Behold: Pac-Man

Specs: ASUS M5A97 AM3+ USB3 mobo, AMD Vishera 4.2GHz (OC) octo core, 16GB DDR3 1600, Radeon HD 7970 3GB 384-bit GDDR5, 128GB SSD, 15x Blu-ray Burner, 750w midtower, 1080p 22″ triple monitor, Windows 7 Pro 64bit

This marks my triumphant return to ASUS and AMD. Staying with my home network’s recent nomenclature (networks, servers, and devices being named after Pac-Man characters), this is the birth of Pac-Man. I have retired my old 2.7GHz i7 quad core to a certain someone, where it will be a welcome replacement for her Mac Mini. It shall henceforth be dubbed Ms. Pac-Man. I’ll let her have this new video card after it becomes unsuitable for Bitcoin mining (which should be any month now). I’m not finished with it yet, either… the next purchase will probably be an external RAID (4TB Blinky is running out of space, and Inky died awhile back). Other future purchases might include a more elaborate tower, card reader, additional USB, an additional 16GB of RAM, etc. but this is more than enough for now. After I finally got everything hooked up and troubleshooted (took me more time than I’d like to admit to find out the CPU power wasn’t plugged into the motherboard), I pretty much immediately set it out to mine for BTC with the 7970, so that maybe the card will pay for itself assuming the market doesn’t crash for another few months. The thing sounds like a jet engine when it’s mining, and the LEDs turn my room bright blue at night, but that’s the price you pay for being awesome.

What I’m glad I did:

  • Went with ASUS and AMD… the price on the 8 core was fantastic. This should last me a good many years.
  • Not maxing out the RAM quite yet. When I need it, it’ll be cheaper.
  • Splurging on the 7970. This is the first time I’ve bought a real video card, and since I don’t play games much, it was hard to justify the $400, but I’m somewhat confident I can make the money back with the high hashrate.
  • Didn’t upgrade to Windows 8.

What I would have done different next time:

  • The LED fans look cool, but they’re silly and annoying mostly.
  • I severely cheaped out on the case. Like, only paid $30 cheap. It’s a good case for the price, for sure, but it’s a bit flimsy and lacks USB 3 in the front.
  • With half the space on the SSD gone already, I’m wondering if I should have gone for a 256GB. Ah well. Once I buy an external RAID, that will take care of the big files.
  • I underestimated how difficult it is to keep a 7970 cool. Three fans doesn’t really appear to be enough. I’ll add more, and I might even have to liquid cool the card.
  • I also underestimated the power requirements; if I end up wanting to add a second 7970, I’ll have to swap out the 750W PSU with a 1100W.

It’d been three years since I’d built a computer for myself, so this was an interesting re-learning exercise.

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