always good to find local friends with experience in this sort of thing! :)

    Thu Mar 30, 08:58:00 AM PST  
    Blogger Johnny said...


    Thu Mar 30, 09:25:00 AM PST  
    Blogger CJ said...

    WOW!!! My keyboard is now completely waterlogged from all the salivating.

    Good grief, that's a beast and a half!

    Thu Mar 30, 02:33:00 PM PST  
    Blogger Jason Hill said...

    Lindsey--just name your time and I'll be happy to lend a hand. It really is the most enjoyable way to get a new box.

    I don't recommend it it to most people as the out-of-the-box PCs that you can buy are usually a nice value. However, if you want it to have specific hardware, you gotta build it yourself.

    Steven, I'll be using the RAID controller that is built into the Motherboard. However, I've never tackled RAID before and would be interested in any suggestions you might have. My plan is to use a third hard drive for the OS, so I can get that up and running before I even install the RAID hard drives.

    One question I am pondering: if I have multiple boots on my OS drive, will they all have access to the RAID drives? Since it is being managed at the hardware level, I assume that it will.

    I've already been finding some confusing information about memory limits and xp, so I'll be wading through the xp64 approved hardware list to see if I can get it up and running. Windows 2003 server will probably be my simplest, best performing (meaning it can read all 4 gigs of memory) choice until Vista reaches the public.

    BTW, I have the coolest dad of all of you.

    Fri Mar 31, 10:23:00 AM PST  
    Blogger J. Kevin Parker said...

    I've built every box I've owned. My current Frankenstein has 1GB RAM (but saidly, it's only PC133). But a dual flat 17" monitors sure has made a big difference as of late. It still has a few parts from an IBM from 1995, though. :P

    After my time in the PC support world, I keep saying I'll just customize a Dell next time and quit tinkering. There's SO much you can do now with Firewire and USB2 stuff. Oh well, your post makes me want to build one from scratch again, anyway. Maybe for Xmas...

    Fri Mar 31, 08:28:00 PM PST  
    Blogger rebecca marie said...

    i'm sorry... whah?

    Sun Apr 02, 01:23:00 PM PDT  
    Blogger Tim Lewis said...

    I've got an old computer that James Wood built. It's a P2 700 with 384 MB RAM. Not blazing fast at all, and shrinks in fear next to the dual 1.8 Ghz Mac G5 sitting next to it. The only thing keeping me from switching is software, and Openoffice is very tempting.

    Sun Apr 02, 03:57:00 PM PDT  
    Blogger Adam Wolfgang said...

    I like open office better than microcrap office. I don't use anything else.

    J - I am drooling over your 4 gigs of ram. Wise investment.

    Wed Apr 05, 03:47:00 PM PDT  

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