Building a new PC

I mentioned earlier that I have hilariously outdated hardware at home and I finally decided to do something about that this month.

Considering that I tend to keep my computers a very, very long time I decided it was worth over-researching my plan.  I started by reading Glenn Berry’s SQL 2014 Workstation blog post about 500 times.  I also looked at lots of things on Newegg and Micro Center’s websites and eventually decided that even with sales tax Micro Center was the way to go for everything because of all the bundle pricing.

There’s a few things to update in the Glenn Berry post.  This post was largely recycled from an earlier post, so at this point you don’t want a Z87 chipset motherboard anymore.  In fact, those motherboards are what are  on the clearance racks at Micro Center right now.  You also probably don’t want the Cooler Master HAF 912 case because it doesn’t have USB 3.0 ports on the front.

This machine replaced a Dell Dimension workstation with a Pentium D 820 processor I bought in March 2007.  It’s definitely one of those, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” moments.  I bought the cheapest thing I could find, and it came with Vista, but could not actually run it. (IMHO, allowing PC manufacturers to place Vista stickers on machines with 512 MB of RAM was a big part of the Vista failure.  But at the time there was concern that price sensitive consumers would not make the upgrade if the machines were too expensive.)  I downgraded to XP and later went to Windows 7 64-bit after maxing the RAM at 4 GB.

Here are the major components and their costs:

I used an existing Samsung EVO SSD that I was not really getting the full impact of from the Pentium D.  For the non-system files I’m using a 7200 RPM rotational disk.

This leaves 2 slots for a future update to 32 GB of RAM, and plenty of internal slots for adding future storage.  On the Windows Experience Index the system gets full scores on all facets except graphics because I am relying on the on-chip GPU.

My ancient MacPro remains, but recently got an SSD for the system disk.  A 2-socket dual-core Xeon system is still pretty decent in 2014.

SQL Saturday Philadelphia

Last weekend was SQL Saturday in Philadelphia, which marked my 3rd SQL Saturday, and even though people who stumble across this blog likely know what SQL Saturdays are all about, I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about them at a very basic level.

For years I thought SQL Saturday would be the kind of fluffy marketing stuff that you expect of free lunchtime webinars or a vendor launch event.  That is not the case at all.  I also thought that they would only be local speakers, which is totally not true.  SQL Saturday speakers exist all along the spectrum from local people speaking to a PASS audience for the first time to Microsoft Certified Masters who traveled hundreds or thousands of miles just to speak.  Yes, some are Microsoft employees, but most are not.  Marketing is strictly frowned upon, except for lunchtime sessions and the sponsor hall.

Chris Bell put together a quick video of SQL Saturday Philadelphia:

SQL Saturdays may be held at a Microsoft office, but they are not purely a Microsoft pep rally. The attendees are among the most motivated professionals out there.  These are people who are willing to give up most of a Saturday to come learn new things or meet new people in their field.  Speakers are for the most part very honest about what Microsoft is doing well and what they aren’t.

For me,  SQL Saturdays within a few hours from home will add up to a PASS Summit.  By the fall I may be able to attend Summit, but I won’t really know til we are much closer.  SQL Saturdays are a way to get the same amount of training and networking in without doing it all at once with a long flight to and from Seattle bookending it.

If you’ve been on the fence about attending a local SQL Saturday, let me push you right over the fence and yell in your ear, “Just go already!”