It’s Alive!

New Computer

I got my new computer parts earlier this week, and after an hour or two of assembly, it gracefully sprang to life.  And on the first try, no less.  I’m proud of myself, because it’s been a while since I’ve built a computer entirely from scratch.

Here’s how the final build turned out:

  • Intel Core i7 920 Nehalem 2.66GHz Quad-Core CPU
  • Corsair XMS3 6GB (3 x 2GB) DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800)
  • Diamond Radeon HD 4890 1GB (PCI-E 2.0 16x) GPU
  • Asus P6T Deluxe V2 Motherboard
  • Western Digital Caviar Green 500Gb SATA HDD
  • HP 24X Multiformat DVD Writer SATA
  • Cooler Master Silent Pro 600W Modular Power Supply
  • Antec Solo Black/Silver Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

The only parts I didn’t buy were two existing HDD’s that I threw in at the end, for good measure (another 500Gb and my old 74Gb Raptor, both SATA).  I was planning on adding the sound card from my old computer, but it won’t fit well without blocking off the fan from the GPU, so I’m just going to roll with the onboard sound for now.  Lastly, I’m currently only using two of the RAM sticks, because I’m running 32-bit XP, and I’m waiting for Windows 7 to release for the move to 64-bit.

The build went quite well, and was fairly easy this time around.  The power supply fit the case nicely, and was easy to install.  This was my first modular power supply, so the lack of cords (at least, initially) was a welcome addition to my computer-building experience.

The most difficult part of the whole build was easing the board into the box, as it was a snug fit.  Antec makes great cases though, and there was plenty of holes for mounting the board properly.

The only other real problem I had with this build was just making sure I was grounded at all times – my current apartment has carpeting everywhere except for the kitchen and the bathroom, and neither of those places is a good place to build a computer.  So my hands were in contact with the case at all times, and no electronics were harmed in the production of this computer.

Anyway, back to the build…  Antec also makes great sliding mounts for hard drives, so installing the drives was easy.  Those had to go behind a separate door behind the front panel, so while they took a little more trouble to get in and out of the case than I would normally like, I don’t do a lot of drive swapping, so it doesn’t bother me much.  Getting the DVD drive to install flush with the front of the case took some fiddling, but wasn’t difficult either.

To my relief, the GPU fit the space very nicely.  The new Radeon HD 4890 is actually a tiny bit smaller than my old GeForce 8800 GTS.  The only other large difference I noticed between the make of the two cards is that the circuit board of the Radeon seemed a tiny bit thinner, and more susceptible to bending, than the old GeForce.

Installing the CPU is always a harrowing experience for me.  I’m always afraid I’m going to bend the connectors by placing the CPU in the slot the wrong way.  Or that I’m going to accidentally rub off the thermal paste on the bottom of the fan (almost happened this time).  Or that I’m not going to press hard enough on the fan mounts, and the fan will fall off later.  Or that I’m going to press too hard on the fan mounts and crack the motherboard.  Or…  alright, I’ll stop.  It went smoothly.  That’s probably all I should have said about that to begin with.

RAM was similarly easy.  Just pop it in the correct slots and snap it into place.

Once I got done putting all the parts in the box, I plugged in all the necessary cords and pressed the power button – which to my delight, worked.  I hadn’t closed the case yet though- I’ve built enough computers to know not to bother doing that until I know everything is working.  I installed Windows XP.  Installed some games.  No problems.  So far, I haven’t even been hit by the notorious lock-ups I’ve heard about so many people getting from running 32-bit Win XP with more than 3Gb RAM.

Overall this was a pretty straightforward computer build.  I didn’t have to consult manuals too often, and all the parts fit together well.  Nothing got broken, nothing got fried.  And now I’ve got a new computer that eats games for breakfast.  Yayuh!


  1. kc lc - Over a year ago

    Looks neat. I built my own computer too. It’s the best way to get exactly what you want in a processor, memory amount, disk, video card, etc.

    The build was a bit tricky. I had to click the box next to each feature and piece of hardware I wanted. Then I had to review my choices and select “checkout”.

    But I kept myself properly grounded the whole time, so everything turned out fine.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      Hardy har KC. That’s probably the best way to go if you don’t like building computers, but for those of us who like to live dangerously, nothing but a complete build from scratch will suffice. :D

  2. Mattthew_H - Over a year ago

    Looks like an awesome system! Should be able to run any game on ultra-high settings, especially with that i7. Very powerfull graphics card and plenty of RAM.

    This system should last you years to come. I should note that custom cooling is much better than standard. Something like the Scythe Mugen 2 or the Aywun A1-V8. I know someone who has the Scythe Mugen 2 and they say that it keeps is very cool, even on 100% CPU (for the i7).

    I’m still looking at system parts, but this is pretty much the system that I’ll eventually get:

    The only problem is? The price. It’s a very powerful system with a large price tag to go with it: $3,158 (AUD). But never fear, I should get it cheaper when the next gen of graphics cards are released and get a good deal on all the parts when I buy them all at once.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      That looks like a nice system Matthew, and you actually pointed out something that I noticed in this most recent system building experience: that running two video cards can actually be a much cheaper (and often more powerful) option than running just one super-powered card.

      I was indeed looking into the future with this system though, and eventually, I might outfit the new rig with another Radeon card, when things start getting too slow. After having to buy a completely new computer just to replace the GPU not once, but twice, I think I’ve learned my lesson.

      After installing all my old games to test out, and being mostly impressed with the results, I downloaded the Need for Speed: Shift demo to see how something new would run – there’s nothing better than a racing game to spot poor performance or jumpy framerates.

      The demo, even when running at 1680×1050 and with 4xAA and 8xAF, ran perfectly. The visuals were crisp. The framerate was liquid smooth. And aside from a few issues with getting the game to remember my control configuration (I don’t think it does), it was an awesome experience.

    2. Mattthew_H - Over a year ago

      That’s a very good point actually… It will probably be more cost-effective in the long run to buy a DirectX 11 card – but for now, I’ll stick with the current cards I’ve listed.

      I’ll probably have to buy some new games when I get the system. Most of the games I’ve wanted I’ve gotten for 360 though. Got any recommendations? :P

  3. BenRK - Over a year ago

    Great, now I need to upgrade my system. I no longer have the something best system on Reflect… Oh well, when money comes around, a 4890 for me.

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      The 4890 is definitely a sweet card. And it’s relatively quite, too. I haven’t gotten but a few weeks of use out of it, and I’d already recommend it.

      Only thing though; if you plan on getting one, remember to get a power supply that offers enough juice to keep it running, as well as two 6-prong power inputs. Or four, if you plan on running two in Crossfire mode.

  4. Ginosmooth - Over a year ago

    Is that GPU on of the new DX11 ones?

    1. Martin - Over a year ago

      It’s listed as a DX 10.1 card, but since I’m running it on XP (’til Win 7 comes out), it’s a DX 9 card for now.

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