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I need a new computer. While Apple, Dell and Hewlett-Packard all make fine machines, I want something made just for me. I want a custom machine which will serve all my needs. It needs to be fast, quiet and powerful. It needs enough on-board memory so I never have to worry about memory availability again. It needs the capability to duplicate a CD or DVD. It needs to be outfitted for web-casts, video production, digital image editing and all those other things which a home / small business computer is depended upon. Oh yeah, and it must be virtually indestructible. A self-cleaning function would be nice too, but I think that might be asking a bit much. Now here's the angle: I want our DIY Life readers to help me assemble my component package. I want your input about the parts I will need to assemble this top-notch machine.

My first consideration is my power feed. I don't mean the interior power source for the machine itself, I'm talking about the power management unit I plug my computer into.
The surge protector which I am currently using is about 15 years old and while it does a fine job of cutting power if there's a spike, it will no longer bridge any measurable voltage drops and that results in questionable computer usage any time there's a storm brewing. We have very "dirty" power provided in the rural area where we live and slight voltage drops are common when the wind blows over 40 mph. I need a power management unit which will help moderate the electrical current that flows to my computer and which will successfully bridge the occasional voltage dips so I can safely shut down the machine if or when the need presents itself. I'll set my budget target at about $150 for this item but remember, to me exceptional equipment justifies additional expense.

My second consideration is the case for my new machine. I'm not overly picky but I want a sharp looking machine which stands upright. As far as color, either black or silver are fine. I demand a high percentage of steel because basically I have always despised plastic and I'd like a unit which will stay put.. I'd like it if all or most of the machine's interior components can be on slide out modules for cleaning. I'm thinking that exterior filters on the air intake might be a nice touch if they're available and the case must be ready to easily adapt to a considerable amount of possible options and upgrades. I'll set a budget target of about $150 for the case but that's adjustable if an internal power source is included and is also dependent upon quality and features.

So, I now submit these considerations to the world of blogging for your educated and highly valued input. I already have suggested parts lists from individuals I greatly trust but I'm looking for additional new ideas. I invite you to use this opportunity to showcase your favorite manufacturers but please keep your comments relevant to this blog post.

Here's your opportunity gang, show me what you have and I'll write about my choices and purchases as I make them. We'll build this thing together and soon, I'll have the best computer on the planet!

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  • spydrmn

    Look at Apple again, I'm not sure what you're specific requirements are, but the new iMac is quite nice. I'm planning on getting one myself. I'll admit, I would like to build something myself, but I'll trade that for the hottness factor and not having to deal with windows.

  • Ryan Carter

    This project is admittedly one for Windows, though Linux can be a decent option as well, depending on the distro of Linux you use. I recommend Ubuntu over anything else.

  • Ross Miller

    I'm interested in this, too, from the perspective of both a college student who needs a good CG / visual production machine and a games blogger needing a good rig.

    Yes, spydrmn, the iMacs look good, but I'd aim for something with more upgradability. Besides, if you went out and bought an Apple desktop, this wouldn't be DIY life, would it? :D

    Here's what I'm curious: while getting a motherboard that supports dual- and quad-core chips, would it be better to pick up a dual-core CPU chip at this point while waiting for the quad-core chips to drop in price? And as for graphics cards, is ATI or nVidia the better choice? I'm not going to say either way, just curious myself.

    Good luck, I'll be reading up on the project and probably stealing ideas liberally.


  • Skip

    Since you live in the country I'm going to sugest 1 or 2 ( more deep cycle type)12 volt batterys and a power inverter along with a battery charger. This will avoid all power spikes and give you an additional source of power (110 volt) if needed in an outage.

  • Will

    I believe that the Antec P180 is the case you're looking for. I helped build 3 computers at my old workplace (an interior design company) and they're a beauty to work with. Sliding trays for many of the interior components, plenty of space to work with, and sides made of rolled steel. The build quality is excellent.

  • Simon Arch

    One word of advice: if graphics are important to you, spend more on the card and go with a less-powerful CPU than you might have otherwise chosen. It'll seem faster longer and it will give you a better UI experience to boot.

    As for choosing a Mac... Well, I'm a Mac user, and I love the little buggers, but it requires purchasing new software to go with your shiny new hardware and that might be a budget buster for some folks. The upside is that all Macs sold today CAN run Windows, so you could always use BootCamp or Parallels to install Windows and still have access to your old software.

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