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too. much. choice.

Yup. My computer’s bricked. Now comes the painful process of replacing it.

Where once there were dozens of make-to-order sites in the UK, now I only know one: Novatech. I’ve always liked their stuff, though. All highly customizable. But I’m so far from the days when I thought I understood the innards of a computer, I am bewildered by the choices.

For a Photoshop machine, do I start with a gaming machine or a graphics workstation? I bought an Nvidia GTX 970 graphics card two years ago; is that still decent?

I’ve always believed in buying the best machine I could possibly afford, but I don’t even know where to concentrate any more.

If any of you tame computer geeks have insight, I’d be mighty grateful to hear it. I’m too boomer for this shit.


Comment from Drew458
Time: November 19, 2018, 9:30 pm

You might want to visit Tom’s. Good advice on everything that goes into a computer.

If you can get the parts, putting a computer together isn’t really that hard. Slow, a bit complex, but not that hard. I’m certain you can find a local 16 year old geek who will do it for a fair price.

You may be amazed to find that a fairly standard but decent spec PC coupled with a nice graphics card and a hefty power supply will do far more than you actually need, and not have to spend a fortune.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: November 19, 2018, 11:33 pm


Newegg is your friend.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: November 20, 2018, 12:33 am

The real question is:

What do you do with your computer?

Are you playing MMORPG with a bank of 4K Ultra HD monitors, and do you need 180 fps refresh to make sure you don’t get shot due to lag? Or are you Photoshopping llama porn, where framerate doesn’t matter? How many cores – virtual or physical – can your software concurrently use? Does it matter if those cores are AMD or Intel? For example, Movavi software is optimized for Intel cpus. How much RAM can your software effectively use? Of course, you want to leave room for growth, as bloat is a fact of life with software “improvements”.

If you’re having some commercial organization build one for you, it doesn’t really matter what video card you currently have, because they are unlikely to be willing to stick it in their build. On the other hand, if you’re willing to build your own, how old is that card? How dirty is your local power? If it’s fairly new and your power is relatively clean, then it’s probably fine to stick it in a new build. And by the way, a UPS is a smart choice to protect the system.

Comment from BJM
Time: November 20, 2018, 12:49 am

What Mark said.

Here’s a page that ‘splains the differences in plain language.

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: November 20, 2018, 1:25 am

To expand on Mark Matis’ excellent advice, a high quality UPS is a must unless you know for sure that your electric supply is unusually clean. That’s rare. Not only does the UPS protect you from brownouts and total outages, they provide surge/spike suppression and the really good one do active power conditioning.

Aside: In the early-ish days of mainframe computers, power came from what was known as an “MG set”. MG stands for motor-generator. IBM actually would sell/rent you a box, and this was mandatory, that contained a big honkin’ electric motor running off mains power plus an UPS, and it ran a big honkin’ generator. The motor shaft and the generator shaft were a single straight-through piece of steel with integral flywheel. There was enough inertia in the system to keep any fluctuations of power to the motor from affecting the generated power out the other side. We don’t need that kind of overkill these days, thank goodness. But we do need pretty clean power for our PCs.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: November 20, 2018, 2:05 am

Well actually, most computers will work on dirtier power than many UPS units. But their components don’t last as long. And since you should be able to get a good UPS for around 100£:
it is a smart investment.

Don’t ask me how I know that UPS units do not like generators…

Comment from Uncle Al
Time: November 20, 2018, 3:12 am

Not to put too fine a point on it, most computers will run for a while on dirty power before the gremlins move in.

A pet peeve of mine about many UPS is the beeping when there’s an outage. You can’t shut some cheap ones up at all. Many have a “silence” button but they will start beeping again the next time they kick in. I haven’t done a lot of digging since I found that Tripp-Lite makes some that you can tell to shut up totally until you tell them otherwise. Yes, it’s a silly criterion, but being silly is a privilege I figure I’ve earned.

Next topic (the one Mme. Hermine asked about in the first place) – I haven’t checked prices in a couple of years, but Alienware, even after selling themselves to Dell, make some fairly powerful machines primarily for gaming users if their specs are suitable for your needs.

Comment from technochitlin
Time: November 20, 2018, 12:17 pm

Earlier this year I built a killer PC for right at $900- 32Gb RAM, 8Gb video card, Intel i7 9600k processor (liquid cooled), new glass case. I did re-use my old hard drives but big ones are pretty cheap these days. Email if you want a list of what I used, but it was mainly MSI and Corsair parts. Screaming fast and absolutely quiet.

Comment from Carl
Time: November 20, 2018, 4:44 pm

When my last PC (a Dell) expired I told my local computer repair man what I was thinking of buying. He looked at the specification and said that he could build a much higher spec one for a lower price. He did so, and I have been very pleased with it. There must be dozens of small reputable PC companies near you who would build one for you.

Comment from Jon
Time: November 20, 2018, 6:48 pm

My last UPS had its battery run low recently and made an ungodly keening “eeeeeee” sound. It took me forever to figure it was the source because it lived under my computer and hadn’t had any issue ever before.
I take some small solace that the sound may have annoyed my upstairs neighbors who don’t give a fork how much noise they make at all hours.
The one I use doubles as a power strip and I find that most acceptable. I didn’t price out UPS without outlets, maybe it’s less expensive?

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: November 20, 2018, 7:39 pm

The only thing I do that matters is Photoshop, and I’m still running CS6. I’ve resisted joining the Creative Cloud. I hate the idea of renting software I’m accustomed to owning.

But I do love me a AAA open-world game.

I think I’ll probably take Uncle B’s suggestion and talk to them on the phone. They’re bound to have a tame geek who could nudge me in the right direction.

Comment from Mark Matis
Time: November 20, 2018, 11:53 pm


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