Building my new Computer, Part 1b: Warpaint, Wattage, and Waiting

Just a short update on the computer planning things that have been going on. I can’t do much right now except wait for june 10th, when the GTX 1070 graphics cards start hitting the market. So progress is accordingly sparse. However, I have been doing a bit of reading and pre-planning:

Graphics Card: GTX 1070 Specifications Released

Last time, I mentioned watching the big nVIDIA release show for the first two of their new generation of graphics cards. Understandably, the spotlight was on their new flagship, the 600-bucks GTX 1080, and we only got a rough look at what to expect from its smaller sibling, the 380-bucks GTX 1070. nVIDIA has since released the full specifications, and it looks like the hype was pretty accurate: the released numbers back up the promised computing performance, and it’s going to draw an impressively low 150W of power!

Math nerdery: the 1070 comes in at just under 3/4 of the 1080’s compute performance, for just under 2/3 of its price. Yup, still planning on getting me one of these. :)

Power Supply: Informed(?) Planning

Confession time: power supplies are a bit of a weak point for me. I know what they do, and I learned the hard way that it’s advisable not to get the cheapest choice available, but I have a really hard time understanding their ins and outs, or what constitutes high quality and why. There are good, indepth articles trying to rectify my ignorance, but I can’t read them without my eyes glazing over. It is with power supplies more than with anything else that I blindly rely on the authority of others.

Some things I know, though: You can pick the PSU only after you picked all the other components and know the total power they will need. When your parts list is complete, you enter it into a calculator, and then buy a PSU that has a bit of headroom over what the calculator spits out. That way, you won’t force it to run at its maximum capacity for prolonged time, and you have some spare power for when you want to upgrade a part later.

When I calculated power draw for all the components I had picked out so far, plus a stand-in for the graphics card (the GTX 970 and 980 draw 145W and 165W respectively, and the newly announced GTX 1080 draws 180W, so I guessed the GTX 1070 might draw about as much as the GTX 980 – only 15W off from what was just released!), I got a result of ~420W. nVIDIA recommends a 500W PSU for systems with GTX 1080s or 1070s, so that’s the ballpark I’m looking at. (The calculator since added the GTX 1070 as a choice, and it confirmed my earlier guess-based result.)

Reading around in the PSU tier list a kind soul at TomsHardware maintains, I found the Seasonic s12-II series. They are rated in the second-highest quality tier (perfectly fine for my non-overclocking, non-hardcore needs) and their 520W model costs ~55 EUR. So that’s what I have pencilled in for now.

Case: Custom Paintjob!

I admit I am a nutcase (ha!) when it comes to this, but I’ll have to paint my computer case. Back when computers came only in beige, I spraypainted mine black. (Much to general admiration when I hauled it to LAN parties, I might add!) When you could buy black ones, I got one but spraypainted most of it olive drab. My plans for this one are more ambitious: A history-influenced two colour splinter camouflage pattern!

Because I couldn’t do much hardware planning, I drew up a quick vector graphic of my chosen case’s plan views and started placing and nudging shapes until I got the whole pattern figured out. I also picked my paint choices, although I had to pry myself away some day at 5am, when I tried finding out how to accurately approximate certain historical paint specifications with modern paint palettes. Talk about overkill – I’m not doing historically accurate restoration here, I’m letting myself be inspired by a certain pattern, fer chrissakes! Be silent, OCD nerd mind!

Article Series: Laying Low For Now

All this said, don’t expect an update to this series before june, maybe even july. The next decision is going to be the graphics card, and we’ll just have to wait until they arrive in the stores. That is, unless there is something you’d like me to talk about, or go into more detail on, or dig up more links, or nerd out over my case paint designs, or whatever. If so, please leave me a comment!

Otherwise, once I got the graphics card sorted out, you can expect a final post about the boring parts choosing, and then it’s all building! Yay!

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