The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

February 2, 2013

It’s Getting Just a Little Crowded in Here

Filed under: Technology — Brian Lutz @ 11:52 pm

One of the nice things about having kept this Blog for as long as I have (over 5 1/2 years now) is that it’s easy for me to figure out what I was doing at some particular point in time by going back to look at my Blog posts.  For example, while in the process of writing this post, I went back and referred to the post I wrote the last time I built a new computer.  Perhaps the most interesting thing I learned by rereading my old post is the fact that my current PC is (mostly) actually a year older than I thought it was,. which would make it just about as old as the PC that preceded it was when I replaced that with the incumbent system I’m writing this on now.  The funny thing about this is that it really doesn’t feel nearly that old.  Even with most of the major components just left alone, this PC has held up quite well, and I have yet to find a game that it can’t handle.  Four years after I built the previous system it had become rather slow, and although it was quite stable for most of the time I used it (about the only problem I really had with it was one failed hard drive) it was pretty much inadequate to handle any game that had come out in the previous two years.  I don’t know if this is more a matter of things just plain not advancing as fast (it’s been widely noted that Moore’s Law seems to be slowing down significantly as of late) or a matter of me doing more futureproofing on this system when I built it, but I have yet to find anything that this system can’t handle.

Even so, there have been a few nagging issues with this system that I’ve been wanting to deal with for a while now.  Perhaps the most notable of these is that it hasn’t been quite as stable as I’d like it to be, especially when running GPU-intensive tasks (read: games.)  The GeForce GTX 260 I’ve been running on certainly has enough horsepower to handle the task of running most modern games, but it makes a lot of fan noise while doing so, and tends to crash out if it gets too hot, which happens a lot.  Oh, and the company that built it went out of business about a year after I built the machine, so the lifetime warranty on the video card turned out to be not-so-lifetime after all.  In order to keep the system from melting into a pile of unrecognizable goo (which would probably mess up the carpets and lose my deposit on the apartment) I’ve had to run it with the side off the case for quite a while now.  This is, of course, ugly, and tends to create dust-covered nightmares inside the system, like you can see above.  Naturally, this is something that I’ve been wanting to fix for a while, and as of late, I’ve started the process of doing some PC upgrades.

The first order of business:  Moving into a bigger case.  I’ve been using an Antec Sonata for quite a while now, which is a pretty decent case if you’re looking for something quiet, but as you can see, my system was kind of crammed in there, without much room to spare, cable clutter all over the place, and generally not exactly the kind of thing you’d want a respectable PC to be running in.  With that in mind, a couple of weekends ago I moved my system into a CoolerMaster HAF X case, which provides a lot more space to work with, as well as a lot more cooling.

This is the result of that.  Still not exactly perfect, but definitely a lot cleaner than it was before.  And so far, the video card is a lot less temperamental  with improved airflow in the case (blowing out the half ton of dust probably had something to do with that too, but that’s beside the point.

Oh, and the new case has a couple of other cool new features as well. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.  I spent way too much time back in tech support back in the day, still trying to sort out a few of the emotional scars that resulted from it.)

Speaking of the video card, it’s next on the list.  An EVGA GeForce GTX 660Ti has replaced the old GTX 260 card that was purchased along with the rest of the system.  It definitely runs faster and at higher resolutions than the old card (which means I can actually run stuff at the resolution of my two monitors now, instead of having to scale things down to keep from blowing things up) but now it’s getting bottlenecked by things.  And even if I did get the SSD I’ve been looking at (probably a Samsung 840 Pro) it looks like that would end up getting bottlenecked too.  Naturally when you work with this type of stuff one thing inevitably leads to another, and before you know it you’re looking at just replacing everything and calling it good.  Then again, it’s been four years since I’ve really done anything with this system at all (aside from messing around with peripherals) so I’d say it’s probably a good time to just go ahead and build a new one.  Naturally all the cool new stuff that changes everything will probably get announced a week after I finish building it (as was the case with both of my last two systems) but as I’ve noted here on a number of other occasions, sometimes you just have to decide on something or you’re going to end up waiting forever for the next new thing, then end up waiting for the next new thing after that when that one comes because the next new thing wasn’t quite as cool as you wanted it to be when it finally showed up.  Then again, it’s not like I have to be in any particular hurry anyway, since what I have is still running perfectly well in the meantime.

Oh well, I suppose I’ll sort all this stuff out eventually.  Sometimes getting distracted by bright shiny objects can turn out to be a lot more work than it seems.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go try to figure out what the differences between the half zillion different variations on the P8Z77-V motherboard are.  This might take a while…

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