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A PC building guide by an idiot
May 20, 2011 4:04 AM   Subscribe

How to Build Your Own Gaming PC, a marginally helpful and irreverent guide.
posted by The Devil Tesla (73 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite

 
Only one piece of bad advice: he shits on SSDs when they are actually kinda awesome, if unnecessary.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 4:07 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Only one piece of bad advice: he shits on SSDs when they are actually kinda awesome, if unnecessary.

Firstly, the Brewster's Millions reference is literally the best part of the article.

Secondly, anyone who puts a SSD in their gaming desktop is either rich or dumb. Likely both. There is a ratio of something like 30 or 40 between the price of an SSD and an HD of the same size. And HD access speed is so very rarely a serious bottleneck.
posted by TypographicalError at 4:21 AM on May 20, 2011


Overclock (v.): To convert a functional processor into one that crashes a lot but does so very quickly.

There's a Devil's Dictionary to be written about this subject.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:22 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Funny! I liked his troubleshooting guide best.
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:29 AM on May 20, 2011


Anyone who puts a SSD in their gaming desktop is either rich or dumb

Have you ever used one? SSDs are probably the only upgrade you can make to a computer to make it really feel like something different than the one you got in 1997. Starting up a game that used to take minutes to load in seconds is just kinda cool. Yes, it's unnecessary, and a beginner's PC guide shouldn't say "buy an SSD," but still, the benefits of SSDs aren't bullshit.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 4:31 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


SSDs are only shit upon by people who haven't used them. Honestly, spending $300 on a 256GB SSD boot/app/swap drive is the smartest $300 you'll spend on your computer. I even tore the "superdrive" out of my 2009 macbook so I could put an SSD in as a boot drive while keeping a 500GB platter as my working data store. This machine still kicks ass today and I do all my photo work on it.
posted by seanmpuckett at 4:40 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Secondly, anyone who puts a SSD in their gaming desktop is either rich or dumb. Likely both.

I dub thee Sir Mistaken the Incorrect, Lord of the Principality of Wrongistan for the day! Things haven't entirely matured yet, but I reckon if you use a midsize SSD (which doesn't cost much, these days) for your boot drive and regular platter drives for all your storage, well, the results will make you tingly in your downunder parts.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:47 AM on May 20, 2011 [8 favorites]


Fourthing the SSD love. I plonked down about AUD$140 on a 500gig Seagate Momentus a couple of months ago and it's utterly transformed the performance of what was an increasingly creaky three year old Dell 1520 back into a lean mean (albeit slightly noisier) gaming machine.
posted by MarchHare at 4:50 AM on May 20, 2011


Worth it just for the phrase 'blinged-out dork-box'.
posted by omnikron at 4:55 AM on May 20, 2011


Congratulations! You have joined an elite group: those who dared to build it themselves. Granted, you didn't do much more than place a bunch of pieces in their respective holes - you "built your PC" in the same way that a guy who screws in a light bulb has "invented electricity".

I loved this article, thanks.
posted by Meatbomb at 5:00 AM on May 20, 2011


Very silly but surprisingly informative in general - may well be coming back to this. I was holding it together pretty well (a necessity when reading on my lunch break at work) until I reached this point:
If you find that the verge depth of your anchor escapement is causing the wheel to bind up, you have mistakenly assembled a cuckoo clock.
posted by ZsigE at 5:00 AM on May 20, 2011


The cookie dough bit is pretty fantastic, and probably worthwhile for me to think about whenever I'm buying anything.
posted by Greg Nog at 5:02 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not a gamer, but now I really want a computer with clear panels. (probably just so I can gross myself out looking at the dust accumulation).

A very good reason to build a PC is cost. We've gotten a bare-bones system and put together a very good desktop (minus monitor & hard drives, which we already had) for less than $300 USD. That wasn't a gaming PC - runs Linux and has no video card - but building a gaming PC is still cheaper than buying on.

As for the console question, that has a simple answer: can I get work done on a console? If not, a gaming PC - desktop or laptop - is still a better deal, because I can work on it. /really speaking for the SO, who is a minor gamer.
posted by jb at 5:09 AM on May 20, 2011


The most reliable power supplies carry what is called an "80 PLUS" certification. This seal of approval indicates that the unit has undergone rigorous industry tests to ensure that it has at least 80, and sometimes even more than 80.
Good stuff.
posted by lyam at 5:16 AM on May 20, 2011


This article was as fantastic as it was unhelpful, and I enjoyed it way more than any DIY guide should be enjoyed.
posted by absalom at 5:25 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


The last time I played PC games must have been about ten years ago. And nothing ever worked. Nothing. Ever. Yes, I had the illusion of playing Unreal Tournament and Deus Ex, but, really, it was mostly a series of savepoints between crashes or glitches or unexplained fires. This brings all of those terrible memories back.

Now I get my work done on a Mac and I play games on a 360 and life is much better. And more expensive.
posted by uncleozzy at 5:38 AM on May 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh no, you guys are right. I certainly need to spend an extra several hundred dollars so that I can get my videogames to boot faster. After all, I have important things to do that I am avoiding by playing videogames.
posted by TypographicalError at 5:40 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I certainly need to spend an extra several hundred dollars so that I can get my videogames to boot faster.

Sorry to start a pileon TE (probably should have waited for the rest of them to do it for me :p) but you were kinda wrong. And no one is saying that people need to buy an SSD, just that any money you spend on one isn't wasted.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 5:46 AM on May 20, 2011


Waste is in the eye of the beholder.
posted by oddman at 5:50 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This reminds me of a humor piece I read many many ages ago of some über-geek building their grandmother some kind of over-the-top linux god-box so Gramms could email and stuff. My Google-fu has completely failed me, otherwise I'd link to it.

Funny stuff.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:51 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry to start a pileon TE (probably should have waited for the rest of them to do it for me :p) but you were kinda wrong. And no one is saying that people need to buy an SSD, just that any money you spend on one isn't wasted.

It isn't wasted in that a Ferrari can probably actually go 200 mph, but when do you need to do that?

The author is right; the hard drive is rarely the bottleneck. It adds some latency to launching things, but that's really a minimal piece of the pie.

OTOH, there is no reason NOT to buy an SSD, except cost.
posted by gjc at 6:02 AM on May 20, 2011


I certainly need to spend an extra several hundred dollars so that I can get my videogames to boot faster.

Sir Mistaken the Incorrect digs himself or herself deeper into the Realm of Points Missed. Quick, friends! Save him or her from the sucking mud at the bottom of the Ditch Of Not Really Getting It All That Well!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:04 AM on May 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


[I don't actually have an SSD or plan on buying one any time soon. I'm just fucking around at this point. BASED-ON FACT-AROUND-FUCKING though. Heh. Sorry.]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:07 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


It isn't wasted in that a Ferrari can probably actually go 200 mph, but when do you need to do that?

The author is right; the hard drive is rarely the bottleneck. It adds some latency to launching things, but that's really a minimal piece of the pie.


SSDs might not make that much of a difference when you do benchmarky things, but when you actually use them (which is the important thing damnit) they feel fast. Think about it: the iPad feels super fast even though it's processor is about as powerful as a desktop a decade ago because it uses flash memory and uses it well. It feels faster than my desktop that has super modern processor thing because I can get going on it in nanoseconds instead of, um, microseconds (if you leave it in the middle of something like I usually do, it's a lot more dramatic when you go from totally off to doing stuff). I really think you and TE are missing something really obvious by just looking at the technical stuff.
posted by The Devil Tesla at 6:19 AM on May 20, 2011


Do you need a sound card? If it is 1997: definitely.

Hah! Great stuff.
posted by Rock Steady at 6:19 AM on May 20, 2011


While researching my recent PC build, I came across a glossy online guide in which the author described Intel's new Sandy Bridge processor chipset as if it were a woman whom he desired to have sex with.

That made me literally laugh out loud. As a former guitar collector of sorts, it was frightening on a certain level, to run across all the the eBay/CL adds where band dudes referenced their guitars as "she" rather than "it."
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:26 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Re: SSDs. The company I used to work for did a Windows 7 rollout of HP laptops each with its own SSD. The difference between these new laptops and the old was like night and day in terms of speed and boot times. One day I hope to be rich and dumb so that I may purchase one.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 6:30 AM on May 20, 2011


SSDs are simply spectacular and not at all a waste of money. I got one for my new DIY box and Photoshop launches in less than a second. The performance in general is incredible in contrast to traditional HD based boxes. I get intensely frustrated with how slow they are now. If you're interested in speed and performance they make a huge difference. If you're not, then it's not for you. Neither makes you a fool.
posted by juiceCake at 6:40 AM on May 20, 2011


Despite the irreverence, there's actually quite a bit of good information there. Building a PC really isn't that difficult, and usually you shouldn't spend that much money on it, unless you know better.

But I will say that a nicely balanced PC really is an outstanding gaming platform. Shogun 2, for instance, is just freaking glorious. It's the first Total War game where they actually got pretty much everything right; the combat is fun and well-balanced, the graphics are amazing, and the AI is good enough to beat you. Just being good enough to worry you slightly would have been a major improvement over prior Total War games; this one can outright stomp on you at the higher difficulty levels.

Assembling a PC just isn't very hard anymore. It's sort of a checklist... you size the video card around your monitor, and the CPU around what you do besides gaming, because so few games bottleneck on CPU. Then you decide on storage, RAM, a case and power supply, and probably some cheapo DVD drive. Order the parts, assemble, install the OS and drivers, and install your games. It's certainly not like buying a console or a Mac, but there's hardly any gotchas left. I think a medium-sized Lego project would probably be harder.

If you find a good place to ask for help, like AskMe, or the Tech and Help forum on Gamers with Jobs, it'll probably take, oh, maybe a day or two of research and thought before ordering, and about four hours to build the PC and install everything. If you use the machine at all regularly, that's a pretty small time investment compared to its useful life, typically four or five years.

But if you don't want to deal with that, don't. Plenty of companies that will build them for you.

Oh, re: SSDs... on Win 7, you can get a good chunk of the benefit from an SSD just by putting an assload of RAM into the computer. 64-bit Win 7 does very smart drive caching, and with 12 or 16 gigs of RAM, it's able to hide a great deal of the actual latency of a slow mechanism. I can barely tell that the 2TB 5400RPM drive on this machine is slow, for instance. Once in awhile I realize it, but most of the time it feels just about as fast as the SSD. RAM is very cheap, and SSDs are very expensive, so I'd nudge folks on Win7 64-bit toward a RAM expansion as a quick hack to improve responsiveness.

On a Mac, though? Exact opposite advice. Macs absolutely live and die on drive seek time. There is no expansion you can put into your computer that will make a bigger difference. On a Mac, you want the SSD before anything else, even RAM. I don't know why it makes such an enormous difference on that OS -- I think it has something to do with the relatively crap HFS+ filesystem that they're still using. Whatever the actual reason, putting a ton of RAM in a Mac with a slow drive will make little visible difference, but a CPU-starved, RAM-limited Mac with an SSD will scream.
posted by Malor at 6:50 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


If you find that the verge depth of your anchor escapement is causing the wheel to bind up, you have mistakenly assembled a cuckoo clock.

I had to cover my mouth with both hands so my boss (in the next office) didn't hear me laughing, and I've still got tears in my eyes.
posted by thudthwacker at 6:55 AM on May 20, 2011


You may have a friend who will urge you to try gaming on an open-source OS like Linux. This is a great opportunity to not be friends with that person anymore.

Ha! So true. I've been this guy in the past, sadly.

Also, I gotta jump in on the SSD bandwagon. Sure, it may not make that much of a difference in games, but if you're making a PC that's a daily driver, holy crap is it useful. In the course of a day, add up all the time you have to wait for your PC to do things, you'll be surprised. Do you restart or sleep/wake your computer relatively frequently, or turn off your computer when you're done? Congratulations, you've saved yourself several minutes a day, which does add up. Do you run any software that seems to take forever to load up (i.e., anything from Microsoft, especially Office products)? Bam! Another nice chunk of time. Do you do anything at all with photo, music, or video editing? If so, you're saving yourself hours of time where your computer is otherwise useless. All of this goes doubly so for a laptop. An SSD in a 2009 Macbook Pro, for instance, is like having a whole new computer.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:13 AM on May 20, 2011


SSD is one of the single biggest upgrades you can do to increase your perception of speed. You don't even need a big one!

I built my dad a machine using an older cpu and average amount of ram... threw a small 60GB SSD in there and he can't stop raving about how snappy and fast it is.

Check out Ars Technica's latest System guide... no SSD in the budget machine but it's in the mid range and high end machines. Which is about correct, I reckon.
posted by utsutsu at 7:23 AM on May 20, 2011


This article pretty much describes how I built my gaming desktop, except I persuaded my PC-building-enthusiast friend to assemble it for me.
posted by Xany at 7:27 AM on May 20, 2011


I was skeptical about SSDs until late 2009when a few of the MeFighters posted a series of straw-poll benchmarks after buying some:

One Person:
TF2 main menu 35-40s (-novid)
L4D2 main menu 6 seconds. (-novid)
Borderlands first video in 15 seconds


A Different Person:
Machine boot to chrome open and surfing mefight: 54 seconds.
TF2 load: 9 seconds
L4D2 load: 6 seconds

Empire:TW load to main menu:
before: 43 seconds
after: 18 seconds

Empire:TW save game load:
before: 1:18
after :32

posted by absalom at 7:30 AM on May 20, 2011


Rock Paper Shotgun: If You Buy One PC Upgrade This Year…Make it an SSD. I am not making spurious claims or waving my silly little e-willy around here. It’s the single most immediately noticeable system upgrade I think I’ve ever done,
posted by straight at 7:36 AM on May 20, 2011


Lesson: If you ever get into a conversation with someone about your PC's specs, lie. Specifically, take the last number mentioned in conversation and add 100. When the interlocutor asks about a 3.3 GHz Intel i5 processor, casually offer that you have the 103.3 GHz Intel i105 processor. If questioned further, say, "You know, the new one." Then place a large quantity of food in your mouth and walk away.

I loved this part, and this whole guide in general. I work in IT, and I find it's rare for anyone to admit this sort of thing aloud. Seriously, 10 years ago, buying a computer at a store meant getting some garbage Packard Bell, or a locked-down Gateway, and paying way too much for a crappy machine, building your own machine (or getting your nerd pal to build it for you) just made sense.

I stopped caring about trying to resurrect Brainiac when my new roommate some years ago brought his 360 with him, and discovered that console gaming and online play had more than caught up with PC's in the time I'd ignored them. When I tell my fellow nerds that my current machine (the one I replaced my giant, black, clear-panel, blinky-light Borg cube gaming machine that was top of the line in 2004 and STILL couldn't run DOOM3) with a $200 eMachines box i built on the Micro Centre website, you'd think I was, well, Lars Von Trier.

Seriously, there are few things in the PC world more needlessly bloated than the games; I know the joys of seeing something like Unreal Tournament or the like rendered in super gorgeous HD glory, but I've come to love the operational consistency of consoles; I like going into GameStop, being able to grab an armload of games without having to read each box to find out if I'm going to need to buy and install something to go with it.

Then again, I appear to be a rarity among my friends who not only sees Blu-Ray as a frivolous expense, but doesn't get all Princess And The Pea about watching movies and TV shows with AVI compression, so maybe I'm the wrong guy to ask.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 7:48 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Damn you guys. I came for the snark and the fun read, and I left browinsg SSD's on NewEgg.
posted by cavalier at 7:50 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


If I had a 3 minute edit window, would I even use it?
posted by cavalier at 7:51 AM on May 20, 2011


I won't be using that guide to build a PC any time soon.

But now I know why my cuckoo clock is running a tad fast. Time well spent!
posted by Dipsomaniac at 8:05 AM on May 20, 2011


This was great. I am looking to build a new desktop (and probably also a media mini-pc/server thing). Where can I go that a clueless n00b like me will be tolerated with my endless questions and uncluesome n00bishness? When I bought my last PC in 2002, folks were all over my livejournal offering unwelcome help; now that I'm looking to actually build, LiveJournal is dead. =(
posted by Eideteker at 8:06 AM on May 20, 2011


This makes me want to put together a computer. Which probably isn't a good thing.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:14 AM on May 20, 2011


Where can I go that a clueless n00b like me will be tolerated with my endless questions and uncluesome n00bishness?

You can post questions to r/buildapc. They also have some suggested helpful sites, listed on the right margin of the page, which I will reproduce here because some people are reddit-allergic:

Logical Increments PC Buying Guide
Best Graphics Cards For The Money: May 2011
Best Gaming CPUs For The Money: April 2011
What to do after building a new system
PcPartPicker.com (How to Use)
posted by Jpfed at 8:22 AM on May 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


To continue the SSD de-rail... They have a significant failure rate, from what I've read. So do you want fast access to data that may not be accessible in less than a year? How good are your backups, really?
posted by Nelson at 8:23 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh no, you guys are right. I certainly need to spend an extra several hundred dollars so that I can get my videogames to boot faster. After all, I have important things to do that I am avoiding by playing videogames.

Several hundred, huh? I'm sure you're not the type to keep up on new technology, so let's make you look more uninformed.

The new Z68 chipset from Intel will use Solid State Drives as caching devices for a regular hard drive, allowing for what is essentially huge hybrid drives, controlled by the motherboard. Your quick reads and writes, application and game loading, etc. are all improved by dynamically using that SSD. Of course, this costs several hundreds tens of dollars to add a SSD made to handle this. A Corsair Force 40GB, that works great for the caching setup is a whole $105.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:35 AM on May 20, 2011


Points for using a picture of a processor under the heading "The video card".
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:36 AM on May 20, 2011


...HD access speed is so very rarely a serious bottleneck.

My desktop has 20 megadoodle internet, eleventy-teen gigahertz of RAM, and 3x10^3 CPU double-megacyclones.

And when my desktop makes me wait - which it does all too often - it's always, always, always because the frequently-defragglemented HD is thrashing away. Chunkatachunkatachunka. The HD isn't just a bottleneck, it's the bottleneck.

I want an SSD badly, but I can't afford it just now.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:42 AM on May 20, 2011


"You can post questions to r/buildapc."

I just want to do something simple like build a computer, not something complex like learn to use reddit.
posted by Eideteker at 8:42 AM on May 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


So for people that are using the SSD for boot/applications and a second 7200+ RPM disk for file storage how do you guys decide what you want on the SSD and what you want on the regular disks?

With a Mac in theory I could just move apps between the disks as needed. Doing that on a PC is a bit trickier unless I want to periodically uninstall/reinstall critical apps. Even then after the OS + a few big apps + enough disk space top work with active files that can eat up a SSD fast.

So SSD advocates, do you just live within the SSD space limits or do you split your usage over multiple disks?
posted by vuron at 8:47 AM on May 20, 2011


To continue the SSD de-rail... They have a significant failure rate, from what I've read. So do you want fast access to data that may not be accessible in less than a year? How good are your backups, really?

Hardware.fr has been reporting on failure rates of HDDs and SSDs for quite some time (articles in French, Google Translate to the rescue!). The failure rates are actually rather comparable. Also: your HDD wouldn't exactly survive if hit by a baseball bat, thrown at a brick wall, blowtorched, or used as a puck for street hockey.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 8:58 AM on May 20, 2011


I read an interesting post somewhere about how the high failure rate of SSDs was actually finally encouraging some people to develop effective backup strategies.

So you get speed and a threat that causes you to act more responsibly!
posted by srboisvert at 8:59 AM on May 20, 2011


Made me laugh. ("do you have dignity?")

There are so many great sites to get info, reviews, etc. I've been building pc's for around 20 years and always have a great time doing it. I must be a true geek, since I will spend hours researching the best cooling fan for this CPU (of course after spending DAYS figuring out what CPU I want), with a side research project about thermal grease. Then on to video cards. Or power supplies. You can go on as far as you want.

The end result, if you enjoy it and put in the time to learn how to do it, you'll get a computer that is faster, runs better and costs less than what you'll find at your local Best Buy or Staples.
posted by pretzel at 8:59 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


And a plug for Newegg. They rock.
posted by pretzel at 9:03 AM on May 20, 2011


There are so many great sites to get info, reviews, etc. I've been building pc's for around 20 years and always have a great time doing it. I must be a true geek, since I will spend hours researching the best cooling fan for this CPU (of course after spending DAYS figuring out what CPU I want), with a side research project about thermal grease. Then on to video cards. Or power supplies. You can go on as far as you want.

This described me exactly, down to the bit about the thermal grease, when I built my newest system a few months ago. I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who does things this way.
posted by VTX at 9:06 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


So SSD advocates, do you just live within the SSD space limits or do you split your usage over multiple disks?

I run a 128GB SSD (Mushkin Io from early 2010). I also have 2 1TB Hard Drives in Intel Matrix Raid, part Raid 0, part Raid 1, and a third 1TB drive for a scratch drive. I also have a 1TB backup drive and online backups for important documents. I live within the space limits, with some planning ahead of time. My SSD has Windows and most programs installed on it. A few games with loading time issues went on there as well, but most of my games went over to the Raid 0 portion of my Raid, mainly because my Steam collection got too big. I generally have 60GB or so available on the SSD, which is maintained for when I need to do video editing (files moved on, work done, moved off).
posted by Mister Fabulous at 9:09 AM on May 20, 2011


I sadly read the comment thread here first, so most of the jokes were already blown. But! His pricing advice is in fact quite excellent. I have been building computers out of budget components and stuff I get used for like... a while. I'm never on the bleeding edge, but I can always do pretty much the stuff I want to do with it, and I don't think I've ever spent more than $2-300 even on a mostly-new build.
posted by kavasa at 9:43 AM on May 20, 2011


There is a LOT of truth in this article.
posted by Xoebe at 9:46 AM on May 20, 2011


The truth is, I don't remember what the model number of my video card is. All I know is everything looks real pretty.

This is pretty much how I buy any gear, be it electronic, outdoor, cars, or whatever. It's also why, when making a decision, I tend to consult general forums such as AskMe rather than specialized forums such as the A/V Forum. All I need to know is something is gonna be pretty. I don't need to know that it gets an extra .0001 MPG or has an extra frame per second. Seems to work well for me.

More how-to sites should be written like this.
posted by bondcliff at 9:55 AM on May 20, 2011


"Space limits"? On modern SSDs? Jesus, some of you must have gigantic porn collections. Space limits indeed.
posted by Justinian at 10:04 AM on May 20, 2011


"Space limits"? On modern SSDs? Jesus, some of you must have gigantic porn collections.

Or a Steam account.
posted by straight at 10:18 AM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Space limits"? On modern SSDs? Jesus, some of you must have gigantic porn collections. Space limits indeed.

My problem is that I prefer to have my entire music collection on my laptop (in addition to the desktop which acts as a media centre) so that I can change my ipod from it. However, if I ignore music, I could get away with a 30/40 GB disk. With music, I need at least a 160, which I can't really afford. I'm currently debating between not bothering and finally accepting that I can't have all my music on my laptop and getting an 80 GB (for about $180 after tax & rebate, which is a pretty good deal). Mainly sparked from this thread, actually. Jerks.

Also: I wish you had said "giant porn collections" because there are much better jokes.
posted by Lemurrhea at 11:08 AM on May 20, 2011


Therefore, if you want to save money on a video card, move your couch.

I really enjoyed this article, and have passed it on to a friend who just recently was sucked down the hole of must optimize, must optimize, must optimize. He just bought a new gaming laptop, and we were having discussions about how he wished he had gotten a little more power on the CPU not because he would notice a difference, but because it was the best.
posted by lillygog at 11:54 AM on May 20, 2011


Or a Steam account.

Only if you keep all your Steam games installed locally. I think I probably keep around 10% of my steam games installed at any given time.

With music, I need at least a 160, which I can't really afford.

Oh, true. I should have said porn/warez collections. Warez can be very large.
posted by Justinian at 12:04 PM on May 20, 2011


A case
posted by mmrtnt at 12:26 PM on May 20, 2011


I think I probably keep around 10% of my steam games installed at any given time.

10% of way too many games what was I thinking is still a lot of gigabytes.
posted by straight at 12:36 PM on May 20, 2011


"So for people that are using the SSD for boot/applications and a second 7200+ RPM disk for file storage how do you guys decide what you want on the SSD and what you want on the regular disks?"

Any program and data that I'm using constantly goes on the SSD: Chrome, Office, ArcGIS, Lightroom... plus files (like large excel files that I'm currently working on).

Anything else I'll load onto the second drive. Also go for at least an 80-120 gb drive. I got a 60gb drive and have been doing the Symlink thing, and its NOT ENOUGH for a serious boot drive , and its a major pain. Plus the windows drive seems to like bloating up causing me to keep pushing files off the SSD.
posted by stratastar at 12:56 PM on May 20, 2011


SSDs seem like a great idea for use cases that are not this one.
posted by Artw at 1:00 PM on May 20, 2011


Just want to nth that this is damn funny. Picks up after the first clickthrough.
posted by Joe Chip at 1:23 PM on May 20, 2011


Show us on the doll where the SSD touched you.
posted by BeerFilter at 1:48 PM on May 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Show us on the doll where the SSD touched you.

*points at doll's purse*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:28 PM on May 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


Re: the SSD space issue, my current primary desktop system has an 80GB SSD and two 1TB data drives. The SSD gets the OS install and all commonly used software (which I loosely define as "it starts at boot or I fire it up at least once a week"), plus Office, Photoshop, and any other large software which I might not use as frequently but for which the read time improvement makes me hate life less when I start it.

One of the 1TB drives is reserved for storing music and videos (and I'm about to add one or two more drives to that data pool), and the other holds.. everything else.

All my rarely used applications, most of my data, and, for example, my entire Steam collection (or, at least, what small part of it I have downloaded at any one time) goes on rotating media. I use Steam Mover to seamlessly swap games (and other things.. also, not just Steam!) to and from the solid state media as desired. I cannot over-emphasize how valuable Steam Mover is to an SSD user, whether or not you're a gamer.

With OS + commonly used apps + data for active projects + my top three or four games I usually float at between 20 and 30 GB free on the SSD. Once every couple weeks I have a look at what's on it and swap anything that's gone out of active use back to platters.

It works great, 80GB is (or was, when I bought it) right near the peak of the price/GB curve, and the speed, in spite of what naysayers say, is remarkable. An SSD is indeed a bit of a luxury, and it may seem silly to some to get excited about reducing an application's start time from, say, 6 seconds to 2, but in real usage everyone who said that it is the single most remarkable upgrade you can make to your PC is more or less correct.

Offered as evidence: I first built this box, which is no slouch (i7, 7200 RPM disks, 8GB of RAM) without an SSD. My alternate machine is a first generation aluminum MacBook. It definitely made the MacBook feel slow, but still tolerable. After a few months I splurged on the SSD. Immediate reaction? "Holy crap, this feels so much faster." Second reaction? "SHIT, I can't stand using my MacBook now. I can't believe $300 made that much difference. Now I need another SSD."

Do not underestimate the perceived value of saving a few seconds dozens of times a day.
posted by jammer at 4:49 PM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


My SSD is a Kingston SSDNow V2. Fair disclosure: my first instance failed. I live in Canada and bought it from Canada Computers, which has a kind of shit return policy. I emailed Kingston support. They emailed back snappily and said, "we want to send you a new one, call this number to get an RMA." I called the number, read out the serial number and they gave me a FedEx account number. And a PDF file that I could print with an invoice and customs declarations to get the drive across the border into the states. I dropped it off at Kinkos and I had my replacement drive, sent from the States via FedEx, in 3 days. I didn't lose any data thanks to Time Machine and it kind of sucked to have to slum it on a platter for a few days, but I tell you one thing: Kingston got my business for the next SSD (into a 2006 era Mac Mini, which is an excellent machine again), and my next drive will be a Kingston as well.

So, yeah, backups. But you were doing that anyway, right?
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:56 PM on May 20, 2011


I backup my system drive (the SSD an ADATA with Intel chips) every week (it's not like i'm constantly installing things on it).

I backup data daily (incremental backups). Traditional hard drives aren't exactly very reliable either. I've had a couple of Seagate failures so now I use Western Digital but I know people who have had Western Digitals fail on them as well. I get nervous 3 years into an HD and expect them to fail then though I do have some 5 and 6 year old drives that are still going.
posted by juiceCake at 7:44 AM on May 21, 2011


Steammover?! Oh man thank you! I've been making my junctions MANUALLY.

Like seanmpuckett my first drive failed as well (within one day of loading it up!). I got a new one in a few days (OCZ). I was kinda shocked; but there's a bit of evidence that the controllers fail much more frequently than the manufacturers claim.

But I won't own a computer without a fast SSD ever again.
posted by stratastar at 3:46 PM on May 21, 2011


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