Saturday, August 11, 2012

Home Brew PC

Back in 2003 I ordered a desktop computer through Dell, and specified the contents as high as I could.  Back then a Pentium4 with Hyper Threading, a huge 1GB of RAM and a second hard drive with a whopping 80GB extra storage was a really good system.  Over the years there were upgrades to the graphics card, memory and hard drives.  The old Dell served me well, until a few months ago when it finally died.

It was time for a new computer.  I thought about a laptop, but I already have a Netbook and iPad, so any portability concerns were covered.  Also, the storage capacity of laptops are generally limited to a single 2.5 inch hard drive, and the potential for future upgrades of other hardware is limited.  I looked at Dell desktops again, but they don't seem to allow as much customisation as they did 9 years ago.  Dell also seemed pretty pricey for what you get.

Looking at various hardware vendors, I realised I could build a PC exactly the way I wanted much cheaper than the major brands, and still allow room for future upgrades so that this computer will last many, many years.

Some assembly required!
I hadn't assembled a computer from scratch before, 
but having performed numerous upgrades and repairs to friends and families computers over the years
 (as well as my old Dell), I was confident in the build.

Core i5
The heart of my system is the Intel Core i5-3570K, 
it is unlocked if I decide to go down the over-clocking road and incorporates the best Intel graphics.  
I'm not a big "gamer" so I'm hopeful that I wont need a dedicated graphics card, 
but if I do the motherboard has the slots needed.

Seagate Hard Disc Drives
I've purchased two Seagate hard-drives for the new system to give me a total of 5TB of storage.  
The 2TB drive is partitioned to keep the Operating System separate from everything else, 
this will allow for easy re-installation when needed.

Building my "Homebrew" computer.

PSU installed
First-up in the build was installing the power supply into the case.  
I chose a modular PSU to minimise the amount of unused cables in the case.

Naked motherboard
Next, it was time to fit out the motherboard...
After applying the Thermal Paste, the Intel stock cooler is fitted.
...with CPU, cooler...
Two 4GB RAM sticks
...and RAM memory.

The Motherboard takes its place
With the basics now fitted to the motherboard, it can then be screwed into the case...
Connections from the case.
...and it's time to start plugging in.

Firewire plugs
With a computer that can now competently handle video, 
I've installed a Firewire card so I can download home videos.

Hard Disc Drives installed

Almost finished, install the drives... 
spaghetti mess of cables has been improved with cable ties
...and tidy up the leads with cable-ties.

Time to fire-up the new machine and install an Operating System.
Installing Windows 8 Release Preview.
With the public release of Windows 8 only a month or so away, 
I didn't want to buy an obsolete O.S, so I've installed the "Release Preview" for now.

Finally I need to get all of my old data onto the new machine.
Transfering data from old Hard Disc Drives.
With the HDDs removed from the old Dell machine, 
my "NexStar" adaptor can connect to both SATA and older IDE drives, 
sending data to the new PC via USB3.

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