I’ve got a vague plan that when I get back to the UK I will build my own computer. At the moment I am using a netbook, and I like my netbook. I’ve had it for a year now, it does exactly what I need, it’s small, cheap, and rugged.
However I’m still frustrated by its limitations: the screen is tiny and the keyboard is cramped, and despite the decent processor and fast solid-state disk, it can be frustrating to use. Most of the time it feels snappy, programs open almost instantly, it works. That’s all until the moment you’ve got fifteen tabs open on Firefox, an essay open on LibreOffice and music playing on VLC in the background. That’s when it starts to lag and stutter, and you can feel the little thing struggling.
I’ve got money in the bank to pay for a new computer. Admittedly, this money isn’t mine, technically it’s debt. At some point I have to pay back my maintainance loan to the Student Loans Company, however for the moment I have money to spend, and my current trip to Kazakhstan is already paid for by the work I did over summer. The total cost I’ve written up is £615, I imagine it could float up to £650 with shipping costs and other extras.
I may never build this thing, it’s just a really well-detailed fantasy I’ve been entertaining:
- Graphics card: ATI Radeon HD 4670 (£65). As recommended by Free 3D, it’s not a fancy card, and it should be able to display most applications at full 1920 by 1080 resolution, plus some games.
- Motherboard: Asus M5A99X EVO (£90). It’s a mid-range ATX motherboard with all necessary connections, and it supports my processor. As a bonus it has the new SATA-3 standard connection, which is useful because that connection won’t be a bottleneck for my speedy SSD. Alternatively there’s the Asus M5A97 PRO. They’re both good. They don’t feature onboard graphics, which is fine because I’m getting a separate graphics card anyway. They both have audio outputs, and that’s fine because I don’t want to have to buy an unnecessary audio card.
- Power supply: CIT 450w Gold (£20). I calculated it and apparently my computer only needs 267 watts, I’d rather have an overpowered computer than an underpowered one.
- Case: Antec Three Hundred (£50). A budget case with good cooling, USB 3 connections, a separate space for an SSD drive, can house my motherboard. No panel on the front and no extraneous LEDs, perfect.
- Processor: AMD Phenom 2 X6 (£105).
- Wireless card: Penguin Wireless N PCIe Card for GNU/Linux v3 (£35). I had trouble with wireless drivers on my netbook, so I’d like to have a certified Linux-compatible card.
- Memory: Kingston 4GB DDR3 (£15)
- Storage: OCZ Agility 3 (£65). 120 gigabytes is plenty of space for me. If I need more I can always buy a hard disk later on.
- Screen: Dell Ultrasharp U2312HM (£170). This is by far the most expensive item, but it’s important for me to have a comfortably large monitor and clear image quality.
Extra stuff: Already have a mouse. Already have speakers. I’d like to get a really comfortable ergonomic keyboard, but don’t want to spend more than about £20 on it. Also possibly a mouse mat.
There’s a tendency to get locked into AMD-related hardware, you end up buying into a family of components. I’m aware of this, and I don’t like it, but the alternative is to risk incompatible hardware, so I choose the safer option. I’m planning to install Debian on the SSD, try it out, and I can always return to Ubuntu as a fallback option.
I might need some floor protection for my office chair. I think that’s it, is there anything I missed?