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Big Mac May 2, 2010 08:50 PM
Well Guys, I'm a PC now!
My, how things do change. Now my main computer is a Core i7 930 system that my brother and I just built with an ATI 5850 GPU. I'm now a Windows 7 user primarily! Apple switches to Intel, and I switch to a self-built Windows PC (although hopefully not fully). :lol: If I were to go back ten years and tell this news to myself, my old self would probably not speak to me out of disgust. . .

This saga started when my G5's 9800XT failed. As some of you know, I bought a flashed PC Nvidia 6800 card off eBay to replace it, but I needed to pick up a molex splitter from Fry's (what do computer people do if they don't live near one?). My brother and I went there on Thursday just to pick up the molex splitter, and my intention was to pick up only the splitter. We went to the PC parts/components section where they have them, and then we started looking at PC cases. My brother said to me, "what you thought I came with you just to get a splitter cable? It's time to build a computer. And he started talking me into it. I had had the ambition to build a PC for a while, but I had assumed I would pick up components here and there in a piecemeal fashion over a few months. Nope, my brother succeeded in talking me into it, and with the assistance of a knowledgeable Fry's employee before I knew it I had $1,600 (on the dot) in parts in my cart and was in the checkout isle. I asked how I got myself to this point. I had never built a system before Were we ready for this?

Inspired forward by the way I damaged my G5's install of Leopard by trying to force a higher resolution than my new single-link 6800 supported (and then seeing it fail an Archive and Install), we dove into building our system. Some of it went smoothly, some of it not quite as smoothly, but we did well given our lack of experience. For those who are wondering if they're up to building a PC, if you know how to install RAM, hard drives, expansion cards and the like, then you're probably capable of it. Here are some general observations I have about the process now that I'm through it:

1. Buy a quality case with good stock fans and room for expansion. We got a Coolermaster Storm Sniper. By the way, in addition to those attributes, they're now labeling the case wiring well so that it's easy to figure out what goes where. That's important too, and not all PC cases have it.

2. The biggest thing to know about getting the components in is, if anything seems like it could physically block the component you're attempting to install, stop and move it out of the way. For example you need to make sure your I/O panel is securely locked into place before you insert the motherboard, which goes in with a nice click assuming the I/O panel is completely inserted. I struggled with that for a bit. The other problem we had in this regard was when we were trying to install the 5850 GPU - it's a huge double sized card, which means you have to properly line it up between the rail of two expansion slot spaces, and until we moved the little expansion slot case hooks out of the way we couldn't align it properly. It was frustrating because it's a big sucker of a card (very fast and reasonably priced, btw) and when something like that doesn't line up properly it becomes a headache. That was probably the most difficult part of the install and took maybe an hour to figure out.

3. We actually had the benefit of having access to a great tutorial from a British chap on youtube who had the same case, the same motherboard, the same CPU, nearly everything that we had. But we didn't find that video until we were will into the process, which is okay. If you're starting out on the process, it may make sense to watch those videos first. Or not.

4. Wiring the motherboard is really easy although it seems daunting at first. I'm impressed with myself that I know now how to read technical pin-out charts. Remember, the arrow on the underside of the small wires indicates positive. (Interestingly, when doing the final wiring I noted that the connection for a front-side audio jack was wired differently by the case manufacturer than what the Gigabyte board expected. The motherboard manual cautioned that if the wiring is different than indicated it could cause damage, so I'm glad I read that and figured out not to connect front-side audio jack. In case you're concerned, though, that was the only connection I saw that said improper pin-outs could cause damage. The other connection advisories only warned against obvious things like not connecting USB to a Firewire port and vice versa.)

5. So, we got things connected and thought we were good to go. We plug in, the fans and case light turn on, but we got nothing on the display. At this point, after many hard hours of work we were really very down and defeated. We feared the worst; we thought we were going to have to sheepishly return with it all assembled to Fry's and beg their service masters to verify the way we built our system. We were ready to give in for a while and reluctantly take it in some time Saturday evening.

But then, thankfully, I believe providence guided me to a particular search result, a thread on a forum discussing why new computers may fail to POST. The first reply to the initial question was "did you make sure that you got both the main power to the motherboard and the second 4x2 power connector?" And instantly I knew that that was the problem because I knew we had only connected the huge 24 pin power connector. We had skimmed the manual for the motherboard while installing it but missed that there is a secondary power connector. I didn't think the motherboard would need anything other than that first huge PSU connection. I told my brother about it, we raced back to open the case, made the missing connection and held our breath for a few seconds before seeing the glorious Gigabyte startup screen. Success! Elation! So, for $1,600 with sales tax I've got a system that should beat the entry level Mac Pro (at $2,500 before sales tax) CPU wise, with a much better GPU and twice as much RAM.

The only downside is that I don't have Mac OS X, at least not yet. I bought the components, with the exception of the GPU, with an eye toward Hackintosh compatibility. But now I'm not sure if I'm going to ever attempt to go full Hackintosh. I think the only things that makes me doubt I'll do it are fan control and GPU support. Right now I have motherboard/software based fan control (the BIOS based control was too lenient, but I'm reasonably happy now with Gigabyte's EasyTune 6 despite wishing it had a few more fan control options). I've heard that without some really advanced DSDT hacking that I think is beyond me, hackintosh OS X can't read temperatures. And I doubt there is software available that would be able to control the fans. I could always unhook the fan wire from the motherboard (I think) and run them manually with the big fan dial on the top of the case if I really want to (the case was designed for that and others use it that way), but I like motherboard control. Perhaps an OS X installation could surprise me and manage the fans well. I'll probably try it some time in the future. I almost forgot about not having GPU support. I wonder if the next Mac Pro revision will provide support for ATI's newest cards.

But for now my fall back position is to run OS X in virtualization, and that's the process I'm embarking on right now. It makes sense, too - I want OS X because I prefer it for my productivity workflow. I don't need to boot into it to do most all of what I'd want to do; it's not like I need to play games in it. So hopefully I'll be able to get it up and running properly in Virtual Box and then I'll have pretty much the best of both worlds. Although, I'm concerned that once I get OS X up and running in Virtual Box it will be very limited in terms of screen resolution, which won't be helpful.

Hopefully this guide will help someone considering a similar build. My brother and I feel really far more accomplished technically than we did before. I didn't think we could do it, but the salesman at Fry's said it was easy and despite some hurdles it proved to be. And some of the prices at Fry's were considerably better than at newegg, to boot.

Specs:
Coolermaster Storm Sniper case
Corsair CMPSU-750TX PSU
Gigabyte EX58A-UD3R motherboard
Intel Core i7 930 CPU (2.8GHz Quad Core with Hyperthreading)
Kingston Hyper X DDR3/1600Mhz PC3 10700G (tri-channel 6GB kit) RAM
Diamond ATI 5850 GPU
Hitachi Deskstar 1TB and Liteon DVD+RW SATA drives
Plus a three year replacement guarantee on the CPU and motherboard from Fry's
----
$1600.00
 
imitchellg5 May 2, 2010 09:01 PM
Great writeup! Hopefully one of these days I'll get around to building my own PC. My issue is that I'm afraid I'll drop in all this money but that it'll work terribly.
 
Big Mac May 2, 2010 09:16 PM
Thank you, mitchell. Glad you liked it. I was worried someone would post that I should get a blog. :) I was concerned about that too (dropping money into something only to see it not work), but the salesman at Fry's assured us by saying his 8 year-old builds PCs with him and that it must certainly within our abilities if his son can do it. I recommend you do it, if only to be proud of the accomplishment. I love my Macs, but this PC is very special to me because my brother and I assembled it with our own hands. He also figured out how to do the motherboard standoffs properly (you just make sure you screw one in for each silver marked hole on the board), which is very important. One thing I will note is that it's certainly easier if you have someone help you build it because two minds are better than one and different people are good at different tasks. For my part, I excelled at figuring out the wiring, while my brother is better than I am at screwing in components and inserting small cables. Also, it's pretty hard to damage the components. Don't worry too much about scratching them or handling them improperly aside from not forcing anything and not touching the connectors.
 
mduell May 2, 2010 09:41 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Big Mac (Post 3963482)
with the assistance of a knowledgeable Frys employee
Oh dear.
 
ghporter May 2, 2010 09:52 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by mduell (Post 3963492)
Quote, Originally Posted by Big Mac (Post 3963482)
with the assistance of a knowledgeable Frys employee
Oh dear.
I think Fry's limits each store to three knowledgeable employees (department is not considered). In the Austin store, I had the pleasure to run into one of such employees who was very helpful with a speaker issue (and no, he didn't recommend "all Bose, all the time.) In the Houston store on 59, I ran into someone who actually knew quite a few things about both PCs and (gasp!) networking-he was able to demonstrate to me how an AirPort Extreme would be a better buy than the TrendNet wireless router (with GigE) that my brother-in-law was considering.

But you're right-it's a LOT harder to find one that knows the technology than to find one who knows where to find where the current sales circular is posted.

BigMac, you managed to get decent parts that work well together (this last is the toughest part of building a PC IMO). I like all of the brands you used and have had a lot of success with them all. Now all you need to do is to keep up with keeping all the drivers current. It's not that hard, but it ain't as easy as a Mac.
 
dcmacdaddy May 2, 2010 10:00 PM
Good job on the home-brew PC and a great write-up of your process. :thumbsup:
 
downinflames68 May 2, 2010 10:03 PM
I am going to eat corn on the cob tonight. It will be awesome.
 
The Godfather May 2, 2010 10:08 PM
And I'm an iPad 3G. The mbp was not a good enough value proposition to me.
Just in time when VirtualBox is able to virtualize OSX in PCs.
Let me know how it works
VirtualBox 3.2.0 Beta 1 released (View topic) • virtualbox.org
Perhaps I can VNC or RDP to a cloud Mac from the road.

P.S. You forgot to specify amount of RAM and CPU speed.
P.P.S. You need to change your signature picture.
 
iMOTOR May 2, 2010 10:28 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by mduell (Post 3963492)
Oh dear.


:lol:

Did you go to the Burbank store?

I got an Intel Pentium D 820 processor/motherboard for 100 bucks a few years ago through the retail edge program. I’m on my third expensive video card, each one going borked about a month out of warranty.

They are extremely easy to assemble though, a caveman could do it. I still prefer my Mac a hundred times more though.
 
Eug May 2, 2010 10:30 PM
It sux if it doesn't run PowerPC.
 
Big Mac May 2, 2010 10:53 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by mduell (Post 3963492)
Oh dear.
Haha, yeah most of them are clueless, but in the PC parts department you may run into an employee who has built PCs before and knows something about the process.

Quote, Originally Posted by ghporter (Post 3963496)
BigMac, you managed to get decent parts that work well together (this last is the toughest part of building a PC IMO). I like all of the brands you used and have had a lot of success with them all. Now all you need to do is to keep up with keeping all the drivers current. It's not that hard, but it ain't as easy as a Mac.
Thank you Glenn. Now the next big hurdle is trying to virtualize OS X properly.

Quote, Originally Posted by The Godfather (Post 3963502)
And I'm an iPad 3G. The mbp was not a good enough value proposition to me.
Just in time when VirtualBox is able to virtualize OSX in PCs.
Let me know how it works
VirtualBox 3.2.0 Beta 1 released (View topic) • virtualbox.org
Perhaps I can VNC or RDP to a cloud Mac from the road.

P.S. You forgot to specify amount of RAM and CPU speed.
P.P.S. You need to change your signature picture.
Thank you for the link, father. Yay for experimental OS X support. Oh, 6GBs of RAM and the i7 930 with a stock clock speed of 2.8GHz.

Quote, Originally Posted by iMOTOR (Post 3963512)
^:lol:

Did you go to the Burbank store?

They are extremely easy to assemble though, a caveman could do it. I still prefer my Mac a hundred times more though.
Nope, I go to the City of Industry store. I have been to the Burbank store but it's been many years for some reason. I don't know about a caveman doing it, but you're right it doesn't take all that much brain power. It's a learning experience, and it's made me not only confident to work on computer internals but also to learn more about automobile internals because now I have proven to myself that I have some technical ability.

Quote, Originally Posted by Eug (Post 3963513)
It sux if it doesn't run PowerPC.
True, I'd prefer to purchase a new PPC desktop instead, but if it's an x86 world I may as well build my own. :)

Quote, Originally Posted by dcmacdaddy (Post 3963500)
Good job on the home-brew PC and a great write-up of your process. :thumbsup:
Thank you very much, dcmd. I really appreciate it.

I know this thread is hilarous, but thank you guys for not giving me too hard a time over my change of thought.
 
imitchellg5 May 2, 2010 11:12 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by Big Mac (Post 3963485)
Thank you, mitchell. Glad you liked it. I was worried someone would post that I should get a blog. :) I was concerned about that too (dropping money into something only to see it not work), but the salesman at Fry's assured us by saying his 8 year-old builds PCs with him and that it must certainly within our abilities if his son can do it. I recommend you do it, if only to be proud of the accomplishment. I love my Macs, but this PC is very special to me because my brother and I assembled it with our own hands. He also figured out how to do the motherboard standoffs properly (you just make sure you screw one in for each silver marked hole on the board), which is very important. One thing I will note is that it's certainly easier if you have someone help you build it because two minds are better than one and different people are good at different tasks. For my part, I excelled at figuring out the wiring, while my brother is better than I am at screwing in components and inserting small cables. Also, it's pretty hard to damage the components. Don't worry too much about scratching them or handling them improperly aside from not forcing anything and not touching the connectors.
Thanks for the encouragement! Now I'm thinking of making this a summer project with my dad. He's good with wiring and whatnot. I've always been pretty hands-on with my Power Mac G4s (pretty much rebuilt my Digital Audio G4). I'd also like to have a standalone PC around. I hate running Windows 7 on my MBP... it just makes me feel dirty :P
 
Eug May 3, 2010 12:00 AM
Great for tinkering, but in the end it's a PITA if this is going to be your main work machine. I guess it comes down to cost and interest in tinkering.

When I was a student my main machines were often home-brew PCs. However, lately I can't be bothered. For my main machine, I just buy a new Mac with an extended warranty. I sell the Macs when the warranty is up (or before).

That said, I'm typing this on a 1.7 GHz Cube with flashed GeForce 6200. :p
 
Lateralus May 3, 2010 12:12 AM
Well, the Cube is eternal...
 
ezveedub May 3, 2010 12:18 AM
The CM storm sniper case is similar to my CM HAF 932 case. These cases have very good airflow and the internals never seem to get hot in these cases. I would suggest getting another HD and setting up a RAID 0 with the ICH10R chipset. Two VelociRaptors 10k HDDs would make for a very fast RAID 0 setup on your computer. I'll be building a I7 9xx series computer soon. My I7 8xx computer I built a few months ago has been flawless.
 
Big Mac May 3, 2010 12:18 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Eug (Post 3963553)
Great for tinkering, but in the end it's a PITA if this is going to be your main work machine. I guess it comes down to cost and interest in tinkering.

When I was a student my main machines were often home-brew PCs. However, lately I can't be bothered. For my main machine, I just buy a new Mac with an extended warranty. I sell the Macs when the warranty is up (or before).

That said, I'm typing this on a 1.7 GHz Cube with flashed GeForce 6200. :p
I can understand that point of view. If money were no object I'd get a top of the line Mac Pro, but I'm not exactly that well off (yet). For now I have a much more powerful system for the money than I could get from Apple plus the satisfaction of having built it myself, minus built-in OS X support. (Again Apple lost out on a sale because of a lack of an xMac option.) As for the tinkering, that's basically over aside from trying to get an OS X virtual machine going (and perhaps a full Hacintosh in the future).

I ran into my first critical bug (but it has nothing to do with how we built it). There's a problem with ATI drivers for this class of card in which they lag behind the rest of the computer coming out of sleep. It's been reported by others. The initial times that I used sleep mode I had to wait 10 or so seconds extra for the display to come back, and when it would I'd get a normal Windows error that the display driver was not responding but had recovered. Just a few minutes ago I tried to come out of sleep, but this time I got a screen of death confirming that the driver didn't come back online. I hope ATI gets a fix out for this problem soon because I like having sleep as an option.
 
ezveedub May 3, 2010 12:32 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Big Mac (Post 3963563)
I ran into my first critical bug (but it has nothing to do with how we built it). There's a problem with ATI drivers for this class of card in which they lag behind the rest of the computer coming out of sleep. It's been reported by others. The initial times that I used sleep mode I had to wait 10 or so seconds extra for the display to come back, and when it would I'd get a normal Windows error that the display driver was not responding but had recovered. Just a few minutes ago I tried to come out of sleep, but this time I got a screen of death confirming that the driver didn't come back online. I hope ATI gets a fix out for this problem soon because I like having sleep as an option.
Which drivers are you using, the OEM cd drivers, or latest from ATI?
 
olePigeon May 3, 2010 12:34 AM
What made you decide to go with a quad core i7 930 that's $100 more expensive than a six core Phenom II x6?
 
Eug May 3, 2010 12:35 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Big Mac (Post 3963563)
As for the tinkering, that's basically over
Trust me, with a home brew, the tinkering ain't over. ;)

Quote
aside from trying to get an OS X virtual machine going (and perhaps a full Hacintosh in the future).

I ran into my first critical bug (but it has nothing to do with how we built it). There's a problem with ATI drivers for this class of card in which they lag behind the rest of the computer coming out of sleep. It's been reported by others. The initial times that I used sleep mode I had to wait 10 or so seconds extra for the display to come back, and when it would I'd get a normal Windows error that the display driver was not responding but had recovered. Just a few minutes ago I tried to come out of sleep, but this time I got a screen of death confirming that the driver didn't come back online. I hope ATI gets a fix out for this problem soon because I like having sleep as an option.
Case in (two) point(s). :)

That said, sometimes it's worth it, to save hundreds of bux.
 
Cold Warrior May 3, 2010 12:38 AM
I assume you bought Win 7 x64?
 
macaddict0001 May 3, 2010 12:50 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by olePigeon (Post 3963572)
What made you decide to go with a quad core i7 930 that's $100 more expensive than a six core Phenom II x6?
The i7 says "Intel Inside"?
In all actuality Big Mac said Hackintosh compatibility was/is important.
 
besson3c May 3, 2010 12:50 AM
Big Mac: you won't be able to virtualize OS X in Virtualbox. The Virtualbox OS X support requires Mac hardware: Slashdot Apple Story | VirtualBox Beta Supports OS X As Guest OS On Macs
 
besson3c May 3, 2010 12:52 AM
Big Mac: just out of curiosity, what do you use your computer for Big Mac that sort of inspired getting such beefy hardware and abandoning OS X?
 
Big Mac May 3, 2010 12:58 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by olePigeon (Post 3963572)
What made you decide to go with a quad core i7 930 that's $100 more expensive than a six core Phenom II x6?
I don't really follow AMD processors. Intel definitely has maintained the price to performance lead these last few generations. Also, I like the characteristics of the i7 930 and wanted Intel for potential OS X compatibility. I'm looking at the benchmarks right now and I'm pretty happy with my choice.

Quote, Originally Posted by Eug (Post 3963573)
Trust me, with a home brew, the tinkering ain't over. ;)
My temperatures are good, my performance is great, everything's running very nicely. I may install an overclock heat sink in the future but for right now I can't see adding much more than drives.

Quote
Case in (two) point(s). :)

That said, sometimes it's worth it, to save hundreds of bux.
Haha, well it doesn't bother me that much. It isn't rare for computers to exhibit wake-from-sleep problems, both Macs and PCs. I had to deal with my G5 not waking properly without pulling and reinserting the keyboard for a long time in Leopard until a particular point update fixed it. At least here I know where the problem is specifically located and who to complain to.

Quote, Originally Posted by ezveedub (Post 3963569)
Which drivers are you using, the OEM cd drivers, or latest from ATI?
Latest from ATI. The OEM CD wouldn't even install.

Quote, Originally Posted by Cold Warrior (Post 3963575)
I assume you bought Win 7 x64?
I had it from before for Boot Camp. I'll probably buy another copy for the license, but I've got months until I have to do that. Wish we hadn't waited to buy and missed out on the family pack, though.

Quote, Originally Posted by besson3c (Post 3963584)
Big Mac: you won't be able to virtualize OS X in Virtualbox. The Virtualbox OS X support requires Mac hardware: Slashdot Apple Story | VirtualBox Beta Supports OS X As Guest OS On Macs
Perhaps that's what they're saying officially (maybe to appease Apple), but I downloaded the Windows beta and Mac OS X is listed as an option. I think what the submitter of that story was confused by was that it requires Mac-like hardware. VirtualBox may officially say it only supports this on genuine Mac hardware, but the beta tells a different story. I was however reading the release notes someone posted and it claims that OS X uses 100% of the processor its assigned to. Feedback says performance is slow. I think I'll try it and wait for things to continue improving; it's a positive sign that experimental support is in. I'm also looking at VMware, btw.

Quote, Originally Posted by besson3c (Post 3963585)
Big Mac: just out of curiosity, what do you use your computer for Big Mac that sort of inspired getting such beefy hardware and abandoning OS X?
That's a pretty good question. Firstly, I've been interested in seeing if I could build a system for a while. It's a personal accomplishment if nothing else. Secondly, it's nice to have a beefy Windows PC for gaming, which I've never had before. Thirdly, I'm not abandoning OS X completely. I'm going to set my G5 up at our mother's house (she's been using our G4 mini until now), so I'll still be using it a good amount. I still have a MBP. Also, I do hope to get a decent OS X virtualized setup going soon and perhaps fully boot into OS X in the future.
 
RAILhead May 3, 2010 01:03 AM
I summarized the post to one sentence, and this was it:

"The other problem we had in this regard was when we were trying to install the 5850 GPU - it's a huge double sized card, which means you have to properly line it up between the rail of two expansion slot spaces, and until we moved the little expansion slot case hooks out of the way we couldn't align it properly."

Heh.
 
olePigeon May 3, 2010 01:04 AM
Just FYI if you had gone through my company, one of the proposals you may have gotten:

$138.66 - Coolermaster Storm Sniper
$99.99 PSU - Corsair CMPSU-750TX PSU
$130.53 Mobo - MSI 890GXM Motherboard
$199.99 CPU - AMD Phenom II X6 3.3GHz
$142.72 RAM - OCZ Platinum 6GB Triple Channel DDR3
$279.98 Video - 2x Saphire 1GB 5750 Radeon in Crossfire ($139.99 each)
($309.99 Video - Single Saphire 5850)
$24.99 DVD - Lite On DVD RW

Subtotal - $1016.86

Tax - $0
Shipping - $65
Service fee - $150

Total - $1231.86; built, installed, tested, and shipped to your address.
$1261.86 with Radeon 5850.

$99 for Windows 7.
 
Lateralus May 3, 2010 01:10 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Big Mac (Post 3963588)
Intel definitely has maintained the price to performance lead these last few generations.
How so? It's especially untrue, as olePigeon pointed out, in the case of the Phenom II X6.
 
olePigeon May 3, 2010 01:20 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Lateralus (Post 3963600)
How so? It's especially untrue, as olePigeon pointed out, in the case of the Phenom II X6.
Intel hands down has the fastest CPUs on the market, but you pay high price for it. You're right, though, AMD has traditionally been a better value than Intel, especially ever since the Athlon debuted.

He still has a good system, and he saved a good chunk of change by doing it himself instead of going through a typical store. It's also a great learning experience and just so much more satisfying building the system yourself. :)
 
ezveedub May 3, 2010 01:24 AM
You pay less for AMD, but you also get lesser performance. I've owned AMD PCs and they do not stack up to my Intels.
 
Simon May 3, 2010 09:10 AM
Congrats on your new computer, Big Mac. :) Nice write-up too. :thumbsup:

I'm glad you chose to try this out. I can only hope more people go this route instead of wasting $2500 on a low-end MP. It's about time Apple gets a message from its pro community about the ludicrous price-performance ratio on the low-end MP.
 
starman May 3, 2010 09:24 AM
Quote
So, for $1,600 with sales tax I've got a system that should beat the entry level Mac Pro (at $2,500 before sales tax) CPU wise, with a much better GPU and twice as much RAM.
...and more viruses, worse apps, and bit rot. Enjoy your PC.

Not to sound like a Mac fanboy, but after using PCs since 1985, and an owner of Windows 7 (what a friggin' joke of an OS), I still don't see the appeal of a PC.
 
ezveedub May 3, 2010 09:42 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Simon (Post 3963679)
Congrats on your new computer, Big Mac. :) Nice write-up too. :thumbsup:

I'm glad you chose to try this out. I can only hope more people go this route instead of wasting $2500 on a low-end MP. It's about time Apple gets a message from its pro community about the ludicrous price-performance ratio on the low-end MP.
I agree, I was looking at building one of these as a high end unit.
Newegg.com - SUPERMICRO SYS-7046A-3 4U Rackmountable / Tower Barebone Server Intel 5520 Dual LGA 1366 Dual Intel Xeon
 
seanc May 3, 2010 10:14 AM
Congrats on buying a decent set of components! I would have cried if you'd bought a '500w' Rosewill power supply and an ECS motherboard.

Just an FYI the Intel CPU and Gigabyte mobo come with a 3 year warranty from their respective manufacturers anyway - looks like Frys is offering to take some of the pain of shipping out of the equation if you have a problem.

I'd advise buying a second 1TB hard drive (preferably a different manufacturer, in case a firmware bug is discovered) and using it for backups.

As for driver updates, I don't bother unless I have a problem or there's something interesting in the changelog to make me want to upgrade. Windows Update in Windows 7 is quite nice too.

Try and run some sort of anti-virus software, ESET NOD32 is quite a nice one. Don't run Norton or McAfee.
Don't use Internet Explorer (the 8 second adverts are BS), always make sure Flash and Java are always to date - unless you like Scareware on your machine.
 
Laminar May 3, 2010 11:00 AM
Quote, Originally Posted by Big Mac (Post 3963485)
Thank you, mitchell. Glad you liked it. I was worried someone would post that I should get a blog. :)
....

Quote, Originally Posted by downinflames68 (Post 3963501)
I am going to eat corn on the cob tonight. It will be awesome.
 
olePigeon May 3, 2010 12:36 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by starman (Post 3963684)
Not to sound like a Mac fanboy, but after using PCs since 1985, and an owner of Windows 7 (what a friggin' joke of an OS), I still don't see the appeal of a PC.
Games.
 
besson3c May 3, 2010 12:42 PM
A PC is also a much cheaper way to run a Linux or BSD OS, which each have their purposes.
 
starman May 3, 2010 01:03 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by olePigeon (Post 3963739)
Games.
Parallels/VMWare/Dual Boot.
 
seanc May 3, 2010 01:05 PM
Yeah, you could dual boot your Mac, but you're stuck with whatever GPU you have, unless you buy a MacPro - then your options are limited anyway if you want to stick to the Apple approved list.
 
besson3c May 3, 2010 01:09 PM
Not to mention you take over that machine. There are many reasons for not wanting to consolidate every computing task onto a single machine.

WINE is a much better option for games anyway :)
 
starman May 3, 2010 01:11 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by seanc (Post 3963752)
Yeah, you could dual boot your Mac, but you're stuck with whatever GPU you have, unless you buy a MacPro - then your options are limited anyway if you want to stick to the Apple approved list.
Or....buy the Mac version of the game if it exists.

Sorry, I just didn't see a compelling reason for getting this PC other than "my brother made me do it".
 
seanc May 3, 2010 01:12 PM
I never had much luck with WINE, for any application really - but maybe I'm just doing it wrong.

The all eggs in one basket scenario just doesn't cut it for me, I'd rather be slightly inconvenienced losing one machine, than losing my only machine.

Edit: Starman, there isn't much compelling reason apart from price and added flexibility.
Looking forward for Steam for Mac, shame my MacBook Pro probably won't be here for me to test it.
 
besson3c May 3, 2010 01:15 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by seanc (Post 3963761)
I never had much luck with WINE, for any application really - but maybe I'm just doing it wrong.

The all eggs in one basket scenario just doesn't cut it for me, I'd rather be slightly inconvenienced losing one machine, than losing my only machine.
I haven't found a game I can't run in WINE. I run Starcraft 2, Civ 4, Project 64, and Dolphin all in WINE which all run wonderfully. I used to also run Firefox in WINE while the Linux Flash version was in limbo (it still kind of is, the 64 bit version doesn't work going full screen in Hulu, for instance).

If you want to run WINE run the development version 1.1.43, and use the latest version of X11 available from Apple's open source software website Macosforge.
 
besson3c May 3, 2010 01:29 PM
Other reasons to buy a PC:

- a NAS or offsite backup box that can run ZFS if you install Solaris/OpenSolaris/FreeBSD
- a MythTV/Freevo/whatever media center
- a development box
- a better VM host and/or VM host that won't tie up your computer (I say better, because the best performing VM host on the Mac and the one with the richest feature set is actually Virtualbox which probably runs best under Linux)
 
Simon May 3, 2010 01:34 PM
And of course my favorite reasons:

- you want an expandable desktop but you can't be suckered into paying Apple $2500 for last year's architecture along with a ludicrously limited choice of GPUs
- you'd like to put state-of-the-art components into an expandable case so you have an upgrade path

It's up to Apple to make the MP more attractive. With the last update they definitely dropped the ball. It's absolutely no surprise to me that right now people are buying PC hardware and building hackintoshes like never before. Apple's call. If they tell desktop users to go **** themsleves, desktop users will spend their money elsewhere. Rightly so.
 
starman May 3, 2010 02:05 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by seanc (Post 3963761)
I never had much luck with WINE, for any application really - but maybe I'm just doing it wrong.

The all eggs in one basket scenario just doesn't cut it for me, I'd rather be slightly inconvenienced losing one machine, than losing my only machine.

Edit: Starman, there isn't much compelling reason apart from price and added flexibility.
Looking forward for Steam for Mac, shame my MacBook Pro probably won't be here for me to test it.
Is "added flexibility" the ability to put in a video card? This isn't 1994.

People can argue for themselves if a Mac or PC is better for them. That's fine.

What I don't get is the "my brother convinced me with no other viable reason" argument.

I could talk about Soundflower, Final Cut Pro, GarageBand, and all the other awesome things I do with my Mac, and that'll be good for me, but at least I have better reasons for my decision than what BigMac listed.
 
seanc May 3, 2010 02:10 PM
'added flexibility' is having parts that are standard, not proprietary and expensive to replace.
 
besson3c May 3, 2010 02:14 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by starman (Post 3963804)
Is "added flexibility" the ability to put in a video card? This isn't 1994.
To some people, it could be.

I don't need the latest and greatest hardware so this is not a big issue to me, and I know some people that like to have the latest and greatest hardware just because with no discernible reason in terms of software driving this, but if you do have a legitimate reason to upgrade you have to keep in mind that some desktop iMacs include shared video (I'm not sure if you can supplement this with any old video card?!), and there is also your CPU. For some people storage is something they wish to upgrade too, not just direct attach, but eSATA. Some people may also want to salvage their case and go for an all new motherboard...

In the case of building a 1U server this also includes random SATA drives.
 
seanc May 3, 2010 02:17 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by besson3c (Post 3963808)
...Some people may also want to salvage their case and go for an all new motherboard....
Which is exactly what I just did.

Replaced my Gigabyte for an ASUS (I don't usually like ASUS) because it has SLI, it was free and I repaired it myself.
 
DrTacoMD May 3, 2010 02:17 PM
I went on a date with a PC user this weekend. Does that count?
 
starman May 3, 2010 02:18 PM
Quote, Originally Posted by seanc (Post 3963805)
'added flexibility' is having parts that are standard, not proprietary and expensive to replace.
HAHAH. Again, this isn't 1994.

What does "expensive to replace" mean?

Let me guess, you're talking about the mobo, or the video card? Look, the only thing I *ever* upgraded in *any* PC I ever owned was the video card. You can get video cards for the Mac. Other than that, your points are pretty moot. What other parts are there? If you're going to build a gaming rig, you'd get a PC anyway, so the point is moot again.

Other parts to replace:
CD/DVD drive?
Hard drive?
Keyboard?
Mouse?
Sound card (unnecessary)?
RAM?

I mean really, what do you need to replace in a Mac? I've had my Mac Pro since 2006 and other than the RAM I haven't had to do a single thing with it.

If you're going to upgrade a PC, you have to buy a whole new Mobo/processor anyway, which sometimes warrants reinstalling the OS. However, I can still encode HD pretty damn fast on my Mac Pro from 2006. Would a more modern Mac be faster? Of course, but there's a reason why Macs have high resellability - they don't *require* upgrades.
 
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