When my computer died last month, I started chatting with friends through Google Talk on my phone and quickly adjusted to not having my laptop running in my room all of the time. It was definitely as freeing as I imagined it would be, and the only time I really missed it was when I was trying to do some more extensive searches online. Even by the time I had written the blog post, though, I was pretty much set on the idea of buying a new, powerful PC to replace my one remaining computer, so I pretty quickly got started on investigating what it might cost. Of course, I’ve been out-of-the-loop on computer hardware news for a long time, so while I had a basic understanding of what was what, things such as high quality brands and newer specifications were beyond me. So, where to start the hunt?
This new machine of mine is definitely geared more towards work; it’s at a standing desk I have in my room (well, it’s just a regular desk turned to face the wall, but the back shelf is perfect standing-desk height), so I won’t be comfortably lounging at it for hours. I only have old editions of computer programs on my older computer (Adobe CS2, anyone?), so I started my computer-hunt by finding open-source/free alternatives — tools for my creative endeavors that won’t cost me anything (this is just a hobby) and will have more modern features and capabilities. I ended up with a list of replacements for video and music editing, painting/drawing, and since I’m buying a hefty machine anyway, I figured I’d throw in some 3D CGI programming, too 🙂 . I’ll write more about each of these as I play around with them more, but the key for THIS particular story is that I now had my foundation of required computer specifications to look for, based on what these programs required. I was considering the option of building my own PC, too, so I took my specs list over to my pal Scott Brown’s house, and we started the hunt. Eventually, we landed on Newegg.com, where I found a machine that wasn’t way over-budget (I was content spending over a grand for a good machine, but passing $1,500 was where it started getting to be a bit much)… AND it had everything I needed, AND it was under $1,000!
Yeah, that’s my little beast in that picture up there. A little research revealed that it’s from a company that pieces gaming PC’s together, so the logos you see are just to identify the case and the motherboard. This ain’t no Dell, dude. It was an open-box, but it still came with everything it should, despite the Newegg warnings. In fact, with how it was packaged and how all of the equipment looked, I’m pretty darn sure this thing was never even used. When I first saw the picture, I laughed, thinking, “Is that just a giant fan in the front?” Yes, yes it is. This thing has massive fans in the front, top, and back of the box, three smaller fans on the side vent you can see in the image, and another small fan on the hidden side. A cool-running system is important to me, because my room gets very warm and stuffy, and electronics can cook in here – especially a computer running heavy programs. As I discovered after it arrived, the box has a switch in the back to turn the fans on high, but I have yet to feel anything but cool air coming out of the machine, even with the fans on the low-speed setting. I love the size, too: about a foot tall, less than a foot wide, and a foot-and-a-half deep… and most of that is just fans 😉 . As for the internal specs, here’s what’s inside the box…
- AMD FX-8350 4.0GHz 8-core processor
- 16GB DDR3 1600 RAM
- 2TB SATA III 7200RPM hard drive
- and an AMD Radeon HD 7950 graphics card with 3GB memory
As I said.. my little beast 🙂 .
The only minor drawback is that I can’t add two graphics cards in sync with each other (with this card, at least), but the only program that even mentioned needing that was Blender — and even that was only listed under the highest level of production-grade recommendations.
I also bought myself a nice, big monitor to mount on my wall above my desk, and ended up with an Asus 27-inch LED (model VE278Q). When I set everything up and turned it on, it was a thing of beauty.
So, yeah… I’ve been playing around with my machine for the last few days, and it’s been absolutely great. For a guy coming from using a 5+ year-old laptop running Windows Vista and an 11+ year-old desktop running XP, using Windows 8.1 on my little beast has been like moving from a dirt ditch to the Palace of Versailles. Start-up and action is smooth and quick, and everything is just purring along like a dream. As I said above, I’ll write more about my art-specific workflows in subsequent posts, as I refine my processes and use them more, but I will say that I’ve started writing again, and I’m darn thrilled about that. Of course, while this computer isn’t something for me to idly sit at and zone out, I’ve still managed to have some non-work fun with it, too.
EA decided to give away Sims 2 for free, and by wonderful serendipity, they JUST happened to be doing so during the week I received my computer; it was a sign! I’d never played any Sims game before, but why the heck not, right? I also dug out my old copy of SimCity 4, and I eagerly downloaded every mod and enhancement I could — not cheats, but game-fixing and beautification additions that my old machine could barely chug along with. I’ve already lost a few hours to that game, and I’m sure I’ll be losing quite a few more in the future. Finally, what’s a beautiful monitor in the home of Mark Mushakian without some beautiful desktop backgrounds? A TRAVESTY, that’s what. So, because I’m me, over the last couple of days I’ve added a few lovely gals to my folder of rotating wallpapers — only 89, so far, but I have 2TB of space… so I’ll get there 😉 .