Wayne’s Dream Machines 2006 2: Part 1: The Prebuilt Stuff

Back when i first started this site, I also started a recurring article called Dream Machines. Now that half a year has passed, I figured it’d be a wise idea to continue tradition by making this semi-annual.

Similar to the last round, We’re doing both pre-built and custom rigs. What’s new is the modding aspect: Each of the custom rigs will have its own custom design. (If Possible, a drawing or sketch will be posted.) Also, unless otherwise noted, all will be maxed out in RAM, Processor, and drives as is allowed by the company’s website – essentially, the only thing that might be upgradeable internally might be the video card and the Hard drives in the future. (This makes sense: first, whereas a machine maxed out on RAM will not be able to add anymore there, and a machine whose processors are maxed out most likely will not be able to swap easily, the video card and hard drives are easily more than likely to improve. Second, a maxed out machine has the best odds of lasting 4-5 years – and if I’m buying it brand-new, that’s how long I expect it to last.)

Also of note is that none of these machines, nor the custom rigs to show up soon, will use the standard peripherils it comes with.Logitech will be the main keyboard and mouse, unless otherwise noted; and special peripherals will be noted as such.

In the mean time, let’s get started.


Pre-Built

General Purpose Machine:

24″ iMac Intel

One of the things I would like, above al else, if I get rich, is a safety machine, where my internet goes on, my non-intensive work goes on, and my light gaming goes on – a general-purpose machine. New software to try out? Use this machine. Have friends over? If they’re in the mood for games, put them on the entertainment rig; otherwise, let the muse this one. Got some light work to take care of, that doesn’t need to fire up one of the more heavy-duty rigs, or that goes in addition to those rigs? You begin to see the idea.

Yes, this will have the Creative Suite, Apple’s pro suites (Shake, logic, and Final Cut Studio), a ton of good shareware, the other Adobe Apps (remember when they were from Macromedia?), even Maya will be along. And Windows, Linux, and the others, thanks to the Boot Camp/Parallel Desktops. And just for fun, I’d put on some FreeVerse and Ambrosia classics.

Granted, a couple of spare hard drives would be needed, but the headaches resolved by keeping a rig like this would more than make up for things.

Entertainment Rig:

NONE

This is a sad time in computing history in a few areas. First, on the technological front, we’ve had to take a step backwards to move forwards. Graphics Processors are doing what the main CPU used to do, using up energy and heat like there’s no tomorrow, and the main CPUs have had to jump back because of the multi-processor aspect. Cards and card slots have gone down in numbers as well, which wouldn’t be so bad if we weren’t trying to add stress to the GPU and CPU. All of this, and yet we don’t have any mainstream OSs to take advantage of it yet. (Yes, LINUX fans, I know there’s the many variations of LINUX; It’s those many variations that create a problem.)

Second – more important, and why this is one item I will have to build for myself – is the DRM movement. Microsoft and Apple become their respective curse word names in these areas, because they bow down to the media companies, yet at the same time create their own solutions that not only conflict with each other but with what the media companies already have. This goes against the consumer, and in the end serves no purpose. You can’t go with MicroSoft Plan A or B, because neither are compatible. (You have been keeping up on Microsoft’s Zune product, incompatible to play anything with a “Made for Windows” logo on it? I hope this has changed by the time you read this,) Apple has it’s FairPlay, which prevents stuff bought from the iTunes store from being played on anything other than an iPod, and an iPod from playing anything bought online from anyplace other than Apple. And what, pray-tell, does Linux have? As far as I have found, diddly squat. (I will note, however, that I know only so much about Linux, and the only stuff I have heard about pales in comparison. At least by them being open source a true vision of what I see may come with these guys first.)

What does this have to do with an Entertainment Rig? Plenty. First, it will have to have some form of Windows on it for the more heavy-duty PC only games, as well as the best emulation you can possibly get. (Yes, it’d be better to have the actual NES, SNES, Nintendo 64, Sega Genesis 32X CD, Saturn, Dreamcast, TurboDuo, Neo Geo, and the many other systems out there – in addition to the current crop coming soon – but that’s just way too much space, and that’s coming form a guy who likes to take up a lot of space! Not saying I wouldn’t own it if I could, but the space taken to hook all of that up, along with the resources to have everything plugged in, would be more of a pain in the butt than to have everything in one machine.) Second, it would have to double as a Multi-disc DVD / next-gen Opticals system that can handle anything you can throw at it – Multi-channel DVR, Main source of Music, internet hookup, et all. Third, it shouldn’t force me to limit what I record or put on there to that machine – This is where the DRM kicks in, and why neither Apple nor Microsoft deserve my money in these areas.

As to why I wouldn’t go open source: Simply put, what I have seen out there leaves me scratching my head. You cover most everything I am looking for, except in the gaming aspect – very few have any sort of gaming solution integrated, and most that I have seen that do suck. That combined with the fact that everyone who is doing DRM is being so butt-headed about their properties that are incompatible with each other won’t work together for a common ground DRM that everyone can access, and I am stuck with workarounds. As a result, no prebuilt rig will ever get my consideration without my concerns getting addressed – and if you are smart, you’ll avoid these as well, at least until everyone is on the same page.

Audio/Video Workhorse

Apple Mac Pro 3.0Ghz Dual Xeon Processor
4 NVidea 7300 graphics cards
2 30″ Apple Studio Displays
2 Cintiq 21″ Graphics Tablets

This is the first of 3 workhorse machines that I would use to make money from. In addition to all of the pro apps, I’d have Pro tools and Avid available on this machine as well. I have always wanted a machine to do AV work with, and this beast would be what I’d do for it. Yes, I could probably build a better one, but I’d probably not have it done as fast or make the money back as quickly, because the former would require more learning time.

3D Graphics

HP

As those who’ve read the last Dream machines Articles can tell, this is one minor change. Admittedly, though, this is little shock, as two things have not changed: first, i am still staying PC all the way on this area, and second, I am sticking with someone with a good reputation. In this case, the reputation comes from the DreamWorks Pictures hits, such as Shrek and Madagascar. of which advertise their use of HP products in the design of their films.

It’s disappointing that SGI isn’t the major player it was in this area as it was when I was growing up – I’d love to try one of those boxes out sometime for this. At least now that Apple is on the Intel Platform it will be interesting to see how this plays out in the next couple of years.

Server

Apple XServe
Apple XServe RAID

If there is any area that I would admit to lacking knowledge of, it’s networking. It’s not that I don’t want to, but time and money, along with current personal need, dictates the serious non-need for this right now. Hence, it’s best to go wit the one most likely to be the fastest to figure out how to set up.

Let’s not BS: If these were going to be connected to the internet, used as Web-Servers or any other application other than personal and professional use, I’d more than likely go, get a pro machine, and take pro classes. Since the only thing this would be used for is storing vast amounts of data for projects and personal use, there’s no sense in me investing the kind of money it’d take to be a pro in this area. Everything I have read and heard indicates these machines as being good for this.

Laptop

Apple MacBook Pro 17″
Apple MacBook black

Yes, I listed 2 machines, and yes, both are from Apple. So why two? Their uses are different. The Pro would be the portable equivelent of my Audio-Visual Studio, used for stuff such as shows I help on, movie and video projects I work on, etc. You might see me at Denny’s or Borders with it, but those will be rare – imagine how much attention the thing would grab!

That’s why there’s the regular Macbook. First, I could take it to office meetings with potential clients, showing of a product or project. Second, taking it to a restaurant or internet hotspot wouldn’t be as big of a deal, or take up as much space, as the Pro would. Third, because even when I can drive again i will be trying to be on my feet more, the regular book will be lighter than the Pro – which, when you consider all of the books and stuff I carry on a regular basis, you can imagine it as a lot. I could also load this with Windows as well, for those special occasions when someone forgets the main OS I would work in.

Car Unit:

Apple Mac Mini

Unlike the Entertainment Machine, this is a no-brainer. First, I’m not going to use my car as a DVR or Gaming rig, meaning the PC power and DRM would be unnecessary. Second, all of my music is on my HD as MP3, with only 4 DRM songs and a DRM TV episode – all from iTunes – to cause me fits. Third, unlike the Entertainment rig, even after the Displays and hookups will still be big, a vehicle is too small an area for a big machine – I’m not planning on driving an 18-wheeler anytime soon. (Leave that to the pros.) Finally, I’d need some way to hook up to the main network – enter built-in Wi-Fi.

I could list some of the other important features, but there are very few set-ups I have seen that would work as well as a Mini. Simply put, this is arguably the best machine for a Car PC use.

Coming Up:

As you can already guess, I have some mod rigs in mind. Unlike before, though, I kept it simple this time:

Entertainment Center
CarPC
Gaming-Unit
Custom PC.

Again, there’s four. Each has its own use, and in some cases, tie together.

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6 thoughts on “Wayne’s Dream Machines 2006 2: Part 1: The Prebuilt Stuff

  1. Well, I’d say you have the right idea about a dream machine. I’m not sure I’d agree with your gaming machine, though. I’m not a serious gamer, nor do I feel the need to have a ‘serious gaming machine’ in the house. My kids disagree with that, though, so I’d probably just get an Xbox or something like that to keep them happy. With all the virus uncertainties out there, I’m not even sure I’d allow an Internet connection for the thing. Everyone’s different, I guess.

    But I agree with the rest of the choices. 😉

  2. I didn’t list a gaming machine: I combined that as the entertainment machine. As far as I am concerned, when I sit at a desk, I am working or surfing the net, and when I am playing games, I am NOT on my computer. That’s why, rather than opting for a seperate piece of hardware, I rolled it into the entertainment PC – which, as I listed before, is still none. (If only I could knock the PC manufacturers, Microsoft, and the Entertainment industry’s collective heads together for being anti-consumer!)

    As for the custom-built Gaming PC Rig, that article is coming up.

    I wouldn’t worry about hooking an XBox to the interntet: I have a bunch of friends who do it all the time. I’ve been considering getting an XBox specifically for modding into a Mac computer. (Yes, people have figured out how to do it – why spend $1000 for a machine you can do for $300? Besides, it’d be fun.) I’ve not heard of anyone hacking an XBox through the net, or tampering with anyones stuff, so I’d say you shouldn’t have to worry too much: It’s not like a PC.

  3. I’m still new at “doing for myself” on Macs. (I know even less about PCs, but that’s beside the point.) I’ve got parts on order for my G4 and if I run into problems, I’ll be pestering you for help. 😉 I need to replace the power supply.

  4. I’ve got an XBox, and we’ve had it on live since we bought it. No problems here, but then the most we do with our XBox on the internet is download songs for our Rockin’ karaoke game! FTW!

    At any rate, Wayne, I’ve seen quite a few mod chips out there for the XBox. Some that allow you to run a Linux LiveCD, etc. Very interesting, but I think I’ll pass on them…at least until I get a 360. 🙂

    What I would like to see is some resources for how to mod a psOne, or a DreamCast, both of which are collecting dust at home.

    Ah well, back to the grind.

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