Friday, November 15, 2013

Thinking About Grandpa Herman... and Finally Building My First Gaming PC!

I'll never forget the day that my brother and I came home from school to find a computer sitting on a cheap desk in our bedroom. We freaked out, yelling and jumping on the bunk beds in our already too-small room. I recall thinking that we were in a dream and that the computer would quickly be removed from our little kingdom. But, the computer stayed. My grandfather, who always seemed to have cool gadgets and tech, had pieced together a computer with Windows 95 running on an Intel 386 processor. It was slow for the time, but my brother and I managed to spend many, many nights making cargo runs together in Wing Commander: Privateer.

You see, Grandpa Herman may not have been too crazy about us playing a ton of computer games, but he did want us to be comfortable with the technology. Somehow, he knew that computers would become a ubiquitous part of the future... well, that and the fact that technology is cool. I'm sure it didn't take us too many months of tinkering to crash that old computer, and Grandpa Herman made certain that were there to watch him—and eventually help him—repair the machine. Now, working with technology is second nature for us. We have no problem learning new technologies, and neither of us would think twice about piecing together a new computer. His influence on my brother and I was incredibly formative, and not just in the area of technology. He was, and still is, the sort of Christian man that I can't help but to look up to. He is easily one of my favorite people in the entire world, and I love him dearly. I often wish that I didn't live so far away from him.

Now, I'm 28 years old, and I still like to play computer games. In fact, I have this whole blog about the hobby. But I'm also a responsible adult with a regular full-time job, which means that I earn a little bit of money (I'm a teacher, so I'm serious about the "little" part). I did, however, manage to acquire enough extra discretionary money to build a decently powerful gaming computer... perhaps for the first time ever. Of course, you already knew that I built a new computer because I'm sure that you read my reflection on BioShock Infinite, which was the first game that I ran on said machine.

Anyway, I dumped this pile of computer parts out onto the dining room table and started doing what a person does with a pile of computer parts: assembling them! It took me a little while to get used to handling the seemingly delicate components after having not built a computer in half a decade, but the muscle memory returned very quickly. The whole time, I was texting Grandpa Herman. We joked about how I was going to use the computer for "lesson planning." It made for quite an enjoyable evening. Within a couple of hours, I had turned my pile of parts into this.

I'll say that I'm rather pleased with the experience of building my new computer. I appreciate the relative simplicity of the case, as I have a strong distaste for aesthetic sensibilities represented by those gaming rigs that are inspired by heavily modified street cars. Besides, it's what's under the hood that counts, and my machine is sufficiently powerful... for the time being.

Here are some technical specifications for you uber-nerds:

Case: Rosewill R536-BK (500 watt power supply included)
Motherboard: ASRock Fatal1ty H87 Performance
Processor: Intel Core i5-4430 Haswell 3.0GHz LGA 1150 84W Quad-Core
RAM: Crucial Ballistix Tactical 8GB DDR3 1600
Graphics: MSI N660 TF 2GD5/OC GeForce GTX 660 2GB 192-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16
Optical Drive: Pioneer 15X Internal Blu-ray Burner SATA BDR-208DBK
Hard Drive: Western Digital WD Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB 7200 RPM
Wireless: Rosewill RNX-N250PCe (RNWD-11005) PCI Express 300/300Mbps Transfer/Receive Rate 2T2R Wireless Adapter
Monitor: Samsung 32" LCD TV (LN32A550P3FXZA)

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