So We Assembled A New PC

It was November 25, 2005 when I upgraded my home computer to the one that was powered by the 64-bit AMD chip.  Over the years, I have incrementally upgraded its parts until recently, my 6 years old machine has shown signs of aging whenever Cynthia plays WoW and watches YouTube at the same time.   The CPU could no longer cope with the demand.  6 long years this AMD machine has served us well.  A new chapter is at dawn.

I am not a fan of ready made computers.  I enjoy the flexibility of mixing and matching what I need and to replace and upgrade the parts as and when I want to.  What I dread to do though is to relearn what is out there in this ever changing technology space in order to decide how best to assemble a new PC that suits our needs.

The first thing I picked was the video card.  Cynthia is not a hard core gamer.  She plays WoW casually.  And I foresee she may follow our gang to play Diablo III and Guild War II when they are out.  So I picked the XFX Radeon HD6850 XXX Edition.  It is not a high end card.  But it is not low either.  Its price is comparable to the CPU and the motherboard.

Choosing a CPU is pretty straightforward.  Since I do not overclock my machine, I picked Intel i5-2500 with a clock speed of 3.3GHz (socket is LLA1155).  I am hoping that this can last for 5 years and more.  As for the memory, a total of 8GB seems sufficient.  There are not many options when it comes to RAM.  And I have decided to use the DDR3 RAM (1600MHz) made by Kingston.

As for the motherboard, there are tons of options.  After much consideration, since I prefer to upgrade my video card over the years, I do not need the latest Z68 chipset that has the GPU embedded inside.  Hence, I have opted for a P67 chipset.  Between Asus and Gigabyte, I do not have a preference.  The Asus P8P67 rev 3.0 looks good to me, utility-wise.  And it is affordable.  With that, and a couple of miscellaneous items, the decision making phase is completed.  The total damage thus far without a monitor is …


This works out to be lesser than what I have anticipated.  The salesperson at Sim Lim Square told me that it would take an hour and a half to assemble my computer.  I said no problem.  I have a movie to catch.

This morning, I have this suddenly urge to upgrade Cynthia’s 22″ monitor as well.  Her monitor, as Cynthia has rightfully pointed out, is still in working condition.  However, I have also pointed out that with a better screen resolution, she can see more in the game.  So I grabbed a 24″ Samsung LED monitor S24A350H.  Bargained it down to S$310.  Its resolution is 1,920×1,080, which is still a bit lower than my current 24″ LCD (1,920 x 1,200).  I wonder why Samsung does not make these any more.  The salesperson said that demand is not there.  Perhaps PC gaming is indeed dying.

It took me a while to get this new LED monitor working with the new graphic card.  No matter how hard I tried, I was not able to utilize the entire desktop.  There were black margins of unused area, top and bottom and on the sides.  Then I discovered there are something called underscan and overscan.  Whatever they mean (gosh I am really not a geek), changing these parameters seem to have solve my problem.  I have no problem connecting Cynthia’s new machine to our 42″ plasma TV (1080p) via HDMI.  I am unsure why the same setup did not work for the LED monitor.  Whatever the issue was, I am happy to see it disappeared.

Cynthia seems to be happy with her new computer.  As for my computer, it is about 3 years old.  I reckon the chip and the motherboard should last for another 2 to 3 years.  I will think about it when I get there.

Note: This entry is not an official endorsement to the products I have recently purchased.  Instead, it serves as my future reference on the go (like I did for my previous computer setup and has proven to be useful).


2 replies on “So We Assembled A New PC”

Cool! My only recent upgrade for the PC I upgraded in Jan 2009 was a RAM upgrade from 4Gb to 8Gb. Not a great machine by today’s standards but it serves me well. I thought the SC2 cutscenes were awesome on your TV.

Mark – You mean the cut scenes at my PC? Usually cut scenes are pre-rendered to different screen resolutions. While in game, higher screen resolution means that you can see more around you.

By the way, I have upgraded the computer Cynthia is using. Not mine hahaha.

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