I bought (yes, me and not my parents) my first computer when I was 14 years old. It was a big Compaq tower with a Pentium 233mhz MMX processor. I am thinking it had 32mb of RAM and a 4 GB hard drive. It was AWESOME! I proceeded to upgrade it by adding a dedicated video card and a DVD-ROM drive. One of the reasons for my large DVD collection was that I was an early adopter in terms of jumping on the bandwagon soon after DVD players started being found in computers. All that to say that I have long enjoyed tinkering with computers.
Last year I upgraded two laptop hard drives and a laptop optical drive. The process of installing hard drives and reinstalling operating systems (including an experiment with Ubuntu on a partition) gave me the confidence to take the next step: build my own desktop from scratch. I hunted all over the internet trying to find the best prices for all the parts that I would need. I decided early on that I was not setting out to build a high end gaming machine. I wanted to build a capable desktop that with bit of upgradibility. This meant that I had to decide which pieces of hardware I wanted to save the most money on.
Here are the basics:
Motherboard: Foxconn M7VMX-K (59.99- Newegg)- Yes, this where I cut a big corner. The reviews were solid and the board does everything I need it to do.
CPU: Intel Core 2 Quad Q8200 (169.99- Fry’s)- Not top of the line, but more than enough for what I need right now.
Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar Black WD5001AALS 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache (74.99- Newegg)- The reviews for this were almost universally positive saying it was a solid, fast drive. I agree. This was well worth the cost.
RAM: 4 GB of Crucial RAM (25.00 after rebate- Fry’s)- Nothing fancy. It’s cheap. It works.
Optical Drive: LG BluRay/HD-DVD Combo Drive (107.00- Amazon)- Yeah, I splurged a little here. I recent purchased an Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive for dirt cheap and I wanted to be able to “future proof” my HD-DVDs by ripping them to my HDD. This will also be my first BluRay player. I don’t expect to use the BluRay much at this point (there are still too many really good and really cheap HD-DVDs out there) but I certainly will in the future.
Case: Apevia X-QPACK2- (95.00 Amazon)- A good case with a 500 watt power supply included. Yeah, there are sturdier cases out there, but this one fit my needs perfectly. I can easily add a second HDD to the unit and the case is fairly small and looks cool.
Cost: $530- I built a solid system for well under $600 that I can fairly easily upgrade over the next few years to keep it competitive. The only thing that I am saving up to add to it is a video card for between $50-80 so that I can better run the HD movies.
Building the system was a lot of fun and I will definitely continue to build my own systems in the future. I highly recommend the experience to anyone who likes dabbling with electronic gadgets.