New computer

I thought I’d document my next personal computer build for fun and for reference since I haven’t built out a personal computer in a long time.

Thoughts on Operating System and software…

My main personal computer was getting a bit old and I have some upcoming projects that it will not work well for. I was using CentOS 7 on this computer, but the new computer I built has Windows 10. The motivation to build this new computer mostly has to do with my desire to use Microsoft Visual Studio for some personal projects (I also use Visual Studio on my work computer). I would like to experiment with some technologies that I will likely not be using in my current career anytime soon, but will likely benefit me to have experience with in the future. I’ll probably document some of those experiments and projects in the coming months.

I looked into the proper way to buy Windows 10 for a custom built system. Long story short, I needed the retail version, not the cheaper OEM version (despite a lot of misinformation that is out there), and I got this directly from Microsoft since every other source reselling Microsoft products seemed a bit sketchy (especially the numerous sellers on Amazon with advice directly contrary to the Microsoft licensing guidelines). I also decided that the Home version should be OK for now. I use the Pro version for work, but the small difference didn’t seem worth the extra cost for what I’ll be doing. I built this computer with sufficient processing power and memory to host virtual machine for anything I might want to do with Linux, but there are some limitations in the Windows Home version for this and I have additional hardware for running Linux on bare metal. I figured 32GB would be sufficient for now since most of what I do professionally is on a box with only 16GB of memory and it usually runs OK.

Thoughts on where to buy hardware…

In the past, I’ve mainly purchased hardware through NewEgg, but I tried buying everything on Amazon this time. I’m mainly concerned with return policy and Amazon has been pretty easy to deal with returns in the past. The biggest problem tends to be with products surviving abuse from the shipping companies. As it turns out, the CPU I ordered got “lost” in the mail (I suspect it was stolen somewhere along the path). Luckily, Amazon issued a refund a few days after it was supposed to arrive and I was able to buy the same CPU at Best Buy.

I figured I would try to reuse as many components and peripherals as I can to save money (tried to keep this under $1,000, but I went over a bit), but I mostly started from scratch. I had several old ATX cases to start from, but I needed to buy a new power supply and pretty much everything else that goes inside the case. In the end I ended up with a new computer enclosed in an old shell.

Thoughts on Intel versus AMD…

Well, I’m not going to provide a ton of insight here. In a nutshell, I’ve generally stuck with Intel i7 CPUs in years past, but I’ve read and heard a lot of good recently about AMD Ryzen. So I built this system using an AMD CPU (Ryzen 7) and it’s ran great so far.

Here’s the stuff I re-used…

  • An old mid-sized ATX case from RAIDMAX (and some case fans)
  • A Blu-ray/DVD/CD reader/writer
  • Hard drives for file storage (I’ll bought a new NVMe drive for the OS – to offset Windows’ inexplicable I/O issues)
  • Various internal and external cables (I have boxes of cables, so I had every kind of cable I could possibly need)
  • A couple old nVidia graphic cards that will eventually be replaced.
  • 2 side monitors (bought a new main monitor – 3 total on this system)
  • Mouse/keyboard

Here’s what I ordered new…

  • Motherboard: Asus ROG Strix B450-F (can’t use the onboard video because of the CPU I paired it with)
  • CPU: CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X (with cooler fan)
  • Memory: Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2x16GB) 3200MHz C16 DDR4
  • OS hard drive: Western Digital 1TB Blue NVMe SSD WDS100T2B0C (I have additional drives I’ll use for file storage)
  • Power Supply: Thermaltake 700W PS-SPD-0700NPCWUS-W
  • 32″ main monitor (already had 2 side monitors – 3 total).
  • Microsoft Windows 10 Home

Software load so far…

  • BIOS: Checked for updates and surprisingly it was already up to date
  • Host Operating System (OS): Microsoft Windows 10 Home, plus updates
  • IDEs:
    • Microsoft Visual Studio 2019 Community (main reason this is a Windows box)
    • IntelliJ / Android Studio
  • Office apps: Microsoft 365 (another reason this is a Windows box)
  • Basic text editor: Notepad++
  • Email client: Thunderbird
  • SSH client: Putty
  • Various Linux tools for scripting, etc.: Cygwin
  • SCP GUI client: WinSCP
  • Qt5 for cross-platform C++ GUI development
    • Perl (strawberry) – needed to build Qt libraries
    • Python 3.9/0 from – needed to build Qt libraries
  • Source code management: Git for Windows
  • Python via Microsoft Store (needed for Qt build, general scripting, and various other things)
  • Diagram/illustration tool: via Microsoft Store
  • PDF Reader: Foxit
  • Image editor: GIMP

I was going to update the video cards but the old ones I stuck in it to just get by are doing fine. I usually don’t do a lot of graphically intense work, but eventually I’ll do some video editing on this machine and decide I want to upgrade. If I upgrade the video card(s) I might get a new full size ATX case depending on the card I get (I hate fighting with smaller cases to get things to fit).

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