About four and a half years ago, I built a PC to take over from my aging laptop. That PC served me faithfully until December 2009, when I got myself a 24″ monitor for Christmas and upgraded Ubuntu to 9.10 (Karmic Koala). My four-year-old graphics card, with just 128 megabytes of memory, could barely handle my monitor, meaning I couldn’t watch DVDs full size. Furthermore, two weeks ago, while playing a complex Flash game, Ubuntu… crashed. Yes. The almighty Linux operating system crashed, for the first time in the three years I’ve been running it.
It was time to upgrade core hardware (motherboard, processor, graphics card). It was a bit disorienting to see how far things had come since building my PC in 2005! After getting up to speed on modern developments, I opted for a smaller-format motherboard (Micro ATX), a decent dual-core AMD processor, and a cheap but fast graphics card. I reused my old PC case, hard drives, CD/DVD drive, multi-card reader (mainly for SD cards), and no-name 7.1 surround sound card that I got for 15 euros a year ago and that works great. I don’t demand much of my system, so I always focus on the best quality I can find in the lower price ranges, making sure everything is compatible. Spending the time to research components really pays off in the end. I did also spend a bit of money to replace the old power supply that came with my computer case, since I wanted something more ecological. The components arrived today:
– ASRock N68-S micro ATX motherboard (this has great reviews)
– AMD Athlon II X2 245 (2.9Ghz) dual-core processor
– Gigabyte NVIDIA GeForce 8400 GS graphics card (512Mb of memory)
– 1Gb DDR2 RAM
– Antec EarthWatts 380W Green power supply, rated 80Plus Bronze
My PC innards looked like this before, and now look like this. Time from start to finish: two hours. Zero problems, and excellent performance. I didn’t even have to reinstall my operating system! I just turned off the computer, unplugged it, changed around the innards, plugged it back in, turned it on, and it worked. Vive Ubuntu! I did need to remove some tweaks to Ubuntu for my old graphics card, but that was it. DVDs play smoothly at full resolution now, and I’m delighted with how fast Gimp opens and edits my photos. My old setup (AMD Sempron 2800+ 1.6Ghz processor, 128Mb graphics card, and 1Gb of RAM) had a rough time with Gimp, taking nearly a minute to open; the new setup opens Gimp in less than three seconds. I’m happy!