Recently, I decided to invest in something that would meet two very important criteria – something that would help me advance my career and knowledge, and also something that would be awesome.
The end result – I’m getting a new desktop rig, and building one from scratch for the first time.
Components in the New Desktop
I’ve followed largely in the footsteps of the Jeff Atwood build (when someone really smart has already done a lot of research, it’s a huge leg up). The components are below, with links:
- Case: Corsair Graphite Series 600T CC600TM. Big, but plenty of room for configuration despite my bumbling coordination. Also, primed for airflow and apparently very easy to work with. Also has a bay for SSDs so I didn’t have to buy a mounting kit. Initially ordered the one without a window, but shipping considerations led me towards this one.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO Z68 chipset, 32GB max memory, Sata 6GB/s, USB 3.0, RAID for drives, SSD caching.
- Processor: Intel Core i7-2600K. 3.4 GHz Quad-Core out of the box. Crazy over-clockable (which I plan to attempt)
- Memory: 16GB (2 x 8GB) G. Skill Ripjaws series DDR3 SDRAM 1888 (PC3 1066). Got a great deal on this from Newegg during one of their sale sprints. Couldn’t pass up the ability to still expand memory later.
- Heat Sink: Thermalright Venomous X - RT
- Additional Fan: Noctua Ultra Silent 140mm Fan NF-P14 FLX – should fit in the back nicely and give me some extra quiet cooling.
- Fan Control: NZXT Sentry-2 5.25” Touch Screen fan controller – mostly for the temperature monitoring in the beginning but I’ll get into tweaking it over time.
- Power Supply: Corsair CMPSU-850AX 850-Watt 80 Plus Gold Certified – tons of power with crazy efficiency under heavy load.
- HDDs: Two Seagate Barracuda ST31000524AS 1TB drives. I plan to mirror these for redundancy on the RAID supported by the Z68 chipset.
- SSD: Crucial CT064M4SSD2 64 GB – This is a beautiful thing. I will use the 64GB to serve as a cache for the two 1 TB drives. This means most things I do often (OS, etc.) should run at near-SSD speeds. I’m excited to see this in action.
- Optical Drive: Samsung SH-B123L/BSBP – Blu-Ray reader, writes everything else, does LightScribe.
- USB 3.0: Superspeed USB3.0 Bay Hub Kit. High-speed hub? Yes, thank you.
- Graphics Card: Sapphire HD 6850 PCIE Video Card. There are so many of these out there, it’s hard to choose. I shot towards the middle of the good stuff. Triple monitor output is appealing, for sure. Plus it’s got the ability to be paired with a friend in the future.
- OS: Windows 7 Professional 64-bit System Builder DVD. I use Win7, I love it, and I like it to be legitimately licensed.
- Extras: Thermal paste, SATA cables, etc.
- For the future: Egg crate foam / sound-proofing materials. I’ll cobble these together from eBay or something.
What I’m Getting For all of This
- Lots of Power and Speed. A 2600k (let alone an overclocked one) is a beast in terms of power. Add SSD caching, the decent graphics, and the 16GB of memory, and I think this thing is going to fly.
- Stability / Backups. RAID mirroring the 1TB drives together gives me fault tolerance, and my external backup via Backblaze gives me peace of mind. I’m going to script the hell out of some backups to an external too, I’m sure.
- Efficiency. The gold-certified PSU has some great resistance to stress, which also means less heat.
- Future-proofing. The case is big and easily configurable, and once I’m familiar with all the components, I’ll have no trouble upgrading them piecemeal.
What I Plan to do With It
- Get better at doing this sort of thing. Seriously, it amazes me that I’ve gone this long without building my own rig. It’s such a rite of passage in the tech world. I have plenty of knowledge of how these things tend to work, but there’s no substitute for doing it.
- Back it up. The first piece of software to go on this baby after Windows will be Backblaze, which is currently my backup provider of choice. Unlimited data + external HDDs for $50/year. Unbeatable.
- Overclock it. The word itself makes me nervous and conjures images of silicon melting, but it’s apparently mind-numbingly simple with the 2600k.
- Virtualize on it. 16 GB of memory and all that HDD space means prime virtualization territory. I’ll stop short of putting XenServer on it because I still want to play games, etc. natively on Windows, but I plan to use VirtualBox to set up a number of of VMs, which leads me to my next point..
- Start experimenting. I have so many ideas. I’d say too many, but of course I don’t believe in such things. I’m going to be working on Continuous Integration, build processes, development, etc.
- Find a game to play. I can’t tell you when the last time was I played a decent game. Now that I have acceptable graphics output, I’m looking forward to nerding out a bit with some games.
- Go to dual (and eventually triple) monitors. It’s its own reason.
What Do You Think?
Sound off in the comments – I’m interested to hear your thoughts!