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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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      m0f0 Ben's cred: 761
      Posted 8:28 pm PST 01/30/08

      dave_c wrote:
      Truthfully I'll end up upgrading my fileservers before this old Athlon system unless it dies first.


      Maybe you'll die first? *smirk*

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      dave_c Ben's cred: 3573
      Posted 8:32 pm PST 01/30/08

      m0f0 wrote:
      dave_c wrote:
      Truthfully I'll end up upgrading my fileservers before this old Athlon system unless it dies first.


      Maybe you'll die first? *smirk*


      That may not be as far fetched as some would think, considering I find it quite fast enough for surfing, office, etc, and I'm not shy about wielding a soldering iron to replace failed components. I suppose I should add that I can use older systems with the luxury of having spares so if one were to die I'd not be in a rush to replace rather than repair when it suits me.

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      dave_c Ben's cred: 3573
      Posted 8:34 pm PST 01/30/08

      There is one thing missing from Ben's new build. Nylon wire ties, though I suppose it matters less aesthetically since the case doesn't have a window on it.

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      tazman Ben's cred: 22
      Posted 9:21 pm PST 01/30/08

      I was looking for what this cost you. So why are you selling mattresses in the middle of this?

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      DaPope Ben's cred: 66
      Posted 10:00 am PST 01/31/08

      kudos on the build. not too pricey, but efficient. I take the case was not in the price Wink.

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      chosonman Ben's cred: 16
      Posted 12:53 pm PST 01/31/08

      have the exact same case in silver. You need the lian li bezel for the DVD Rom. And you should get the matching Lian Li card reader.

      http://www.crazypc.com/products/81296BK.html

      http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820213012&ATT=20-213-012&CMP=OTC-Froogle&nm_mc=OTC-Froogle&cm_mmc=OTC-Froogle-_-Card+Reader/Adapter-_-Lian-Li-_-20213012

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      danielfagan Ben's cred: 37
      Posted 7:03 pm PST 01/31/08

      Thanks for the information, Ben. Nice to hear from you.

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      jafluth Ben's cred: 3
      Posted 9:47 am PST 02/1/08

      Ben - Love your website and this build. Question: Why a E6750 instead of a Q6600?

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      AKevin Ben's cred: 14
      Posted 7:55 pm PST 02/1/08

      "I was looking for what this cost you. So why are you selling mattresses in the middle of this?"

      I wondered the same thing.

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      ph15h Ben's cred: 2
      Posted 10:54 pm PST 02/1/08

      Any 32-Bit processor can't fully use 4GB of RAM. I think the most is like 3.75. 64-bit processors can use 4GB of RAM, though.

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      toddsucks2 Ben's cred: 239
      Posted 8:41 am PST 02/3/08

      CompWiz17 wrote:
      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.


      I think you need to disclose what you do for a living. I have been reviewing your posts and find a definite bias and think there might be something going on here. Please make full disclosure a priority or you will have to be moderated.

      sincerely,
      toddsucks

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      CompWiz17 Ben's cred: 510
      Posted 8:38 pm PST 02/3/08

      #31: actually, I already have done that. Check my post history for details. Laughing

      not that you could moderate me or anyone for that matter, Mr. 2074 posts. Very Happy

      Why is it that any time I recommend a product or store, someone accuses me of working for that company? If everyone who posted something like that about be was right, I'd have to be working for several competing online stores as well as a few power supply companies right now.

      If you just looked over my post history, you'd see that the answer is very simple. I recommend good deals. If CoolerMaster runs a bunch of good deals on a variety of products(as they did recently), well, I'll be recommending those products. Same goes for any other good deals, and stores with a bunch of good deals. The discussion of good deals is the whole point of this forum, not trolls insulting each other all over the boards.

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      superd00d3 Ben's cred: 321
      Posted 12:11 pm PST 02/4/08

      dave_c wrote:
      ... That old Athlon Barton system is far more responsive than most new systems running XP w/SP2, let alone Vista...


      What do you consider a new system? For me a new system is nothing less than a C2D. Are you saying that an Athlon Barton is more responsive than a C2D system?

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      toddsucks2 Ben's cred: 239
      Posted 4:31 pm PST 02/4/08

      CompWiz17 wrote:
      #31: actually, I already have done that. Check my post history for details. Laughing

      not that you could moderate me or anyone for that matter, Mr. 2074 posts. Very Happy

      Why is it that any time I recommend a product or store, someone accuses me of working for that company? If everyone who posted something like that about be was right, I'd have to be working for several competing online stores as well as a few power supply companies right now.

      If you just looked over my post history, you'd see that the answer is very simple. I recommend good deals. If CoolerMaster runs a bunch of good deals on a variety of products(as they did recently), well, I'll be recommending those products. Same goes for any other good deals, and stores with a bunch of good deals. The discussion of good deals is the whole point of this forum, not trolls insulting each other all over the boards.


      You're a liar. I hope Ben bans you soon.

      sincerely,
      toddsucks

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      phrozen Ben's cred: 40
      Posted 4:50 pm PST 02/4/08

      Eh, why not just buy something from Dell for $~300, drop a video card and 4 GB of RAM in it and be done with it? A lot cheaper and you save all that time building it...

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      CompWiz17 Ben's cred: 510
      Posted 6:35 pm PST 02/4/08

      #35: because it would cost more, you would have no overclocking options(extremely limited Dell bois), you wouldn't get to pick the motherboard, and you may not even be able to run any RAM that requires more than 1.8V(no BIOS RAM options). Plus, you'd have to replace the power supply if you wanted to add a video card.

      Why would you want to? Confused

    • Was this useful?
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      toddsucks2 Ben's cred: 239
      Posted 6:46 pm PST 02/4/08

      CompWiz17 wrote:
      #35: because it would cost more, you would have no overclocking options(extremely limited Dell bois), you wouldn't get to pick the motherboard, and you may not even be able to run any RAM that requires more than 1.8V(no BIOS RAM options). Plus, you'd have to replace the power supply if you wanted to add a video card.

      Why would you want to? Confused


      Shut up doughnut-burp.

      sincerely,
      toddsucks

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      porchmonkey Ben's cred: 31
      Posted 2:18 pm PST 02/5/08

      Yeah, what #20 said! I'm in the same boat. I have a smokin quad core on the floor encoding video, etc., next to the athlonxp 2500+ o'c'd to 3200 I'm typing on. I'm running dual monitors, multiple sessions of autocad, word, excel, quickbooks at the same time. It's very workable, as fast as you are. If the screen regenerates in a tenth of a second and it takes you 10 seconds to interpret what it did, it's way faster than you. For work computers you don't need much.

      For play boxes, that's where you need the speed.

      CompWiz, I'm your fan. Thanks for the effort.

      toddsucks, you're trash, a bad seed, a runt piglet that needs to be stomped out, plain & simple.

    • Was this useful?
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      toddsucks2 Ben's cred: 239
      Posted 2:50 pm PST 02/5/08

      porchmonkey wrote:
      toddsucks, you're trash, a bad seed, a runt piglet that needs to be stomped out, plain & simple.


      Go ahead. Tell me to bite the curb, big boy.

      sincerely,
      toddsucks

    • Was this useful?
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      porchmonkey Ben's cred: 31
      Posted 7:39 pm PST 02/5/08

      bite the curb, american x style

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