Tag Archives | Desktop PCs

7 Things I Learned From Building My First Desktop PC

My mission to buy a desktop PC started out simple: I wanted a powerful work computer with support for three monitors. Getting a PC within my budget seemed reasonable.

But then, temptation set in. With a slightly better processor and graphics card, this desktop could play the latest video games. And with a solid state drive instead of hard disk storage, everyday work performance would be breezier. Of course, boosting those specs at any configure-your-own PC site made the final price skyrocket. After days of searching for a powerhouse PC under $1,000, I admitted the truth to myself: If I wanted it, I’d have to build it.

Today, I write to you from my homemade, high-powered rig, built last Thursday. It has a 3.3 GHz Intel Core i5 2500K processor, an AMD Radeon 6870 graphics card, 8 GB of RAM, a 120GB solid state drive and a basic DVD burner. The total cost, after taxes and rebates, was about $920. (I got parts from MicroCenter, an electronics retailer, which meant paying sales taxes but getting everything immediately.)

Building my first desktop PC wasn’t just a means to an end, it was also a learning experience. If you’ve ever thought of building your own PC, here are some things to consider.

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CES 2011: Lenovo Intros Consumer Laptops and Desktops by the Dozen

Desktop PCs are standing flat where they are, as some pundits see it, but Lenovo plans to give them a leg up on lots of levels in 2011.  Beyond literally dozens of new multimedia-intensive IdeaPad notebooks for consumers and ThinkPads for businesses, Lenovo’s product rollouts at CES 2011 will also include new IdeaCentre PCs that could help to reimagine the all-in-one category by adding fresh features for TV watching, gaming, and 3D entertainment.

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Are You Done With Desktops?

IBM PCI recently had a minor epiphany: I’m probably never going to buy another desktop PC. It shouldn’t have come as a revelation given that the last one I got (in January of 2007) sits largely unused, except when I need to grab a particular old file off its hard drive. Laptops give me everything I need from a computer, and their downsides–smaller screens, lower-capacity hard drives–are far outweighed by their multiple virtues.

Market share figures show that the world’s made the leap to laptops, too–they’re the planet’s default personal computer, and it’s desktops that are now the variant device.

Which leads to today’s two-part T-Poll..


A Computer in a Keyboard? Sounds Cool. And Retro

Asus produces such a surging sea of variations on its Eee PC netbook–including computers that aren’t netbooks–that it’s hard to keep track of them all. So I don’t blame myself for somehow missing one that was demoed back at CES in January: the Eee Keyboard, which packs a computer inside a slim-looking keyboard. (Specswise, it’s essentially a laptop without a screen.)

The Eee Keyboard has a touchscreen to the right of the keys and HDMI output, and DigiTimes is reporting that it’ll be out “as early as October” for $400-$500. Here’s a video demo by UMPC Portal, shot at the CeBIT show in Germany:

I’m not so sure about that touch-screen, which looks a trifle weird, period, and possibly unusable for southpaws like me. But an Eee PC hooked up to a TV as a sort of giant remote control has potential. One of the reasons I still don’t have a TV in my living room is that I’ve never seen one I’d want to put in my entertainment center. But with this computer, there’s nothing to put anywhere but in your lap.

And hey, I’m not ashamed to admit that I find the Eee Keyboard intriguing in part because the very first computer I used was also a PC-in-a-keyboard. (No, that’s not a touchscreen to the right of the keys–it’s a big ol’ TRS-80 logo.)


(TRS-80 image borrowed from Radio Shack Catalogs.)


Are Macs More Expensive? Round Four: The Skinny on the Mini

Pity the poor Mac Mini. After being unveiled with plenty of hoopla in January 2005 as “the most affordable Mac ever,” it departed the limelight with surprising swifness. The glossy white micro-Mac has received only minor updates such as CPU upgrades and actually got less affordable when the base model went from $499 to $599. Last year, there were even premature reports of the Mini’s imminent death, and most Mac enthusiasts didn’t seem too griefstricken at the prospect of its demise.

But the Mini lives–and even though $599 is no longer anywhere near a dirt-cheap price for a computer, it remains the cheapest Mac. It also comes in a super-small package that’s still fun and distinctive. So it’s the subject of my fourth excessively in-depth Mac-vs.-PC price comparison. My goal, as always, is to gauge whether you pay a “Mac Tax” when you buy a Mini instead of a roughly comparable Windows PC.

Before we get started, here are links to earlier comparisons in this series, just in case you missed ’em:

Round one: A mid-range MacBook vs. custom-configured Windows laptops.
Round two: The cheapest MacBook vs. cheap Windows laptops.
Round three: The iMac vs. Windows all-in-ones

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