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What makes a certain PC that PC in your opinion?

What makes a given computer that model?


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While watching a video of someone "upgrading" a PC by cramming an insane 12900K/RTX 3080 system into an OptiPlex case, I thought, that is not an upgrade, that is just swapping the computer almost altogether. It got me thinking about what makes a certain computer that computer. So, I just decided to create a poll. What in your opinion makes, say a Dell OptiPlex 9020 a Dell OptiPlex 9020? Is it the lackluster case? The plain green motherboard? Something else? Thank you for your time!
 

ARF

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The most critical components - graphics card, central processor, memory speed and capacity and the storage speed and capacity.

You can have an insane machine with an A320 motherboard and an Ryzen 9 5950X, but also with a stupidly expensive X570 GIGABYTE X570 AORUS XTREME or ASUS ROG Crosshair VIII Formula or EVGA X570 FTW WIFI.
 
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The hardware I think defines the purpose.

The case and form factor defines where you want to place it.
 
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Really, all of it for me. Every part tells a story in the machine.
 
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The hardware I think defines the purpose.

The case and form factor defines where you want to place it.
I mean, like where do you think the computers metaphorical "soul" is, not so much the purpose. Like, what makes a Nissan a Nissan, or a Volvo a Volvo.
 
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For me, it's the motherboard and CPU. While you can swap components with a simple driver reinstall (or not even that if they're from the same manufacturer and/or generation), you might have to reinstall your OS for a CPU/motherboard change to make sure the scheduler works with them, etc. I remember when I swapped my Ryzen 3 3100 for a 5950X. Windows only recognised 4 cores even after reinstalling the chipset driver. I had to reinstall Windows altogether to make it work properly.

Edit: Also, the motherboard and CPU are the two functional (the case doesn't count) components that I tend to keep the longest, so I always make sure I buy the highest end I can sensibly afford, even if I have to settle with a lesser graphics card and upgrade it later.
 
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Solaris17

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Gonna have to go with mobo here, it boot straps and waits for init of every other oprom in the system. PArts can be tweaked and modified outside the BIOS but as a whole PCs are cohesive and the mobo orchestrates all of it. imo anyway.
 
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I think our PC are what we make them.... Mine changes based on my mood at a given time.


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It all tells a part where you stand on with your pc. Just the choice of a crap trash psu or a top of the line titanium rated psu, playing an important role for a pc lifespan, safety and stability.

And so it goes with cheap vs expensive motherboard. A cheap motherboard can at times hardly handle a cpu it supports in the upper line. Meaning a more power hungry cpu, because of crap vrm and cooling on motherboard can cause cpu to throttle.

Simply mixing the wrong components can be a pain in the ass.

Running single channel memory can be a pain in the ass as well.

So yes all components plays a role, cause wrong components can give you a but load of trouble. Bad case or cooling resulting in thermal throttle or directly crashes you pc or shorten its lifespan.

So I vote for hardware. It all needs to work together and fit or you can have a bad time.

For my own machine, I chose the parts carefully so it all worked well and fits. Well the pc i have now is also a more complicated build that the usual pc builds and if I got some of the parts wrong my build was simply not possible.

My build can be seen here if interested: https://www.techpowerup.com/forums/...ct-2-systems-in-1-case-all-air-cooled.283169/
 
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What in your opinion makes, say a Dell OptiPlex 9020 a Dell OptiPlex 9020? Is it the lackluster case? The plain green motherboard? Something else? Thank you for your time!
What makes a Dell OptiPlex 9020? The manufacturer -- Dell in this case -- has an internal document that describes it. It's called the Bill Of Materials (BOM). The items on that list combined make up an OptiPlex 9020 according to the manufacturer.

It's also important to understand that same BOM is submitted to various government agencies around the world stating it to be so. In some cases a physical sample must be submitted (especially to telecommunications and electronics regulation agencies). There are also tariff and tax implications due to what is on the BOM.

Note that the model number is mostly a marketing concept. You can have different BOMs but they can both be marketed under the same model number. Samsung has done this with some of the Galaxy smartphones, putting different SoCs based on the target market. Apple has released different part numbers for the same iPhone model due to cellular radio frequency coverage differences.

And of course a manufacturer can state that certain parts could be used (like capacitors).

From a consumer standpoint, it's basically what rolled off the manufacturing line and given a serial number after passing QA. This isn't just a PC thing, it's the same for a toaster oven or even products that don't have serial numbers (like a pair of OXO Good Grips 10" kitchen tongs).

So even if similar internal components to an OptiPlex 9020 are stuck in an XPS chassis, it's not an OptiPlex 9020.

From a PC nerd standpoint, it's really a combination of the case plus the main internal components: motherboard, CPU, RAM, GPU, storage, power supply, et cetera.

Note that the operating system can also have alternatives. I know Dell has offered some of its models with the buyer's choice of Microsoft Windows or Linux.

Oh, if you stick a Gaggia espresso machine in a purple computer chassis


it's not an SGI IRIS Indigo workstation.

:p:):D

For sure it's not the case. If I stick a Raspberry Pi 4 in a Mac mini 2018 chassis, it's not a Mac mini 2018 because that's not what was on Apple's BOM.
 

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While watching a video of someone "upgrading" a PC by cramming an insane 12900K/RTX 3080 system into an OptiPlex case, I thought, that is not an upgrade, that is just swapping the computer almost altogether. It got me thinking about what makes a certain computer that computer. So, I just decided to create a poll. What in your opinion makes, say a Dell OptiPlex 9020 a Dell OptiPlex 9020? Is it the lackluster case? The plain green motherboard? Something else? Thank you for your time!
Case, Power Supply and Motherboard for OEMs like Dell, HP, IBM.

For Workstations Typically it is EATX, WSATX, ATX XL
 
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Motherboard and CPU, without a doubt.
 
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I've been building my own for years but hardware is key, aesthetics are secondary. You can RGB your everything now so it's nice to have a case with a window but not a necessity.
 
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Craftsmanship. Anybody can assemble parts or pay somebody else to do it for them. A great build is always something that stands out from the usual mundane plus has outstanding performance. Being able to skillfully use a Dremel is a must. RGB is useless to me, I want a PC that looks and performs like a NHRA Top Fuel dragster not a pinball machine. Of course we all have different tastes, skills and influences.

Back in the ancient days of plain beige cases I was doing extremely time consuming custom paint jobs along with case mods. I had MIG and TIG welders plus a plasma cutter. My neighbor at that time was a nationally known builder and painter of custom cars and hot rods (R.I.P. John). He'd give me leftover insanely expensive paint from jobs he did. I painted PC cases and guitars. He taught me how to do professional quality flame jobs (he was considered by many to be the best ghost flame painter in the country). I did flip-flop pearl paint jobs, Imron and multi-step polyurethane paint work that literally took months to complete. After John's sudden passing I lost interest and began just using black epoxy primer for painting modded cases. Then Corsair came out with the 500R (still my all-time favorite case) and I didn't even have to do custom metal work on them for the most part. Powder coating meant no paint work either. Finally a once close trusted friend stole all of my welding equipment, air compressor and the plasma cutter from my shop. An era was over. I put the HVLP paint guns and airbrushes away and have never looked back.
 

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Craftsmanship. Anybody can assemble parts or pay somebody else to do it for them. A great build is always something that stands out from the usual mundane plus has outstanding performance. Being able to skillfully use a Dremel is a must. RGB is useless to me, I want a PC that looks and performs like a NHRA Top Fuel dragster not a pinball machine. Of course we all have different tastes, skills and influences.

Back in the ancient days of plain beige cases I was doing extremely time consuming custom paint jobs along with case mods. I had MIG and TIG welders plus a plasma cutter. My neighbor at that time was a nationally known builder and painter of custom cars and hot rods (R.I.P. John). He'd give me leftover insanely expensive paint from jobs he did. I painted PC cases and guitars. He taught me how to do professional quality flame jobs (he was considered by many to be the best ghost flame painter in the country). I did flip-flop pearl paint jobs, Imron and multi-step polyurethane paint work that literally took months to complete. After John's sudden passing I lost interest and began just using black epoxy primer for painting modded cases. Then Corsair came out with the 500R (still my all-time favorite case) and I didn't even have to do custom metal work on them for the most part. Powder coating meant no paint work either. Finally a once close trusted friend stole all of my welding equipment, air compressor and the plasma cutter from my shop. An era was over. I put the HVLP paint guns and airbrushes away and have never looked back.

There were times in the past I had to add usb ports to a case that had no provision so on the metal backplane I made a opening and sinched in some
 
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Motherboard is it. Every other component is just a useless piece of technology without the motherboard "marrying" them altogether to form a cohesive complete system.
So in effect with relation to the OP question. The "soul" is the motherboard imo. :D
 

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The computer is the sum of it's parts, I've certainly heard people single out parts that they seem to centre the build around, like a case, or maybe a high end GPU (or multiple of them back in the day).

For me it's certainly the entire picture make that build, that build.
 
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the bits inside and its overall power draw, i like to keep under 500w total or i run out of battery with running off solar.
 
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For me it's mobo, cpu and GPU, if I swap this 3 parts it's new computer, but if I swap just 1 or 2 of this parts it's old computer with new hardware.
Even if I upgrade in increments of 1 part at a time, on the end for me it will be old computer.
And od course if I take out this 3 parts and install it to new case it will be old computer with new case.
Edit...
I've upgraded in father's pc mobo cpu and GPU, but the case and psu stayed from Dell xps 630, so for me it's custom pc, and not anymore Dell xps 630.
 
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I mean, like where do you think the computers metaphorical "soul" is, not so much the purpose.
Looking for the soul ... it must be where the magic smoke comes out. PSU?
 
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Storage 500 GB WD nvme + 2 TB Seagate HDD + 2 TB Seagate HDD
Display(s) 27" LG 144HZ 2K ULTRAGEAR
Case Asus Tuf GT 301
Audio Device(s) Altec Lansing
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The piece which is not easily be replaced. Motherboard.
 
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Poll misses option OTHER:

IMO it's specific (usually custom) modifications + overall component integration method that make PC THAT PC. In your example, what makes Optiplex Optiplex is Dell's insistence on their kind of proprietary nonsense.
 
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Case In Win 101c Black
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They all kinda matter to me so in the end its the overall picture but I have to admit that the case is a very important part to me.

If I keep upgrading in my years old case I never really get that proper 'new PC/build' feel.
Recently I've played around with the idea of replacing my case even tho I have no issues with it and I like the look but its ~4 years old at this point and I wanted something new to fit my new mobo+cpu+cooler I bought in february.:oops: 'That being said, ever since 2008 and my first own built PC I only used/owned 2 different case with the current one included'

This is why I change the color scheme/RGB every few weeks, so that I don't get completely bored of it.

Also, personally I always prefer to build around budget-mid range hardware at most for various reasons.
 
Last edited:

freeagent

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For me it’s the sum of all parts..
 
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The case does it for me because I will already have decided the main components, if I were to start from scratch.
Room to play within the case without being Houdini and it has to look imposing when built. A cube on the other hand would have to look as discreet as possible.
 
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