Building a PC

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item Building a PC

  • Like you, Steve, I'd rather buy an off-the-shelf system than build one. I recently had to go down the build path, though, because I couldn't find a machine with my desired specs for a new home virtual lab (12th gen Intel processor, 128GB memory, copious M.2 SSD storage, PCI 5.0). Consumer PCI 5.0 storage isn't yet available but I want to be ready for it.

    Regardless of how one gets there, I do think a home lab is a great investment for DBAs that don't have the luxury of experimenting at work. Mine allowed me to create a SQL Server 2022 CTP 2.0 multi-subnet AG to play with contained Availability Groups (a great feature, BTW). It took less than an hour to create the complete virtualized environment on Hyper-V, including a domain controller, 4 AG nodes, and Linux router. It'll be much faster to stand up a similar environment from scratch the next time around with a DevOps approach now that I have the scripts.

  • I also have built PCs rather than buy them. And like you, Steve, I had a close friend, Dave H., who helped me. Whenever I built a machine, he would advise me on everything, even going to the local PC parts place to help me select the case, CPU, memory, etc. Unfortunately, Dave H. passed away about 5 years ago. Now, I just buy a PC from either Costco or Best Buy.


  • I've literally built 100's of them.  One of my first jobs in the IT field was for a College that needed to refresh the PC's in their labs and classrooms.  Mind you they were much less complicated then.  Regardless, I've built a couple for myself during the years.  However, these days I'd much rather have someone else put it together for me.  I mean just look at the pins on the chips these days.  With my old fat fingers, I don't trust myself to not bend (or break) one of those suckers. lol

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  • Back in the  200#'s I had my own home server with 2008R2 installed.  It was a Dell box and I bought different disk drives, memory, and cards to experiment with RAID configurations etc.  It was connected by an ethernet switch to 3 PC's and 2 backup drives to simulate different setups.  Once a year or so I took it apart and cleaned the fans and the heatsinks over the CPU.  It's amazing how much dirt and dust build up inside these things.  At least in an apartment with rugs and 3 people.  I still have the box (hasn't been switched on in years) but not the PC's.  Everything is cloud now and I use a laptop which I haven't opened the clamshell on in 3 years or so.  My laptop PC is just a piece of furniture really.  My nephew is a gamer and he built his own PC.  A lot of gamers build their own



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  • Back in the 1990's I managed CompuServe's fleet of thousands of desktop PCs (not servers) for employee use. I had a lab and an electrical engineer on staff who would run lots of performance tests on permutations of the parts I scouted out so we could get the best bang for the buck when specifying exactly what combination of parts we wanted used in our machines. We then paid a local company to actually build, deliver, and warranty them.

    I'm lucky enough to be able to experiment all I want at work, as long as I use something in Azure, which is all I could use for production anyway. We literally have no on-prem servers at all of any kind. I just have a company-provided low-end ThinkPad (with two 24" external monitors) I use to RDP to an Azure VM for all my database work (it dramatically simplifies security and gets me better performance than the low-end laptop), and my personal Dell G7 17" laptop at home now, no desktops at all.

    It's been at least 20 years since I've been current on in-depth hardware knowledge, so if I needed a lab machine for home, I would definitely rather buy from an expert than try to figure it all out for myself.

  • I love building PCs still - though I rarely get to do it as I don't upgrade that much these days. Especially as it's a lot safer than it was when I started - I remember once setting jumper pins that controlled the CPU clock speed upside-down (you didn't do this in the BIOS back then), and ended up running my Athlon Thunderbird 950 at 1.25ghz instead of 950mhz, followed promptly by a burning smell after booting.... Yeah, that was a costly mistake for teenage me. - My technical blog

  • There may be more PC components, suppliers, and configuration choices today, so the decision tree for building a PC is much more complicated. But then again back in the early 1990s we didn't have access to all the online guides that we have today.

    There are some online tools where you can virtually build a PC by choosing components, and they even claim to perform compatibility checks. For example, Microcenter has one. If I were going to "build" my own PC today, I'd want to purchase all my components from the same retailer (instead of a half dozen suppliers) and probably even have them install the stuff too.


    "Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise. Instead, seek what they sought." - Matsuo Basho

  • I used to build my own PC's, but now I just purchase a higher end PC, preferrably one that I can modify.


    Your story reminded me of building units for my friends, which I don't recommend.  Worst was replacing a power supply on a 5 year old machine on my birthday.  I guess with friends the warranty never expires.  🙂

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