Home built PC’s are for the proverbial birds.

A year ago, I was suckered in by the DIY lie that a homebuilt PC is the next best thing to sliced bread. A lifelong Macintosh user, I wanted a cheap way to play PC games -- a powerful rig for less money than I would pay at one of the specialty manufacturers such as Alienware and Falcon Northwest. Shortly after putting it together the CD-Rom drive failed -- no problem, I returned it and bought a new one.

Then the power supply failed, followed soon by my CPU fan. A few months after upgrading my CPU, the stock fan that came with it also failed. And now I’ve suddenly started experiencing frequent stop errors (aka the dreaded blue screen of death) -- thinking it was a driver issue or a Windows corruption issue, I tried reinstalling Windows. And a funny thing happened -- I got a blue screen when I booted off of the Windows XP disk, which implies to me that I have some sort of hardware issue or a bad power supply.

As all this is happening, Pantaliamon’s three year-old iMac works as reliably as the day we bought it. Besides the usual Mac OS 8.6 issues (occasional freezes and bombs), there’s not a problem to be had. Sure, I can’t play Medal of Honor or Neverwinter Nights on it, but the damn thing runs well. Say what you will about Apple’s “Cadillac of the PC industry” prices, or lack of upgradeability, when it comes to things a computer’s supposed to do -- re: work -- it does its job. It’s almost as transparent as a toaster.

Now, don’t get me wrong -- I’m definitely not on either side of the Mac or PC debate. I like PC’s -- I like their easy upgradeability, cheap parts, and software selection. Despite its odious registration scheme, Windows XP is a damn fine product. But there’s something to be said about hardware reliability. When I upgrade my PC in a year, I know I’m probably not going to be buying a Macintosh -- but I may seek out a Dell or one of those expensive Alienware PC’s. I certainly won’t be building it myself again -- it’s just too much work. It was fun as a learning experience, but the PC it produced leaves a lot to be desired ...

Rant off.