As I walked past one of the booths on the GTC 2014 tradeshow floor, I suddenly had a feeling of deja vu.

I didn’t see anything to explain my feeling. I didn’t know either of the guys manning the booth, and the products arrayed on their tables didn’t spark any memories.

Then it all came back to me in a flash. These guys, AVA Direct, had bailed me out of a very bad situation four years ago.

My System Philosophy & the Death of Hydra1

I’m sort of compulsive particular when it comes to my main system for business and home use. Since I use it for such a large portion of my day, I want to make sure that it can handle any combination of tasks I might throw at it.

My first home-built business/personal computer, “Hydra1,” a liquid cooled dual-socket system, had begun to randomly shut down. Not hanging up, no blue screen, just a complete fail. A new power supply didn’t do any good. Finally, I realized that the power connector on the motherboard was the problem.

In order to get the system to work at all, I had to resort to exotic contraptions of paperclips, rubber bands, and zip ties to keep the power cable in exactly the right position. Finally, just before I left on a long business trip, it failed completely. Hydra1 was dead.

The Search for Perfection – at a reasonable price

I had to get a new system, pronto. And I wanted another powerful box due to the increasing amount of video editing and other tasks I was handling. As I surfed the Web it became apparent that the “usual suspect” system vendors couldn’t help me.

Sure, they had 2-way workstations, but there was always some ‘gotcha’ that disqualified them. The biggest problem was finding a system that had enough PCI2 x16 slots to handle dual video cards, plus other slots for my sound card, RAID card, etc.

A couple of very high-end custom PC houses could put together what I wanted, but I’d have to pay through the nose for it – although, on the plus side, I’d get a special case with dragons on it. Yay! And it would only cost about double what I was hoping to pay. Double yay!

Then I found AVA Direct. One look at their configurator hooked me. It gave me a wide range of motherboard, processor, memory, GPU, power supply, drive, and O/S choices. I locked myself in my hotel room and came up with what I thought was the perfect system.

Before pulling the trigger on my order, I sent their technical support an email asking them to give my configuration a once-over. They replied with some notes and an invitation to give them a call to talk it through – which I did, from Boston’s Logan Airport during a layover.

We banged out the configuration, placed the order, and I asked them to rush it. I was more than pleasantly surprised at the reasonable price, and shocked that the box (a HUGE box) was waiting for me when I returned home the next week. The system worked out of the box and faithfully ever since.

All of these memories came back to me as I was introducing myself and shaking hands with Misha Troshin, one of the co-owners of the company. Misha was surprised when he heard my story; he seldom runs into individual purchasers and users of their equipment.

Obsessives welcome, but not target market

The bulk of their business comes from government organizations and businesses like Boeing, NASA, CBS, the US Army, and the like. Hardware-obsessed anal-retentive nerds like me are only a niche, not a separate vertical market.

I had a great conversation with Misha, talking about the business, how they build systems, and other topics. Check out the video and see what you think.

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