Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tradezilla Part 4: It's ALIVE

 Hi. My name is Tradezilla and I'll be your bad-ass trading machine today.

With Tradezilla assembled and a quick double check of all the connections and power hookups all set it was go time: will it start?

I plug it into the wall and have the side of the case off to monitor what goes down as I flip the switch. I partly wondered if this was a good idea as stuff might come flying off or electric currents may arc wildly from a shorted wire like a Tesla machine.

Much to my excitement (and maybe even disappointment) it started up without issue. Part of me was hoping for a big old problem I'd have to spend hours fixing, but I got nothing. Actually it did pop up the black/white screen informing me that there was a problem with the CMOS settings. Pressing F1 took me to the BIOS and I made an adjustment to the system clock, saved the changes and exited.

It rebooted, again, and this time gave me the POST beep indicating that the MoBo was working properly and the monitor went black and simply said:

"Please insert operating system into boot drive."

That's it. That's it? I insert the Windows 7 disk, and about 10 minutes later I'm in Internet Explorer testing out my Internet connection, which worked without any problems?

There has to be something wrong, right? Nope. The whole process was strikingly simply and effortless. Maybe I got lucky, maybe I'm good; whatever it is I just built a computer in a couple hours and had it fully operational within 15 minutes of pressing the power button. The last XP install I did took 3-4x longer and I'm not sure if this quick install is due to Windows 7 or the hardware I'm using...probably a combo of both.

What's even better about this build is what I got and what it cost. Tradezilla cost me $718.15 including tax/shipping and bear in mind that I used my dual video card and an extra HDD from my old Dell.

I went to Dell and built a Core i7-920 with 6GB of RAM and the cheapest HDD and video card I could find and it came out to $1,133.14 with tax and shipping. Granted, this machine does include a 500GB HDD so there's some value there but at the same time it includes a basic single-output video card which is a step down.

Total savings: $414.99

What Tradezilla is missing vs. the aforementioned Dell:

 - 1-year warranty with Dell
 - Anti-virus software that cannot be removed
 - Various bloatware installed by Dell to run certain background programs and such
 - Proprietary motherboard and PSU, not easily/cheaply replaceable

Would I recommend building a computer to others? Absolutely! Are you kidding me? Look at how much money was saved and what I'm missing by building my own. Bear in mind that I DO have warranties for all the individual components of similar length as what Dell was offering but the difficulty comes in diagnosing the problems and getting the appropriate manufacturer to provide service. If you're a simple home user with no technical knowledge and call a friend or relative to diagnose error messages and such then this route isn't for you. You DO need to have some technical wherewithal and ability to do simple troubleshooting and such as you build and install stuff but that's it; no engineering degree required. It's a fun, very rewarding process and I'll be building all my PC's from now on.

Down the line I'll discuss the improvements in performance and such versus the old Dell but suffice it to say: Tradezilla is a total effing BEAST :)

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