Life February 21, 2012

New computer, anguish and excitement

Buying a new computer can be hard. Especially for me.

About a month ago I decided it was time for me to get a new computer. Since then I’ve been pestering my wife, friends and co-workers by complaining about my quandaries and anguish regarding what to buy. You see, I had some slightly contra dictionary requirements.

  • The computer had to offer great performance when programming. I wanted a decent CPU, 16 gigs of RAM and a fast SSD drive.
  • It had to offer decent gaming performance. Not that I play a lot of games, but hey, you never know.
  • It had to be able to run Windows.
  • It had to be able to run OS X.
  • It had to be quiet.
  • I wanted a really big monitor. Or rather a monitor with a high resolution.
  • I didn’t want to build it myself.

My first thought was to get an iMac seeing as that would fulfill most of my requirements if I configured it with the maximum amount of memory, the fastest CPU and so on. It would also offer me a 27” monitor which was my minimum requirement. However, as I was about to place my order my good friend and Apple-fanboy Marthin told me about whose buyer’s guide made it clear that a new version of the iMac is expected soon. Having decided to buy an iMac and finding this out made me cringe. Obviously I couldn’t buy an iMac, especially since my brand new 27” monitor would then be attached to soon to be legacy hardware. Yes I know, I’m stupid.

I quickly looked at buying a Mac Pro but the price tag on the only available SSD drive, which is 512 GB large, wasn’t exactly attractive. So I either had to build a hackintosh myself or loosen up on the OS X requirement.

I started looking for PCs that met my requirements and while I found some pretty interesting ones offering great performance, such as Alienware Aurora and ASUS ROG, they didn’t seem to meet my requirement of being quiet. They also looked like… ehmn, let’s just say that their psychical appearance didn’t appeal to me.

It seems all prebuilt computer models that met my requirements for memory, an SSD drive and decent CPU and graphics are aimed at hardcore gamers who dig neon light. Sadly no computer vendor seems to cater to us programmers who just want awesome compilation performance. It seemed I was forced to build the computer myself after all.

I really didn’t want to build a computer though. It’s not that I don’t know how to do it. I’ve built, and rebuilt, a number of computers in my time, but now I just wanted someone to do it for me. Building computers tend to be messy and time consuming. Not to mention the challenge in picking the right parts for someone like me that can obsess for weeks when having to buy the smallest electronic device. And I don’t mean the good, fun type of obsession. It’s pure anxiety.

Anyway, I spent a few days almost buying an iMac anyway. Then almost buying an ASUS ROG for a few days. Then an iMac again. Then a couple of days telling myself that I didn’t need a new computer. Then an iMac again. This went on for a couple of weeks. Then I decided that whatever I decided to do was better than having mental paralysis caused by hardware-buying-anxiety.

So, I ended up building a computer again. And it sure was messy.


Now though, I’ve found a setup that sort of meets all of my requirements if I count my existing MacBook Air into the picture. Here’s the PC I got:

  • Fractal Design Define R3 chassis
  • Zalman ZM750-HP PSU (I had this since before and love it)
  • ASUS P8Z68-V PRO/GEN3 motherboard
  • Intel Core i7-2600K 3,4GHz cooled by a Noctua NH-U12P SE2
  • ASUS GeForce GTX 570 1280MB
  • 4x4 GB Corsair Vengeance Low Profile DDR3 1600MHz
  • Intel 520 Series SSD, 180 GB
  • Seagate Barracuda Green 2 TB

I didn’t enjoy the mess when I put it together, but after it was assembled I’ve so far been really happy with it. It seems fast and it’s barely audible unless the graphics card is stressed.

To complement the new computer I bought a Dell U3011 30” monitor. This nice piece of hardware gives me 2560*1600 pixels to play with which is nice. There’s a lot of room for my code Blinkar

To top the whole thing off I bought a mini display port to display port adapter, a wireless Apple keyboard and an Apple Magic mouse that I can use with my MacBook Air. So while I’m not able to run OS X on my new PC I can fairly easily switch my work station back and forth between Windows and OS X by changing the input source on the monitor.

I’m so glad this is over. I can finally focus on coding again.


PS. For updates about new posts, sites I find useful and the occasional rant you can follow me on Twitter. You are also most welcome to subscribe to the RSS-feed.

Joel Abrahamsson

Joel Abrahamsson

I'm a passionate web developer and systems architect living in Stockholm, Sweden. I work as CTO for a large media site and enjoy developing with all technologies, especially .NET, Node.js, and ElasticSearch. Read more


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