Last night I completed a new PC build after using roughly the same setup for the past five years. My last computer, Intrepid-A, served me well on its five year mission but it was time to retire it to the drydock. After five years, a simple retrofit would no longer do. The liquid cooler pump didn’t consistently start up, the fans were creaky; an upgrade was needed.
If you know your Star Trek terminology, you know that the -A designation represents a refit. The original Intrepid dates back to 2012 when my parents bought me an iBUYPOWER desktop. That thing had an nVidia GeForce GTX 660 and a third generation Core i7. I’ve included a photo of the interior of the case. You can see that iBUYPOWER gave me an mATX motherboard, a pretty substandard CPU cooler, and a non-modular power supply. In early 2015 I retrofitted her with a new modular power supply that carried over into Intrepid-A, as well as a Hyper 212 Evo CPU cooler and a Radeon R9 290x Lightning that I had actually bought used and had to RMA back to MSI.
In 2016 I did a full upgrade of Intrepid that became the Intrepid-A. Intrepid-A was equipped with an MSI gaming motherboard, an Intel Core i7 6700K, 16 gigabytes of DDR4 RAM, and originally a Radeon R9 390X. She also received a new motherboard, which was required for going from the third gen to sixth gen Intel CPUs and a new case. The only upgrade over her five years was a new graphics card in 2019 (Sapphire AMD RX 5700XT) and some hard drive and SSD swaps. She will be remembered fondly.
Another device I had that lived a roughly similar lifespan as Intrepid-A (2016 -2021) was my Surface Pro 4, named Voyager. Earlier this year it was struck by flickergate. I gave it to a friend and bought a Dell XPS 13 laptop, Kelvin. Voyager had a Skylake i5 and 8 GB of RAM. You can read more about that here. I would not give the Surface Pro the same high marks I did five years ago today. Microsoft’s commitment to its hardware QA is very lacking. Surface Pro 4 was a stunning device full of bugs and Microsoft was not interested in patching those out over the long term. That’s why I didn’t upgrade to a new Surface, and also a big reason why I left the Microsoft ecosystem entirely (again), despite having been big into it in 2016 with the Surface Pro, Windows 10, and my Windows Phone.
Kelvin has an 11th gen Intel i7, 16 GB of RAM, and a 3840×2400 display. It’s running exclusively Manjaro Linux and it runs it VERY well. I’m astonished at how beautiful the display is and how good GNOME looks on it.
Late last year I blogged about the big media move. It didn’t turn out well over the long term. Unfortunately the Raspberry Pi just wasn’t stable enough for what I was using it for. It’s a very capable device, it’s just not a very stable device. I’m now using a desktop computer (Enterprise) to host my Plex server, other servers, and my torrent client.
My new desktop PC which hopefully lasts another five years is Discovery. Discovery is armed with an AMD Ryzen 7 5800X CPU, a Sapphire AMD Radeon RX 5700XT Nitro + GPU, and 16 GB of DDR4 RAM. The build went very smoothly. It’s actually probably the first time I’ve ever had a PC build work perfectly the first time I booted it up. Temps are phenomenal even with just that one intake fan, it’s super quiet, and even though I swapped motherboards and went from Intel to AMD, Windows and Manjaro are working absolutely perfectly. I was thinking I would have to reinstall them but they’re working flawlessly. A reinstallation is probably due at some point relatively soon; my Windows install is five years old and my Manjaro installation is two years old. Manjaro, being a rolling release distro, has probably accumulated a bit of cruft.
Anyway that’s where I’m at in July 2021 in terms of my computers. I have three of them that I use pretty much daily, while most people nowadays don’t even use one daily anymore. Leave a comment if you’ve got any questions, I’ll probably respond in a year when I write another post.