I always prefer a desktop as my primary computer, simply because of the ergonomics of a bigger screen, keyboard and mouse. A desktop is not only very easy to set up, it offers a great degree of customization as well, while being easy to maintain in the long run. Building a new system has been on the cards for quite sometime, as the older one was having a lot of hiccups in recent months. This time, I bought the parts separately and assembled them myself.
I kept the configuration realistic, in tune with my computing needs which are rather basic, limited to surfing websites, looking up information, buying online, working with documents, listening to music, editing an image once in a while and so on. It is a 4th generation Intel® Core™ i3-4130 Processor (3M Cache, 3.40 GHz) based system with a 4 GB Corsair Vengeance® DDR3 RAM, a 240 GB Sandisk Extreme Pro solid state drive, a 1 TB Western Digital Blue (7200 RPM speed, 64 MB cache) hard disk drive. All of this sitting on a Asus B85M-G motherboard, fed by a 450 W Corsair VS Series™ power supply and housed inside a Cooler Master N200 cabinet. Most of the parts were bought online, while I got the motherboard from a shop on Ganesh Chandra Avenue. By the time I got down to write this, I don’t recall the exact price. I think all this came for about ₹30,000. I have retained my old 20” LG E2042TC LED monitor, Logitech keyboard & mouse, Creative 2.1 speakers.
The system that is really fast
I want my computer to be very fast. I need fast boot times and the programs must load in a jiffy. This is where the solid state drive comes in. (SSD vs HDD). I have addded a 120 GB SanDisk Extreme II 240 GB Sandisk Extreme Pro SSD as the primary drive for Windows and other programs, and another 1 TB secondary drive for storing movies, photos and music - the so called dual-drive system. I settled for 4 GB RAM as it is enough for my computing needs. Photoshop works without hiccups! So I am not planning to upgrade to 8 GB anytime soon.
The system that will last ten years
I have chosen only quality components, all of which will go a long way in making my system stand the tests of time, because I need a system that will have enough power to smoothly run heavy applications like Photoshop but will be absolutely maintenance-free: like set and forget.
- The motherboard is the most important component of the system. Asus is known for using good quality components in their motherboards. For instance, the B85M-G uses Taiwan AP-CON solid capacitors which, rated at a 5,000-hour lifetime and a maximum operating temperature of 105°C, are said to have 2.5x longer life span than standard solid capacitors. The B85M-G also comes with various protection features like protection against over-current and short-circuit damage to any USB devices, anti-surge protection. A nice review of the board I got can be found here: The Tech Revolutionist.
I have spent more on the PSU and cabinet. First part of this PC World article explains why it is important to get a good PSU:
Higher-quality power supplies almost always use bigger and better capacitors, chokes, and other internal components, and they come outfitted with larger heatsinks for superior heat dissipation—all of which translates into more weight. Larger cooling fans, which typically move more air while making less noise than smaller fans, are another plus.
The Corsair VS450 not only feels heavier to hold, but its sophisticated black powder coated enclosure and the black-sleeved cables mean the threadbare interior of a PC cabinet is a thing of the past. It is 80 Plus certified, which translates to efficient energy use and less electricity bills. It offers protection from over-voltage, under-voltage, over-current, and short circuit.
The Cooler Master N200 cabinet I chose comes with adequate ventilation, dust filters and extra fans in the rear and the front, it is an efficient cooling system for my setup. It also has provisions for adding cooling radiators, indicated only in heavy graphics intensive gaming. On a side note, it is one of the few sober designs from Cooler Master, in a crowd of flashy designs!
I very much want to buy the Microsoft Natural keyboard. It comes at a price, but is probably the most ergonomic keyboard out there. 2016 December update: The two year old desktop is going strong. I am pleased to see that all the components, barring the processor, are still relevant and their prices remain more or less the same! The solid state drive crashed in August 2016. It came with a five year warranty and I got a free replacement from Sandisk, only with a better and larger drive this time.