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Old Jan 9, 2014, 12:09 AM   #1
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Default A Photog's got to have a hobby

I got tired of counting to 10 waiting for LR to start so about a year ago decided to build a home-brew photo editor. Never built a PC before so it literally took most of a year to research and buy all the parts but I'm in no hurry. About 4 weeks ago I took delivery of the last part, the CPU. So for a month or so I've been stepping over or walking around this big pile of boxed parts. I don't know what got into me but last weekend I bit the bullet and started the unboxing. It's not that difficult to build a PC but also not without the possibility of frustration or disaster. For instance, I bent a pin when installing the CPU and it wouldn't boot the first time I started it. Spent hours on builder forums until I was advised to to check the socket pins. I didn't want to do it because it pretty much meant completely disassembling the machine and rebuilding. Fortunately, after tearing it apart I was able to straighten the pin.

Anyway, it's done now. Those of you familiar with the Windows Experience Rating know it's a measure of 5 key elements of performance on a scale from1.0 to 7.9: Processor, Memory, Graphics, Gaming and Hard Disk. This computer scored 7.8, 7.8, 7.9, 7.9, and 7.9 respectively.

No apps or internet installed as yet (that may be another month) but if the speed at which Mahjong loads is any indication it's going to be a screamer.

Here's the build:

CPU Intel Core i7-4770K 3.5GHz Quad-Core
Motherboard Asus GRYPHON Z87 Micro ATX LGA1150
Memory G.Skill Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR3-1600
Storage Samsung 840 Pro Series 256GB 2.5" SSD
Seagate Barracuda 3TB 3.5" 7200RPM
Video Card Asus GeForce GTX 660 Ti 2GB
Case Corsair 350D MicroATX Mid Tower
Power Supply Corsair 750W ATX12V / EPS12V
Optical Drive Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE DVD/CD Writer
Operating System Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 64 bit
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 7:16 AM   #2
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Where's the floppy disk drive?

The specs certainly sound nice enough. I used to walk by the area in Fry's where you could assemble all the computer parts and wonder how hard or expensive it might be doing it myself but never got around to it.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 7:58 AM   #3
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Very nice. I built mine probably about 4-5 years ago now--it could use some updating but it's so rock solid I'm afraid to mess with it. I have upgraded some components from time to time which has kept me (relatively) up to spec. The biggest upgrade, which surprised me, was merely going from Windows XP to 7 last year. It was like I had a whole new box, it was so much faster.

Solid State drives are getting cheap enough that they might be finally worth it to be my next update. That and the processor are my bottlenecks now. At some point though I suppose I'll have to give in and replace the processor/Mobo.

The monoblack inside of your box there looks nice enough to be able to see. You should get a plexiglas side for your box or something.

Last edited by SammyKhalifa; Jan 9, 2014 at 8:02 AM.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 8:44 AM   #4
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hey Alan,

....a very nice spec'd & really good looking machine, ya did well! There is a whole lot of cooling going on, the plumbing looks awesome.

I did build all my computers during the 90's but wouldn't attempt one now.
______________

AND, of other hobbies, I am a FCC licensed 'advanced class' HAM (WD5DHF) since 1977 though I am not active now. During the winter of 1978 I built a complete Heathkit solid state amateur radio station ... the SB104A line (transciever, power supply, external VFO, linear amplifier, monitor scope, RF monitor w/phone patch, RF meter, remote antennae switch) and some other pieces. Then I designed and built my own antennas for the next 15-years, the largest was a 32-ft boom 6-element 28MHZ YAGI to my 60-ft tower.



With this station I have card confirmed nearly 300 unique country entities with other HAMS worldwide, quite a few thousand contacts including at least one in every USA state during one weekend (1985).

I still have all the station pieces.... they look new!
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Hobbies are fun for sure...... keep us informed how your new 'puter' performs and congratulations on the build. An AWESOME way to stay inside and warm!
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 10:22 AM   #5
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Neat.

The specs are certainly very nice on that PC, and should serve you well for years to come.

Personally, I tend to be "cheap", and usually buy a refurbished Dell for my purposes anymore. Basically, I built my own PCs for a number of years. But, I later figured out that it's just less expensive to go with an "off-the-shelf" box from a vendor like Dell, going refurbished and using coupon codes for more off.

I've bought machines that way (refurbs using coupon codes) for a lot less than the parts and OS software would have cost me. 5 out of my last 6 computers were purchased that way (refurbished Dell boxes). Here's my latest box (Dell XPS 8500, not the newer XPS 8700), just purchased month before last (you'll need to scroll down on the page to see the listing for it):

http://www.ebay.com/itm/151161079976

I don't normally buy PCs from an Ebay vendor. But, I needed a new computer on short notice, and didn't see any good deals or coupon codes for PCs like that from Dell Outlet at the time. So, for $649 delivered, including a box with a Core i7 3770, 12GB of DDR3, GT 640 with 1GB of 128 bit GDDR5 (OEM version with the same specs as the retail GTX 650), 2TB 7200rpm drive (Seagate Barracuda is what it came with), plenty of USB 2.0 and 3.0 ports, card reader, keyboard, mouse, wireless N and Bluetooth, and more, I figured that for $649 delivered (including tax and shipping), it was a good deal.

It also came with a 1 year warranty with "Premium" phone support (24x7), and next business day on site service. I would have preferred to go with the newer XPS 8700 with the Core i7 4770 in it instead. But, budget was tight and I would have ended up spending around $100 more for one like that..

Costco has a pretty good deal on the newer XPS 8700 model with a Core i7 4770 right this minute ($749), and they also extend the warranty to 2 years total. See this listing:

http://www.costco.com/Dell-XPS-8700-...100082459.html

That's new versus refurbished, too. But, the video card isn't as good as OEM GT 640 in the box I bought (again, same specs as the GTX 650, same 384 cores, same 80GB/Second bandwidth, 128 Bit GDDR5, etc.). The retail GT 640 models are slower; and the GT 635 in the Costco box is also slower than the video card in the refurb I bought (but, still fine for most purposes, unless you're into gaming).

But, for $749, that Costco XPS 8700 box is still a good deal, and the Dell 460 Watt PSU is capable of handling a video card drawing up to 225 Watts (they sell them with both the GTX 660 and GTX 660 Ti if you look at their "Special Edition" Lineup; and you can also replace the PSU if needed for an even faster card, as they use a standard ATX PSU).

They also have an mSATA slot you can use for an SSD, so that you don't need to use a Drive Bay for one. I already have a Samsung 830 SSD I haven't taken the time to install in it yet (standard 2.5" model versus mSATA model though). But, Intel, Crucial, aDATA, Plextor, Mushkin and others make mSATA SSDs you could use in the mSATA slot the XPS 8500 and XPS 8700 have available, so that you don't waste a SATA Port or Drive bay for an SSD.

Anyway, for $649 (for the box that I just bought), it's hard to do any better building one yourself (especially considering everything it comes with, OS cost, etc.).

Your box is much nicer though (faster CPU, faster video card, nicer PSU, better drive setup, etc.). But, I'm on a very tight budget, and $649 delivered with no tax and free shipping was about all I could afford at the time. ;-)

Bob:

I used to be a very active in Amateur RAdio many years ago. There are a number of others in the forums here, too (and even Steve is an Amateur Radio Operator).

I got my Novice Class license when I was 13 years old, and got my General Class License when I was 14 years old, quite a long time ago. I built a Heathkit HW16 CW Transceiver for starters (using Crystals, not a VFO, since only Crystals were allowed for a Novice license at the time), and also built in my own antennas.

After I got my General Class License when I was 14, I built a Heathkit HW101 Transceiver for both SSB and CW use (although I stuck with CW far more than voice at the time, with a Heathkit Electronic Keyer, and later buying a nicer Ten-Tec keyer with Iambic paddles, etc.). I probably drove my parents nuts (using their muffin tins to store parts like resistors, capacitors, etc. while building that Heathkit gear). At that age, I'm lucky the solder joints worked OK (as I was not that good with a soldering iron at the time). But, it all worked fine. Gotta love the old Heathkit stuff. lol

So, I'm a big fan of the older Heathkit gear (and your station is using "top of the line" stuff, not the cheaper HW101 like I used for years).

But, I haven't been active in many years. and sold my gear a long time ago. Basically, I spent 6 years in the U.S. Navy in communications (and was also the only HAM Radio Operator on board a ship I was stationed on in the '70s). We had an Aux Radio Room that we had a setup similar to yours in (all nicer Heathkit gear, with separate transmitter, receiver, linear, etc.), with the ability to patch into the ship's radio antennas with it, so I could make phone patches for the crew members when deployed at sea. I'd work a 12 hour shift in Radio (we were always "port and starboard" when at sea), then I'd go to the Aux Radio room and spend hours and hours more making phone patches for others using the Heathkit gear we had setup for that purpose. I never got much sleep at the time. lol

But, after spending 6 years in communications while in the Navy, I never got back into it as a Hobby again after I got out.

However I do have a Yaesu FT-747GX (HF Transceiver) sitting on a shelf in my closet that I bought a number of years ago at a Hamfest, along with instructions I printed out to make it both transmit and receive on any frequency between 10 and 160 Meters (not just the amateur radio bands, basically by just removing a jumper to "unlock" it).

It's still new in the box, and has never even been powered up. I bought an AC to DC power supply for it at the same time (it's a DC powered transceiver, so you could run it off of a car battery if needed), along with an Antenna tuner, insulators and lots of coax and wire for stringing up a dipole or two if I ever wanted to use it. It's all on a shelf in my closet (Yaesu FT-747GX with unlock instructions printed, Antenna Tuner, AC to DC Power Supply, Ceramic Insulators, Coax, Wire, etc.)

I guess I should take the time to "fire it up" one of these days, just to make sure it actually works, in case I ever need it during any type of disaster here. :-)
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 11:00 AM   #6
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Building it's more fun, though. And (though there are very good deals for buying complete "kits") I feel that in a way I'm actually in a way spending less in the long run, because I'm only getting the things I need/want. I've been re-using the same tower for probably 15 years now.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 2:34 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg Chappell View Post
Where's the floppy disk drive?

The specs certainly sound nice enough. I used to walk by the area in Fry's where you could assemble all the computer parts and wonder how hard or expensive it might be doing it myself but never got around to it.
I almost didn't even install an optical drive. There are builders who don't include them anymore.

It's not hard in this age of PnP to build a computer. I don't believe you save money though. Building my own was a bucket-list item for me so I did it even though I may have saved money, time and grief by buying one.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 2:46 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by SammyKhalifa View Post

The monoblack inside of your box there looks nice enough to be able to see. You should get a plexiglas side for your box or something.
There is a windowed side available for this case and I thought long and hard about it. In the end, good sense prevailed because the computer will be hidden under a desk. If I was a gamer attending LAN parties I would have spent the extra few dollars. Instead, from time to time I'll pull it out from under the desk, take off a panel and admire my handiwork.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 2:57 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by boBBrennan View Post
hey Alan,

....a very nice spec'd & really good looking machine, ya did well! There is a whole lot of cooling going on, the plumbing looks awesome.

I did build all my computers during the 90's but wouldn't attempt one now.
______________

AND, of other hobbies, I am a FCC licensed 'advanced class' HAM (WD5DHF) since 1977 though I am not active now. During the winter of 1978 I built a complete Heathkit solid state amateur radio station ... the SB104A line (transciever, power supply, external VFO, linear amplifier, monitor scope, RF monitor w/phone patch, RF meter, remote antennae switch) and some other pieces. Then I designed and built my own antennas for the next 15-years, the largest was a 32-ft boom 6-element 28MHZ YAGI to my 60-ft tower.

With this station I have card confirmed nearly 300 unique country entities with other HAMS worldwide, quite a few thousand contacts including at least one in every USA state during one weekend (1985).

I still have all the station pieces.... they look new!
_____________________

Hobbies are fun for sure...... keep us informed how your new 'puter' performs and congratulations on the build. An AWESOME way to stay inside and warm!
I have the utmost respect for folks who built in the 90's. If you have that experience I believe you would find the tool-less, PnP assembly of today simple. The only tool I used was a phillips for 7 screws to mount the motherboard. Everything else snapped into place. Kind of like a kids model after they did away with the need for airplane glue.

I've given much thought to becoming a HAM. Maybe after I retire.
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Old Jan 9, 2014, 5:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by chiPersei View Post
I have the utmost respect for folks who built in the 90's.
Try about 10 years earlier, where you had to plug in one RAM chip at a time in rows of 8, being careful not to bend any pins (which is very easy to do, as I can attest to).

We're spoiled anymore, as today's systems are much easier, where you can just plug DIMMS with the chips already installed on them into slots, versus needing to plug in one chip (with lots of pins per chip) at a time into sockets soldered into a motherboard, with lots of chips needed just to get a system with a huge 640KB of Memory working (with 8KB chips with delicate pins you needed to plug in one at a time in rows of 8)

Of course, that's still better than older systems (for example, I've still got an Apple II with 64KB of RAM installed).

But, the first system I built from scratch (versus coming already assembled like that Apple) had a whopping 640KB (10 times the memory in my Apple), requiring you to plug in a lot of chips into sockets to get that much memory (8KB chips in rows of 8), and again, they were very easy to damage and bend pins with, too (you needed to be super careful, and if you had one bad chip, troubleshooting was a bear).

I've still got both systems (along with many more). What can I say? I'm a "pack rat" :-)

IOW, my office looks like a "Computer Graveyard" I've got so many PCs in it right now, some of which have not been "fired up" in a number of years.
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