My Computer Throughout My Lifetime

Just stumbled upon twatterverse where people are flexing their PC build. So I decided to join the bandwagon lol. But rather than talking my only current PC, in this post I am going to describe all PC builds and laptop I ever owned.

Early 16-bit days

The earlierst PC I (or, basically my family) owned was when I was 4 years old. It was around the year of 1994, when I was about to enter the kindergarten. I only slightly remember of the PC, but it was an IBM-compatible PC, with the brand called Alpha. I don’t think it relates to the classic DEC Alpha, which was not an x86 family. The PC ran Windows 3.0, and it was on a desktop form factor. We also owned a dot-matrix printer which I don’t remember ever using :P.

After a couple of years, the CPU was broken, and in 1996, around the time when I was in 2nd grade, my dad exchanged it with Intel 686 family CPU, which ran Windows 3.1. I used that PC until my family moved to Surabaya around 2001 when the PC was sold to a junkman. If I could turn back time, I would ask my mom to prevent it to be sold as it would be a classic machine that many nostalgia enthusiasts could dream of.

I am also unsure if I have a photograph of that PC, but perhaps later, I will try to find some photos back home.

The Beginning of NT era

When my family moved to Surabaya, my dad promised to buy me a new PC. Around early 2002, he finally bought me an AMD Duron 800 MHz system with 128 MB SDRAM. AMD was a cheaper price point compared to Intel, with somewhat adequate performance. Pentium PC was more expensive, similar to today. The PC part store assembled the PC, and at that time I didn’t even understand a thing about assembling my own PC. I was 13 at that time :P. The PC has no dedicated graphic card and was using an onboard VGA. However, I can play The Sims and Age of Empires classic on the PC without problems. For the record, in the era of 2000’s onboard graphics were tied to the motherboard chipset, not to the CPU as in today.

The PC was installed with Windows XP, with FCKGW key. It was a thing in that era :P. The PC was dual-booted with Windows 98 as well for some time to allow older games to run. At that time, I also started to learn to install/reinstall my own system, understand the Windows partitioning system, and troubleshoot minor issues. At some point in 2003, the motherboard was broken and had to be replaced with an ECS motherboard. As far as I could recall, the older motherboard was an unknown brand. And in 2004, I upgraded the memory to 256 MB with my own pocket money. However, the technician still installed it for me as I was still afraid of touching the internal of my PC.

Buying a PC for The Sims 2

Nearing 2005, I was highly anticipating the release of The Sims 2. However, I realized that my PC would not even support modern 3D games. I was contemplating whether I should buy (or beg my dad to buy me) a dedicated graphics card for my PC. My AMD Duron PC used to have an AGP slot on its motherboard, so installing a dedicated graphics card is technically possible.

However, I know that the entire PC itself would really be going to age soon. I was in 1st year of senior high school at that time and starting to gain more consciousness about my need for a higher-end PC. So, I begged my dad to buy me a new PC to “support my school works.” Although, of course, the main motivation was to play The Sims 2 😛

The Sims 2 requires a PC with a graphics card and hardware Transform and Lighting (T&L) support. I took control of specifying the PC specification myself. With that in hand, my dad and I went to a local computer fair, which was also a thing in Indonesia back then, to hunt for a PC part store that could give competitive prices to my desired specification. So here’s the final specification of my PC:

  • Intel Pentium 4 530 3.0 GHz (Prescott) with Hyper-Threading
  • ASUS P5P800 Socket LGA 775
  • 2x1GB DDR SDRAM Dual Channel
  • HIS ATI Radeon X600 256MB PCI-Express
  • Seagate HDD 120GB SATA
  • Casing and Power Supply by Simbadda 350W
  • LG Flattron 17 inch CRT monitor
  • Logitech Cordless keyboard

At that year, LGA socket, DDR SDRAM, SATA and PCI-Express were just taking off. I bought the most cutting-edge equipment, although not the most expensive one. It was at least the mid-high-end grade. I learned all those cutting-edge stuff by reading many PC magazines, including Komputer Aktif and Chip.

When I graduated high school and moved to Jakarta to study at the university in mid-2007, I brought my PC with me, but without the giant CRT monitor. I bought an Acer 20-inch flat panel in Jakarta instead as LCD flat panel is starting to become cheaper. Around the same year, I also upgraded the memory to 3GB by adding an additional 1GB stick and bought a Seagate 250GB hard drive.

Around 2008, it started to get into its age. It is no wonder since Intel Prescott was notoriously known to be an “expensive stove” as it can get extremely hot. At that time, I am starting to understand to disassemble the processor fan to apply the thermal paste and improve the PC cooling. I also installed a new heatsink to improve the cooling. But definitely, it does not really help since Prescott burning hot was the major issue back then. It started to crash more often and refused to boot. I documented it clearly in my blog (somewhat dramatically 😛 and in Indonesian here)

Finally, after four years, in April 2009, it surrendered to its demise and finally refused to boot altogether. But according to a local PC technician, the main problem was actually the motherboard since the processor can run on another motherboard normally. The technician also pointed out the wear-and-tear in the motherboard that may be the cause. So, as I bought a new PC for myself, I also bought a second-hand motherboard for this Pentium 4 processor so my cousin could still also use it. Looking for a brand new motherboard for Pentium 4 was almost impossible in 2009. But at least the processor could still survive until around 2011-2012 when finally the second-hand motherboard died again.

Buying a PC for The Sims 3

My died Pentium 4 PC coincided with the then-upcoming release of The Sims 3 in 2009. So, once again, I was buying a PC with the intention of also playing The Sims 3 on it. 😛 With the same tactic, I begged my dad to give me budget to buy a new PC to “support my study” 😛 I did not lie, though, since using a a faster equipped PC helped a lot with my campus work and programming. But definitely, getting a high-end graphics card was solely intended to play PC game 😛

So finally, my dad gave me money to buy a new PC in August 2009. I bought the PC with my mom at “Gudang Komputer” in Dusit Mangga Dua. Like when I bought my Pentium 4 PC, I defined my own specification and sought a reputable PC shop in Mangga Dua that could give a competitive price. Here’s my PC specification

  • Intel Core i7 920 2.8 GHz
  • Asus P6T Deluxe V2 LGA 1366 with Intel X58 Chipset
  • Corsair Dominator 3x2GB (6GB) DDR3-SDRAM
  • Digital Alliance (Palit) NVIDIA GTX 285 2GB
  • WD Black Caviar 1TB SATA
  • Casing Asus
  • Power Supply Vantec ION 2 520W
  • 2x Acer X203H 20 inch 16:9 monitor
  • Logitech Cordless Wave keyboard
  • Cooler Master push-pull heatsink

Once again, I tried to get the mid-high-end grade PC parts, now known as enthusiast grade. It was the first generation of Intel Core series, which Core i7 920 stepping D0 was the beast of its own. It was also the first DDR3 generation and the first NVIDIA GTX series card. GTX 285 was the second best below the GTX 295 which was a dual-die-GPU on its own, practically making GTX 285 the most powerful GPU on the market in 2009.

But as you may already notice, I mostly play only The Sims and the simulation genre. So basically, this powerful graphics card and PC were not used to play Crysis or Assassins Creed as many people did. 😛 I could not care less. I also did many other things with my powerful PC, from coding, video and photo editing, and so on.

I also bought top-tier parts for their longevity. This Core i7 PC lasts a very long time, almost 7 years.  In between, I added 3x4GB (12GB) memory module and Samsung 850 500GB SSD to improve its performance. I also installed an additional Soundblaster sound card for better sound. It finally surrendered to its knee in March 2016. Once again, the main issue was the motherboard. It refuses to boot and detect its RAM. Sometimes I could make it work by unplug-plug the memory module. But it became too painful to do. So I decided to just buy a new one for myself as it was high time to upgrade again.

But to the same fate as my Pentium 4 processor, the Core i7 920 breathed its life back in mid-2020 when I bought a compatible Core i7 motherboard from China via AliExpress. It surprised me that you could still find a compatible board for the processor a decade after its release. So, the PC was still running until a several months ago (December 2022) when I brought my previous to my latest PC back home. It is still working fine, but no one is currently using it.

Buying a PC for The Sims 4 Cities: Skylines and Planet Coaster

Go to hell with The Sims 4. I stopped following The Sims series in its third iteration. The Sims 3 is the last The Sims for me as the future of The Sims series is really bleak. So, my main reason to buy a new PC, apart from my 920 dying, was to play Cities: Skylines and Planet Coaster. Planet Coaster especially requires a quite good GPU, while Cities: Skylines is a CPU-bound game requiring a fast single-core performance.

So then I designed my ideal PC specification again, which are:

  • Intel Core i7 5820K (3.3 GHz, Turbo 3.6 GHz, X-Series)
  • Asus TUF Sabretooth X99
  • Corsair Vengeance 4x8GB (32GB) DDR4-SDRAM
  • Digital Alliance (Palit) GTX 970 4GB
  • Power Supply Corsair 750W 80 Plus Silver
  • Cooler Master push-pull heatsink
  • Dazumba casing

Since I replaced my dead old PC, I carried over the hard drive from my previous PC, including the 6-month-old 500 GB SSD I just bought. The setup was perfect for my out-of-work activity, from gaming to experimenting with programming. This PC traveled with me from 2018, when I started my master’s degree in Finland, moved to France in 2019, back for 6 months to Indonesia in 2020, then moved to Belgium in 2021, and finally retired and went back home to Indonesia in 2022.

I didn’t bring my casing and PC monitor together when I moved around. I disassembled my PC and bought a new PC case at my destination. So, this PC was housed in many different PC cases throughout the years, and I think PC case is the part I purchased the most throughout my life. 😛 So here’s the list of case that hosted this PC after Dazumba

  • Cubegaming (This was purchased in Indonesia, 8 months before I left, as I was migrating from air cooling to AiO water cooling. The Dazumba case wasn’t able to fit a proper AiO cooler)
  • Phanteks P400 Black (Purchased in Finland in mid 2018, brought to France in early 2020, then brought to Indonesia mid 2020)
  • Zalman S2 (Purchased in France mid 2019 for emergency as I didn’t bring the Phanteks case to France initially)
  • Corsair 4000D Airflow (Purchased in Belgium after I departed from Indonesia again in 2021)

I decided to retire this PC last year (August 2022) after more than 6 years in service. The PC was still working perfectly fine when I retired it. I returned the PC to Indonesia in December 2022 and housed it in its Phanteks P400 case. It is currently being used by my relative in my home in Indonesia. I also use it when I am back home, especially since it is still perfectly fine to play the game I play.

This PC is basically a beast of its own. I can easily overclock the PC to 4.8 GHz and run daily at that speed for many years. However on rare occasions, the PC can be a bit unstable on overclocking. So at the moment, it is running its stock clock as it would be difficult for me to troubleshoot remotely for my relative back home if a problem arises caused by overclocking.

Buying PC for Cities: Skylines 2?

When I bought my new PC in 2022, Cities: Skylines 2 was not announced. I even did not expect it to come this soon. And basically, I have no issue with my previous PC, only that I contemplated upgrading my graphics card at some point. However, the GPU price skyrocketed, so I did not upgrade until I eventually bought a completely new PC. Last year when the political tension was really high, I feared that the tension in China and Taiwan could create a major catastrophe on the global chip supply chain after COVID-19. So, without further thinking, I should secure the upgrade ASAP as the GPU price was also starting to go down.

And similar to how I build my other PC, I pick the mid-high-end parts, which are:

  • Intel Core i7 12700K (3.6 GHz Turbo 5GHz, Unlocked)
  • Gigabyte Aorus Pro Z690
  • Corsair Dominator Platinum RGB DDR5 4x16GB (64GB)
  • Asus ROG Strix Gaming RTX 3070 Ti 8GB
  • Corsair iCUE H150i Capellix
  • Corsair RM850x Gold

Mostly I use this PC for gaming now since I mainly work with a quite powerful PC on my campus. I also often SSH-ing to my PC at the campus from home, so my powerful PC power is barely us. But if I need to do work-related stuff on Windows, such as using Visual Studio (not VSCode), I mostly do it at home since it is more powerful compared to my campus PC setup.

So we’ll see what’s beyond and what other games that I will enjoy with this PC. But as of this month, I am being nostalgic with The Sims 3 again so I played it again. I hate that EA dumped The Sims 3 and did not bother upgrading it to 64-bit, so a powerful PC almost means nothing to The Sims 3 :(.

On the Mobility Aspect

in between my PC upgrade cycle, I bought a laptop in mid 2008. I never found a real requirement to own my own laptop until I started studying at the university. Although I mostly do my stuff in my PC, I needed a laptop for my study so I could also do stuff on campus without queueing in the computer lab. I could also study and work together with my friend on a laptop. So, I (once again) beg my parents to buy me a laptop. My first laptop was Acer Aspire 5930G, which the specification was:

  • Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 2.4GHz
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9600 GT 512MB
  • HDD 300 GB
  • 15 inch LCD

I mostly did my campus work there and sometimes gaming if I was away from my PC. The laptop is quite heavy, around 3KG, so sometimes it is too painful to carry around. Nothing special about my laptop basically as it was not (and never) my main equipment.

Since I started working in 2011, I never possess a laptop anymore besides what my company lent me. I gave my old laptop to my cousin and my aunt so they can also use it. I use my company laptop for mobility if required. But I barely require mobility for personal use, so I didn’t bother to buy a new laptop.

But things changed when I was about to depart to Finland for my master’s study. I needed a personal laptop as I may require mobility in my personal equipment. So for a couple months, I used my cousin’s old laptop until I finally bought Microsoft Surface Book 2 in September 2018. The laptop is still running okay today, although it has a battery problem. I changed the battery to some third-party repair shop, but it looks like the draining problem didn’t really go away. So whenever I am home, I plug the laptop just to make sure it does not drain the battery. But overall, it mostly stands idle as I barely use laptop for anything.

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