Gettin’ jiggy with the new home PC

So… our “old faithful” Dell PowerEdge 400SC box at home is finally beginning to show its age.  For a 5-year-old machine, it’s really faired quite well, but it’s making it known that it would prefer to be put out to pasture.

That’s the call I was waiting to hear.

I initially found a pretty sweet deal on a PowerEdge T105 box from Dell – and I even ordered one! – but there were some issues around upgradeability that I didn’t take into account.  Specifically, just getting a decent video card and sound card was proving both difficult and expensive.  All of a sudden the “sweet deal” was looking less and less sweet.  😦

I cancelled the order and started over.

Given that we were already looking to spend about $540 on a box, I had my price-point to shoot for.  (Note that we aren’t needing an OS, monitor, keyboard or mouse.  We’re good there.)  It finally dawned on me that I could simply do what I always use to do: build my own PC.

I headed over to NewEgg and began my research. Intel or AMD?  What kind of case?  How much RAM and at what speed?  Onboard video or an add-on card?  For a pretty awesome price/performance ratio, I chose a top-of-the-line AMD Phenom II Quad-Core CPU.  Once that was decided, I could research some compatible motherboards with good onboard gear.  We don’t “game” on our PC anymore, so I really only needed a video solution that could handle the Win7 “Aero” interface.  Most motherboards these days also come with very good onboard sound, video, tons of USB ports, firewire, and so forth.  I also needed an easy-on-the-eyes computer case to put everything in.

Here’s the gear I decided upon:

  • AMD Phenom II 940 3.0ghz CPU “Black Edition”
    • This is their (current) top-of-the-line quad-core processor, boasting 8mb total onboard cache, great overclockability, and very good performance.
  • Gigabyte GA-MA790GP-UD4H Motherboard (catchy name, eh?)
    • Quite honestly, this motherboard is amazing.  Not only does it look great, but it supports 16GB RAM, SATA RAID, 8-channel onboard audio, gigabit ethernet, ATI HD3300 onboard video, HDMI, DVI, firewire, optical-out audio, and more.  The pipe-cooled chipsets are pretty awesome too!
  • Kingston DDR2 1066 RAM
    • Pretty basic stuff here.  4gigs (2 x 2gigs) of DDR2 1066 memory, for dual-channel support.  Good looking RAM with a nice heatsink.
  • Antec NSK6580B Mid-Tower Case w/ 430W Power Supply
    • Finding a “normal looking” computer case these days is like trying to find a normal looking pair of running shoes.   Sheesh!  This Antec case, however, is very subdued with cold-rolled steel edges (no finger slices!), front ports, plenty of internal expansion, and a very decent power supply.
  • Samsung SATA 22x DVD Burner w/ Lightscribe
    • Pretty basic SATA DVD burner, but the Lightscribe functionality is nice to have.

All this gear is then matched up with our current 19” Samsung LCD monitor, 74GB Western Digital Raptor drive, 74GB Western Digital secondary drive, and the latest version of Windows 7 64-bit.  How much did I spend?  The full purchase was just $519.49 – shipped.  Thanks, NewEgg!

So… my son and I put the box together last night, and I brought it into work to run through a test install of Windows 7 “Beta 7000” 64-bit.  The install went great, and the box is running wonderfully!  For giggles, I also increased the CPU multiplier and bumped from the stock 3.0ghz core speed to 3.42ghz – no voltage change necessary.  That’s a combined 1.6ghz overall bump to the CPU!  No issues so far.  This machine is also amazingly quiet.

Here are some (not-so-great quality) pictures of our new home PC sitting next to my desk at work…

newcomp2

Sweet, sweet Compaq monitor with 1024×768 resolution! 😉

newcomp3 

(No… I won’t leave the harddrive there!)

newcomp4

Look at all those drive bays!

newcomp5

Here’s hoping that the “RC” build of Windows 7 is released very, very soon!

Thanks for reading 🙂

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5 Responses to “Gettin’ jiggy with the new home PC”


  1. 1 Jamsies April 23, 2009 at 4:57 pm

    Wow…great catch on that upgradability issue with that. I would have never thought of that! 🙂 That’s why you’re the master. What kind of issue did you find out? Good to see you got a good deal on your new box. Enjoy!

  2. 2 yipcanjo April 23, 2009 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks, Jamsies! 🙂

    To be more specific, the PowerEdge T105 is a “true” server-class machine, if only for low-end/workgroup usage. Whereas our current Dell box had atleast on-board sound, the T105 does not. With no onboard sound or video, some add-on cards are necessary, which is typically a trivial task.

    Typically.

    The T105 has only a single PCI slot, a 1x PCI Express Slot, and an 8x PCI Express Slot. Getting a PCI sound card is no big deal. In fact, I’ve got spares of those. Getting a video card for a PCi Express slot that *isn’t* x16 is a real killer — unless you want to go PCI based. I was basically needing to get two PCI cards, but only had one slot. Any other configuration was clearly going to be pricey, which defeated the whole purpose.

    My new box, of course, has PLENTY of slots, most of which I don’t need 🙂

  3. 3 kevinleroy April 24, 2009 at 4:13 pm

    Nice set up man! I’ve got a similar type setup at home that I built as well. I did the Dell thing back a number of years ago and then I went the U Build It route. MUCH Cheaper in the long run…

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, the Antec Case…Isn’t it awesome? Sooo quiet, I don’t even hear the fans running and I have it sitting on the floor right next to me. Here’s my setup…

    MB – Asus P5Q Pro

    Proc – Intel Core 2 Duo E8500

    RAM – OCZ Platinum 4GB

    HD – Samsung Spintpoint F1 640GB

    Video Card – EVGA GeForce 9500 GT

    Case – Antec P180

    Power Supply – Antec Neo 550W

    <a href=”http://frys-electronics-ads.com/ads/2008/10/24/37205/LG-20x-Sata-DVD-Writer-w-LightScribe”LG 20x Internal SATA Dual Layer DVD+/- RW Drive Lightscribe

  4. 4 yipcanjo April 24, 2009 at 4:48 pm

    That’s a nice setup, Kevin. VERY nice.

    Yeah… the Antec case really is amazing, and super quiet. Strangely quiet, in fact! I’ve had Antec cases in the past, and they’ve all been pretty darned clever and well-built.

    I should add that I *always* use to build my own PCs. In fact, I used to swear by it! About 5 years ago, though, I began playing fewer games on my PC — you can blame the Xbox for that! — and generally fiddled with my PC less frequently. With the kids using the computer, I just wanted it “to work”. I fix computers all day long, you know! 🙂

    Anyhow, this is really revisiting old times to me. Assembling the computer was, in many ways, just like old times, but some of the components are just so cleverly designed these days — especially the motherboard! Really great stuff.

    It should be fun, and I’m looking forward to a speed bump from our lowly 3.0ghz P4 to a 3.0ghz (3.4ghz overclocked) Quad-Core AMD!


  1. 1 Whassup, Windows 7 “RC”? « Y.I.P.C.A.N.J.O Trackback on May 4, 2009 at 6:32 pm
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