Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First Time MMO PC Builder, Part 4 (Continue Testing)

Meet GArMOS-1 (short for Green AR-madillo Made,
with added Portal reference)
I've been up and running on my new PC for about three weeks now, and things have been uneventful, which I suppose is what one would be hoping for on a brand new machine.  I've got over 150 GB and counting in MMO clients on the data drive (good thing I didn't try to go pure-SSD), as I install everything I'm playing, and a bunch of things that I might hypothetically play in the future (since this machine will unfortunately be deployed on the wrong end of a DSL connection, which I distrust immensely, in the near future).

So far, everything I have attempted to run has run, despite the older graphics card.  Given what I'm hearing about specs for the next generation of GPU's, I'm definitely expecting to get better value in a few months.  In the mean time, the only settings I have had to downgrade are things like max quality shadows or anti-aliasing.  I guess I sort of notice these, but I don't consider these performance issues so much as cosmetics.  While modern MMO's are delivering maximum settings that require some serious computing power, developers aren't abandoning the mainstream (and my machine is a bit above mainstream even with the out-dated GPU).

Several people during the process commented that my tales of troubleshooting prove that I should have just paid someone to build a machine for me - in particular, the Canadians apparently have a chain that is well known for this sort of thing.  I'd say a few things to this:
  • Paying someone else to build the machine - and provide a warranty - may be more costly than you realize.  Doghouse Systems (official sponsor of numerous MMO podcasts) charges $1750 for a machine that's roughly comparable to what mine will be when I upgrade the graphics card, only mine cost under $1200.  Maybe your local shop manages to be cheaper without compromising on reputation, but they have to pay the employees who will provide your warranty service somehow, along with shipping, any expenses for parts, etc. 
  • As those of you who have read my posts about F2P business models know, I'm someone who derives some degree of satisfaction out of pursuing and obtaining a good deal.  Technically speaking, it may be correct that my time is worth more than the money I save on this exercise, but that's part of the fun for me.  I could definitely see how someone with a different personality would find this less enjoyable.  
  • In the longer term, I value the knowledge I've taken away from this project.  Because I assembled this machine, I don't have to shrug when something stops working.  That knowledge - especially since this is unlikely to be the last computer I ever assemble, has some value in the long run.
At the end of the day this type of project may not be for everyone.  I personally enjoyed it greatly, and I wish the best of luck to anyone else looking to take the plunge.  


  1. Your last point is the most important, in my opinion. Computer's break, it's going to happen eventually to any machine, and having assembled it yourself, you'll have a much better idea of what's gone wrong and how to fix it.

    Congratulations, by the way, on the new machine!

  2. I built the machine I'm currently running. It was about five years ago. When the power supply went out for the first time a couple years ago, I didn't have a clue what had happened. I paid a shop twenty dollars to keep the machine overnight and run a few "tests". I was pleased that it was a simple fix and promptly ordered a new supply and installed it upon arrival. But it didn't work. So back to the shop, another twenty dollars. This time there was a problem with the BIOS not being friendly with my new power supply...or something. I happily let them handle that issue.

    It has certainly been a learning experience. This was my first home built computer and I will be doing it again this year. This series of posts about your computer-building adventures has let me see that little has changed in the five years since I built mine. Thanks for sharing.

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