Dream Machines, Part 1: Hardware

What kind of mad computer lab would you set up? Here’s the start of mine.

Flipping through the channels yesterday afternoon (prior to the football games that I slept through), NBC aired a special from some automaker show. (I didn’t catch which one, unfortunately: It shows how tired I was.) During this time, they showed a lot of really cool cars that (if I were rich) i would love to own. Of course, they have nothing to do with computers, though.

So I was on Apples web Site, trying to guess what I would order to have the ultimate setups that I want. I ended up ringing up close to $260,000 before stopping. (No, I haven’t placed an order yet – I wanted to see how much my dream Apple setup, with all of the accessories, would cost.) I also visited Falcon NorthWest, one of a few PC makers (non-local) I’d consider buying a PC from, and rang up an additional $14,00, with no software or accessories.

So what kind of machines would I build if I had the money? Of all Star Bucks these, all would be put to their maximum settings, so that I don’t have to upgrade them for another 3-5 years. (When you do bottom of the line, this is the worst problem, and I hate it!)

Dream Portable Machine, non-specific.

This is the machine you’d most likely see me with at Star Bucks, Denny’s, Octane, or any other place where I sit for hours on end not at work or home. (And yes, It’d come with me to work, where I can use that for non-work related stuff.)

  • MacBook Pro 1.83 Ghz Intel Core Duo
  • Airport Xtreme card and Bluetooth
  • 2GB 667 DDR2 – 2x1GB SO-DIMMs
  • iWork ’06 pre-installed
  • ATI Mobility Radeon X1600 – 256MB GDDR3
  • 120GB Serial ATA drive @ 5400 rpm
  • 2 Rechargeable Battery – 15-inch MacBook Pro
  • Software Bundle(s): Creative, Programming

This is the machine I would need to get my writing and creative stuff done. (That way, you get more frequent updates on my sites and projects.) I wouldn’t waste my time with Games, music, or movies, however: this would be strictly for projects such as writing a review of a movie I just finish watching, posting reviews and pictures of bands I see, or busy writing work on my sites or other projects. The only music stuff I’d include would be the iLife 06 package with iTunes and Garage Band.

I’d also include my programming tools because I know myself: If I can think of a way to make things faster or more improved, I hate it when i can’t do it!

Dream Portable Machine, Gaming.

I normally don’t do gaming parties, but I’ve always had those days where the only thing I wanted to do – and never could – is whip out a good game and play. Cell phones are too small, everything else too limited, it’s got to be a laptop’s job!

  • Falcon Northwest FragBook DR 6800
  • Metallic Red
  • Intel Pentium 4570 3.8 GHz Prescott
  • 2 GB DDR2-LL Memory
  • GeForce 7800Go 256 MB
  • 2 80 GB Hitachi TravelStar 7200 RPM Hard Drives
  • 2 8x DVD+-RW Burners
  • DR 6800 TV Tuner
  • Turbo-G 80211G Wireless Turbo-G 80211G Wireless
  • Extra battery, AC Adapter

Why Falcon NW and not Alienware or something I can buy at stores? Simple: Of all the reviews I’ve read in either Play, Maximum PC, or Computer Shopper, this company rarely, if ever, gets a complaint. When I play Doom 3 or Half-Life 2 for the first time, the last thing I want to see is “This machine can not play this because…”

Because it would be strictly for gaming, no bundles would be loaded.

Dream General Purpose Machine

This would be where the desktop publishing, artwork, web work, and anything not dealing with Multimedia creation (such as Movies/video, audio, and 3D) or gaming (where, again, a Falcon NW will be handling.)

  • iMac 20-inch Intel Core Duo
  • 2GB 667 DDR2 SDRAM – 2x1GB
  • Wireless Keyboard & Mouse + Mac OS X – U.S.
  • ATI Radeon X1600/256MB VRAM
  • 500GB Serial ATA drive
  • Software Bundle(s): Creative, Programming, Web

Dream Multimedia Machine, Non-3D

This is where my video and audio editing would be done on.

  • PowerMac G5 Quad Core 2.5 Ghz
  • 2 x 500 GB Serial ATA – 7200 rpm
  • AirPort Extreme + Bluetooth built-in
  • 16GB 533 DDR2 ECC SDRAM- 8x2GB
  • QUADRO FX 4500 512MB SDRAM
  • 2 Apple Cinema HD displays, 30″
  • Bundled Hardware, Software (s): Audio, Video

The reason why I’m keeping this as an all-in-one unit is so that, if I need to go back and forth between Final Cut Pro, Shake and Logic, or any other AV App, I can do it without switching stations. The only times I will need two machines are for flipping back and forth between Multimedia and 3D.

Dream Multimedia Machine, 3D

There are 3 areas where the PC really shines: Games, cheap stuff, and 3D. Mac has been advancing with their software over the years, and has been rumored to be on par with the PC in terms of rendering. That said, the majority of the software is on a PC, and since I know I won’t be the only one doing 3D work on my projects, I’d rather have a machine configured specifically for that. The specs are the same as the gaming machine below. A 3D package will be installed.

Dream Gaming Machine

Again, sticking with Falcon NW, this would be my fun machine where I can try the latest in 3D gaming.

  • Falcon Northwest Mach V
  • ICON Aluminum ChassisICON Aluminum Chassis
  • SilverStone 600 Watt Modular Power Supply
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional
  • Asus A8N32-SLI deluxe Motherboard
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 FX-60 Socket 939M
  • Icon Watercooling Kit (AMD)
  • Corsair TwinX 2048MB 3200XL-PT (4 x 512mb)
  • 2 x nVidia GeForce 7800 GTX 512MB (BFG
  • Raid 0 – Requires 2 Identical Drives
  • 4 x Seagate 500GB 7200 RPM SATA
  • Sony DRU810A Dual Layer DVD+-/RW
  • Plextor 740A 16x DVD+-RW Dual Layer
  • Lite-On 16X Dual Layer DVD+-/RW
  • Creative Labs X-FI Elite Pro
  • Logitech diNovo Media Desktop
  • Ergodex DX-1 Falcon Edition
  • Logitech G5 Laser Mouse
  • 2 x Apple Cinema HD 30 2560X1600 Display
  • Klipsch ProMedia Ultra 5.1
  • FA404 Int. USB2.0 Flash Media/Floppy
  • Logitech Premium Stereo Headset
  • APC Personal 7T Surge Protector
  • DGL-4300 108G Gaming Router

If I was going to build my own, this is the closest to what I want in a gaming rig.

Dream Entertainment-Center Machine

There are 3 rules I have to this: #1. The only non-entertainment stuff would be web surfing and maintenance, #2. No Digital Rights Management, and #3. I have to be able to configure this the way I want to. That automatically rules out anything with Windows XP Media center Crap or Apple Front Row, as both have DRM built-in. (More likely than not, because of DRM, I will probably be forced to use an older OS.) To be able to configure this correctly, I am forced to be stuck with a Mac, as Windows has too much DRM built-in, and isn’t as customizable as I like, and neither is Linux. (The Mac isn’t that much better: In the future, I would like all three to improve these on a consumer level, as forcing us to choose how the MPAA/RIAA wants to rape our butts is not an option I’ll ever play. As a result, Linux may become a future option as well.)

  • Powermac G5 Dual 2.7 Ghz (would have to be refurbished/used)
  • Maxxed 2 8 GB Ram, 2×500 GB SATA HD, TOL AGP Card
  • Custom-Built case to accommodate additional drives, cooling issues
  • Custom Hardware: 3 Miglia AlchemyTV DVR, AirShark AM/FM antenna, Surround Sound amplifier, HDTV (DVI) Flat Screen Big Screen monitor
  • Bundled Software (S): Custom, Web

I was originally going to stick with a G4 or a PowerMac G3, but both need a lot of extra money to get it near the G5, and I wanted more than one video card. Worse, by going with a G3/G4 option, to add additional video-in, I’d have to buy external options – the more internal, the better. All would need a custom Case, since Apple has yet to make an entertainment Mac that’s decent enough to fit within your entertainment center. (Note to all computer companies: not all of us want to use an extra box to hook up to our home PC/Mac!)

As far as software goes, there’s a number of things I want to do that the current corp of software won’t allow. In addition to DRM being butt, I want to configure it for a number of custom machines (coming in another article later this week) that takes advantage of the capabilities of older machines. (It’s a little side project of mine.)

Dream Vehicle Machine

One note before I list: The vehicles listed are all considered part of it, and all three would have similar specs, in consideration with their cars, pimped-out to the max. the only thing being concentrated on is the Computer that would be the A/V of the car. All vehicles would be in Black, with a custom paint job in a similar style.

  • Aston Martin DB9, new
  • Cadillac Escalade, used (biggest possible)
  • Cadillac STS-V, New
  • PowerMac G4 “QuickSilver” 733 MHz
  • Maxxed out Ram, HD
  • Custom-Built case to accommodate additional drives, cooling issues
  • Custom Hardware: Miglia AlchemyTV DVR, AirShark AM/FM antenna, SATA, Revolution 7.1 Surround, Apple Airport Xtreme, car stereo.
  • Bundled Software (S): Custom, Web

Whereas with the entertainment Center I wanted it maxxed out as far as I could while keeping everything in one case, most of the hardware is going to be located in the trunk, with the input/output devices, such as the iPod dock, touch-screen video, and optical drives are stored. (Although I may never own an iPod, anyone of my friends would be able to utilize this.) Also because I won’t be recording anything from the TV onto it, a slower, more capable machine is preferred.

So why 3 vehicles? The STS_V would be the main machine, getting me to/from work, going out on the town or on long road trips. The Escalade is for shows and heavy-duty lifting, where a truck would be optimal. And the Aston Martin is the fun one to drive during the Summer, where weather and number of people/space isn’t an issue. (If I had to narrow it down to one, it’d be the Escalade – although gas would be pricey, it would cover most of the needs.)

The only unlisted piece of hardware is a decent GPS piece that could attach to the Mac. That is because, to my knowledge, there isn’t any right now. (The only one I know about currently was forced to stop, as someone else was making unauthorized software for it.) Just another thing for me to work on.

Dream Small Machine

Being a bus rider means having a lot of time where I am walking or waiting, where it’s too inconvenient to have a laptop out in the open. iPods and other MP3/Video players, besides being notoriously obvious to thieves, and too popular for my tastes, are missing a lot of features PDAs and gaming systems have, such as bigger screens and storing/retrieving notes. PDA’s, on the other hand, lack the simplicity and storage capability of the iPod, as well as the coolness and the wide-screen that some other MP3/video players have. (Let’s see a 60 GB PDA – I might be impressed then!) And game systems are – well – game systems. Hence, my machine would have the following:

  • From the iPod: Simplicity, connectivity, and a few features that are add-on right now, such as a built-in microphone.
  • From the video Players: The 8-inch Wide-screen touch-screen.
  • From the PDA: The useful software to be able to take notes, store information, as well as watch movies, listen to MP3s and play games.

Unfortunately, Palm has made the closest machine, but it’s not even close to what I want, in terms of storage, battery life, or other important features. (Again, this is a dream machine – doesn’t necessarily have to be available now!)

Coming Tomorrow – and comments for today…

Tomorrow I will be talking about what I would do with my old machines, as well as a few other projects I want to do. (The Software I will be using, originally planned for tomorrow, will be pushed back to Thursday.) In the meantime, feel free to leave me your thoughts, as well as what you’d have for a dream machine. (If it’s a big list like mine, please do me a favor and link it rather than list it. I promise I will read it.)

Edited at 6 AM on February 5th, 2006.

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One thought on “Dream Machines, Part 1: Hardware

  1. Pingback: Pimped Out Cars ~

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