Tuesday, December 16 2003

Building a decent PC

There are still a few games that aren’t available for the Mac or the Xbox, so I finally broke down and cobbled together a new Windows PC. Here are the parts I used:

  • Shuttle SN41G2 — This is my second Shuttle barebones box (the other runs OpenBSD), and I love them. Everything has to be arranged just so during assembly, but the layout is clean inside and out, the fan is fairly quiet, and the motherboard is chock full of first-rate features. I see no reason to buy a larger case for a home or office PC.
  • AMD Athlon XP 2800+ — The 3200+ was too pricy, and I was persuaded to go with AMD over Intel this time. I’m mostly agnostic on the processor wars.
  • Kingston HyperX DDR400 DIMMs (2x 256MB) — They recommend filling both memory slots on this motherboard for best performance, and 512MB is enough for gaming. Today.
  • TDK indiDVD 440N — reads, writes, and rewrites CD-R, CD-RW, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+R, and DVD+RW, at 4x for DVDs and 16x for CDs. The software bundle seems reasonable, too.
  • Hitachi Deskstar 200GB hard drive — (don’t expect that URL to work for long; ick) This looked like a decent drive, especially with the very aggressive rebate currently being offered. ATA100, but I’m building a gaming box, not a video workstation (that’s what Macs are for).
  • ATI Radeon 9600 XT — I actually haven’t installed this yet, because the builtin GeForce4 MX on the Shuttle is not only pretty good, it supports dual monitors. Hmmm, maybe I’ll build another OpenBSD box soon…

Software is Windows XP Professional. I left an empty 4GB partition near the front of the disk in case I want to dual-boot, but like I said, it’s for games. The only real reason to install OpenBSD or Linux is to image the Windows partition for disaster recovery backups. I’ll probably start by using BitTorrent to grab the current Red Hat Fedora distribution.

Update: since a few folks have asked, I bought all this stuff at Fry’s for $1,194.83. The $100 in sales tax was offset by the $120 in mail-in rebates ($90 for the hard disk, $30 for the DVD burner).