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Subject:Mercury Down
Time:04:57 am
So, some of you may remember my mentioning my system of naming computers in desktop/laptop pairs, and how I had Mercury (desktop) and Quicksilver (laptop) and was going to replace them with Coyote and Roadrunner, but Mercury has thus far decided to foil my scheme by living forever even though I already have Roadrunner....

Well, scratch that. Mercury has been subtly running slower and slower, and last night, my RAID controller informed me that one of the hard drives has failed. That's the sort of thing I'd need to act on anyway, but since I'm probably in the "this computer is ancient, do they even make that kind of hard drive anymore" category by now, I may as well just take the "while I'm shopping anyway" opportunity to upgrade everything and FUCK IT COYOTE TIME

(Fortunately Mercury is at least kind enough to limp along and allow me to use it and everything in the mean time, albeit with one hard drive. So, I'd like to have the parts for Coyote ordered as soon as possible, but it isn't a "must place my order TODAY because I have NO COMPUTER UNTIL THEN" crisis or anything.)

The bad news, of course, is that I haven't built a computer in centuries and I have absolutely no idea what I'm doing. Here's my wish list so far, but it is definitely subject to change as knowledgeable people chime in and tell me how I have all the wrong parts and nothing is compatible with anything.

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/PublicWishDetail.aspx?WishListNumber=20615671

You may also note that I'm going for the stuff I want at the end level first (hard drives, RAM, etc.) and trying to find a motherboard that can actually fit all of that later, rather than starting with the motherboard and trying to figure out my foundation for what chipset/connectors/etc. I have to work with because I DON'T KNOW, HELP

Fortunately, since the most important part of Mercury hasn't failed and I don't foresee there being any connector compatibility issues with whatever I get for Coyote (since, you know, it doesn't actually connect to anything,) there's at least one part I can transfer over.
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terrana
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-09-30 12:22 pm (UTC)
Instead of one of those two HDDs, I would suggest getting an SSD. They are the single most noticeable upgrade you can make to your computer, far more so than a better CPU or RAM.

If your budget will stretch to an extra $100, there's a decent Samsung model on that same site. If money's tight, go for a 128GB version. If you have to, drop some of the RAM to make room in the budget. It's that important.

It might not seem like a big deal, but trust me, booting up in under a minute and large programs loading in seconds is very easy to get used to.
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kjorteo
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Time:2013-09-30 12:29 pm (UTC)
You're not the first person to tell me that, and you're probably not wrong, either. I considered it, honestly, and I'm still not ruling it out if the right option presents itself, but ... well, the price-versus-capacity is definitely not okay in its current state. The HDDs I found are a terabyte for $110, whereas the SSDs are almost double the cost for 250 GB. My current hard drive capacity (300 GB or so) is in the "it works because I don't do anything too demanding, I guess, but it could certainly be better in this day and age" range, and this would be a step down from that. And yeah, terabyte SSDs exist, but we're getting close to four figures at that point, and my budget isn't that flexible. Especially since I want two of whatever drive I pick, since I'm going to mirror RAID them.
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terrana
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Time:2013-09-30 12:34 pm (UTC)
Price-per-gigabyte is definitely one of SSDs' two main problems. If you've considered the option, then I won't say any more on the subject; I only wanted to make you aware of the possibility.

On the plus side, connector standards haven't changed since the introduction of SATA. You'd be hard-pressed to find a motherboard that won't support all the hardware you want. The only tricky part is, as it has always been, matching CPU to motherboard. SATA and PCIe are still used for everything, and every PSU that isn't so cheap as to be a fire hazard has all the right cables attached.
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davidn
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-09-30 02:05 pm (UTC)
I love my work laptop's solid-state drive, but I didn't have to pay for it! You definitely notice a huge difference especially in bootup time, but with capacities still very limited within a sane price, I would use a dedicated small SSD for the operating system and applications with data on a separate hard drive, if anything.

Everything on that list looks fine so far but there's not much there :) Processor and graphics card will be your main deciders - just match up the socket number on the motherboard to that of the CPU and everything else should fall into place...
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xviith_et_seq
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-09-30 01:42 pm (UTC)

Why do you RAID in the first place?

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kjorteo
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-09-30 02:43 pm (UTC)
I like the protection I get from the mirroring. I mean, I now know it's time to get a new computer because one of my hard drives has failed, but in the mean time, I'm not even prevented from using Mercury as normal (let alone worrying about data loss or anything) because the other one is still up. That should be proof that the system works and reason enough to keep employing that idea with Coyote, shouldn't it? ^@.@^
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xviith_et_seq
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-09-30 02:54 pm (UTC)

So… availability is very important? Is it hard to get a spare drive and restore from backup on short notice? I mean, that's a good reason, just full RAID is often overkill for desktops, can be prone to adding extra points of failure, and in particular RAID instead of (as opposed to supplementing) backups is a bad idea (maybe you're doing both, I can't tell).

That said, mirroring can also give you a read performance boost if it's implemented well, which would cancel out part of the main reason to do SSD anyway. I don't have good comparative numbers off the top of my head.

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kjorteo
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-09-30 03:18 pm (UTC)
I'm doing backups every other week to an external hard drive, as well. The point of my RAID configuration is mostly to provide a graceful deceleration on a dying machine rather than an abrupt crash. If I had one hard drive, it died, and I found out when my computer just spontaneously wouldn't turn on one day, that would be bad. When I have two hard drives, and I turn on my computer and it starts as normal but there's a "hey, one of the hard drives failed, you should, like, get on that at some point" warning message, that is significantly less bad. I mean, *I can still use Mercury until Coyote is ordered and delivered*, how cool is that? ^@.@^

It's the same reason that a UPS isn't an entire self-sufficient power generator, but "oh, the power's out and I have about half an hour to save and quit everything if it doesn't come back" is still better than an abrupt out-of-nowhere hard cutoff.
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crassadon
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-10-01 05:18 am (UTC)
a UPS would be useful. . .


I think solid state harddrives are nice. They're quieter, which is their best feature, and a bit faster, too. But like 10% as cost efficient. I recommend getting a two terrabyte drive [because you get 100% more storage for <100% more cost], and then later upgrading to a large solid state drive when you want to put a new operating system on, and then using the larger drive for backing up documents. . and then replacing it shortly after when it break. You know, one terrabyte is probably fine for now. . .

You should have at least 5gb of RAM, or else are bound to WinXP.

I use a Geforce GTX 260 for my GPU. It's basically pretty good; my computer was designed around it, and it's probably not too expensive to get one now. It runs all forms of current things.

This is where I get high. Goodnight!
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xviith_et_seq
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-10-01 05:28 am (UTC)
You should have at least 5gb of RAM, or else are bound to WinXP.

Eh? What? I have Windows 7 just fine in a virtual machine with 3 GB of memory.

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crassadon
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-10-01 08:42 am (UTC)
the issue is, that you want to play a game, while also emulating and recording a game in the background, while talking to someone, while reading multiple chat windows on another monitor. Also: you're burning a CD.
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xviith_et_seq
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-10-01 08:47 am (UTC)

Your imprecision angers me. Your reference to OS choice made no mention of large amounts of multitasking, nor have you demonstrated any correlation between them. I'm done here.

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kjorteo
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-10-01 12:03 pm (UTC)
^c.c^

Anyway, I have Windows 7 and 2 GB of RAM, and things were more or less fine until they started to fail just now, though I definitely felt the urge of how neat it would be if I had more. In fact, putting up with that for so long may be a big part of why I'm saying "screw it" and jumping straight to 8 GB RAM for Coyote. ^>.>^

Edit: 8 as in 8 GB RAM, not Windows 8. I'm happy with Windows 7, thank you.

Edited at 2013-10-01 12:04 pm (UTC)
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crassadon
Link:(Link)
Time:2013-10-01 09:52 pm (UTC)
I'm using about a 4gb dd3. I could upgrade it, but, a bit tough. Some programs I run will use 60% of my ram. Just using WinXP; I'd use less if I could get away with it at all today. Got a copy of Win7 here, just waiting to pop up my ram a bit. Nothing's been too particularly worrying, so I'm mostly just hanging about. Thinking about making it into a bit more of an art piece.
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