Before Sherlock, there was Watson. I have had so many different main desktops, it is hard to remember them all. I can break them into four main categories, by the type of hard drive they primarily ran on. It’s not that I was especially spoiled as a child, I usually found the components that made up these computers either in the trash or used on the cheap. I am not above dumpster diving, and some of the setups below will definitely help to illustrate that point. Most of this part will be me spitting out old part names for computers, so sorry if this is boring or poorly written, I just get excited.
Curiosity: The PATA Setups
Interestingly, PATA, or Parallel ATA was an outdated technology only a few years after I was born with the advent of IDE, SCSI, and SATA drives. Nobody bothered to tell industry, and their trash was my treasure. My second computer was my first desktop, a Dell Optiplex 180. This computer was the first I had with a Pentium IV and 256MB of DDR RAM, so naturally I installed Windows 7 on it, as it had just come out at the time. The second major iteration of Watson was strange, as I found an old PowerEdge SC400. It worked great, but eventually the motherboard died. After that, I had a PowerEdge 2950 Gen2 that was an absolute unit. This computer stuck with me because of how expandable it was, so pretty much every desktop after was just massive.
Amateur: HDD SATA
In late eighth grade, almost immediately after I had built the first Sherlock, my father told me I could build my own PC. I had no idea what I was doing, and it showed, but I was so excited. Its also kind of funny, because I can still remember the exact parts list of that computer without looking it up. I called it Mk4, and it had a AMD Phenom II X4 965BE, 8GB G.Skill Ripjaws DDR3 RAM, a Gigabyte 790-FXA AM3 Mobo, a Radeon FirePro V4800, a 500GB WD Caviar Black HDD, a Cooler Master 650W PSU, and a NZXT Guardian 921RB Case. I remember specifically being outraged that the PSU cost more than the CPU, but I am still using the power supply, almost 8 years later, so there is something to be said there. I later got the Phenom II X6 1100T, but the next big change I made was to buy an AMD R9-290X, which blew the FirePro out of the water. I bought a MST Hub for more displays and eventually had six connected to that computer. That was a mistake in hindsight.
As soon as I found out what a bottleneck was, and that my Phenom II was a huge one for the 290X, I got the AMD FX8350. I considered this platform change from AM3 to AM3+ to be Mk5. Or what I thought I was getting was a FX8350. Essentially, to save a few bucks, I bought “Engineering Sample” FX8350 that just turned out to be a re-badged FX8320L, which was a significant downgrade. I did not mind, as it was still leagues faster than the Phenom, so I got 16GB of RAM and another 290X. The funny thing is that I was never really into gaming.
The Golden Era: SSD SATA
On Mk5, I installed Windows 10 and an SSD with it. This was the last sensible desktop I would have, as it could still be classified as a standard PC. The weirdest thing I had attached to it at this point was a HBA (Host Bus Adapter) to connect to the hard drive bays I had taken out of Sherlock for a NAS.
I bought an AMD R7-1700X, with 32GB DDR4 and an MSI AM4 Mobo and I thought it was the greatest thing since sliced bread. This was Mk6, and I decided to watercool the processor. I regret this decision, and I, to this day, strongly advise everyone that watercooling is not worth the risk. However, at this point I only was watercooling the CPU, and everything was great.
And then I just lost it.
Idiocy: M.2 SSD
Something in me said to just watercool everything. And I did. I bought a waterblocked R9-290X and a waterblocked GTX1080. I made a custom piping setup and it just kinda worked. At one point, I was using an industrial fuel transfer pump and a six inch PVC pipe on a welded steel chassis. I should have quit, but I never did. I kept making the system riskier and riskier. Cram a part here, skip maintenance here, just clean up that spill and do not ask any questions. Eventually, it became obvious that the GTX1080 was leaking, but I just ignored it. It was a tough time at school, so I did not have enough effort to care, so I just let it go. And one day, I came back from class, and the whole reservoir had dumped all over Watson Mk6. I thought it was broken, but I cleaned it up and it still worked. So I pretended like nothing happened. When it leaked again, it was finally over, and I had killed it dead with apathy. Interesting to note, however, that I had bought the GTX1080 and the R9-290X before the GPU price crunch, and sold them at the height of it, so I actually made the entire purchase price of Mk6 back from selling a broken GTX1080. I still do not have a Watson right now, but since I do not even consider gaming anymore, I have no plans to rebuild Watson.