My custom built desktop! I am currently dealing with cancer, kidney failure, tumors and a couple of broken ribs (caused by a tumor). Given that, I really need a lightweight desk that could easily be moved when needed, and at the same time is large enough to house all of my goodies. I was also planning to get a third monitor one day (Actually, three new monitors so they are all the same, with some sort of tri-monitor mount, Ergotech maybe...?) so I wanted to be able to mount them to it as well...
My initial solution was just to use a couple of sawhorses and a big piece of wood. However, while I was looking through the lumber section of my local store, I was not able to find a sturdy piece of wood that was light and large enough, at which point I was struck by a bit of genius, just use a hollow door blank!!! It would be lightweight, and just the same size as I was looking for... I quickly found the perfect piece of wood (door) for the project... I sanded the door down (Being careful not to go through the thin veneer), and stained it with two coats of a nice dark finish (which is reminiscent of a Tiger's Eye stone/petrified wood, in that it has a sort of iridescence/pearlescence about it...), followed by three coats of a clean satin finish.
Then, after some looking for the saw horses, I decided I would just do the project RIGHT, and not skimp at all, as I would hate to have the saw horses fail and thousands of dollars worth of equipment be destroyed, not to mention the irreplaceable (to the left to the left?) data that would undoubtedly be lost (more on this later...). I was initially having a difficult time deciding upon exactly what materials to use, when I remembered doing some welding when I was about 11, making a fish house for my father. I had used angle iron for that project. Obviously iron would be far too heavy for this application, but surely there was some kind of extruded aluminum that would work...
Yes there was! Unfortunately, this destroyed one of my three 'no compromises' criteria (1:Lightweight; 2:Easily Dis/assembled; 3:Inexpensive) for the desk, that being the expense. Which nearly put that at an end... Until I discovered a way to get the aluminum for a very low price, instead of being ~$80/8ft length, I was able to find some much, much cheaper, albeit slightly less aesthetically pleasing, for ~$14/8ft. Yay! Also, one of the pieces did not match the others... The main pieces are 1" deep x 1/8" thick, the odd piece is 1" deep x 1/16" thick... So I just used that piece for the supports... I was also only able to get five pieces at the cheaper price, and although, in terms of sheer length it would work, I was not certain that I could cut it efficiently enough to make it work... However, after trying a few different combinations, I was able to cut them all perfectly, and ended up with a single extra piece that was like 10" long or something.
I welded the end pieces together, so that they are just, effectively, a single piece. While the front/rear pieces are a total of six separate pieces bolted together. Another criteria is to keep it as clean and flat as possible, which meant using countersunk bolts and wingnuts (for easy assembly), I drilled and tapped the holes so that the bolts would thread in, and then lock tight with the wingnuts, to prevent any unthreading at some point. I also chose to use allen/hex bolts instead of screwdriver heads, or something else, in an effort to both prevent stripping, and make it so that a single tool could easily be found and used.
My initial plan was to anodize the aluminum, but after a few test pieces, this turned out to be an option that was far too resource intensive, and the results were less than satisfactory. I then decided that I would implement a 'brushed' look, by simply using some foam sandpaper blocks and running along the aluminum for a uniform pattern. However, this would have required some sort of jig to hold the aluminum in place, and at 7' long, it would have required a lot of effort, for something I would use a single time on one project. In the end, I decided to just leave it as I bought it, ugly. My next mountain to climb, is that unfortunately, my welder died right before I started that part of the project, and some of the pieces had not yet been cut, so I had a friend of mine, who was in school for welding, take on that part of the project. He also offered to use the machine shop at school to clean up some of the cuts I had done. Unfortunately, his aluminum welding skills are not nearly as good as his steel welding skills, nor as good as he claimed he could weld aluminum... Which, heck, at least it works, right? On top of that, it seems he was not paying attention when he had cut the pieces, because they are off by just enough to make me have to cut part of the door, because it ended up being just about 1/4" off, and difficult to get in and out, with a slight gap in some parts, as the frame is not exactly square...
My next addition, hopefully soon, will be to implement a crossbar in the middle, to pull the gaps tight, and I also intend to take it to a machine shop, so that I can get a couple of holes cut into the front, and add a piece of white opal acrylic, with some LED's behind it for a nice soft glow. I also plan to add some wire management to the back, and maybe a power outlet on the surface, with a Keystone face plate to allow USB2/3-HDMI-DP-Ethernet-DVI-Optical/S/PDIF and/or anything else I might need/want... However, these are future projects for down the road, right now I am working on my watercooling loop, and modding my case... As you can see I have already started painting it...
If you have any questions that I have not answered, or any suggestions that may help me in the future, please do comment, as I am always open to criticism!
I had also eluded to an incident earlier ("More on this later")... When I first moved where I am, some of the pieces were cut, but nothing else was done... So I decided to just use some C-Clamps to hold the desk together, as it was the only option that I had at that point... It seemed like it would work great! So I went ahead after a bit of testing for sturdiness... I put it all together, put my EVERYTHING on it, basically everything you see in the picture, my stereo, speakers, monitors, server/HTPC, everything but the chair and the coputer to the right (behind the chair)... It worked great for about a week, but then I noticed one of the legs was slightly crooked, so I decided to straighten it... I sat down, and noticed another one was crooked, and I straightened it, and when I started to move I noticed the desk was tilting, so I quickly grabbed on!!! I thought, maybe if I can get to the other end, I can tilt the leg to push back against it, at least long enough to get my things off of it... I got to the other end alright, but while there, the desk, in slow motion started to twist in agony and slowly shift to image left... It was the most slow motion tragedy and terror in my life! I held on as tight as I could, but the weight and leverage of the desk was just too much... It began writhing and twisting and fighting me, once it reached critical mass, it just went, slammed on the ground and the ramen (that I forgot on the desk in my hurry) went splashing EVERYWHERE!!! On the bright side, the mess of computer parts on my floor was the most comical thing I have ever seen in regards to computers! It looked like someone dropped an entire desk full of stuff from the roof to the ground... Things were everywhere, Ramen was everywhere... Fortunately I was able to power everything down before the salty demon that is ramen got into anything, nothing was broken, and even my monitors did not get any scratches or anything...
Now though, the desk is very sturdy, although it could be sturdier, it does not move during normal use, even when I am playing a racing SIM, I can steer as violently as I need, and it takes it in stride... The only time it does shift, is when I do so deliberately
Although it looks like it is bowing in the middle, I am standing about 24" away from the desk, and using a 12mm wide angle lens on a 36MP Nikon D800, so everything looks wonky, my apologies... It is actually quite flat, I will say. Although, I am not certain how, but the aluminum is bent, because even without weight on the desk, the center is about 1/4" lower than the ends. Again, not certain what happened, as it is that way even when just the frame is erected. I am thinking maybe that is part of why it was so cheap, maybe the guy knew that it was slightly bent and he could not use it for some reason... No matter, I have it and I am happy!!!
As for the business end...
On the right, with the two Noctua fans, is my gaming/photography rig:
Asus Rampage IV Black Edition
32GB Crucial Ballistix 1600 Low Profile
2xEVGA GTX 670 FTW's @ 1,280MHz
2x250GB Samsung 840 Evo's in R.A.I.D. 0
OCZ (Now FirePower) 1,000W PSU
1.5TB Seagate Barracuda
160GB Seagate Barracuda (Intermittent storage)
80GB Seagate Barracuda (Music drive)
Creative Recon3D Fatal1ty Champion (Carried over from previous build)
Enermax FulmoGT 'Super Tower'
27" Samsung S27B550V
27" LG 27EA33
Mad Catz Cyborg R.A.T. 7
Logitech G27 Racing Wheel
Xbox 360 Wireless
2x Arctic Cooling Accelero Hybrid (Until my water loop is finished)
Corsair H100 (As with above)
Saitek ST290 Pro
My Server/HTPC/Spare gaming rig is on the left, although it no longer sees much HTPC or gaming use anymore...
ASRock Z77 Professional-M Fatal1ty (Why does everything that fits my needs get branded as Fatal1ty? It truly irks me to no end!!! lol)
128GB Kingston HyperX SSD
16GB Corsair Vengeance 1600 (Initially planned on using the ZFS system, which requires a lot of RAM but this was later abandoned for gaming capability)
4x3TB Seagate Barracuda in R.A.I.D. 5
Onboard video (I had 2 HD5750's for friends to use, but I decided just to get rid of them to save power, they were using like 150W or something)
Logitech K400r wireless keyboard
Rosewill RHRC-11002 remote control
nMediaPC 5000S (Would have much rather got a different case in retrospect, this thing is not quite terrible, but certainly not what I was expecting... It has 4 3.5" drive bays and an optical bay which my criteria...)
Uses the HDMI input on the LG monitor as the display, looking to get a dedicated used 15-17" panel for it later though.
All in all, I am 'almost' (almost is subjective) done and happy with everything. I think my real favorite part is actually the desk though. It is the first thing I have actually built from scratch in a long time. I used to have the tools to do such things, but alas, after the cancer and whatnot I am without all of my equipment of yore, which is going to make my case modding a real mans adventure... lol
HOPE YOU ALL LIKE IT!!!
*This is not a hating story but the hard facts and a story of what happened. I do not hate alienware but would not recommend it to anyone. I'm not english so spelling and grammar won't be close to perfect.
So I bought a Alienware a few years back and this is me and the desktops story.
The reason I decided to write this long story is basically because of the release of the new area 51, I hope this could help someone from buying the thing and stop them from doing the same mistake I did.
After working a full time job every day for 60 days (my whole summer vacation) I finally could afford buying myself a desktop. I had a budget on 6k USD. I spent my whole budget on a BEAST of a system on alienware, since my childhood dream was owning a alienware system. So stoked I started customizing it. What I got was a AMD HD 6990, i7 990x, 6gb ram, a 50$ motherboard, water cooling, 1000Watt powersupply, 750gb raid 0 storage, automated fins on the top, cool lighting, steam pre installed and some alienware gear. So after it being delayed and taking 3 months for dell to deliver the computer I was so stoked. Booting up the thing, ALL THIS POWER. Then I opened a game and realized it was sounding like I was having a leaf blower under my desk. But hey I could live with that, i'm just using headphones during gaming.
But on the fifth day of me owning the thing actually said boom and blew up, smoke and everything... So dell sent a repair guy who tried to fix it but didn't have any luck. So he needed to get back on his airplane so he could get me a new bulk of parts. 3 weeks it took. But it was working again, and I was happy. But after a few weeks I started getting a new problem. The system was shutting down when I was gaming. So I could not game on higher settings at all on the system because that resulted in a shutdown. It was livable in the beginning but the problem got worse and worse. So after a few months I called dell. They sent a new guy with new parts. That did not fix the problem. So they sent another guy with all new parts and cables it fixed the problem for a while. But after a while It just went back to the same old when gaming it shutdown. I had to send it back in. They replaced the whole thing and I got it back without OS..... So I had to wait for them to send a guy to install a OS on the damn thing. But then it was working perfectly after over 1 year of constant service tickets and pain it was working. But in that year SSDs was released games was demanding more ram and the whole thing felt outdated.
1 year later (also a few months ago) I had enough of the noise lvls and thought I would put some fans or more cooling into the thing. Bought a pair of 140mm fans but soon realized that the case did not support anything more than 120mm. This was where I gave up. So I decided to change case to a Corsair 550D, this was a bad idea... I still dont know why but even tho I wrote down took pictures and had all the cables on the same spots it never turned back on. Funny how this was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I sold all my parts a and gave up on my 6k USD alienware. And decided to take the risk on building my own from scratch. Yes you get a decent amount of power from that system,but the looks of the thing from the inside is horrible, not even sleeving on the cables. The whole computers inside is just one huge mess. A area 51 alx, worst case I have ever seen. One intake fan and one outtake fan that also was the cpu cooler radiator fan. All that dust killing the components. Worst cable management ever and when I took the whole thing apart the people who built the thing had to keep notes on the cables so they knew where things where going (It was still on the cables when I took it apart). After dissecting the thing I just cant help but feeling that Alienware makes built to last 1-2 year maximum systems and if you try to change something it will die. Dells service is great, I promise that they had to use more than I spent on plane tickets and service but thats about it. Once the dell guaranties are over you are screwed.
Now I have built my own PC from scratch and haven't had a single problem (except one of the hard drives from the alienware died...)
Build your own PC. Use the linus tech tips build guide, follow it step by step like I did. Building my new PC took me 10 hours but its the best thing I have ever done. Thank you linus for getting me interested in proper PCs and PC building and saving me from my terrible pre built system.
So if you know someone that are considering buying a Alienware desktop (I have not tried the laptops) please share my story, I tried to post a similar story on dells review system but it got deleted SO DAMN FAST.
If you're going to use plex, put an i5/i7/Xeon in the server to handle the transcoding.
Plex plays content directly when it can, but if you use tablets or any other devices it will transcode it on the fly to be compatible. So you'll want the extra power
Personally, I prefer XBMC over PLEX for local playback. Plex was forked from XBMC so they're similar but different. XBMC has more config settings and eye candy/fan art
I run plex just for my tablets, but use xbmc for everything else
Thank-You and yes, I have mounted a laminate covered piece of plywood to the wall on a single stud in the middle. Then I used 2 TygerClaw Full Motion wall mounts for outer monitors and a single Dynex fixed mount in the middle. I bought all the mounts online from Futureshop.ca
This is my system rebuild. It is much better than my previous setup, but still has some work to go.
Case: Corsair Obsidian 750D
Mobo: MSI Z87-G45 Gaming
CPU: Intel Core i5 4670K was OC'd at 4.6GHz, but had some BSOD issues so it needs more voltage clearly. Temps were good under stress though.
GPU: 2 MSI GTX 760's
RAM: 4x Kingston 4GB 1600MHz Blue Black (16GB Total) Very cheap RAM, but works
PSU: XFX PRO750W
SSD: Adata SX900 128GB
HDD: Seagate 7200rpm 1tb
Cooler: Corsair H100i
WiFi Card: TP-Link TL-WDN4800
Monitors: 3x Asus VN-247H-P
Keyboard: Corsair K70
Mouse: Roccat Kone XTD
Headset: Logitech G35
Mousemat: Razer Goliathus Extended Speed Edition
Speakers: Bose Companion 3 Series 2
In the future I plan on getting an LED light kit like the NZXT Hue, Noctua Industrial Fans or similar fans, sleeved cable extensions, and a fan controller.
Let me know what you guys think about my build and ask questions if you have them
Maybe I'm getting old but I'd rather be concerned with getting good games regardless. All this frame rate and resolution war BS is tiring to me. Just give me good games on every platform and I'm happy. To hell with everything else.
At the time I had a cheap off the shelf HP Presario. The first gaming grade component I got was a Asus DCUII GTX550Ti OC. It was beast, 975mHz out of the box OC to 1080mHZ. I still have it now in my secondary computer for when my friends come over to game. For 1080p gaming at medium to high details this card was awesome for the money.