It’s nice to be on break!

I finished my build of a computer with the following specs:

Intel Core 2 Duo @ 2.66Ghz


500GB HD

Two nVidia 8600 GTs in SLI

And Windows XP. This thing got 162.65 FPS on the Lost Coast stress test! It’s really snappy! However, I hit several snags from idea to having a working box humming in front of me.

Newegg wasn’t restocking on my nVidia 680i motherboard, so I bought it from TigerDirect. I also didn’t realize that XP’s 3GB total usable RAM limit counted video RAM. I got 3GB RAM, and the video cards added up to 512MB, so functionally I had 2.5GB non-video RAM. There’s a lesson learned.

The CPU fan was really hard to push into the motherboard. I would have preferred screwing it in, but I don’t think that’s possible with the ATX motherboard standards. It was something that required great strength. The tooless drive bays were a pain, but they managed to be fairly stable once I screwed it in. I wish they’d stop selling tooless cases – it really doesn’t help in the long term, or in stability. Then the computer kept overheating – just turning off suddenly – after sustained hard drive use. Then I remembered that hot air rises, and moved the hard drive to the lowest bay – it had been in the highest – and it stopped overheating. There’s another lesson learned.

The Windows XP installer surprised me by being really ugly and slow. When it first started up, it was text-based. It then booted from the hard drive and used a low-resolution (800×640?) GUI to configure things. While it recognized my PS/2 keyboard, it didn’t recognize my PS/2 mouse. A USB mouse worked fine though. After setting everything up, I was able to login. It turned out that nothing really worked out of the box – no sound, no networking. The driver CD included with the motherboard fixed all those problems, but seeing how Ubuntu did support sound and networking and even the PS/2 mouse/keyboard while running off a LiveCD, I was not impressed. To make me even more annoyed, when I first logged in one of the first notifications was the “Your system may be at risk.” It was complaining I wasn’t running antivirus. Great way to greet your users with a fresh system, Microsoft. At least it was just an XP install disk so it didn’t have lots of 3rd party crapware. eMachines have hours worth of it – and by hours I mean that’s how long it takes to get rid of all of it. I also learned that building a computer can be way, way cheaper than buying a new one. A used machine is about as cheap as you can get…

The rest was installing OpenOffice and Firefox, running benchmarks in Steam games, and setting up the machine again at my customer’s house. It was fun, and I even got paid! 🙂

1 comment

  1. Wow. That’s really nice. I’m gonna build me a new comp with similar specs once I get my grades up. Btw, the total ram 32bit XP can read is 4, not 3, so you could put another 512 in there if you wanted. Also, I feel you about the XP installation. It’s a complete load of shit and chips, and when I did my first PC reformat (my laptop) I freaked out because every time I reformatted a mac, it worked off the bat. It’s worth it to have a folder with all necessary drivers in it, that way you don’t need to worry about all the product CDs. I keep all mine on a CD so i can install immediately after the installation is complete. As for the ps/2 mouse not reading, that’s just weird. Shows you how bad microsoft is.

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