Saturday, December 24, 2005

The New 'Puter Rocks

A month and a half after building myself a new Athlon box, I can report that this thing has been stable as a table, is so quiet I can hardly tell it's running, and can run applications inside of Virtual PC so fast that they don't appear to be virtualized at all. Took me a couple of hours to build it, but then I only do this every few years and am thus EXCEEDINGLY CAUTIOUS about the whole procedure.

The case in particular is outstanding, with fanatic attention to quiet and good workmanship throughout. I was reluctant to spend that much when you can get commodity cases so much cheaper; now I'm really, really glad that I did.

Since I review a lot of big-footprint development tools for a magazine, I prefer to install and run them from within Virtual PC, so that I can be positively sure that every last speck of them is gone when I'm done. This dual-core Athlon 64 machine can run a Windows Server 2003 Enterprise stack, complete with IIS and SQL server, without noticeably slowing down the host OS. I haven't done pedal-to-the-metal performance testing on virtualized OSes, but they're every bit as responsive as a normal desktop. So much so that it's easy to get confused: "Is this live, or is it Virtual PC?"

I had previously picked up a good video card on woot for about eighty bucks; that doesn't appear here. If I got another one, the machine is ready to do SLI (running two graphics cards to improve GPU throughput).

The whole works, as you see was under $900.

1 Antec LifeStyle SONATA II Piano Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 450Watt SmartPower 2.0 ATX 12V V2.0 for AMD & Intel systems Power Supply - Retail
Item #: N82E16811129155
1 GIGABYTE GA-K8N Pro-SLI Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX AMD Motherboard - Retail
Item #: N82E16813128301
Gigabyte (626)-854-9338 option 4
1 AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ 1GHz FSB Socket 939 Dual Core Processor Model ADA3800BVBOX - Retail
Item #: N82E16819103562
1 Western Digital Caviar SE WD2500JS 250GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive - OEM
Item #: N82E16822144417

1 CORSAIR ValueSelect 1GB (2 x 512MB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) Unbuffered Dual Channel Kit System Memory Model VS1GBKIT400 - Retail
Item #: N82E16820145440

Here is the song I wrote about building it (to the tune of "Dark Side of the Moon/Brain Damage").

And here is the video of the kids helping me build it.


Blogger David Dossot said...

Great video, Rick! Kids can be so usefull sometimes LOL ;-)

8:17 AM  

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