Saturday Morning Gaming: On Building A Dream Gaming Rig

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Jaybird

Jaybird is Birdmojo on Xbox Live and Jaybirdmojo on Playstation's network. He's been playing consoles since the Atari 2600 and it was Zork that taught him how to touch-type. If you've got a song for Wednesday, a commercial for Saturday, a recommendation for Tuesday, an essay for Monday, or, heck, just a handful a questions, fire off an email to AskJaybird-at-gmail.com

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28 Responses

  1. Avatar Nevermoor
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    says:

    I had the WORST experience with Alienware back then. Bought the system to take to College (and enjoy the summer before). It arrived DOA and they spent months being dicks about fixing it.

    Brand is forever dead to me.

    (Also, still playing the second Mordor game)Report

  2. Avatar Chas M
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    says:

    I just built my Bear. Finished about a week ago. Of course, the day after I ordered my video card, the CARD YOU REALLY WANT was announced. Oh well. Next year. I needed Flight Simulator now. I built an Intel Bear because Avid doesn’t certify any AMD chips. First time I assembled it, it no go. There was a bent pin on the motherboard. Wait 10 days for Newegg to process return…. start me up. The very best is a clean install of Windows Pro. Beautiful White Bear! No glass door or lighty things. Except the 64MB RAM. Do you know how hard it is to get RAM without LEDs? And Flight Simulator is AMAZING!Report

    • Avatar Jaybird
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      says:

      Awesome!

      Yeah, it sucks about the video card. If it makes you feel better, you probably wouldn’t be able to get one of those cards until March anyway.

      I don’t know if that’s true or not, but that is what I am telling myself.Report

  3. Avatar Brandon Berg
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    says:

    I feel like my computer is only about two years old, but I checked for a comment on last Saturday’s post, and it’s over 3 1/2 years old. The years of my life are slipping through my fingers like sand; I really hope the whole radical life extension thing pans out, because 80 years just isn’t going to cut it for me. Anyway, I guess it’s about time for an upgrade. I think I’m going to wait until the Ryzen 5000 CPUs come out later this month, and might wait for AMD to release their new GPU in November, as well. I don’t know if I’ll get an AMD video card, but I figure a hot new thing coming out is going to result in a price cut for the old hot new thing.

    The tricky thing about building your own PC is that your debugging options are limited if you turn it on and it just doesn’t work. If you’re working in a computer shop, you can swap out parts until you find the problem, but if you have one of each part, you’re in for a bad time if one of them is a dud. Fortunately that’s never happened to me, though I have had other problems. Once I shorted out a motherboard because I had a metal mounting spacer touching circuitry. This was back in 1999; I don’t know if that’s still a viable pitfall. Another build wouldn’t POST, and it took me several hours to figure out that the RAM timing was set wrong in the BIOS. This was back in the early 2000s, and I think that might get automatically configured now. I can’t remember having to fiddle with that for a very long time.

    So it might be more or less idiot-proof nowadays. My least favorite part of the process is hooking up the cables. There’s never enough room in the case to make this comfortable, especially if you want an optical drive, an SSD, and an HDD. They each have a power and data cable, so that’s a lot of cables. And those little tiny connectors for the case lights and buttons. I hate those so much.Report

    • Avatar Chas M
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      says:

      My MSI motherboard had debug LED’s telling me I had a CPU issue. So I took off the cooler fan and found the bent pin. The debug codes were extensive, so I bet this is less an issue than it used to be (This is my 4th build, but first in about 15 years).

      Modern cases are much better than they used to be. The Fractal Design case i have has several different configuration options, and cabling is much cleaner and easier than it was in the past. Those 6 little case-button connectors still suck tho.Report

      • Avatar Chas M
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        says:

        Now that I remember it… I asked my wife who has slim crafty fingers to try and put those suckers on, but I couldn’t articulate properly to her without getting a tad shouty that she NEEDED TO GET THE WHITE LETTERS TO LINE UP THE RIGHT WAY, and she got shouty too, and then I still had to do it myself.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird
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          says:

          I shouldn’t have laughed out loud.

          But I did.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg
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          says:

          What I don’t get is why these come as individual connectors. They all go to the same place. Why not fuse them all together into one manageable block? I vaguely remember having a case that actually did that many years ago, but I don’t understand why it isn’t standard now.

          Okay, I just looked it up, and it’s because motherboard manufacturers haven’t standardized the arrangement of the pins. The obvious follow-up question is why not, but I didn’t find an answer to that.Report

        • Avatar Oscar Gordon
          Ignored
          says:

          I have big hands, which makes those little connectors a pain. I keep a surgical clamp/hemostat in my PC toolkit for those little bastards.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird
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      says:

      One of the kinda nice things about taking forever to get the parts is that, when I started all this back in April, I felt like I could only reasonably get the 1TB SSD. Since then, the prices have dropped enough that I felt like I wasn’t cheating if I got the 2TB SSD.

      And then I look at the alienware ad again and see a 60 gig drive.

      Who in the world needs a 60 gig drive?!?!?Report

      • Avatar Chas M
        Ignored
        says:

        I remember paying close to $400 for a 70Mb drive in 1988 to replace my floppies. Or was it $700 for 40Mb?

        If you haven’t already, be sure to check out JayzTwoCents channel, and esp the one about what to do on first boot. He has great advice like don’t hook to the internet until after you finish your first install so you can create a non-email linked login. And he shows you where to go in the bios to tune the memory speed to get what it says on the box. I would never have known that memory ships set to a lower speed. I haven’t really started to get into overclocking and all that, but when I do, I’ll be heading to his channel to get the deets.Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck
        Ignored
        says:

        You put the OS (and *only* the OS) on the 60 gig drive, that way if you need to wipe a drive and reinstall you don’t lose all your useful files.Report

        • Avatar Brandon Berg
          Ignored
          says:

          Jaybird’s talking about back in 2001, when 60GB was a ridiculously large and expensive hard drive. Although maybe it wasn’t actually that crazy? According to this, you could get an 80GB hard disk for $315 in January 2001, and by July the 60GB had fallen to $165.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird
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            says:

            My first hard drive was 900 megs. I remember thinking “holy cow, that’s 900 disks.”

            When I first heard of a 100 gig drive, I asked (unironically) “What in the hell would you need a 100 gig drive for?”

            A computer guy told me “you could do 30 minutes of non-linear video editing with that!”Report

  4. Avatar Oscar Gordon
    Ignored
    says:

    I build a dream gamin rig about every 5 years or so (been building PCs from parts since the early 90’s, so…). My last one lasted 7 years, mainly because CPUs aren’t advancing as fast as they used to, so I could hold onto the same core components and just upgrade the vid card.

    Still, it was done, got rid of it before we moved back to WA from AZ, and I intend to build a new one, but it’s on hold for now for financial reasons (thank you Covid).Report

    • Avatar Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      This is my very first one. We’ve stopped eating out, we’ve stopped doing frivolous things like “going to Disneyworld”, we’ve stopped doing pretty much anything.

      Not doing anything is surprisingly good for the budget.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon
        Ignored
        says:

        It’s good for ours as well, but we had a remodel to finish, and right before Covid shut everything down, my wife quit her well paying job to start her own business. Which has gone nowhere because none of her potential customers can currently afford her services at the moment.

        So we are watching the budget.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          Ah, jeez. I wasn’t trying to be a jerk. I was just trying to be funny about how we stopped doing stuff entirely.

          This pandemic sucks. It’s a giant “pause” button but so much stuff keeps playing anyway.Report

  5. Avatar Damon
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    says:

    So Jay, that post I made about not buying Alienware? That’s my current game platform. I was due for an upgrade from a POS vendor called I Buy Power. Worst CS ever, however, the hardware lasted almost a decade. It’s still running and I use it to play Sid Meyer’s pirates and other games that run on CD when the Alienware is being repaired 🙂 I got the Alienware FOR THE SOLE REASON to play Witcher 3. The old box wasn’t dual core. Sadly I couldn’t put Windows 7 on the box, it came with Windows 10 and Dell put their own BIOS on the unit so downgrading the OP Sys wasn’t happening.

    I’ve been sinking several K every 7-10 years on an new platform to keep up to speed…always buying the second or third generation cards/processors from current. Saves some cash. Not sure what I’m going to do next time since Dell/Alienware seems to suck now. I’m not technical enough in building my own box.

    Just finished Red Dead Redemption 2.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      If you are considering learning, Steam has a game called “PC Building Simulator“.

      Build a gaming pc! Virtually!

      It’s $20 and, really, AMD and Intel and the motherboard people should all chip in and make the game practically free, because the entire game is a dang ad.

      But, anyway, the game apparently does teach you to make a PC.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg
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      says:

      If you’re spending several thousand dollars on a computer that isn’t absolute top of the line, you’re doing something wrong.

      IMO the way to do it is buy a slightly-behind-the-curve PC every 3-4 years. You want to hit the sweet spot of the price-performance curve, which is usually about $200-300 each on the CPU and graphics card, $100-200 worth of RAM, $100-150 motherboard, and then whatever you need for storage. Spend less, and you’re giving up a lot of performance for a little money. Spend more and you’re paying a lot of money for a small performance boost and rapidly depreciating hardware. Today’s $3,000 PC is next year’s $1,500 PC; spending $1,500 every three years is a lot cheaper than spending $3,000 every four years, and keeps you more up to date than spending $3,000 every six years.

      There’s usually no reason to buy older parts. When a new generation of CPUs or GPUs comes out, they’re available at a wide range of price points, from $100 to $1000 or more.

      If you don’t want to build your own, you can always get a local PC shop to put one together for you, or buy one of their pre-built models. I’m not sure how much they charge for assembly, but it can’t be as much as the Alienware premium.Report

  6. Avatar Michael Cain
    Ignored
    says:

    I’ve never been a gamer, so didn’t assemble high-end machines. Long ago at work I built lots of low-end machines out of spare parts because I had to have machines scattered around the country but none of them had to be particularly fast (and there was no budget). All of them ran Linux because it squeezed a lot more network performance and reliability out of low-end boxes than Windows did. (You can still load a satisfactory Linux configuration on hardware that can’t run contemporary versions of Windows.)

    At the high end in those days, I needed hardware capabilities that weren’t available in the PC architecture. In particular, I needed DMA (direct memory access) capabilities better than the crippled arrangement IBM standardized on. That pushed me over into headless workstations to do the number crunching.

    The only compute-bound thing I work on these days doesn’t lend itself to multiple cores (parallelizing the piece of code that takes the time is an ongoing research topic in the signal processing field).Report

    • Avatar Jaybird
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      says:

      We had a slackware print server made out of an old XP box back a million years ago. Set it and forget it.

      Until it stops working and then you ask “we have one freakin desktop in the house… why not just attach the printer to *IT*?”

      And we went back to being lazybones.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain
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        says:

        I have a Samsung laser printer that’s 15? 16? years old. Still chugs along at eight crisp black-and-white pages per minute. $100 toner cartridge is good for 5,000 pages or so. Sometime between when I got it and now, HP took over Samsung’s printer business. HP decided they wouldn’t do a 64-bit version of the Mac driver, and the latest versions of MacOS won’t run 32-bit software, so I can’t hook it directly to my Mac. My wife’s Windows 10 laptop simply refuses to recognize it no matter what we try about drivers. I dug a Raspberry Pi out of my old-projects box and hooked that up. The CUPS printer software recognized the printer immediately and the open-source driver written by some hobbyist works fine. Both the MacOS and Windows machines are happy to print to it over the network using IPP.Report

  7. Avatar DensityDuck
    Ignored
    says:

    On the one hand, my computer can run the games I play now.

    On the other hand…there’s a Star Wars starfighter game that is basically the 1990s TIE Fighter game with modern graphics and sound design, and it works with VR headsets.

    But the backyard needs mulch, and we’ve ordered a generator for the house, and the tractor needs service.Report

  8. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    Yesterday, I went over to my bud’s house and we put together the stuff that I have already.

    The 2TB drive is about the size of a stick of gum.

    This strikes me as *CRAZY* because the 60GB drive mentioned above was the appropriate size/weight to be a murder weapon in Clue. Colonel Mustard, in the Library, with the Hard Drive.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird
    Ignored
    says:

    CYBERPUNK HAS GONE GOLD REPEAT CYBERPUNK HAS GONE GOLD

    Report

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