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A diversion before the rollout...

My brother in law asked me to spec. out a multimedia pc for him, I sat down with him and we put together a relatively modern dual core machine, the last of the parts for the rig came in 2 days ago so I decided to build it as recreation before getting back to the business of installing my web framework on my production servers for my pending site launch. I had a late night doing just that on one of my servers and elated that I have the first production node of my cluster up and running decided to chronicle the media center build with some photos...because well, I like photos and some readers might be interested in building their own low cost machine. It is amazing how far pc's have come in the last 10 years let alone the last 20. I remember fondly thinking the 64kb of RAM that came with my Atari 800xl back in 1984 was an ocean of data, little did I know what the futuer lay in store. Later upon graduating from college I decided to purchase a computer to use for learning and also to find a job. It was the greatest investment of my life but one thing that stands out about that decision just over 8 years ago was the fact that the computer I purchased, an intel pentium driven machine with all of 128 Megabytes of RAM and all of 2 Gigabytes of hard disk space is that it cost me nearly $2500. Here we are 10 years later and by casually selecting parts I can build a machine that is literally hundreds of times more powerful than that first computer for a fraction of the cost. In fact the total cost for this build hovered just under $400 dollars.

The computer parts as ordered from were:

  • Linkworld black midtower case.
  • Asus En6200LE video card
  • 2Gigabytes DDR2 RAM
  • 430Watt ATX power supply
  • Lite On 20x DVD+ - Writer/Reader with Lightscribe
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 6000+ @ 3Ghz per core
  • Microsoft wireless keyboard and mouse
  • Asus M2A-VM motherboard
  • Western Digital 160Gigabyte SATA 720 rpm, 3Gb/s HDD
  • Encore Enuwi G2 wireless G network adapter

I had no problem putting all the components into the spacious case, I ran into one issue with the case ....very sharp metal surfaces on the inside. I received a rather deep cut on my left index finger from one such piece of metal without being aware of it until after it started bleeding. After getting a bandage I continued on with the build. Most people who don't build pc's think there is something magical about it. Like anything else as long as you know how the parts interface (and if they can be interfaced) you will have no problem building successful computers. As usual this build started with removing the motherboard from it's antistatic wrapper and setting it down on said wrapper. I then made sure to get the processor ready for mounting in it's slot, and attached the rather cool looking AMD stock heat sink. Now that the processor is mounted I added in the RAM sticks and the motherboard is ready to mount inside the case...

but before mounting the motherboard I made sure to add the powersupply into the empty case and went ahead and installed the optical drive and the hard drive as well...

This is the first build where I decided to go without a floppy drive, modern motherboards allow booting from the optical drive so getting the OS to install on a clean hard drive is trivial without requiring the shinanigans of the past. No dos or network boot disks for installations over the network and no need for format or fdisk on the command line. The use of SATA devices also allowed the inside of the case to look suprisingly neat thanks to the removal of the old style parallel ATA flat ribbon cables and replacement by the thin and sleek red SATA cables shown above.

With the motherboard mounted , next step was just to ensure all the cable connections were in place and then attempt the first fire up, here it is standing up ready to be fired up.

Here's the machine with the side panel on, this case has a HUGE fan in the side panel that made me laugh at first, but it is whisper quiet and has some cool LED lighting that my brother in law would appreciate. Below the machine is turned on and being loaded with windows, there was only one error during the build ...the LED light for the power switch was in the reverse polarity aside from that the machine booted into the installed windows XP cd immediately and in minutes was installing the new OS.

I let the box sit over night and installed software on it over the next day, when it was done it was time to send it to its new home. Here is a photograph of the new box connected to my brother in laws projection set, the set is not the best display for a mmpc since projection tv's aren't very sharp but we used the DVI connection in liu of the s-video which seemed worse when we first tried it that way.

The signal to the wireless router in the basement is strong and allows streaming of high definition video from the internet with the rare hiccup. Now that fun is over, time to get back to the production rollout. ;)


omnidoom said…
Ah, same motherboard.
Sadly while trying to crowbar it into another machine in a dire emergency of suddent death, noncompatability, and doom, it fried and now joins the many fried computer parts which adorn my walls.
Hows that for a road test article?

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