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Thread: Build A Machine

  1. #1
    3 Star Lounger baumgrenze's Avatar
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    Build A Machine

    In late March 2007 I opened a thread in which I asked about building a machine. Deep in the thread Ricky suggested that I outline what I might want to do and to indicate a budget. My notes indicate that in January 1999 I paid Dell ~$2800 for an XPS R. It included a new, larger Trinitron monitor. I certainly would not want to spend more than this. It developed 'issues' and Dell sent me an Optiplex GX200 to replace it. (That is what they had available that came with a SCSI card.)

    Here's what I think I'd want to do with a new machine.

    My expected uses:

    1) General word processing and spreadsheet work

    2) Digital photo storage and manipulation, including scanning (slides and prints) as well as camera image downloading.

    3) Conversion of classic 8 mm motion picture film to digital format? Is the hardware $$$?

    4) Digital audio file acquisition and manipulation, perhaps including analog to digital conversion of 78 rpm and 33 rpm disks, cassette tapes and reel-to-reel tapes.

    5) DVD/CD reading and burning

    Here is some of the hardware I have in hand. Is it reasonable to continue to use any of this. I pulled most of this info from a Belarc profile.

    NVIDIA TNT2 M64 4xAGP [Display adapter]
    UltrascanP990 Triniton Monitor 18" diagonal 'flat screen'

    HP LJ 4L (in working order, but a bit long in the tooth)
    HP DJ 880C (in working order)

    Adaptec AHA-2940U2/AHA-2940U2W PCI SCSI Controller
    HP CD-Writer+ 9200 [CD-ROM drive] SCSI
    EPSON Perfection 636U - USB Scanner (This works fine for my purposes, esp. since I purchased VueScan
    HP C5100A Photoscanner - SCSI (This does a reasonable job with slides.)
    Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural Keyboard (I have become accustomed to this configuration)
    WheelMouseIM (PS/2) (I have become accustomed to this configuration)
    ADS Pyro 1394 external HDD box containing a 40 GB IBM Deskstar 60GXP Ultra ATA/100.

    IBM DDYS-T09170N [Hard drive] (9.16 GB) -- drive 2, rev S96H
    QUANTUM ATLAS10K2-TY092L [Hard drive] (9.09 GB) -- drive 0, rev DA40
    QUANTUM ATLAS10K3_18_WLS [Hard drive] (15.70 GB) -- drive 1, rev 020W (putative 18 gb drive)

    From all I have read and heard, the business community has not yet adopted Vista! I have misgivings. I'm particularly concerned about 'legacy' hardware I might want to continue to use and driver issues. I'm running Office 2000. Do I need to consider an upgrade here? I browse with Mozilla Seamonkey and do not use any of the MS browser/mail software except on those rare occasions when I've encountered an online deep virus scanner that required IE.

    I has been a while since I've been into the GX200 Dell case. I remember it being well thought out. The power supply pivots up and out of the way for access. The internal and front access bays also pivot to make mounting access easy. I recognize I will probably want a new case. Are there cases that are designed with accessibility in mind? Cooling is a question I need to address. I do not have air conditioning. I live in Palo Alto, CA, and the Pacific Ocean normally supplies decent AC. Sometimes we have up to a week of HOT weather in September. I've had concerns about its impact on hard drives. I guess newer processors run a lot hotter, too. Does anyone build cases that blow air in, where the air supply is filtered with an oiled expanded metal filter. I remember that an NMR machine at work used this approach on its computer. One does need to maintain the filter!

    I would like a system that simplifies backup. I've seen suggestions that RAID is the way to go, and also comments that it has no place in a personal machine. I'd like to at least consider 'real time' backup.

    Sometimes I'm impatient with the CRT Trinitron monitor I have. Normally it goes 'black' with inactivity and it takes time to come back up. It also takes up a lot of real estate and puts out a fair amount of heat. Color corrected with ColorPlus the image is still very decent. It is not 'wide screen.' Do I want a new monitor?

    Have I forgotten anything?

    Hier sind wir tief eingewurzelt.

  2. #2
    4 Star Lounger
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    Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA
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    Re: Build A Machine

    <hr>Do I want a new monitor?<hr>
    My personal, rather biased, opinion is that you do want a new monitor. Aside from the technical and performance issues just considering things like weight, space (volume) taken on your desktop, power consumed, visual resolution of pixels all over the screen not just in the center, susceptibility to magnetic fields (from speakers, for example) and electromagnetic emissions would point you towards a new, LCD monitor. If you do go this route you will want to make sure you have a display adapter appropriate for your new display. The combination would be a definite step up in having a comfortable and pleasing computing experience. Which monitor and its size and resolution is something you have to determine for your needs and your visual capabilities. You do that by looking at real examples in stores or offices, not by looking at specs on a website.


  3. #3
    3 Star Lounger baumgrenze's Avatar
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    Re: Build A Machine

    I asked a local builder to quote on a machine more or less using the specs I outlined (in probably too much detail) in my first post. Here's their response. What do people think of it? Does this look like good value?

    $369.00 1 x Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (2.4 GHz) Quad Core Retail
    $0.00 1 x CPU Retail Cooler
    $235.00 1 x Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3P Intel P35 ATX Retail
    $248.00 1 x Corsair XMS DDR2-1066 2 GB EPP TwinX Pack
    $430.00 2 x Western Digital Raptor 74GB 10,000 RPM OEM
    $158.00 1 x Western Digital Caviar SE16 500GB 7,200 RPM OEM
    $35.00 1 x Mitsumi 7-in-1 Black Memory Reader / Floppy Drive
    $75.00 1 x Samsung DRW-S203NB Lightscribe S-ATA 20X DVD+-RW drive OEM
    $368.00 1 x Sapphire Radeon HD 3870 PCIe 512 MB Retail
    $198.00 1 x Antec P182 Black Full-Tower
    $198.00 1 x Seasonic S12-HT 650W 80% Efficiency Power Supply
    $198.00 1 x Microsoft Windows XP Professional OEM
    $0.00 1 x Mozilla Firefox Browser and Thunderbird Email (Free With Any OS)
    $0.00 1 x 1 Year Parts and Labor Standard Warranty Included Free
    $350.00 1 x Full 'vendor' System Build (Single CPU System)


    They included this preliminary description.

    Looking at your requirements for your system, we have come up with the following specifications based on your ~$2800 budget. Keep in mind that this is without the monitor, as you can obtain one elsewhere at a cheaper price, and without the audio/video conversion and manipulation hardware. Please review the spec and get back to us on your thoughts and we will try to fit your needs.

    The Q6600 quad-core processor along with the dual-channel 1066 MHz 2GB memory on the Gigabyte P35-DS3P should provide you with a solid foundation for your system. The setup will give you the computing power that you need for the video conversion and manipulation. The two WD Raptor 74 GB hard drives will be in RAID 1 (mirrored RAID - two drives acting as one, with the same data copied onto both drives, so if one dies, the data will still be available on the other drive) for security and reliability, and the WD 500GB hard drive will be used for your data storage. The Antec P182 case is a quiet and cooling-effective case that we have used for many workstations and it will work as a solid case for your usage.

    I see that the MOBO has the following expansion capabilities:

    2 x PCIe x16
    3 x PCIe x1
    2 x 32-bit PCI Expansion Slots

    On first reading of vendor specs on the components, I don't find a modem for sending the occasional fax. Should I plan on reinstalling my U.S. Robotics 56K Voice PCI modem?

    I can see using the other PCI slot for the Adaptec 29160N Ultra160 PCI SCSI Controller I have, so I can continue to use my HP Photosmart slide scanner and perhaps the 9200 series HP CD Writer.

    If I want to use a card to improve on the onboard audio, should I assume that what I will find in today's market is PCle? Does anyone have any suggestions?

    Can anyone share their views on LCD monitors of a size comparable to my existing 18" Trinitron, especially with regard to value for the $$ spent?

    Is there reason to upgrade from Office 2000 at this time? If so, I guess I should get an OEM version through the builder, no?

    Can anyone see questions I've failed to ask?

    Hier sind wir tief eingewurzelt.

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