My Work PC, or, Taking Your Own Advice

I recently had the opportunity to rebuild my work PC. It strongly resembles the "Little Bang" D.I.Y. system I outlined in my previous post on the philosophy of building your own computer.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original blog entry at:


I guess gratuitious lights strike me as about as gauche as a “Ninja” heatsink. Not sure I’d want to lay those two firestarters (hard drives) atop each other.

In general I agree with you re. specs for a decent development machine. I don’t buy the “build so you can upgrade” spiel though. By the time you’re ready for anything significant in an upgrade you’ll have to toss the motherboard and probably the RAM. Tomorrow’s “good stuff” won’t fit that CPU socket. Home-build machines are a sucker’s bet today, and pretty much have been since the late Pentium II days.

By the time you’re ready for anything significant in an upgrade you’ll have to toss the motherboard and probably the RAM

Agree, but why should I toss the video card, case, power supply, hard drives, and DVD-R along with it?

Motherboards aren’t that expensive, and DDR2 RAM is finally coming down now ($150 for 2 GB).

Windows for Workgroups 3.11. Just kidding, it’s even worse. Vista!

Lucky bastard!

I’ve been begging for a better machine for months, and finally got a laptop (wanted a laptop) that’s half a Ghz slower than my current slow dev pc… :frowning:

Nice rig! The heatsink with the cheesy name is fantastic. Running fanless is the way to go.

Home-build machines are a sucker’s bet today, and pretty much have been since the late Pentium II days.

Wow what nonsense. Who says you have to toss anything? You can take the older parts and ease them into testbed machines, servers or machines for friends and family. My dad is using my old 754 socket that I had a couple years ago and with a $89 proc upgrade it was plenty fast enough for him to run vista and VM him some linux and XP. Generally I get about 2 processor upgrades per platform. I’me never going to spend $1,000 on a processor but I’m happy to pay $300 a year later and get a refreshed machine out of it. For instance, a while ago I upgraded just my processor to a dual core and handed my old processor off to my brother for whom it was perfect for gaming. I can’t imagine overpaying for a criminally crippled Dell or the like that I then have to take a bunch of crapware off of. Getting a whole new machine everytime out isn’t just wasteful, it’s for suckers.

The case is not boring but it’s uuuuugly :wink:

I love you cabling. Wish my cases were so clean :slight_smile:

My only objection is the Antec PSU, they have done nothing but go down in quality in the last couple years. I’ve been through 3 of em here at work in the past 2 months. If you’re curious, I’d go with a PC Power and Cooling PSU or maybe a Seasonic…

There is nothing wrong with the “Ninja” heatsink… :slight_smile:

How about upgrading your system on a shoestring budget? I currently am running a AMD FX55 processor and am thinking about upgrading, but I don’t want too spend as much as I did when I bought the AMD FX55 CPU. I came across this article on Anand-Tech:

I checked out the prices and for 2GB (2x1gb) ram, mobo and the CPU it will only cost about $515. That’s less then what I paid for my old AMD FX55 alone.

I think the low end today is cheaper and faster then what I have and rather then tread towards the high end and pay for it, I am going to stay on the lower end and save some money.

Lucky bastard! I’ve been begging for a better machine for months

To be clear, I pay for all my own PCs out of my own pocket. So I’m either “lucky” or “stupid” depending on how you calculate such things.

Well, you’re probably lucky enough to be paid more than me then. :wink:

hmmm… I guess it wouldn’t hurt to toss in that SLI bridge (with the case open and all)… I wonder, with 3 monitors and 2 cards, can you get that 3-monitor panoramic effect like what the matrox triplehead dongle offers?

I’m in the process of getting all the excess development machines (aka workstations pressed into dev server slavery) in our environment…

I’m planning something with many cores (4 to 8), many bits (64), tons of memory, three 2x300gb 10kRPM raptor raid 0 arrays, and vmware server! that way I can have several virtual dev environments running at all times, with the option of rolling more as needed… all in one box that will hopefully sit under my desk and warm my feet…


SLI is mostly of interest to gamers; it doubles 3D rendering speed by splitting the work between two cards. This is done either by alternating frames on each card, or splitting the screen in half so the left half is rendered by card #1 and the right half is rendered by card #2. Note that 3D graphics is highly parallelizable, far more so than CPU stuff.

SLI unfortunately interferes with multiple monitors; you usually have to switch off multi-mon before enabling SLI. They are mutually exclusive features. This makes it of limited use to me.

4) Displays: When SLI is enabled, only one monitor can be active. When SLI is disabled in the control panel, multiple monitors can be used. The latest driver does not require a reboot to enable and disable SLI.

That said, I guess I might as well put the SLI bridge in place, even if I don’t plan to use it… can’t hurt.

panoramic effect with SLI

When I had SLI working in my system it would only drive 1 monitor. If you wanted to use mutiple monitors you had to disable SLI

I guess I’m one of those lucky ones that gets free PCs from work… but man, they suck. I’ve been begging for a new one (and hopefully better) for such a long time that I’m thinking of following Jeff’s advise and build my own.

I’m sure the current crapware I have will make for a nice server running Windows 3.1. :slight_smile:

Quickly, video cards that are in SLI mode means that they act together to form one image for one monitor (or two sometimes.) With independant video cards, you can have as many monitors as the cards support, so with two cards like that, he should be able to run up to 4 monitors.

Dude, what’s up with all the LEDs?
I like the idea of building my own pc, but it always turns into a huge time suck. I never use my desktops these days anyway. I’m all about my laptop. My Core Duo laptop works as good or better than my Dual Core P4 workstation at the office. Except for the hard drive of course, but next time I’m going to spring for the 7200rpm. I like the flexibility of working at my desk, couch, or coffee shop with equal ease.
But seriously, what /is/ up with those LEDs?

Hej Jeff, I was hoping you might be able to provide som insight into an issue I’m having.

I’m in the middle of deciding about new storage for my current PC. I’m looking at the WD Raptor 74gb 10k rpm disc and it’s smaller sibling, the 36gb. The latter is about 2/3 of the price of the larger one here in sweden and I’m trying to justify the cost. Will I actually NEED 74 gb for the system and any apps I may run (I rarely if ever play games) or will 36gb be sufficient you think? I will be running Vista and probably be content with that. I’m not much of a dual boot kinda guy.

I will however be running several developer tools, some of which are notorious disc space munchers, including Visual Studio, SQL server and Virtual PC (for testing) along with a few images of course.

I did some behind-the-napkin math and came to the conclusion that I might be able to squeeze it into 36 gb, leaving a few gb to spare for swap files and what not. I did account for fluctuations in space usage by Vista, but I did not account for possible upscaling of the VPC images. I haven’t had the need to do that yet however so I left that out on purpose. Still, I wouldn’t want to be caught with my hands in the jar, wanting more space.

Just for the curiosity, for the storage drive I was thinking of going for the WD Caviar 500gb 7200rpm. It’s the cheapest per mb and the cost distance from the 320gb drive isn’t something to cry about.

Thanks for a great blog!

How do you partition your drives? Which drive is the OS installed to? Which drive do you store data to? Which drive is used for code sync/build?