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Death of a Friend
You know how it happens. My trusty 4-year old computer (my main home PC) had been shutting down randomly for the past year, but it wasn't often enough to force me to replace it. Then it started happening every time, and when I finally got it to boot, Windows reported a series of disk errors. That was apparently the last dying interaction between me and this system, as an attempt to reboot resulted only in the click of death from the aged hard drive.

It was bittersweet since it is always sad to see a trusted PC end its useful days, but I was secretly hoping that this day would come so that I could seize the opportunity to upgrade to a completely new system. Luckily I am paranoid about data loss (rightfully so, considering the circumstances) and had everything backed up so that there was no real data loss. My final diagnosis after several attempts at resuscitation is that the motherboard failed (probably a capacitor finally let the smoke out).

Replacement
The old system cost me about $700 at the time it was built (December 2003), and the new system I spec'd out and ordered came out to about $900 provided all of the rebates actually come back. Let's take a look at the before and after comparison:



The Build
The build process was uneventful, taking about 3 hours including a few beers and setting up everything to be photographed. The Lian Li LI PC-A05B Case was really awesome to work with, as it has the perfect blend of compactness and internal layout. The ASUS V-60 92mm Vapo Bearing CPU Cooler used in this build is a true beast as you'll see in the below pictures comparing it with the OEM heat sink from Intel.



If heat pipes are your cup of tea, the GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS4 Rev. 2.0 certainly does not disappoint. The entire board is passively cooled by a copper heat sink and heat pipe circuit that has a real geeky look to it. It has no less than eight USB ports + additional headers for front panel ports, etc. The layout presented no difficulties in installing the massive CPU cooler, as all of the capacitors are low-profile solid capacitors (they call this their Ultra Durable 2 design), which should help to prevent or stave off the fate that befell my old system.

First Boot
One of the seminal moments of any new build is when you first turn it on. Will the power supply leak smoke? Will the hard drive click? Will the system speaker beep continuously? Will nothing happen? Luckily for me, everything worked the first time and I was in the BIOS configuring the boot options, memory timing, and checking the CPU idle temperature (which was way cool at 27 degrees C).

Results
I decided that the current limitations of Vista still outweigh the benefits of upgrading, so I installed Windows XP Pro (32-Bit). Although 32-Bit Windows is limited to addressing 3.5GB of memory, it is a license that I already have and I figure that I'll upgrade to a 64-bit OS within the lifetime of this PC to take advantage of the full 4GB currently installed. Everything is blazing fast and the system itself is whisper quiet. It seems to generate less heat too (the room is noticeably cooler than before). I'm not a big benchmark guy so I'll leave that to the hardcore tech review sites, but suffice it to say that I'll be working and playing much more efficiently with this great new PC.

Image Gallery





Parts List:
  • Intel E6750 Core 2 Duo 2.66GHz Processor
  • GIGABYTE GA-P35-DS4 Rev. 2.0 Motherboard
  • Patriot 4GB (2x2GB) PC2-6400 4-4-412 Dual Channel Memory
  • XFX GeForce 8600GT 256MB 680MHz Video Card
  • ThermalTake PurePower 2 600W Power Supply
  • Lian Li PC-A05B Mini Tower Aluminum Case
  • Seagate 7200.11 500GB 32MB Cache SATA Hard Drive
  • ASUS V-60 92mm Vapo Bearing CPU Cooler
  • Samsung SH-S203N 20X DVD+-RW Drive

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      bestdeals Ben's cred: 22
      Posted 5:48 pm PST 01/29/08

      Must be nice!

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      c2nah Ben's cred: 43
      Posted 6:17 pm PST 01/29/08

      Sweet rig Ben. I have read that the extra ram does get allocated to assist with video in the 32bit systems. So I have gone to 4GB in my XP rigs also. The problem with building these is once you get it configured and the software you like installed, it is the same old thing again. At least you should be good to go for a few yrs.

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      CompWiz17 Ben's cred: 505
      Posted 6:43 pm PST 01/29/08

      nice system. I would have recommended a different power supply though. Thermaltake's aren't the best, and their Purepower PSU's are inferior to their Toughpower ones. The Antec Earthwatts 500watt PSU that was recently on sale would have been a better choice.

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      kent08 Ben's cred: 45
      Posted 7:35 pm PST 01/29/08

      Can anyone tell me what is the approx total cost on this baby ???

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      mlpkar Ben's cred: 9
      Posted 7:37 pm PST 01/29/08

      I sure building the box was nice to achieve.

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      Pei Ben's cred: 50
      Posted 7:56 pm PST 01/29/08

      Good job Ben, I can’t believe you stick to a 4 year old system until now. All is good but I would have made some change to the setup.

      Like #3 said, I would have picked a smaller and more efficient power supply. You are using a small case and Earthwatts series have too many cables for such a small case. The Neo HE 550 I am using has quieter fan and cable management to make the interior "neat". Your current cable routing is a mess.

      I would have also gone with the new 6mb cache C2D CPU. It is 10% faster at the same speed and more future proof with SSE4.

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      jdev Ben's cred: 30
      Posted 8:16 pm PST 01/29/08

      Very nice!

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      JohnnyWad Ben's cred: 2
      Posted 8:36 pm PST 01/29/08

      lol - Frugality at it's best! Ben, you are still using rebates and building your own PCs? I would have thought after your first million you no longer have time for this. And Ben does make lots of $$$

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      bigsister49 Ben's cred: 25
      Posted 9:04 pm PST 01/29/08

      Does your new computer have an "anti-bacon" filter?

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      nuisance Ben's cred: 1037
      Posted 9:23 pm PST 01/29/08

      Removed by forum Administrator

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      clickwir Ben's cred: 8
      Posted 9:35 pm PST 01/29/08

      Ben goofed! Ram is installed wrong. Should have the sticks in either both yellow or both red. Not 1 yellow and 1 red.

      At least any motherboard that I've worked on that uses dual channel has specific slots for each channel. Most are now, like this board, color coded. Move the ram from the red slot to the yellow slot and you'll get some better performance.

      Editor's Note Yep you saw that, I reconfigured it after the first boot but the pics were already taken.

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      2133 Ben's cred: 94
      Posted 11:35 pm PST 01/29/08

      Pfft...You passed up on http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?oc=DDPCFN1&cs=19&kc=19&dgc=CJ&cid=24471&lid=566643

      You totally could've saved about $500. You've lost your Ghetto dog roots.

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      praetorian Ben's cred: 38
      Posted 1:48 am PST 01/30/08

      But #12, that has no AGP slot Wink

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      pug_ster Ben's cred: 45
      Posted 6:58 am PST 01/30/08

      I'm surprised a maxtor 160gb hard drive has survived that long. I recently have to replace my brother's maxtor 160gb hard drive because it started sputtering out bad sectors. Over the years I have replaced flaked out Pentium 4 and Athlon pc's so 4 years of use is pretty good.

      Editor's Note Actually the original hard drive in that PC failed a year ago. It was a Maxtor 160GB EIDE.

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      billy_bob Ben's cred: 62
      Posted 7:46 am PST 01/30/08

      Now you should just buy an alienware and give this one you built out in one of the patented Ben's Bargains give-aways.

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      agulfer Ben's cred: 54
      Posted 9:13 am PST 01/30/08

      Although it looks the the Rosewill RCR-103, you forgot to add the 3.5" card reader to the parts list.....not that there's much difference in them.

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      GB123 Ben's cred: 39
      Posted 10:46 am PST 01/30/08

      Nice build Ben. I still have a Athlon 2500+ running in my bedroom pc. They are good processors. You can probably sell it on Ebay.

      Don't tell me you used the stock thermal compound on the new build though.

      Editor's Note Arctic Silver

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      fuckbilltang Ben's cred: 200
      Posted 1:49 pm PST 01/30/08

      Ben, I just got done building a new computer too. Although, I have you beat in the age of my old computer - 7 years. Now I have it hooked up to my big screen and use it to play ROMs.

      Anyway, what are you doing with your old setup? PM me if you are interested in getting rid of it to a fellow ghetto dawg.

      Editor's Note The old system is relegated to gathering dust since the motherboard & hdd are blown. If something comes down the line for cheap I may revive it for whatever reason.

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      Judicael Ben's cred: 8
      Posted 3:31 pm PST 01/30/08

      I'm calling bullshit.

      Ben I don't believe you own/run a website this nice and your work computer was that crappy. It might make sense if you say had ... a laptop and a gaming computer and a iPhone that someone didn't claim from one of your sweepstakes.

      Please update your post with the truth--the full truth.

      -J

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      dave_c Ben's cred: 3430
      Posted 8:24 pm PST 01/30/08

      #19, You don't need a powerful computer for most uses. Right now I'm using my old skt A Athlon system running win2k because it's where I am at the moment. My most powerful system is in the den where I do my gaming, and I have no desire to go there to get more performance nor move that system to where I am if I'm not playing some new game. That old Athlon Barton system is far more responsive than most new systems running XP w/SP2, let alone Vista, and most importantly, it is completely tested, configured the way I want it, so it needs no time spent to set up, install, etc. It just works and does so fine.

      When you get older you'll understand, it's not like a race where you have to win place or show. Truthfully I'll end up upgrading my fileservers before this old Athlon system unless it dies first. Then again I suppose I could use that as an excuse to replace one fileserver with the Athlon system in the fileserver case, but then I would have to install and configure two systems instead of one when there's no pressing need to do it.

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