Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.
slithytove

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RFC: DIY PC

PROPOSED HOMEBREW system:

CPU: Athlon 1.4
Cooler: Millennium Glaciator, with Arctic II and non-conductive shim
Motherboard: ASUS A7M266
Memory: 512MB, 2 sticks of Crucial DDR PC2100 • CL=2.5 • Unbuffered • Non-parity • 2.5V • 32Meg x 64 (PN CT3264Z265)
Case: In Win Q500 ATX
Power supply: Sparkle 400watt #FSP400-60BNA-20 
Hard drives: 2 IBM 40G Deskstar 60GXP at RAID 0
1 IBM 20G Deskstar 60GXP for Windows swap 
SCSI: Adaptec SCSI Card 2906
RAID: Promise FastTrak100 TX2
CD-RW: Plextor 16x10x40 CDRW
CD/DVD: TOSHIBA DVD ROM, 16X DVD, 48X CD ROM #SD-M1502
Floppy: Mitsumi #D359M3
Sound: on-board sound for now
Video card: ASUS GeForce2, scrounged from another machine
Video capture: Pinnacle DC10+ (from current set-up)
Monitor: Nokia 446Xpro (from current setup)
Connectivity: Efficient Networks SpeedStream 3060 DSL adapter to Verizon DSL service (from current set-up). Oh, yeah, and an existing US Robotics 56K modem on COM1, for Verizon's frequent DSL crashes. :P
OS: Win2K

Most demanding use: gaming and video editing.

Issues/thoughts/rationale:

My major concern is stability and reliability. I'm willing to forgo squeezing that last 5% out of the system, if I can avoid crashes, reboots, BSOD's, re-installs and re-formats.

Motherboard: I'd like RAID, just because faster disk access is always nice, and it helps when you're acquiring a video feed. I had thought about the Gigabyte GA-7DXR, but there are apparently installation problems under Win2K, and even worse, Tribes 2 won't patch, because of an authentication fubar. The Promise on-board RAID controller on the Gigabyte is also apparently software-based, which soaks up cpu clocks. Anyone have experience with either the Win2K problem or the Tribes 2 problem with the FastTrak100 controller? And the Promise PCI controller IS hardware-based, isn't it?

SCSI: This is to support a couple of legacy SCSI devices, a scanner, Zip drive, and small external HD. I realize that with a SCSI card I won't be able to overclock the bus much. I've thought about just getting an Adaptec USB-to-SCSI dongle instead; the price is about the same as the board. Performance will be less, but I don't really need the external HD any more, and it should be sufficient for the scanner and the Zip. But the dongle apparently still needs its own IRQ, despite the fact that it uses the USB bus, and seems like a kludge to me.

Cooler: I plan on overclocking little or none. My major interest is decent cooling, and low noise. Maybe I should just get a generic cooler? Or something like the Volcano 6cu? Mediocre cooler, but pretty quiet, they say.

Drives: Until recently, everyone was recommending the 60GXP, but a lot of the 75GXP's seem to be failing early, and I've heard some worries about recently built 60GXP's. Anyone care to comment on this? Any other drive suggestions? Maxtor? Quantum?

Why three drives? I'm planning on acquiring video to the RAID, while putting the Windows swap on the non-RAID. I've found that the DC10+ drops frames during the first few seconds of video acquisition, I think because Windows is soaking up clocks while it sets up its swap file. (No, setting a fixed-size swap file doesn't seem to make a difference.)

Cables: There's a lot of buzz on the OC sites about rounded cables, and suggestions that they aid case cooling by not impeding airflow. But the one site that actually measured case and CPU temps with both ribbon and rounded cables found less than a degree C of difference in the case, and none in the CPU. And rounded cost more.

BTW, I assume I'll have enough IDE's? The CD/DVD and CDRW will go on one, the 20 gig swap disk on the other, with the two RAIDed disks on the Promise. Is this okay?

Finally: I've done HD and memory installs, but never built a system from scratch before. What does everyone do about grounding? Wrist straps? No one ever seems to mention this on the OC sites. Or does everyone just take it for granted?

Seeking comments and suggestions!

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