Nerd: My journey of PC

Core 2 Quad

Everyone dreams of a lot of things to have, well one of my dreams is to have the ultimate PC which can do every consumer related task without hiccups and look extremely high tech and elegant. This is my journey to my current setup.

I am a big fan of checking out new things in the market and new technologies. I look at benchmarks of new products and how well they do. But then I apply all that to my life, to see how a particular product works when in my hand. Sadly, the thing about computer parts is that you really don’t know how well they work until you use them for sometime and to do that you need to spend money. So I will detail the adventure of my computing from start to present and future dream plans.

In 1995, my uncle who lives in the U.S. brought a type writer for us. This was a state of the art type write with a monochrome monitor with it so you could type everything before letting the typewriter/printer print it. Could also be used as a typewriter only without the screen. All I remember from this is the red monochrome screen.

In 1997 when my other uncle, at the time a bank manager, donates a desktop PC to me and my brother. The PC had Windows 95 loaded on to it. At the time I didn’t know all that mumbo jumbo but now I can think back and see. The specs were:

  • i386
  • 356 MB hard drive
  • 166 mhz CPU, single core
  • 8 MB RAM
  • Floppy drive
  • Ball mouse
  • PS2 Keyboard

This PC had all that stuff and was a flat desktop model. It didn’t have a sound card in it and it also didn’t include a modem. At that time internet was very new. So what did we do on that PC? Well I learned on the whole how to mess around in Windows 95, draw things in Paint and change wallpapers. All and everything I did was in Windows 95. At the time it was pretty advanced. Used to play solitaire and Freecell on it. I can’t believe I used to spend so much time on this. And then I got a Sony Playstation and spend most of my time on that.

In the middle though it broke down because I actually out of curiosity opened it up and messed around with the RAM. I didn’t set the RAM in the slot correctly and fried the operating system. So dad took us to a shop and there the person Installed Windows 95 on it again, with Microsoft Office and more RAM. Now the RAM was 12 MB in total, WOW!

So at this point I started playing with Microsoft Office suite and actually learned a lot of things. I specially enjoyed WordArt in Microsoft Word. The rotating of alphabets to look 3D amazed me so much! No doubt this PC was a real learning step for me.

After that I traveled to the U.S. for studies and learned a lot of things, my intellect grew immensely and started working part time as well. There was one person there in our neighborhood who was a geek and enjoyed teaching me different things. He had a state of the art PC with all the accessories you could dream of. It was a Pentium 3 and with Windows 98. And most of all, he had an internet connection even though a 56k but still it was connected to the World Wide Web! So I learned more from him and his PC, learned about Napster that we could get any song we wanted in the world!

One day I stumbled upon a computer in Best Buy. It was $350 (after rebates) E-Machines PC with Windows ME loaded onto it. I had money I earned from the job but that offer was only valid with a credit card. So I went home and brought with me that uncle the next day to Best Buy and paid him cash where he used his credit card. So he got the rebates and all but I got my own first private PC! The specs were:

  • Intel Celeron 633 mhz
  • 32 MB RAM
  • 56.6K modem
  • 14″ CRT Monitor
  • Mouse and Keyboard (PS2, which I still have till this day)

It was a WOW factor for me. I went to Walmart and pickup up NetZero CDs and AOL CDs for my initial internet connection for free. Went online and just used to be hooked onto it. Time went by and I moved back to Oman. Finished school and went to work. In 2005 I got back in the nerd game on the side and went ahead and got a used Pentium 4 3.4Ghz PC. This was a custom assembled PC, not a branded one. This one was pretty good for the time with Windows XP. The initial RAM was 512 MB.

Time went by and  then I needed more power for gaming. I learned overclocking and overclock my P4 and kept a big room fan in front of the case to cool it. That was fun! I bought a Samsung 32″ TV which had a DVI and VGA port in it so used to play on that even though it was awkward. Then I learned all about graphic cards and display resolutions. So I decided for better games would need a graphic card and went ahead and bought a XFX Nvidia 8600GT. Now there was a problem. My motherboard aould accept AGP only and this card was a PCI Express. Got my self another motherboard in used. And then yet again I needed more power! After a while I got my hands on a Pentium D 945, this was a 3.4Ghz Dual Core! This I received for free from my company because one machine there died and the warrant service guys just threw it away saying it was faulty. I took it and installed it in my system. Here I learned about different sockets, and since my P4 I had LGA 775. Now this was powerful! More than the P4. I was happy.

Fast forward a few years and I fried the graphic card because of unstable power supply, didn’t know at the time though. I went ahead and got myself another graphic card, XFX HD 5750 1 GB. Now this would power on but die when Windows started. So I started checking online forums and learned about the power supply unit and how I needed to connect a PCI-E power cable to it. Now I needed a PSU clearly but I still experimented. What did was, got a bunch of cheap power supplies and pin-jacked them to run different components all by themselves. This miraculously worked! I got tired of powering on so many power supplies so I went to get a new power supply. I got the OCZ Stealthxstream 600W which has a hidden feature that on requirement it jumps to deliver 750W. So my setup turned on without problems.

Then Witcher 2 came out. It couldn’t run smooth on my system and I wanted to play it so much! I went to forums again and asked, the opinion resulted in my CPU being the bottleneck so I needed a change to a Core 2 Duo or Quad series. My search began online since these cost so much back then in Oman. I found a bid on Ebay for a Core 2 Quad and got it with shipping all the way to Oman from U.S. for a total of about $63. This was a Core 2 Quad Q6600, all the online world was drooling over this CPU and I got it. Installed it. Ran Witcher 2 but not great. I kept playing this on hold then.

I learned that I needed faster RAM to remove the bottleneck from my PC because the RAM I had was DDR2 running at 800 Mhz even though it was 2x2GB. So I went to find RAM, got a single 4GB chip of DDR3. Problem I faced again, my motherboard was not compatible. I needed something good which could run my DDR2 and DDR3 RAM. I bought motherboard from Ebay, a MSI board which ran both DDR2 and DDR3 but not at the same time. I got this board, installed my things on it, it didn’t post. Disappointment. Could return it since it would cost the amount of the board to ship it back to the U.S. so i went ahead and bought a micro atx ASrock board which worked flawlessly and ran Witcher 2 very well without any slowdowns.

This brings us to 2 years ago, I bought another 4GB stick and got a complete 8GB dual channel running at 1066mhz even though the RAM spec is max at 1333mhz.

So at the moment my PC sits at these specs:

  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600
  • 8 GB Kingston RAM
  • ASRock mobo
  • XFX Radeon HD5750 1 GB
  • OCZ StealthXStream 600W
  • Bunch of HDD for a total of 2.3 TB

I am happy with this setup. All benchmarks aside, I play Crysis at High settings at 1080p without even a a little slowdown. I am sure people would argue but I really have no problems at all with my setup. I think there is more life left in this setup then all the online benchmarks suggest. This PC stands up to the new Core i5 and i7 machines. Never gives me a hard time and I haven’t even overclocked it. It does everything smoothly, plays all the games, the new ones also without hiccups. So I in general see benchmarks online and giggle, I don’t know about what FPS my machine gives me but it really does the job very well. The only benchmark I have done on it was Super Street Fighter 4 which does it automatically before starting a game and it showed about 254 FPS or something. This setup is awesome.

Time will come when out of curiosity I would spend more money and get an entirely new setup but this piece of technology I have will always be remembered.