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Thread: A Different Kind of Build

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
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    ABQ NM
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    A Different Kind of Build

    I spent some time last week on a non-woodworking project. My main computer at home was starting to show its age, so I decided it was time for an upgrade. I'm pretty much locked into the Windows platform due to my job, so I decided to build my own. (I looked into using the shop that builds our development machines at work, but in the end, their "employee discount" was not as good as the prices I could get on the web.)

    Here's the basic kit:

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    The case is an Antec P182. Very well thought out, with removable drive bays for the hard drives. Not apparent in this picture is the rail system for the optical and floppy drives. Easy to install and easily removable. The three fans on the case are strategically placed to get good airflow over everything without being loud.

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    The case also features an area behind the motherboard for cable runs. It helps reduce the clutter somewhat, and also helps the airflow.

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    The front of the case has a door covering everything except the power switch, audio jacks, two USB ports and a Firewire port.

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    The door swings away 270 to reveal the two DVD burners and the multi-slot card reader. (No floppy on this system.)

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    In the end, I still had a fair amount of cabling to wrestle with inside the case, but it's not too bad, and the airflow is good. Love those SATA data cables and modular power supply cables.

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    For comparison, here's the inside of my previous system:

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    And now, the details:
    • Intel Core2 Duo E8400 Processor (3 GHz dual processor...the 45nm version just released last week)
    • Gigabyte GA-EP35C-DS3R motherboard (supports DDR2 & DDR3 memory).
    • CORSAIR XMS2 2GB (2 x 1GB) DDR2 800 memory (the DDR3 memory is about 5 times the cost, but the speed increase is marginal, so I went with the lower-priced DDR2)
    • 150 GB Western Digital Raptor SATA 10000 RPM system drive (expensive, but very fast data transfer rates)
    • 500 GB Seagate Barracuda GB SATA 7200 RPM data drives w/32 MB cache (3 each...set up as a 1 TB RAID5 array for speed and to enable data recovery.) The third drive isn't shown on some of the pics, since I just got it installed yesterday.
    • EVGA GeForce 8600 GTS Video Card w/512 MB DDR3
    • Antec P182 Gunmetal Gray Case
    • Thermaltake Power Supply - 700 Watt
    • Atech Memory Card Reader
    • Lite-On SATA DVD Burner w/LightScribe
    • Lite-On IDE DVD Burner
    • Generic PCI to Firewire Card
    • M-Audio Delta 66 sound card w/ Omni I/O breakout box (that I already owned, but have not used before)
    • Hanns-G HW-194DJB Black 19" 5ms widescreen LCD Monitors (2 each, and they rotate for portrait view)
    • Windows XP Professional
    • All told, it has 13 USB 2.0 ports, 3 Firewire ports, 2 eSATA ports, and something like 4 audio line ins (not including my 8 channel mixer) and 3 or 4 audio outs (haven't completely figured out or wired up the audio gear). My "PC speakers" are a pair of M-Audio SR-5B bi-amped studio monitors with a 10" Polk Audio subwoofer.
    Should make a pretty good word processing/photo & graphic editing/music recording rig. With the dual 3 GHz processors, I can now make typos faster than ever.
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
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    2,668
    You sure have gone all out and got good parts for the PC. It is fun building your own computer. You get to decide what goes in it. I built mine four years ago and it is still running strong.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
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    I noticed that you will install win XP and not Vista. Wise decision.

    I have Vista on my work PC and XP on my home PC. XP is much faster than Vista and it is much more stable as well. Microsoft is about to release SP1 for Vista. I sure hope it will resolve some of the stability issues.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    New Springfield OH
    Posts
    806
    Now bite the bullet and go dual boot, Lots of nice toys in there Vaughn

    Whats the old system? It may be an upgrade for me

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    ABQ NM
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mohammad Madha View Post
    I noticed that you will install win XP and not Vista. Wise decision.

    I have Vista on my work PC and XP on my home PC. XP is much faster than Vista and it is much more stable as well. Microsoft is about to release SP1 for Vista. I sure hope it will resolve some of the stability issues.
    I've got Vista on one of my machines at the office, but I don't use it much. The keyboard that I prefer to use is not supported on Vista. The part that stinks is that it's a Microsoft keyboard. It's the discontinued Office Keyboard, and it has a scroll wheel like no other keyboard I've found. I use this wheel a LOT, so any keyboard without it slows down my production. So for now, XP will be my main production platform.

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Mickley View Post
    Now bite the bullet and go dual boot, Lots of nice toys in there Vaughn

    Whats the old system? It may be an upgrade for me
    I've been dual booting since the early Windows NT days. Instead of dual booting this box, I might set up alternate boots on the old machine. (Or the old machine before that one, which is still up and running, too.) The most recent "old" system is an AMD Sempron 3000+ with 1 GB of memory and 850 GB or so of disk space. It's having some USB problems (its motherboard never did support USB 2.0), so external USB drives were almost worthless. It should handle any operating systems I might want to play with, though. If I had more time, I'd like to dig a bit deeper into Linux stuff, but I'm already stretched too thin as it is already. If it weren't for all this darned woodworking keeping me up nights...
    When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson
    When the weird get going, they start their own forum. - Vaughn McMillan

    workingwoods.com

  6. #6
    Well thank you Vaughn for making me feel so stupid. Here I can barely type with three fingers and you guys are building your own super computers.

    Actually there are a lot of computer software people on here. You guys ought to get together and make software for woodworkers or something. How about a sketchup type program that does the layout for dovetails? You know you punch in the length and width, the type of dovetail (like lovetails, hounds tooth, through dovetails or half-blind dovetails) and then you print it off and adhere it to the wood so you can make our cuts.
    I have no intention of traveling from birth to the grave in a manicured and well preserved body; but rather I will skid in sideways, totally beat up, completely worn out, utterly exhausted and jump off my tractor and loudly yell, "Wow, this is what it took to feed a nation!"

  7. #7
    Vaughn...
    Sounds like an awesome system.
    I've built all the computers I've owned since the beginning except for one, and I started back in the days of Altair and Imsai. My first was an Imsai with paddle switches on the front panel to enter binary data. No such thing back then as an OS. CPU was a 2mhz Z80...real barn burner. You didn't just buy boards to plug into the motherboard, you bought boards and soldered parts onto them. Bought a cheap b&w tv and modified it so I could use it as a display. I wrote a debugger using the Z80's alternate register set...coded it in Z80 machine language and entered it in hex. Learned a lot about digital electronics. LOML wasn't thrilled about all the time I spent on it.

    PCs have come a long way. They're actually useful tools now, and with the internet...can't imagine life without them. Building a PC today is a matter of collecting the right components, and I agree with Mohammad...the best part is deciding for yourself what goes in it. You've assembled a great setup there. Good luck with that. I tried that Linux stuff a couple of times. If you're a Unix guy (I was for awhile) it isn't a great leap...that's what Torvalds based it on. Frustrating part was the applications. The very best applications are written for Windows and Apple...the Linux arena is improving, but I think it's forte is still Unix replacement on back room servers and such.

    When I was a software guy we always cringed at releasing new software. No matter how much in-house testing we did, how much beta testing we did, someone would always figure out a way to use it that we hadn't thought of and the bugs would come flying out. That's why you won't get me on Vista until they're at least on service pack 5, and maybe not even then. I have only minor complaints with XP, and as they say, if it ain't broke........

    Would like to hear a followup in a month or so...what worked, what smoked, etc.

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