I got my first computer in 2004. A family friend upgraded, so she offered it to me. I didn't know how old it was, or even how a computer worked other than what the power switch did. After picking it up, bringing it home, plugging it in, and turning it on, my life as a geek was started by a CRT monitor that couldn't display over 800x600. The custom build was by a company that now only makes speakers. It had:
Intel 486DX @ 33MHz
425MB WD Hard Drive
Windows 95, DOS 6.22
I couldn't begin to count all the hours I spent writing QBASIC games, downloading classic DOS shareware games onto floppy disk at the local library, or learning as much as I could about computer hardware installing and upgrading, or the world of pc gaming. I still have the original mouse, which connected through the Serial I/O port and felt like a block of wood. I rarely used it though, because keyboard-driven DOS was my main mode of mayhem.
For reference, the first family computer was:
AMD Sempron XP 1.6GHz
128MB DDR ---> 384MB
Intel Integrated gfx ---> XFX GeForce MX 4000
DVD-R/W drive installed
Backup hard drive also installed
About a month after I junked the KLH, the family computer started acting sluggish. I learned very important lessons after frying my first test subject. Most of them were do-nots, such as do not start flipping switchboard switches on a motherboard which was possibly manufactured in the late 1980's, or do not forget which switch combinations were stable/default, or do not do the first two while it's on and running. My goal was to play Half-Life 2, but the onboard video controller wasn't performing well. So, I got a GeForce MX 4000. It was a huge boost at the time, but that and a bad stick of RAM killed the power supply. I was worried because I had never seen a power supply fail before, and as the defacto admin responsible for the system, I did the first thing anyone in that position would have done. I called my friends, the owners of a local computer shop. Panicking, I asked what I could do to save the computer. The guy said it would be cheaper to build a new one from the ground-up, and started reading off a list of parts:
AMD Athlon x2 3800+
2GB DDR2 Kingston RAM,
MSI K9N Diamond motherboard
500-gigabyte SATA hard drive
Windows XP Home
This was a better system than both of the other computers combined. We made a deal, and they cut the price under the condition that I build it myself, and build them a website - I thought it was more than fair. When the parts arrived, they guided me through the building process and explained how to properly assemble a computer. We plugged it in, turned it on, and spent two hours formatting the 500gb drive
We brought it home and I started testing out games, recording benchmarks, pushing it to its limits, and just seeing what a dual core with an NVIDIA 7-series card could do with a 19" lcd monitor which they threw in for good measure. I was seeing improvements, but once I had a taste of upgrading, it became addicting.
Over time, I upgraded:
GeForce 7300LE ---> GeForce 8600 GT (256mb, SLI mode) ---> XFX GeForce 9800GTX
AMD Athlon64 x2 3800+ ---> AMD Athlon64 x2 6000+ ---> AMD Phenom II x4 940 Black Edition
MSI K9N Diamond (RMA'd twice) ---> AsRock K10N750SLI-110DB
Off-brand mid-tower ---> Cooler Master HAF 932
Power Supply ---> Antec 350w ---> Off-brand 450w ---> HEC 550w
Seagate Barracuda 500gb ---> RAID0, WD 320gb & WD 250gb backup drives
XP Home ---> XP Pro ---> Ubuntu Linux ---> ??? ---> Windows 7 Ult. 64 (SP1B)
And while upgrading through the years, I bought the computer from my parents and traded for a less-beefy build. I don't think you really need a Phenom II for writing word documents, right?
It's not the most powerful system on the planet, but I know the entire thing inside and out. I've got a lot of passion for computers. My friends ask me for building advice, and I've helped them pick hardware that's right for the games they want to play, balancing performance with price. I will admit though that it does irritate me when I go to LAN parties and see guys and O_O Female geeks
@_@ with $15,000 brand-new computers and not being able to back-up their skills, let alone their hard drives. I feel like they don't see the struggle, the heart, the love and pain that goes into, dare I call it, growing
, a personal gaming computer?
It's like buying a puppy because it's cute, then realizing that you have to train it... and by puppy I mean gaming rig... and by cute I mean beastly... and by train it I mean learn how to configure teh bios properly (true story at a lan party - he asked me "This thing came with an instruction manual?")
I found my old hard drive a few days ago. It's a Western Digital Caviar 2420. I had to find an IDE cable
. the rush of nostalgia when I heard it clicking again was only trumped by the amazement that the data was still intact. Source code that I thought I had lost was still ready to be compiled and played again. 95 wouldn't boot, but DOS was blinking and ready like it had never stopped. Maybe I can get that mouse working too...