We spend an unconscionable amount of time drumming up absurd ideas over here. Some of the stuff we see just screams out, “Do something fun with me!” Take, for example, the winning prize today: create an electric vehicle by putting an umbrella, a wall of about 28 USB desk fans, a few USB hubs, and a desktop computer in a wagon, then use the fans to blow into the umbrella with the intended result of propelling the wagon forward. Unfortunately the concept is rather limited by the length of extension cord available, amongst other things… Nonsense aside, we do have fun coming up with ideas of what to do with computers and their peripherals, and here is an idea for an ultimate gaming computer / graphic design workstation.
Starting out with the CPU, I’d use an Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E processor. Now, I know what you’re probably thinking… It’s older (in that it’s not brand new), and the Ivy Bridge line just came out. But, it’s a monster of a processor, beating out the Ivy Bridge in terms of pure processing power. We’ll take care of the whole graphics situation later anyway. To keep this processor nice and cool, I’d stick on an Antec Kühler H20 620 liquid cooling system. Of course, to stick this on, I’ll first need a motherboard.
The i7-3820 uses the Intel Socket 2011, so we’ll need a compatible motherboard for the job, something like the Asus Sabretooth X79 motherboard or Gigabyte GA-X79-UD5 motherboard, both of which support up to 64GB of DDR3-2400MHz RAM, have PCI-E x16 3.0 busses, and of course support pretty much everything you would ever want in a motherboard like CrossfireX, USB 3.0, SATA 3.0 (6Gb/s) and, well, I think you get the point. We’ll just stick with the Sabretooth. The biggest thing to consider when buying a motherboard, after choosing the processor, is to make sure it has other connections that’ll be needed, like how many and what speed of PCI-E slots, or SATA ports. Do they need to be x16, or 6Gb/s, or will something less work? The same applies for all other connections as the number and quality of connections on a motherboard generally determines the limitations of a PC, thus limiting what you can do with your PC. The best thing to do is to always plan ahead. I digress. Enough pontificating. Onward and upward! Actually, um… downward.
I don’t like keeping precious materials out in the open much, so we’d better get this awesomeness into a case. Something like the NZXT Whisper-B Silent Desktop computer case. I’m of the persuasion that computer towers should speak only when spoken to, and I don’t ever speak to mine so it should be pretty freaking quiet. That said, the NZXT Whisper-B case has noise-cancelling insulation, keeping the fan noise to a minimum, and maximizing the user’s happiness. Oh, the joy!
Now, a graphic design workstation really doesn’t need that spectacular of a video card. In fact, if all it would be used for is 2D work, then something like Intel’s integrated HD graphics would be fine, even when running Photoshop. But we’re not making a 2D graphic design workstation. We’re making an Ultimate Gaming Computer / Graphic Design Workstation! Emphasis on the “Ultimate” part. Within reason, anyway. So, since this is going to be an exceptionally well-endowed machine, it needs a decent video card. I like the Zotac ZT-50303-10M NVIDIA Geforce GTX 560 TI video card. It’s pretty. Did you look at it? Look at it, it’s pretty! But beside those stunning good looks, it’s got some stunning specs. You can go and check those out too. Don’t worry, I’m not going anywhere. The GTX 560 TI line of graphic cards supports DirectX 11 and OpenGL 4.1, has a max resolution of 2560 x 1600, and supports Dual-DVI, so you can get more done in work and in play. I love multiple monitors. They really make a difference when getting work done, and to have the ability to maintain a semblance of order on my screens is a necessity because I always have about half a dozen or more apps running at any given time, and it’s easy to get lost in all those windows.
I have a hard time with memory, apparently. I mean, mine. Not the computer kind. It’s a good thing, because we’re talking about the computer kind. For this computer with this motherboard (the Sabertooth X79), I’d be installing some Mushkin Blackline 993995 16GB DDR3 1600MHz Memory (4x4GB). This quad-channel kit of RAM is plenty. I mean, who really NEEDS 64GB of RAM? Ok, fine. Let’s meet in the middle. I’ll plug in another 16GB, just because I can. Now we’ve got 32GB of 1600MHz DDR3 memory, way more than enough.
Alright, now the fat of the computer, where data just builds up and clogs the veins, so to speak: the hard drive. Fast is good. Slow is bad. That’s just how it is. Solid State Drives are fast, so I would use the Mushkin Chronos 120GB SSD. It’s a larger SSD, and it’s very fast, reading and writing at 550MB/s and 515MB/s, respectively. I want the SSD because it’ll promote faster start times and application use, and then I’d stick in a 1 or 2 Terabyte HDD for storage, such as a Western Digital Caviar Green 2TB SATA III HDD. It’s a big and burly hard drive made to carry a ton of video and photos and all that good stuff. Probably wouldn’t be all that necessary, unless you’re doing a lot of video editing, in which case it’s perfect.
A sound card is not exactly a graphic necessity, but it is absolutely a must have for a gaming PC. Quality games without quality sound is not ideal. Not in the least. The Creative Sound Blaster Recon3D Fatal1ty Champion PCI-E sound card is a winsome piece of technology, giving us a full gamut of audio options from the mundane 3.5mm mini-jack, to the incredible Optical Fiber TOSlink I/O. Employing THX and Dolby technology, the Recon3D puts out audio like a champ. Have you heard champs? They’re loud.
To get all this powered up and running, install a Corsair CMPSU-650TXV2 Enthusiast Series 650W Power Supply. The Corsair TX650 V2is a modular PSU that gives a ton of clean, stable power, and it is a quieter power supply so it makes me that much happier!
So there you have it. The Ultimate Gaming Computer / Graphic Design Workstation. You could make this computer in it’s entirety, or just glean a little here and there to improve your PC. You could even add to this. Fill up a couple 5.25” drive bays with optical drives (indeed, recommended), fan controllers, or USB hubs, add a WiFi PCI card, glue a vintage troll doll to the top of the computer case, the options are endless! So get to building your ultimate machine, and get back to us when you do, because we want to hear about it.