It is a thing that I’ve always wanted to try. ‘Legos for adults’ I’ve been told of the computer building process. To be honest, at the end of the day, it isn’t too far from the truth. I read a lot of guides and different types of builds and consulted a fair number of people to get an idea of what parts I should be looking at and what the process would be. To start, this is the closest approximation of the final list of parts that I ended up putting together:
This build, per my calculations, would be placed in the middle/high tier. The video card is definitely pretty top of the line and the supporting components certainly help the system hum. Memory is prohibitively expensive at the moment due in part to the high demands of cryptocurrency miners (as well the GPUs) but I have left some room for expansion and the video card should last me another generation of games. Special thanks to my co-worker, Wittawatt, who gifted me the liquid CPU cooler.
First things first, it is a terrifying process. A lot of the guides I read and videos that I watched referenced horror stories where parts would get shorted out by a bad power supply or by a static shock which meant hours of lost work and the death of a part generally worth a couple of hundred dollars.*
The second thing I’ll tell you is that after you get over the fear, the process itself is very peaceful, a meditation. I imagine it is not dissimilar** to the feeling that the people get putting together jigsaw puzzles which have seen a tremendous resurgence in the last couple of years.***
Growing up, I did as many kids did in my generation and consumed all the technology as I could. I didn’t, for a long while, have a game console, not even a handheld. Fond memories of going straight to the games area at Best Buy to play on the old setups they used to have, for some unspecified period of time while Dad ‘shopped’. I was so short at the time, I had to look up at an angle that my neck hurt afterwards, eyes rarely blinking and spending several trips perusing the aisles, carefully pricing the games on the shelf.
Even at a young age, there are pictures that back up faint memories of an old computer that helped teach our ABCs on an advanced-for-the-time CRT monitor. I was hooked. There are a lot of stories I can share about growing up with the computers, learning little bits of code here and there or attempting (unsuccessfully) to cheat my time limit during school but I’ll leave that for another time.
Fast forward, I’m itching for a project and finally have the desire and the means to put together a computer of my dreams; super fast, big ol’ graphics card, and powerful to handle anything. It is really hard to describe the feeling after hours of tinkering away at all the different pieces, to flip the switch and see everything come to life. My case has a viewing window on the side (as shown above) that helped display the built-in LEDs on the components when the power was switched on. I may have done a little dance.
I have never quite felt more confident of my understanding of the hardware and felt so much appreciation for the technology. And there is certainly a sense of ownership in it that I really embrace. Saying that, an ongoing feature of this blog will be reporting about what I’m playing. (Hint: There will be a lot of games I’ve played before but on super high settings.)
*The best guide I watched and re-watched at least twice over while performing my build was this one and I highly recommend the channel to anyone interested in building a PC:
**I’ve had the distinct pleasure of working closely with a fine contingent of Her Majesty’s finest citizens which has led me to a real appreciation for the English language. It is easy to point to the pronunciation and the vocabulary but the real charm of the British (that I work with at least) is the usage. There are layers and nuance tied into a measure of cultural reference that is both inaccessible yet utterly charming. Part of that is the reason that makes me want to write more and use the double negative in the above case because it is so much closer to how I wanted to say the sentence rather than what would be the more proper way to write it.
*** Link An article from the Telegraph about the resurgence of ‘tangible’. Vinyls, physical board games, and jigsaw puzzles have all seen a recent rise, attributed, perhaps, to a stand against the digital revolution. I’m not in a position to disagree. There is something to say about having physical media in your hands, understanding how it works and something completely different to say about unplugging from the ‘Internet of Things’. There is satisfaction there, a sort of quietness that is hard to describe as quiet but a necessary connection to the physical world.
Congrats if you’ve got this far! Longform writing, I feel, has become increasingly unpopular. There are much more interesting things to read and watch, understandably. I’m guilty of skipping through longer pieces myself. The intention here (as stated in the tagline) is practice. There was a time I felt quite high on my ability to write. With time and practice (maybe in a hundred thousand words) I’ll get back to what that point again.
A note: if you’re receiving this blog through your email, I’m about 76.4% sure that you can edit your settings on the wordpress website so that you are updated less frequently because honestly, there is going to be a lot of pretty crap writing in the near future.