Big Computer Four - part 1 of 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

by Mike McNamee Published 01/04/2017


Big Computer 4 BC3 is dead, long live Donald For the record, the new workstation has been called Donald – the nicknames of our machines have always been aquatic creatures (Seal, Terapin, etc) so this one is Donald the Goldfish after you know who!

We outlined some thoughts on workstation requirements in the January issue of Imagemaker. The idea was always to revisit the specification ahead of build and in practice the machine we have built is some way from the original specification, although similar in total cost.

You may recall that the cost breakdown showed the graphics card to be the top cost item at 29% of the total. On further reading we concluded that this was too high and that the money would be better invested in a larger/faster SSD operating system drive and a working buffer storage drive also an SSD. Somewhat bizarrely, the cost of the graphics card rose substantially while we were having lunch and going through the motions of making up an order! The other key decision was to use the CoolerMaster case from BC2, which goes way back to 2005. However, the case build quality was superb and because the form factor of ATX motherboards has remained stable ,there were not issues in replacing all the innards! The case does have 15 hard drive slots and we also have fan-assisted four-into-three utility cases to pack in even more drives (this is highly unlikely btw!). It was amusing to search back through the old Imagemakers and find BC2 was the first 64-bit system and was working on XP – happy days!

Going for self-build released a few hundred pounds of capital but also widened the choice of components for slightly better mixing and matching. In the new build the highest cost item is the OS SSD at 16%. This is how it should be, almost all operations we routinely carry out require opening and closing applications and shovelling files around (every submission has to be automatically scaled to 300dpi and converted to a CMYK TIFF file for example – this is done with a Bridge/Photoshop action).

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