PC Building Thoughts 2020


Prior to rebuilding my PC with new parts, my custom PC was assembled in 2007.

For a system to run a Core 2 Quad for 10 years, I have to give kudos to the manufacturers and my local and now defunct parts store for assembling. At the time, all PC’s were all just behind opaque cases and kept aside. Now custom built PC’s look more like gawdy, over the top cars with accent lighting and radiators. I’m old school. It runs, it is efficient, it doesn’t give up. Though with the introduction of new technology I feel more confident that systems get more powerful but will still lack in many ways.

When I built my PC in 2007, liquid cooling was more of those people who want to experiment with mineral oil, distilled water and nitrogen. Now all-in-one liquid cooling is common and custom liquid loops are an amateur’s reality. But for me, I’m tried and true with the air coolers. A heat sink strapped onto of a CPU with a fan cooling the entire thing. Simple as possible, very few parts to worry and it works in a lot of conditions. AIO coolers to me is still fairly new despite maturing in the last 8 years or so. A closed loop with liquid, a pump and a radiator. The only problem I see is quality, how reliable is that pump? How much will the radiator can wick? Biggest question since there is liquid involved, will it leak? Leaks can total an entire system by shorting out. That’s as I understand, which means I could lose hundreds of dollars on a system. While air cooling is cheap and does the same job with less parts. Living in Canada, the heat here isn’t so bad and water cooling is only if you want to push every single amount of performance to to the point where you are willing to void a warranty or two to get it. Which isn’t that smart especially living on a budget. This computer is the only computer I have to play games and do most of my work on. My laptop is used for portable work things when I can but I don’t use it as an everyday device to get the job done because I can’t game on a laptop.

Storage solutions now are pretty amazing. They’re fast and massive. My first PC before going custom was 40 GB in hard drive storage. My first custom at the start was 500 GB. Now there are drives a tenth of the size that carry 500 GB and can boot up in 10-30 seconds rather than 30-60 seconds. They’re about the same price as I bought my 500 GB hard drive but these solid state drives are more resilient to magnetic disturbance. If I put a magnet to my hard drive, my hard drive will probably no longer exist. Though the implementation of SSD’s, we not have more use for onboard memory. Which is a neat concept to have a compact storage drive integrated to the motherboard. However I still prefer have an accessible part to swap. When the day manufacturers make an SSD bay that’s like a hard drive, it would be revolutionary to me. Now a hard drive bay that can be disassembled and replace each SSD and plug it back in as one hard drive. For now, they’re provided as an integrated circuit or a box traditionally like a hard drive. Not much in between unless you get into third party and custom boards. I have a drive slot on my motherboard but it’s underneath a CPU cooler and a graphics card and I’m not fond of poking around these parts to install a drive. Unless they put the integrated slot to a port of the board that’s unused for anything or have it as a drive bay!

Boards, especially motherboards, aren’t growing into the enthusiast role as they were before. They were standardize to meet with cards and cases. But what I’ve found is graphics cards are outgrowing the space they sit in, taking up 2 and 3 slots at time. Meaning if I want accessories on my back panel, I cannot use the PCI slot because the cooling unit on the GPU would block that slot. Though I have a mATX in a ATX case, I have 2 slots but only one is populated by my graphics. My case is old so I can’t just side-mount anything and the space between the connector and the cooler won’t fit risers or extenders. So one of my slots will forever be unpopulated so long as I use a graphics card. For the cost of the motherboard, it’s not worth it unless it’s purely all gaming on this tiny board. So either graphics cards needs to be slimmed down for their performance or motherboards need to predominately build cheaply to the ATX case format if you want more accessories. But in my configuration, I could get a smaller case but I don’t due to cost.

I’m stuck in my old ways but the old ways still work. PC building has gotten easier and less can fail. Anyone can build a PC nowadays with a little know-how and a YouTube video to watch about it. But sometimes hardware limitations still gripe me because of the lack of design or compatibility which feels like we’re going back than going forward.

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