Sunday, May 24, 2009


New Development PC Beast!

After delaying for far too long, I’ve finally replaced my aging PC with a completely new one. It’s another DIY build (where’s the fun and love in buying one off-the-shelf?), and the really great thing about DIY builds is you get to choose premium components, rather than the generic cruft present in most boxes. It’s made a large hole in my budget, but a man’s got to have a hobby! :) I was originally going to take photographs at various stages in the build (ala Jeff Atwood’s article), but ultimately I just wanted to get the thing up and running.

Here’s the Spec:

  • Intel i7 Quad Core 3.2GHz
  • Noctua SE1366 CPU Heatsink and Dual Fans
  • Asus P6T Mainboard
  • OCZ Vertex 120GB Solid State Drive (Primary Drive)
  • Western Digital 1TB hardware RAID 1 (Mirror)(Secondary Drive)
  • 12GB of Corsair Tri-Channel 1333MHz RAM
  • Asus EAH4870/HTDI/512MB Graphics Card (might buy another of these)
  • Asus DVD RW 22x Drive
  • Antec 183 Tower Case (with extra sound dampening)
  • Corsair 620W 80+ Modular Power Supply
  • Samsung 23” HD LCD

I’m running Windows 7 64bit Ultimate RC. The boot time is so fast it will make you weep as you wait 3 minutes for the PC you’re reading this on to boot up! ;)

I have to say that Windows 7 is a real joy to use. I’m really looking forward to this going RTM.

I was originally going to use one of the Western Digital 150GB 10K rpm drives as the primary hard drive (an excellent hard drive, and a firm favourite), but I decided to splash out on a Solid State Drive (SSD). These are still expensive, but over the next 18 months, the price of these will drop dramatically. [If you’ve just won the Lottery (and have $10,000+ lying around), check out the FusionIO monster SSDs].

This was a relatively expensive DIY build; to put that into context, the case plus power supply alone cost $450.00!! Despite being a great case (with great airflow, excellent sound dampening features, behind the back plane wiring etc.), the Antec 183 is very over-priced in my view. The 183 is practically identical to the previous 182 but they took out one of the very large but quiet fans, and then jacked the price up $50 (go figure)!

The only tricky bit was (as usual) installing the enormous (and I don’t use that term lightly!) heatsink with the dual push-pull fans. I don’t think there is another heatsink on the market that removes heat so effectively (great for over-clocking), but they don’t come cheaply.
The ATI chipset 4870 gave me a heart stopping moment when I booted the beast for the first time. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I rechecked all connections, tried again. Still nothing. “Hmmm”, I thought. My nose hadn’t detected the escape of any essential “Magic Smoke”, which is always a good sign.

The Asus EAH4870, like most new PCI-Express x16 graphics cards, needs an extra 12V ATX power source due to its high current draw. Well this particular model requires not one but two extra 12V power rails! When I was installing the card, I couldn’t help notice that the 4870 had 2 6-pin 12V sockets on it. I plugged in one and thought “Surely it can’t require two...”, but it does.

(Note: one slightly odd feature of buying an expensive case is that you won’t get one of those 50 cent case speakers, which means if your motherboard does not have an onboard fault diagnostic LED display (the Asus P6T doesn’t), you won’t hear the tell tale beeps for problems with RAM, Video card etc)

All I need now is a bigger desk to accommodate a second Samsung 23” LCD monitor...


Powered by Blogger