Recently Slashdot Featured an article about Tom's Hardware Guide to Building a Great Gaming Machine with $500. I was very amused to find that Tom's Hardware Guide used almost the exact same as I picked for my personally hand crafted computer. To save you from clicking next for 8 pages on Tom's webpage and nurmous ads, I will just summerize in 8 Sentences of what the article is about. He picked:
- Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 939 Socket $146
- Motherboard: ASRock 939Dual-SATA2 $69
- Memory: Corsair Value Select 512 MB (2x 256 MB) $52
- VGA: eVGA 256-A8-N340-TX Geforce 6600 256 MB $113
- Hard Drive: Western Digital Caviar SE WD800JD 80 GB $57.50
- Optical Drive LITE-ON Black 16X DVD-ROM $19.99
- Power Supply: SeaSonic S12-330 ATX12V 330W $59.00
- Total: $516.49
Below is my own PC Spec for comparison:
- Processor: AMD Athlon 64 3000+ 939 Socket $161
- Motherboard: Asus A8N-E 939 Dual SATA2 PCI-Express $126 [His MB doesn't support PCI-E]
- Memory: Transcend 512MB DDR400 (2x 512 MB) $97 [I have 1024MB, He has 512MB]
- Video Card: Elsa Gladiac 660GT, PCI-Express x 16, DVI & TV/HDTV out, SLI $180
- Hard Drive: Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB SATA 8M $108 [mine is 160GB, his 80GB]
- Optical Drive: DVR 1608P $79 [Mine record DVD as well as burn]
- Power Supply: SeaSonic S12-380 $77 [mine has 380watt, his 330watt]
- Total so far: $828
- Monitor: Philips 170B6CB (17" LCD) $310
- Tower Case: 冰山美人二代: Icy Beauty 2nd Generation $53
- Cooling Fans: 1 80mm for the back, 2 40mm for the front $6
- Keyboard: Logitech Easy Keyboard $8
- 1.44 Floppy Drive: Generic $6
- Real Total: $1212
First of all, for CPU I picked AMD over Intel. The quick and dirty summary is that the silicon contact in AMD is shorter than Intel, so there is less over-heating and the game runs more stable. More specifically I picked a "Venice" class "90nm" contact model number "Athlon 64 3000+" CPU. It has a frequency of "1800 Mhz" and L2-Cache of 512KB with HyperTransport at "1000 MHz". Its required voltage is 1.35v to 1.40v and it has a Socket of 939. The chip first came out April 4, 2005 and I bought mine on June 5th 2005. The official market name is CPU AMD Athlon 64 3000+ (Socket 939) [aka AMD k8 3000/939 512k]. Here is a picture to summerize everything:
After deciding the CPU I went with an Asus Motherboard: A8N-E. It support AMD Socket 939 Athlon 64. It also has Dual-core CPU and Dual-Core processor support, in case I ever upgrade to Athlon 64x2. I know I want Nvidia nForce4 Ultra plus PCI-Express video card support. A8N-E has that. SATA 3GB/s hard-drive transfer rate. It also come with build-in raid support, build-in NV Firewall support, AI Audio (8-channel Audeio), and USB 2.0 Support.
Keep in mind, I have had problem with this motherboard's fan. It begin making funny noises two weeks after I bought it and failed within two month. However, Asus Motherboard came with 3 year guarantee so I got a free upgrade on the next model of fan, which looks a lot better. Also, you need to upgrade the computer bios to the latest version. If you don't, when you play graphic intensive games your monitor will simly go black and show "no connection" across your monitor. After I exchanged the fan and upgraded the bios, I have had no further problem. The motherboard looks like the picture to the top left; the spec looks like the picture below:
Next I need to pick my video card. Which has to have "Nvidia nForce4 Ultra" plus "PCI-Express x 16" video card support. I picked ELSA Gladiac 660GT. It has "DVI-I / TV-Out (with HDTV) / D-Sub". It supports SLI technology, so if I buy another SLI video card I can link them together for duel support. It also has 128 MB 128-bit GDDR3 SDRAM, and Memory Clock: 1000 MHz.
Next for memory - I picked a brand that I have never heard of...I am not sure if that is wise or not, but my memory haven't failed me yet. I bought 2 Transcend 512MB DDR400. Individually, they each have the spec as indicated to the immediate below picture (SPD). Combine as a duel, the overall spec is the second below picture (Memory).
I bought a DVR 1608p. Which is basically a DVD 16x reader and 8x burnner as well as a CD 40x reader and 24x burner. It operates on Horizontal or Vertical Mounting which I like. It also has flexible speed adjustment technology that automatically change disc burning speed to optomize burning. I don't know if this is just a sales pitch or not but flexible speed sounds nice on paper. So far I have had no problem with it.
My power case has a chinese name: 冰山美人二代, roughly translated it means Icy Beauty 2nd Generation. I couldn't find a picture for the 2nd generation, the company who makes it only has 1st generation picture. They are very similar, but 2nd generation doesn't have a rectangular power button to the side on the front, it has a octogonal light up button to the lower center on the front of the case - below my floppy disc drive actually. To the right is another pictures I have found for the side view of this type of computer case, also first generation only.
As you can see, the tower came with a fan to the side that glows. In addition, I bought a fan and place it to the back, just like this picture shows too. Except I didn't put 4 more led light to my 80mm back fan. However, I did buy another 2 more 40mm fans to the front of PC case. So I added a total of 3 extra fans for cooling.
My power supply is a SeaSonic S12 380w.
I also bought a Philips 170B6CB, 17" LCD monitor. It supports both DVI and VGA. 1280 x 1024 pixels, Anti-glare polarizer, RGB vertical stripe. Brightness (nits) : 250 nit, Contrast ratio : 500:1, Display colors : 16.2 M, Response time : 8 ms, Horizontal Scanning Frequency : 30 - 83 KHz, Vertical Scanning Frequency : 56 - 76 Hz.
For hard drive I really just picked a random SATA - DiamondMax Plus 9 160GB SATA 8M.
A Logitech chinese easy keyboard.
Also, an IntelliMouse Explorer 3.0 with USB support. It doesn't have a mouse ball and is operated by Optical Technology. The picture below is version 5.0, my 3.0 version which I have kept from years back is no longer sold...
Finally, a good old 1.44 Floppy Drive with black front face to match my Tower Case.
There you have it, my wonderful computer set up. I had an old extra 120gig ATA hard drive and another 30gig ATA hard drive that I put in along with the new 160gig SATA hard drive. So the overall room is 310gig. Suprisingly I have almost run out of room, I have only about 50gig left. The whole system cost me $37600 Taiwanese Dollars or about $1212 US Dollars.