Tag Archives: Computer

Fixing what isn’t broken

This post is incase my computer goes off the deep end.

I have 2 case fans that are now 5 years old and they like to make outrageous noises from to time.  Since I’m looking to build a new computer and this one might be going to my parents, I figure I will do them a favor and replace the case fans.

The only thing is that my computer runs perfectly fine right now.  Thus, these 2 small changes could cause it to, in techincal terms, “crap out”.  If that is the case, I will likely not be making any posts for a week while my new computer parts are being shipped.

So here goes nothing!  Also, I realize I need to make it easier to see recent posts so that posts don’t get missed by readers, like the short wedding post last night.

Time to get all Franeknstein on this biatch!

Burning a Hole

Finally once again I have an established in flow of cash.  For the past year cash has been flowing in pretty much one direction.  This influx has caused what some call (Justin) the “Toy Phase” of getting a new job.  Already I have purchased the following:

  • GRiD Racing for Xbox360
  • Xbox Racing Wheel for Xbox360
  • iPod Classic 80gb
  • A rolling garment bag
  • A carry-on luggage piece with suitor
  • Dress Shirts
  • Ties
  • Eat out more often

Currently I am in the process of purchasing a 2009 Toyota Corolla S. (Blue Metallic)  I am on the list and in about 40 days it should arive.  This to me was a very wise decision.  While I was looking at and almost purchased this, I decided against it due to a possible house purchase and other purchases in my near future. (Plus gas is expensive and I would burn through it quick with that kind of car.)

With money still left over and not yet sacrificed to any materialistc god…these still remain in my sights:

  • iPhone 3G or HTC Touch Pro ($300-$900)
  • [Camera+lens] Canon EOS 40D (w/ 28-135mm f/3.5-5.6) ($1200)
  • [lens] Canon 50mm f/1.8 ($90)
  • [filters] ES-72U (Polarized, Neutral, UV) ($115)
  • Build a New Computer ($2000-$3000)
  • A Waterski ($600-$1500)
  • A sailboat ($3500)
  • Other ($6000-$10000)
  • Vacation ($1000-$2000)
  • Slew of games in the fall (X * $60) [Prerequisite = New Computer]

So as you can see, it never stops.  There is always something else to buy.  Most of these things I don’t need and won’t end up being purchased.  I rather like ratching my various accounts grow.  Now if only the market would turn around, things would be better.

Building a Computer 101: The Supporting Cast

We have a computer! (in theory…sigh.) We can’t see what we are doing, we have no input, we have no Operating System (OS) and if we could get to a desktop and listen to something the sound would be “bleh”.

Cue the supporting cast. This rag tag band of misfits is employed to make your computing experience as resplendent as possible. We will be seeking out the services of a mouse, keyboard, sound card, monitor, 7.1 speakers and head phones.


This better be comfortable. You have a few key decisions to make when choosing a mouse-like input device: wireless vs. wired, trackball vs. laser vs. stationary track ball vs. other, number of buttons, on board memory storage, input type (PS/2 vs. USB), size and weight. To properly make the decision you should know what dominates your computer use. I will be using my mouse for graphics work and gaming. I will want something that is wired, because wireless gains me no advantage and batteries are bad for the environment.

My Selection: Logitech G9 Black 5 Buttons Tilt Wheel USB Wired Laser Gaming Mouse
Price: $75

  • Wired
  • Laser (My Razer trackball is annoying when it picks up dust and etc.)
  • High DPI, meaning high sensitivity
  • On-the-fly adjustable sensitivity
  • Various weights and other cool crap


The keyboard is your second major input device. You will likely spend an insurmountable amount of time on this thing. Pick something with durability and comfort. (Or keep buying the same old crappy keyboard every time it breaks.) Once again there are a number of features to balance and choose from but the main choice is between wired or wireless. I will be going wired again because I don’t like batteries in something I use a lot.

My Selection: Logitech G11 Silver & Black USB Standard Gaming Keyboard
Price: $60

  • Wired
  • Light up keys at variable illuminations
  • Hot Keys
  • Programmable

Sound Card:

A good sound card is vital in having decent audio quality. On board audio, while sufficient for office type use, will seem lacking when you demand higher quality during gaming or video playback. The quality during manufacturing of the codec as well as the codec itself is extremely important in determining whether or not you rip your ears off. There are a decent number of options when it comes to sound cards. I prefer to take the easy route and go with the tried and tested. I will be picking up a soundblaster x-fi based card. However, if you want to shop around…make sure to look for high sample rates, well reviewed chipsets/codecs and that the card supports the output you want. (2.1, 4.1, 5.1, 7.1, etc.)

<note>My Selection comes with head phones. This is useful if you don’t want to annoy family members. My headset also has a mic, this would be useful for all you WoW types.</note>

My Selection: Creative 53SB000003000 7.1 Channels 24-bit 192KHz PCI Interface Elite Pro Sound Card and HS-900 Headphone Bundle
Price: $150

  • Uses the Soundblaster X-Fi chipset
  • Better ranges than the high end gaming card
  • Supports all of the fancy EAX and 3D sound options for gaming
  • Comes with well reviewed headset
  • Don’t have to buy a separate headset


Choose LCD (new hotness) or CRT (old heaviness). (There are other options like projectors and such.) Choose the size of the screen, while keeping in mind where you will be putting your rig. Make sure it has inputs that coexist with your video card. Look for contrast ratios, resolutions, brightness, refresh rates and power usage. I will be going with a 24″ LCD that can take input from the GeForce.

My Selection: Westinghouse L2410NM Black 24″ 8ms HDMI Widescreen LCD Monitor 500 cd/m2 1000:1 Built in Speakers
Price: $410

  • Justin actually has this monitor and he likes it. (I found this monitor before asking what he had.)
  • 24″ and widescreen
  • 1920×1200 resolution (To gain full advantage from the vid card I would need a 30″ widescreen.)
  • Well priced for how well it is reviewed (which is high) and what you get (plenty of features).


A better person to talk to about audio would be John. He knows a heck of a lot more than I do. I will say that you want something with decent wattage per speaker, a good frequency range and a high signal to noise ratio. There is so much preference based decisions in this department. We have the capability to go 7.1, but do we have the space? Some of the 2.1 systems are better designed for use with a computer and have more wattage. (More wattage generally means more sound.) This one is really hard for me to decide on because I feel my current 5.1 from soundblaster is pretty crappy. (I’ve read that the fault could lie with my Audigy 2 card.) I also have a hard time setting up 5.1 because I won’t spend money on unsightly stands. So I’ve picked more of a placeholder set of speakers and hope to converse with more knowledgeable individuals to ascertain a better solution.

My Current Selection: Creative Inspire P7800 90 Watts 7.1 Speaker
Price: $80

  • I know they will work with the Soundcard
  • 7.1 audio for a cheap price
  • Only 90 watts 🙁
  • Where am I going to put all these speakers? I’ll need to build some kind of audio add on to my desk.


All that is true for speakers is the same for headphones. Look for wattage and frequency range. The quality of the components and the type of ear piece is important as well. If you want VOIP make sure to get a headset with a mic or you will be needing to purchase a separate mic. Remember that the human ear is only so capable and unless you are an extreme audiophile, any headset in the $40-$120 should do you just fine.

My Selection: Included with the Soundcard.
Price: See Soundcard.

That is it. Our computer is complete, the final tally from Newegg.com for all of the components is…




That is before any shipping and mail in rebates, of which there were many. This is a top of the line brand new, completely functioning (some assembly required) computer with Grade “A” components. The only thing missing is another video card running in SLI which would add about $400 to the price and last you about 7 years. (We also need to go software shopping, next post! ^-^)

Ironically, only days after the first list there has already been announcements of a newer graphics card coming out in the GeForce line. This is why it pays to be informed and have a list. As parts get updated you can decide if they deserve to replace the incumbent part. If not then you can feel good knowing that the price on your current part will drop. When it eventually come time to buy this computer I feel that I will be spending about $3,000 all said and done.

I’d like to hear your thoughts or suggestions on the subject matter. If you have any questions about specific parts or where to get more information, I will do my best to be of service.

Building a Computer 101: Research

The Job posts are taking a hiatus.

I’ve been looking at building a computer more and more lately. When the Orange Box was released I was partially enticed as I wanted to play Team Fortress 2 on the PC. (I’m not a big fan of console FPS, but I manage.) Next came the official announcement of the Spore release date. I’ve also been running into issues based on how I first partitioned my drives. I originally only alloted 20gigs to the C drive. I mean come on…if I only install vital components there I should have 10 gigs of buffer space. (I’ve even allocated My Docs to a different drive.) Low and behold, 5 years later and the stupid drive has somehow managed to work its way down to 2gigs to 200mb of free space at any given time. Baring a complete wipe and reinstall, this issue is mighty difficult to fix. (If you know a way around this, I’m all ears.) The last and most recent issue is the fact that my video card is starting to go on the “fritz”. (It’s a technical term.) Since I only have AGP slots to replace the graphics card, my choices are limited. (AGP is now old tech.) All of these combined events lead me to start looking at building a new computer.

Since I’m planing to go through the process, I’d figure that I would share this journey with you. Keep in mind that each edition of this series will occur when it occurs and to be candid, the information that I present during the first couple of posts will likely become outdated by the actual build time and require me to repeat a few steps.

With that said let’s begin:

The first thing you will want to do is figure out your needs.

If you just need a computer for web browsing and word processing, then I suggest you go the laptop route. In that case our journey together ends here. I suggest you give Dell a look or any other well reviewed laptop. As I’ve never purchased a laptop and my “best” laptop is a 386+ (That’s old school folks), I’m not one to ask about laptops.

If however, your needs happen to require a desktop, a high performance desktop ;-), then you and I have something in common. You could be doing video work, photo work, playing games, developing games or anything else that requires a power hogging, heat generating beast of a machine.

If you want to do some research on your own I suggest reading HardOCP. They are an amazing and (presumably) unbiased website that reviews and details all kinds of hardware components. Within the reviews you can find benchmarks, comparisons and a bunch of well presented useful information.

Here are the basic parts you will need to research for your computer:

  • Case (Bigger allows for flexibility)
  • Power Supply
  • Mother Board
  • CPU
  • RAM
  • Hard Drive
  • DVD/CD ROM Drive

And here are the parts that we will want for our computer:

  • Video Card
  • Sound Card? (Some MoBos come with pretty good integrated sound.)
  • Multiple Hard Drives
  • TV Tuner

The list of things that have become antiquated and you probably won’t need:

  • “A” Drive (Floppy Drive)

I think I’ve listed everything that you need to build a fully functional computer. Some optional items you might be interested in are case mods, physics cards, additional cooling or even a different form of cooling (water/refrigeration). Being that my experience is limited to affixing custom fans and heatsinks using thermal paste, I won’t be covering exotic forms of cooling. (Exotic cooling is generally only necessary if you overclock or live on the surface of Mercury.)

You may be wondering why I didn’t list a monitor. Well unlike some giant chains would have you believe, you don’t need one monitor per computer. (You can use one monitor for multiple computers if you have a switch.) The computer is a separate entity from the monitor and will be selected after building the computer. This is an especially good idea because some video cards only have certain types of output or can handle only certain levels of resolution. Your monitor and your video card need to coexist in blissful harmony. Trust me, choose a monitor after you have ordered the parts for your computer.

In the next post I will detail the exact parts that I have selected if I were to build a computer tomorrow. It’s important to know this even if you plan to build many months out. It gets you in the practice of researching and might clue you in to any possible future breakthroughs that you should wait for. More on that tomorrow!