Tuesday, September 25, 2012

New Desktop: Sasha!

Note: this blog has been migrated to Medium, with the articles here available to preserve permalinks Please see this post at https://medium.com/@ianrbuck/new-desktop-sasha-4c868bfd3ef8

For the last two years the only computer I had was my laptop, a Sony VAIO VPCF1. I call it Vera. She has served me well, but lately she has started to overheat very quickly while playing games like Max Payne 3 and Assassin's Creed Brotherhood. This is likely a combination of the hot summer air, her aging Geforce 425M, and the fact that she has never had the best cooling system as it was.

So this summer I started keeping my eyes peeled for deals on desktop parts. Last week the final parts came, and I spent a couple of hours with my friend Sean Stockholm building Sasha in my dorm's TV lounge. I also did a live-stream of the whole thing to test out Google+'s streaming system. You can watch the video here, but I understand if you don't want to.

Here is a complete list of the parts and peripherals that I got (in the order that I bought them in) with rounded prices.
This sounds expensive until you realize that a large portion of that cost was the monitor alone, and the tower itself was under $1300. So it would be very easy to build something similar for about $1500, but without the 3D monitor (more on 3D gaming in another post).

Being that I name all of my electronics after weapons, I have named her Sasha after the Heavy Weapons Guy's mini gun in Team Fortress. For now I have installed the release preview of Windows 8. I am liking it enough to actually get the final version when it comes out on October 26th, especially since it is only going to be $40. And for all you nay-sayers out there who think that Windows 8 is going to be crap, don't worry about it. It is very easy to use it just like Windows 7. The only major difference is that you have the start screen instead of the start menu, and I hardly ever go there because all of my programs are pinned to the taskbar. And Windows 8 brings quite a few features that are very useful, such as Storage Spaces (lets me put files like my music collection, game files, etc in a virtual space that is duplicated across as many drives as I wish) and the ability to open ISOs in Explorer. You may have noticed that I didn't buy any sort of optical drive because I don't believe in them. Seriously, when was the last time you had to install something from a CD? Even if I ever have to do that, it isn't hard to stick the disc into my laptop, make an ISO file in Google Drive, and then open it in Sasha.

There are a few quirks that I have noticed so far. When I am gaming and I have the fans turned all the way up, I hear this annoying little squeaking coming from somewhere in the tower. I still need to look into that. Also, during last weekend's podcast the computer stopped receiving sound from my headset's mic. It was set as the default device and everything, and I know there is nothing wrong with the headset because it was working with my laptop. Since then it has started working again, and I have no idea what was going on.

To wrap up, I am definitely happy with my new computing device, and I hope that I have future-proofed her enough to not have to spend too much on parts for the next 4-5 years.