So what happened was...
I enjoyed building and upgrading my own computers. I cut my teeth on the early Trash 80s (yeah I'm that old) and kept swapping components and upgrading all the way through around 2004. Side-note: I remember scavenging a full-height 384MB HD that sounded like a jet taking off when you fired up the computer. I also still remember the sound when the head crashed into the platter. That was a sad day.
Here's the case from my 2004 build:
It was beige. And it had teeny little fans. Look at the cute little fan. Isn't that just adorable? Did I mention it was beige?
By 2009 I had fallen hopelessly behind on upgrades.
Then, because most of my computer stuff was work related and they provided me a laptop, I mothballed my 2004 build, and broke down and bought a pre-built consumer-grade desktop. It wasn't beige, and it wasn't slow (then). And it ran Windows and MS Office and most other productivity software out at the time.
Did I mention it wasn't beige?
Fast-forward to now. It's been five years since my last new computer, and that sad little EOM is a frakking slug. It has a AMD Athlon processor and 3GB RAM. If I asked it to do any heavy lifting, it had to go have a lie-down afterward. Enough is enough. I'm ready to get my hand back in building my own systems.
Upgrading was a no-go. The mobo was too old and was limited in the first place.
Enter my first project in a decade. Money's not flowing like a fountain, so I wanted to take it slow, but get something I could use immediately and upgrade over time. The build must:
1) Not cry when I ask it to process lots of data.
2) Be upgradable for some time. Newish socket preferred so I can upgrade CPUs for a while.
3) Have processor power over graphics capabilities (at the moment). I'm running a few games that are single-thread limited.
4) Have fast boot-times.
5) Have some wow-factor but not excessively bling. I don't want to look like I'm having a mid-life computer crisis.
6) Overclocking was not a priority at this time
, because frankly I was so far behind the curve that anything was going to feel screaming fast, and I wanted to keep my budget as low as possible.
7) Re-use as much of my salvaged components as possible (for now)
8) Have at least 8GB RAM
9) Come in under $400 total.
I spent about 40 hours over 2 weeks reading through posts here and on other sites, and settled on the following:
- Gigabyte Mobo GA-H87M-D3H LGA1150
- Intel CPU Core i3-4330 3.5GHz
- Kingston HyperX DDR3 1600 8GB
- Samsung EVO 120GB SSD for a dual-boot OS.
Total cost for the base components: $380 including tax and shipping. Can't beat that with a stick.
I planned to reuse (at least for now) one of my old cases (beige *shudder*), an old optical drive, 2TB HDD (not that old), 450W Modular PSU (not that old), and the peripherals and monitor.
After buying those bits, and installing them in the old case, this is what I ended up with:
Talk about hiding a jewel in a cesspit. Wire management was basically impossible, there was zero space behind that motherboard tray. And the PSU had the older-style power plugs. But I went with it, expecting to upgrade the cables and clean up the cable management later.
Only snag... all my old optical drives (except for the one in the Compaq), were ancient. So I had to go get an optical drive after all, so i could install the OS.
After that, I fired it up. Wow it felt blazing fast. Ubuntu booted up in about 6 seconds, and Windows wasn't much slower. All the programs just screamed compared to how I had been limping along before. All was right with the world. Until...