Sunday, May 24, 2009

New Desktop PC - Memorial Day 2009 Edition

Update 6/3/2009: I was able to install Windows 7 RC (x64). Turns out that the Windows 7 installer has difficulty with the IDE/SATA adapter I was using to connect the DVD drive to a SATA channel. Removed the adapter, connected the DVD drive directly to the IDE channel on the mobo, and peace was restored to the land.

What better way to honor our military personnel[1] than to go shopping, and shopping I did, with geek style.

Video: Diamond Radeon HD 4870 (OEM version from Fry's)
HD (OS): Patriot SSD SATA2 32GB (my first solid state drive)
OS: Windows XP 32-bit Windows 7 64-bit RC

This was my first Gigabyte mobo. My previous mobo was an Abit IC7-G and I had very good experience with it, but since Abit is no longer a player I needed to pick a new vendor. The EX58-UD3R had good user reviews and seems to be well-made, but the BIOS update utility failed to retrieve an update from any of the 5 choice of server. It did, however, successfully update once I downloaded the BIOS update file manually. There are other nifty utilities for overclocking and monitoring, all of which seem to be working correctly. There's even a utility that allows you to upload a custom image for the POST boot screen!

I ordered the mobo, CPU, and RAM from MWave as a bundle, so these parts were assembled/tested before I received them. No thermal compound fun this time. :-(

The video card, SSD drive, and case were purchased locally at Fry's Electronics. I had a good sales person helping me who managed to find the smaller 32GB drive and an OEM version of the video card. I wanted to foray into the new SSD technology, but the drives are still relatively expensive. Given that I wanted a fast drive for the OS and that it didn't need to be very large, I opted for the smallest SSD drive I could get. Still, it set me back $120 for 32GB.

The Antec case is a good model from a quality manufacturer. I refuse to buy cheap crappy parts, and this includes the case. The one I picked at the store, however, was a return that had not been marked, and was missing parts. I went ahead and finished the build, knowing that I'd be disassembling the whole thing the next day to exchange the case. The case came with 3 120mm fans, which I need since I run a GIMPS client. I had fun assembling the machine and totally geeked out on the cabling.

I have a copy of Windows 7 RC, which I've installed on my other 3 year old machine and it worked like a champ (IMHO, Windows 7 is like Vista, only not crappy). I had plans to do the same on the new rig, but Win7 would not install. The previous installation on my old hardware took ~15 mins start-to-finish. However, after over an hour initializing the installation, I figured it wasn't going to work for some reason, and quit. I tried a few more times, disabling as much hardware as I could, but to no avail. Disappointing. I do hope that whatever the issue, it gets resolved for the final release because I don't want to be limited to XP for the next couple of years (and Vista is out of the question).

The machine is together now and I'm getting all my software installed (again!). GIMPS is chugging away, increasing both the knowledge of mankind and the temperature in this room. World of Warcraft runs like a champ now, too (Ultra mode, baby!).

[1] I, myself, am a veteran of the U.S. Army, having served with the 568th Eng. Co. from 1992-1996. Wild and Ready, Sir! Hoooah!

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