Sunday, June 8, 2014

Building a Computer

I've finally done my research, picked out parts for my new computer, and started ordering them, and this past week I had a few parts come in, namely the case, keyboard, and speakers.

The case I settled on is the Rosewill "Thor" V2-W, seen below. It's a large case, as they come; it's just under 23 inches tall, a little over 9 inches wide, and a hair under 22 inches front to back. This spaciousness helps ensure there's lots of room for air to flow through and keep things cool – a necessity for me here in Hawai‘i with no air conditioning. The white fins along the top of it can be opened (as in the picture) to increase air-flow, and those black patches along the side are mesh-covered openings to let the cooling zephyrs in.

The Rosewill Thor V2-W.

On the front you can see the usual connectors you might expect to find – USP 2.0, USB 3.0 (a nice feature), headphone and microphone jacks, an eSATA jack for plugging in external hard drives, and to the sides, two fan-speed control knobs.

Below, in this side shot, you can see one of the huge 230 mm fans that moves air through this thing. Believe it or not, there are actually three of those gargantuan fans in this behemoth of a case; the one seen there, one in the front panel at the bottom, and a third in the top panel at the top (not to mention a comparatively dinky but still large 140 mm fan in the back panel near the top). I was pleased to discover that the mesh on the sides allows a decent view of the interior; I'm thinking of putting in a few LEDs which could be turned on to illuminate the inside while the computer is running.

I didn't get a picture of my new speakers as I went for the cheapest pair I could find that still got great reviews, and while they certainly sound good they aren't anything special to look at. My new keyboard, on the other hand, is well worth looking at:

This is the Corsair Vengeance K70 mechanical keyboard with Cherry MX Brown switches. The picture doesn't do it justice, but this thing is gorgeous. It's got a nice adjustable red backlight which you can just see in the picture, an elegant black anodized aluminum body (no cheap plastic here!), and some really enjoyable mechanical switches.

Mechanical keyboards, if you don't know, utilize mechanical switches for the keys, instead of the membrane, dome-switch, or scissors-switch found in most laptops and cheaper keyboards today. Mechanical switches use little springs in each individual key, which makes them more expensive to produce, but after using one for a few days I can see why people rave about them so much.

Mechanical switches today predominately come from one company, Cherry MX, which makes color-coded switches with different feels and sound-levels. After some research into the various types available, I settled on the Browns, which are an excellent choice for typing. Each key activates after a mere 2 millimeters of travel after which it can depress another 4 millimeters before bottoming out, while the activation is accompanied by a distinct tactile ‘bump.’ After some practice this has allowed me to type extremely fast because I don't need to bottom out each key like on my laptop's scissors-switch keyboard; I can stop pressing as soon as I feel the ‘bump,’ which helps me type faster. I'm using the keyboard (plugged into my laptop) to write this post, in fact.

It's a little hard to see in the face-on picture I took, but one striking feature of this keyboard is that the keys aren't embedded in the faceplate, instead appearing to float a few millimeters above it. It's a neat design choice that may also be rather practical: I read a few reviews that mentioned that this feature made it easier to clean under the keys (always a good thing for a keyboard).

Anyway, I should stop gushing over my new toys and get to bed. I probably won't go in detail over the rest of my components, as I doubt people would be as interested in the RAM or hard drive I chose compared to the more visually interesting things. I'll almost certainly do a post on the completed project, though don't expect it for a few weeks – I've been ordering parts in batches, watching for any good sales or discounts I can get, so I don't know exactly when I'll have everything. A hui hou!

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