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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

    • Was this useful?
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      Dealstructurer Ben's cred: 14
      Posted 12:06 am PST 02/6/08

      Nice Build Ben ... though your Ram is in wrong. My Server has the same MOBO ... nice Board!

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      ut_fiend Ben's cred: 2
      Posted 7:36 am PST 02/6/08

      I need a new pc mr ben will you share the wealth? Wink

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      brownman Ben's cred: 3
      Posted 1:09 pm PST 02/10/08

      waddup

    • Was this useful?
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      jewsance Ben's cred: 26
      Posted 3:54 pm PST 02/10/08

      Whaddup man. bacon is a child coach!

    • Was this useful?
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      encendio84 Ben's cred: 1
      Posted 9:58 pm PST 02/17/08

      Congratulations! Must be nice!

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      kumgitsum Ben's cred: 37
      Posted 11:10 pm PST 02/17/08

      what the hell is this crap?
      ben is really a real person? since when? lol

    • Was this useful?
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      manutd13 Ben's cred: 1
      Posted 9:32 am PST 02/20/08

      I just built my computer and got so many problems.
      Now I can't install XP or Vista anymore.
      Got error oxco5 What the hell is that?
      Anybody knows?

    • Was this useful?
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      CompWiz17 Ben's cred: 510
      Posted 10:52 am PST 02/20/08

      manutd13 wrote:
      I just built my computer and got so many problems.
      Now I can't install XP or Vista anymore.
      Got error oxco5 What the hell is that?
      Anybody knows?


      more information would really help. Tell us the specs of your computer(what parts you used), and also what you mean by oxco5.

      You can't tell a mechanic that your car makes a funny noise, and expect them to come up with a fix out of thin air.

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      metafor Ben's cred: 1
      Posted 7:19 am PST 03/4/08

      ph15h wrote:
      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.


      They can use all 4 GB. Most operating systems simply reserve the top 512MB or so of the address space for its own internal use rather than allow user programs access. So a single program won't be able (without the memory extension trick) to access the full 4 GB of RAM. Multiple programs can fill up that 4 GB quite quickly.

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      414169 Ben's cred: 1
      Posted 2:52 am PST 03/7/08

      nice

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      Geek_Master Ben's cred: 1
      Posted 12:00 pm PDT 04/26/08

      I'm glad Seagate bought out Maxtor and get rid of them cause Maxtor make horrible HD, they fails within 18 months of usage. At least all mine fail with three years of usage total of 6hd. Seagate is the best and Western is the 2nd best.

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      yashman1 Ben's cred: 3
      Posted 3:10 am PDT 05/11/08

      Geek_Master wrote:
      I'm glad Seagate bought out Maxtor and get rid of them cause Maxtor make horrible HD, they fails within 18 months of usage. At least all mine fail with three years of usage total of 6hd. Seagate is the best and Western is the 2nd best.


      Your comment makes me glad I bought a WD drive.

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      riredale Ben's cred: 66
      Posted 12:59 pm PST 01/7/09

      Some of you guys seem to have terrible luck with hard drives. My avocation is doing documentaries, so I have a lot of drives inside my case: couple of 120's, a 160, couple of 200's, a 500, and a 1TB; a mix of Maxtor, Seagate, and WD. I have a drive caddy that allows me to swap in additional drives as needed. The smaller ones are many years old, bought when they were leading-edge. None have ever failed, even running 24/7. I DID lose two drives a few years ago, but that's because my power supply blew up, taking the drives, a burner, and the motherboard with it.

      As an aside, the strangest drive I ever had was an 80GB Seagate. It ran so hot you could fry an egg on it. It, too, ran fine until the power supply incident.

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      diabl0451 Ben's cred: 2
      Posted 3:40 am PST 01/10/09

      Nice machine

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