Computers

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I’ve been told that I have too many computers! I tend to agree especially with the number I have acquired in the past few years. Thankfully I’ve started pruning them out..

History:

My first computer was an Amstrad cpc464 with colour monitor. Great for simple games, and it kept me occupied as a kid.

First PC was an AST pentium 133 with a 2.1gb harddrive and 16mb ram running Win95. It got upgraded and frankensteined over the next few years up to 64mb of ram, 2 harddrives for 20gb, a cd writer and other goodies like a network card and a voodoo1 card.

After I got bought some components from various people in UL such as a p3-500 chip, 265mb ram, 9gb scsi disc, 73gb scsi disc, a SoundBlaster Live! 64 soundcard and a TNT 16mb pci graphics card. I built up a rather nice pc from these, and I watched my first downloaded film on this – ‘The Matrix’ and I went to the cinema twice to see that film based purely on this!

I upgraded the motherboard, the graphics card, memory and a few other bits over the next year or so. It was great as a college machine, multibooting linux and various windows installations. This was the first case that I prepped and painted, and I installed a side-window in it as well. All long before it became popular.

I started overclocking this machine too, after buying a p3-650/100 socket chip on a slocket adapter. This chip ram at over 900 safely and booted at 1.1ghz. Fantastic performance from a cpu that I paid €150ish for.

I did an upgrade jump then to an AMD64 3000+ with 1gb of ram, geforce 6600gt vivo graphics and a Chieftec case that I prettified with EL cable along the louvres in the front, LED illumination inside, UV cable sleeving and UV cold-cathode lamps as well. This was a fantastic machine, and my girlfriend at the time bought me a 200gb harddrive as a wonderful Christmas present, I added another 400gb later. It’s a pity that this machine was stolen from the house in 109, and this pretty much killed my casemod desires. (may that thief get crotchrot.)

I bought a Lidl special athlon64 4200+ a few years later. I had a few issues with it but it was serviceable for the moment. I ordered a new upgrade/replacement motherboard as I was getting fed up of not being able to populate all 4 memory slots and I was getting fed up of the bluescreens and crashes in all operating systems caused by high SATA i/o. That new motherboard fixed a few issues for sure. Since then I had upgraded my graphics card to an MSI HD5770 Hawk as the 7600GT was no longer giving DVI output which was a bit of an issue. I also got a few harddrives which I’m using in Raid for speed and reliability. I also got my hands on an Athlonx2 5000+ Black Edition chip to allow me to move from the then standard 2.2ghz to about 3.2ghz for a faster machine. Pity that Damien allowed that chip and motherboard to literally rot un a shed when I gave him a lend of those components..

I also started up a bit of a retro computing journey. When I was in late primary school, my neighbour had an Amiga 500, and I loved playing the games on that. When I was working in Cork, I sourced an A500 and then an A1200 from Ebay. To the A1200 I added a 30Gb harddrive and a Blizzard 1230-IV, with the 50MHz processor and an additional 50MHz coprosser and sporting 32Mb of ram. With an HDLoad purchase and a torrent of all the Amiga games ever, I now had a perfect emulation of those gamin experiences as a kid. Adding a pcmcia network card meant that I could get this ancient machine actually onto the internet and browse the web. Mostly it gets used for nostalgia gaming.

As well as that 16-bit gaming nostalgia, I decided to build myself a set of proper gaming machines for the various era of PC gaming, all from the parts in the parts bins I had lying around. There’s no a Dos/win3.11 machine with a P2-450, a whopping 64Mb of RAM, a 2gb harddisk, Matrox Milennium 4gb pci graphics card and an Audician32 soundcard with midi soundbank daughterboard. Next up was a Win98se machine using a Tualatin P3-1.13 and 512Mb ram and a ti4200 graphics card, and an Audigy SB Audigy2 soundcard. The win2k gaming is taken care of by a P4-3.2 with 2Gb ram, a Quadro 600 graphics card, and an SB X-Fi Extreme soundcard. All more than powerful enough to run the games of their times at max settings or above I run their outputs through a KVM to my desktop monitor and wireless keyboard/mouse.

In the console corner I have a PS2 , a PS3, and a Wii. None of these are used that much, though I have a moderate library of the common good games for them.

My current desktop machine is a Behemoth of a machine: Intel Core I7-3930 running at ~4.3Ghz, 32Gb of ram, 4x1Tb drives in RAID 1+0 with an 240gb SSD for the OS, currently with an Asus GTX660, running current Gentoo and Windows 7. Definitely won’t be downgrading to Win8 or Win 1-0 as those are terrible UI experiences plus information leakers. This machine is more than good enough for almost all games at 1080p as well as excelling at computational tasks.

Machines I own that are used regularly:

  1. i7-3930@4.2Ghz/32Gb/SSD+Raid0+1 desktop
  2. Lenovo X220 tablet PC, i5/6Gb/SSD
  3. Galaxy S8, unmodified.
  4. AMD 3000+/1Gb desktop as a torrent server
  5. Core2Duo e8400/4Gb sff Dell as Plex/Motion server
  6. Raspberry Pi2 with 32Gb micro SD card and Rasbpian

Other machines that are lying around intermittently used.

  1. Win2k retro box; P4 3.2GHz/2Gb/Quadro600 sff Dell
  2. win98 retro box; Tualatin 1.13/512Mb/ti4200 desktop
  3. Dos/win3.1 retro box; P2-450/64Mb/Matrox desktop
  4. Asus Eeepc 1000h linux 160gb in white
  5. P3-1.13 dell Inspiron laptop. (effectively retired)

Here’s my desktop’s current performance metric, and it’s quite the beast especially for being over 6 years old now!:

PassMark Rating