How my passion for computers came to be.
Growing up, I had always loved going to the computer labs in school. Though they were old Apple II’s in Elementary School, and Windows 3.1 machines in Middle School, it was a computer either way. I can’t recall why I loved them, but I did, so I would never pass any chance to use one. Besides school, my best friend at the time had a few computers as well: Apple Power PC’s. I recall playing games like Warcraft II and King’s Quest on them, but even more fascinating to me was the fact Simple Text would read the text aloud.
At the time, my Grandma also had a Power PC-based computer. We used to go over to her house quite a bit on Saturday mornings so my dad could repair something else that went wrong with the family station wagon. I would use this time to use her computer; mostly for word processing. I created my own newspaper, which contained little-to-no accurate information and print up a few copies before leaving. Even though it was just word processing, the fact I got to use a computer at all always got me excited.
Our first family computer.
Welcome to 1997 when our family got our first computer. It was a custom-built system by Milwaukee PC (before Dell and HP ruled the market) so all components were brand-name, reputable parts. The specs were impressive for the time, boasting an Intel Pentium 2 running at 266 MHz with 32MB RAM, a 8GB hard drive, a 24x CD-Rom drive, 33.6 Kbps modem, and some mid-range graphics card (which I cannot recall the model of). I would love to find out now, but the system had been recycled by the time I knew what a graphics card was.
My first personal desktops.
Once I had enough money of my own I decided to invest in a new computer, especially because the Pentium 2 was really starting to show its age. So being ignorant of processor lines and seeing a price tag of $400 on an 800 MHz Celeron-based eMachine, I couldn’t pass it up. Coming from a Pentium 2, this machine felt like a beast. Looking to get more in to PC gaming, I decided to upgrade the graphics card on the machine to a Geforce 2 (PCI slot version). It was then I could discover great games like Max Payne and Unreal Tournament all running at steady frame rates.
After that machine was beginning to show its age, I was in college for computer hardware, but still poor. So when I decided to upgrade, I went with none other than another eMachine. This one was once again a Celeron system, but now it ran at 1.7 GHz. I believe I recycled the GeForce 2 in to this machine and ran it until I upgraded to a new machine. The big milestone of this machine was the Sony DRU-500A, the first DVD+/-RW drive ever made.
By the time I upgraded from that eMachine, I was approaching the end of my college degree and had extensive knowledge of computer hardware (and more money). It was now time to put my skills to the test and build my own machine from the ground up.
Computer build, from scratch!
Given the praise surrounding the AMD Athlon 64 processors at the time, I started with that. Adding 2 GB of RAM, a 320 GB hard drive and a GeForce 7900GT to accompany it, I had quite the mid-range system at that time. It wouldn’t be long that I would upgrade to 4 GB of RAM and add a second 320 GB hard drive to run in RAID 0. In due time, I came across a nice sale on AMD Athlon FX-60’s so I picked one of those up for a bit of an upgrade. Then after about a year, the 8800 line of GPU’s came out. This would mark the first and up until this date, only time I bought a top-of-the-line graphics card: the 8800 GTX. After spending so much money on it and upgrading it in about a year, I decided never to buy top of the line again.
Deciding dual-core wasn’t going to cut it, I went with a whole new system build. Making the jump to Intel which had become far superior to the AMD line, I put a Core 2 Quad at the heart of this system. Supporting it with 4 GB RAM (4×1 GB sticks), two 500 GB hard drives in RAID 0, and a GeForce GTX 260, again I had a great mid range system. Eventually adding a second GTX 260 for SLI, I decided to give overclocking a shot. Given the fact I bought cheap RAM, this did not allow for very stable overclocking; affording me only an additional 300 MHz. I would take these lessons learned and factor them in to my first true enthusiast build.
Quality is everything!
Once the time came to upgrade yet again, I decided not to skimp on quality parts and focus on a system that could be easily overclocked. Being this system was going to be primarily built for gaming and with Sandy Bridge getting their SATA issues sorted out, I went with a Core i5 2500K. Adding 8 (2×4 GB sticks) GB of Corsair Vengeance RAM, a 64 GB Crucial M4 SSD, a 1.5 TB Western Digital Black hard drive, and a GeForce 560 Ti, I was once again running at the top of the mid-range system bracket.
Almost immediately I decided to overclock the system. Within a day, I had two profiles set up. One for a 4.5 GHz clock, and another for a 4.0 GHz clock. To this day, I still just use the 4.0 GHz clock because I have not needed the extra speed, so why draw more power? More recently, I have replaced the 64 GB Crucial M4 SSD with a 128 GB Corsair Force Series 3 SSD (purchased on sale) because I was finding myself limited with just 64 GB of space on the primary disk and added a second GTX 560 Ti, I find this system more than adequate for my needs.
So here I sit with my current system, years of knowledge and experimentation, and a passion for keeping up with the latest in computer technology news. I would by no means call myself an expert, but I have certainly learned a lot from all of this.