“That’s nearly the size of my head,” I thought apprehensively as I extracted the large metal cube of an aftermarket CPU heatsink from its box. Looking at the assortment of metal and bolts required just to mount it, I wondered if I had made a huge mistake. But as the screws glinted under the spotlights of the living room, surrounded by a myriad of electronic parts destined to form a greater whole, I smiled. So long as it actually fitted in the case, this was going to be fun. I am left slightly concerned that for me building a PC may be less about the end result and more like a £1,000 single-use Lego kit. At which point I really ought just to buy LEGO 10179.
Some of you will recall that my primary machines (i.e. desktops and laptops) are named after fictional AIs, hence MAX (the onboard AI of the alien spacecraft in the 80s classic Flight of the Navigator) and Daedalus (the mysterious AI that chooses to assist the player in the original Deus Ex). Most readers ought to recognise the origin of my new machine, JARVIS, the name narrowly beating out rival option GERTY.
JARVIS follows my usual design philosophy for computers which means a good but not excessive graphics card to keep things cooler and quieter, coupled with as much RAM as I can get on two sticks for a reasonable price. Currently, I discovered, that means a slightly excessive 16GB. With lower power draw in mind, I have been waiting for Intel’s new Ivybridge processors so under the hood is a 3.3 GHz Core i5, paired with an MSI mainboard and factory overclocked Radeon HD 7850.
What really makes the machine fly, however, is that after experimenting with an SSD in my HTPC, I have been converted and picked up a 256GB Crucial SSD for the operating system and applications. Boot times are negligible and even Firefox launches swiftly! More substantial storage comes in the form of two convention HDDs transferred over from MAX, offering 3TB in total. The build is housed inside a sleek Antec Solo II case, an upgrade to the Sonata line which I used for MAX. It is based on the same silent computing principles, but with improved airflow and sound dampening polycarbonate panels lining the inside.
I decided this was as good a time as any to test out the Windows 8 Consumer Preview but, while I’m still wrangling the new Metro-style Start Menu replacement, I’ll save my thoughts on it for another post.