Saturday, October 29th, 2005
12:26 pm - Rebuilding Speedy - Episode 1 - We Can Make It Better  
This is mostly for my benefit, as a replacement for the usual notebook I keep whenever I build a machine, so feel free to skip.

This all started here when the machine shut down accompanied by a loud crack and the smell of eletrical smoke. My assumption was that the power supply had fried, so I picked up a new one and installed it. Unfortunately, that didn't help. One of the nice things about this motherboard was that there was a set of LEDs that indicated what POST code the BIOS is trying to execute. The LED was lit, which meant there was power to the motherboard, but it was stuck on "00," which meant nothing was happening. My guess is that when the power supply fried, the resulting surge took out the BIOS and/or the CPU, and god knows what else. One thing I did notice was that the heat sink on top of the CPU was choked with dust, despite (or maybe because of) the fan right on top of it.

Anyway, I decided there was nothing for it but to replace the guts of the thing. New motherboard, new CPU, new RAM. I also decided to upgrade my video card, get another big hard drive, and upgrade the the power supply. I ordered it all from Directron, and the total cost worked out to about $850 plus shipping. This was far cheaper than an equivalent machine from Dell, and the components would be better.

I picked up the stuff at the post office yesterday, and inspected it last night for damage and/or anomalies. Here's what I got.

ABIT IC7-G Socket 478 motherboard - I've used an ABIT motherboard in every computer I've built. I like them. They're well laid out, have lots of extras, and the BIOS interface is great. This one has more stuff than I actually need right now, but if I ever want to set up a SATA Raid array, I'll be all set. It also has built in ethernet, firewire, and six-channel audio, so that's three separate cards I don't need to install.

Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz CPU - Not quite the top of the line P4 CPU, but close enough, and a lot less expensive than top of the line. I got the retail version (as opposed to the OEM), because the retail package also includes a heat sink and fan for the CPU. I don't plan on overclocking the CPU, so that should be sufficient to keep it cool.

• 4 x 512MB Kingston DDR400 RAM, 2 GB total - You can never have enough RAM.

Maxtor 120GB 7200RPM Hard Drive - I already have two of these installed in Speedy, but I wanted a blank drive to do a clean install of the OS. I'll put one of the old drives into an external USB enclosure for additional storage.

Coolmax 550 Watt Power Supply - Yeah, I just bought a new power supply, but it was only 350 Watts, which would have been enough for the old configuration, but underpowered for all the new stuff. This gives me power to burn. Plus it's black. How cool is that? Not that you can see it in the case I'm using.

This item gave me a bit of a scare when I pulled it out of the shipping carton, because I could hear stuff rolling around inside the sealed box, as though someone had dumped a tube full of BB's in it. Fortunately, it turned out to only be some beads of silica gel from the dessicant pack. Somehow it had ripped open, so the dessicant was loose in the box. Even better, the power supply was tightly wrapped inside the box, so none of the beads were able to find their way inside the thing.

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro AGP Video Card with 128 MB RAM - Here's the thing, for whatever reason, they sent me a different card. Instead of the Radeon 9800 Pro, they sent me the All-in-Wonder 9800 Pro, which is the same card with additional TV capabilities. This will give me the ability to set up the machine as a DVR. Oddly enough, this is the card I actually wanted, but I didn't see it listed anywhere on their site. I'm not sure if this was a substitution, or an accident, but I'll take it.

Okay, time's a wastin'. Let's put this sucker together.
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