This has kept me busy over the weekend.
I must be one of the few old-timers who still buy desktops. Actually, I had tried to use a laptop for my powerhouse activities last year, but it didn’t work out. A laptop simply cannot keep up with my computing demands. It also costs more, runs hot, has fewer ports, is not expandable. Sure, you can run on battery saving mode which is cooler, but it is also slower.
A desktop, on the other hand, is scalable, more stable, with replaceable parts so it will never be suddenly obsolete. Take for instance, my current old desktop has been running since 2009 and still runs faster than most ultrabooks. It’s running on first-generation Intel i5-750 2.6GHz quad-core with 8GB RAM, can support up to 8 SATA devices, 5 PCI-Express cards, 3 PCI cards, and still has legacy ports (serial, parallel, PS/2).
I did not have a compelling reason to upgrade, but it is wise to replace while it’s working rather than breaking down. Mind you, back in early 2000s, I used to maintain 2 desktops, just for redundancy.
For months, I would occasionally search online for resale desktops that have good specs and great price. My wife was skeptical about me buying 2nd hand computers, but like any after-market trading, it’s about feeling comfortable about the transaction. That is why it took me a long time before I decide to buy from this fellow.
I reckon based on my personal computing demands, I would have to spend at least S$1500 to buy a brand new desktop (that was how much my previous desktop cost back in 2009). And the new desktop I got from the previous owner was spec for gaming, which means it would cost close to S$2000 if I were to get it brand new. I also liked the components he put together: Intel i5-4690K (the top-spec 4th-gen i5 chip) MSI Z87-G45 mainboard, Krazen X40 liquid CPU cooler, G Skill Ripjaws 16GB 1866MHz RAM, Samsung EVO 840 SSD, Seagate Barracuda HDDs, Fractal Design R4 Titanium case.
Here’s what I did after I brought the desktop home.
Like any desktop owner, the interior and fan filters are covered with dust. Fortunately, it was relatively easy to wipe clean and wash the filters.
2. Install OS, Software and Personalise Settings
After installing the OS, I went on to install the hardware drivers and my default list of software, which includes Chrome, Picasa, preferred Internet Security software, VLC, Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote.
I also changed my target folders of Windows Documents, Pictures, Music, Video, etc. to a separate physical drive. This is so that in the event that my OS drive fails, my working files are unaffected. Also, it keeps my OS drive lean which makes OS backup faster.
3. Transfer Data
I removed the HDDs from my old desktop and plugged into an external USB 3.0 HDD dock to transfer data to my new desktop. If you do not have an external HDD dock, you can plug direct into the desktop using SATA data and power cables.
The reason for not moving my physical HDD to the new desktop is that I want to test my new desktop for a while, so I needed my old desktop to continue being functional. Once I am happy, I will then re-purpose my old desktop components.
If you do not care for your old desktop, you can simply plug your existing HDD into the new desktop. Just make sure there are enough data and power cables.
One Last Thing
My new desktop does not have PCI slot. I have an E-MU 1820M audio card and breakout box (24-bit 96KHz, MIDI and audio in/out ports, good stuff). It’s still working and I have no intention to retire it. So, I ordered a PCI-Express to PCI adapter from AliExpress. I hope it works, but if it doesn’t, then I may keep my old desktop and use it solely for audio production, which is not very frequent. Alternatively, I may do more research to get a USB Audio Interface.
And 24 Hours Later…
Migration is smooth, and it helps when the new CPU and HDD are blazing. I’m still impressed at how my 7-year-old desktop is still performing well, and that desktop computing technology did not evolve as fast as mobile computing (like smartphone).