Tag Archives: Surface

Laptop to Desktop. Plus the Hardware

I had a hard and fast plan to get a laptop a few weeks ago. I was looking at 14-15in laptops for about $700. The more I looked at laptops the harder it was for me to pick one. They all seemed fine, but there were so many choices it was paralyzing. My brain was like, “This seems good for me. Oh, but so does this one. And this one looks nicer. Oh, but it’s more expensive. But looks are important to me. But should it be? Well, it is. Even if it shouldn’t be. But what about this other laptop? It also seems good for me. I guess I should also look at this other brand. Oh, they have a lot of different laptops!” It was like that. Endlessly. So I came to the conclusion that I would wait until my computer died to get a new one. Putting off the inevitable seemed like a good plan.

I commenced conversations with plenty of computer-savvy people while continuing to search the internet for the best laptop. Ya know, so I’d be ready when the time came. Everyone I talked to had built several computers, had just built their first computer, were currently building a computer, or knew stuff about building computers. Could I build a desktop from scratch?

But, wait. I wanted a laptop. Wait again! Did I need a laptop? What an idea! What did I do remotely on my computer? Honestly, nothing. I’d gotten used to not being able to use my laptop anywhere because of the terrible battery life. Maybe I should build a desktop…

I decided. I would build a desktop and later get a tablet (probably a Surface) for when I did want to use a machine remotely. This opened up a whole new world of possibilities… and choices. Choices that were terrifying and paralyzing. I decided again to wait until my computer died.

But every day as I used my computer I would be mad that it couldn’t do things that a PC could do. I was mad that my version of Word was so bad. But mostly and always I was mad that computer didn’t have the snapping feature from Windows 7. You know, this:

So, I decided to make a leap. I watched a great tutorial from Newegg about how to build a computer. If you have any interest in  knowing what parts are inside your machine, check this video out.

From there I tried to look around, but got confused, lost, and frustrated. I asked several people for help and eventually came to a final decision. Here’s how my build is going to look. Click on the pictures to be directed to Newegg where you can look at the full specs if you like.

First, it’s going to be in this pretty case. It’s a Rosewill Redbone mid-size case. Isn’t it purdy?

I decided to go with an Intel processor. I wanted an AMD at first because it was cheaper, but I was soon informed that Intel is much better for media while AMD is better for gaming. I plan on watching a lot of movies, using Adobe Creative Suite programs like a crazy person, and pretty much never gaming, so the extra $20-30 is worth it. I got a duo core i3 chip. It should do the trick for now and I can always upgrade later.

For my motherboard, I went with this Biostar TZ77B. It has the same specs and plugs as an ASRock one that was recommended to me and is quite a bit cheaper. So, here’s hoping it performs the same. It’s got two USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, one HDMI port, along with some other great stuff I’m looking forward to using. It supports up to 32GB of RAM, which sounds like a freaking heck of a lot to me!

I bought two 4GB sticks of RAM made by Crucial. My favorite part about these is that they’re called Ballistix Sport. I laughed when I saw that. I guess sticks of RAM have a “sport” category. I may not have a sports car, but I have sport RAM!

I’m getting this EVGA GTX550 Ti graphics card for free from my friend who is a video editor/gamer/nerd. He assures me it’s a good one, though a bit old. I believe him because it costs a considerable amount more than the one I was planning on getting. Yay for friends and spending less money!

For a hard drive I got this 1 terabyte drive made by Hitachi. It rotates at 7200 rpm, so that means I’ll get good performance from it, even if it’ll get a little hot.

I’m also getting an LG Blu-ray disc player/burner. That I am super pumped about. I only own two Blu-rays, but you best believe I will watch The Tree of Life and John Carter until the laser on the Blu-ray player doesn’t work anymore. Yes, I know, lasers don’t work like that. It was hyperbole.

I bought a 19in monitor on Amazon.

So that’s what my computer will look like. All in all I spent less than $600 including shipping. Ka-boom. Take that $700 laptops I was looking at before! Take it!

Get excited for some sad stories about getting damaged equipment, ordering something I don’t want, and forgetting something important!

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Why not get another Mac?

July of this year my 2008 Macbook was getting slow and irritating. The battery had been equating 1% with 1min for about a year. I’d had Apple Techs operate on it, bought a new battery, and bought a new charger, but to no avail. And now it was acting up in strange ways. Sometimes thinking it was asleep when it was open and awake when it was closed. Crashing applications unexpectedly. Loading every internet page very slowly. It was just dying the way computers die. Of old age and overuse.

I wanted a new computer. Naturally I went to the Apple website and saw that the cheapest laptop they have is $1200. I considered waiting to save up money so that it wouldn’t be as much of a hit on my finances. Then I thought I’d make a list.

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What about that warrants me spending $1200 on a computer? Not really anything. You could point at video editing, but I do that so rarely nowadays that it hardly counts.

Well, now I was at a crossroads. Dare I go back to “the dark side,” as Mac users call it?

My brother had always been adamantly pro-PC and I recalled conversations with him. He maintains that what people really want with a computer is customizability. Microsoft provides users the tools to customize their machines in any number of ways, Apple really doesn’t allow much of that. My Brother talked up the free support community that’s available for PCs. You can find all kinds of tutorials about applications or mechanical fixes online for PCs. That was an important draw for me.

I had also recently gotten my first smartphone, an Android (HTC One S). I love that phone. I spent a lot of time deciding if I wanted to go iPhone or Android and I know I made the right choice with Android.

I went online to find articles, videos, blogs, or anything where people had recorded their impressions when switching from Mac to PC. There was not much out there. The least helpful article was one from the early 2000’s that listed personality traits that defined the users of each operating system. All of the fun traits like “artistic, creative, free spirited” were listed for Mac users and all of the less fun traits like “organized and businessy” were listed for PC users. What a load of BS. People are not defined by the products they use. So, I started watching videos by Microsoft. Various press releases and conference presentations about Windows 8, Windows 7, and the Surface. I was very impressed. Don’t worry, I also watched videos posted by people who didn’t like Windows 8 at all.

Soon I was telling everyone how excited I was for Windows 8 to be released and how cool it was going to be. Luckily a friend had the beta version on one of his laptops and let me try it out. It was awesome. Definitely optimized for a tablet and thus a little strange to use with a mouse at times, but nothing that couldn’t be gotten used to. I wanted it. A lot.

I’d noticed by this time that a PC can be bought for half (or less than half) of the price of the equivalent Mac. I mean, what?! Why would anybody buy a Mac? You’re really paying for the aesthetics, the brand, and the customer service. Their customer service is great, but also stringent. With a PC I can open up my own computer and have at it. If I did that to my Macbook it would disqualify me from ever having an Apple Tech look at my machine again. Once my friend used compressed air on the inside of my laptop when the fan was being wonky. When I told the Apple Genius that he raised his eyebrows in shock and told me not to let people do that. Really? I can’t unscrew the bottom of my computer and blow on it?

So, it came down to freedom and customizability. I’d noticed that my Android was better at this than the iPhone. I remembered how I had used my family’s PCs and yeah, I felt like I did more real computer use with those than I ever had with my Macbook. I used to be good at fixing computer problems, but there’s no real way for a user to do that on Macs. That’s all closed off. They don’t want you tinkering. Being able to make my computer all mine was a big draw for me.

But what it really came down to was value. I could get something twenty times better than my current machine for half of what the new version cost. Now, that’s bang for your buck. And I like having my bucks. I also like explosions. Win-win!

 

Next! I’ll reveal my indecisiveness. Find out how I ended up deciding on a desktop.

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