My home PC died last Friday and I’m waiting for it’s replacement to show up. I’ve had the machine for years and it’s been running 24/7, something was bound to fail. The fan on the video card was starting to lock up and I’m pretty sure that the main hard drive is toast. It was a decent machine back in 2002, an Athlon XP 2000 with fast memory and drives.

The new box will be dual cores with lots of memory and RAID 5. I’ve lost 4 drives in the last year, I wont use another desktop without RAID. I looked at getting Dell, but I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money. You can get cheap boxes from Dell, but not with what I wanted.

I like spec’ing out the components, you never know exactly what you will be getting from Dell. I’ve had good luck with custom boxes built by MWave. I basically picked out the components that I wanted and they assembled it and burned it in for me for a small fee. It’s already been shipped, I should have it early next week

This is what I ordered:

  • Asus M2N-SLI Deluxe: A decent motherboard with everything I need on it, including RAID. The onboard sound board isn’t the best one, but it will do for my needs. I’ll probably salvage the Audigy card out of the dead machine if I need a better sound card.
  • AMD Athlon 64 X2 4800+ (Brisbane): Two cores and energy efficient. I never get the fastest CPU, I always bring down a few notches. The difference in speed will not be perceptable and I can spend the extra money on more memory, which will make the machine faster.
  • 2 GB Ram: With Vista, 2 GB is the bare minimum. I’ll probably bump it up later
  • GIGABYTE GV-NX86T256D GeForce 8600GT 256MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 Video Card: It’s fast, it’s cheap, and it’s got a big honking heat pipe to cool the card without a fan. Not having a fan means a quieter PC and one less moving part to break.
  • Maxtor 250GB SATA-300 drives: MWave had these drives fro $60, so I bought three of them for the RAID 5 array. With Maxtor’s purchase by Seagate. it looks like these products were being discontinued.
  • Lite-On LH-18A1P 18X DVD RW drive: I’ve had good luck with Lite-On drives before and it was a good price. It’s not their fastest writer, but it will be fast enough for the media that I’ll be using for it
  • No floppy. The only time I have used a floppy in the last box was to flash the BIOS of the motherboard. If I can the new one to boot from a flash drive, I wont need the floppy. I may end up installing one as it’s the typical way of installing RAID drivers when you do a Windows install. I could grab the floppy drive from thedead PC or get one that also has a memory card reader
  • Antec Sonta II case: I’v always liked Antec cases and power supplies and the Sonata is the right case for me. It’s big enough to make working in the case easy, and it’s very quiet. The main fan is 120mm, instead of 80mm. It can run slower (less noise) and push out more air than the 80mm fans. Another nice feature is that the fans and the hard drives are mounted on rubber, that really cuts down on the vibration noise.
  • Vista Home Premimum: I have mixed feelings about this one. I need more Vista hands on experience, but the horror stories are starting already. I could always install XP, if this OS is truly that awful, but I would prefer to work with Vista. This will also be my first experience with a “Home” labelled OS. I’ve been using XP Pro at home, but I rarely use the Pro functionality. I’m staying with the 32-bit version, even though the processor will support the 64-bit OS

Fortunately, the important files have been backed up. I put together a FreeNAS box a couple of months ago and I’ve been backing up source code and documents to it. The next time you buy a new PC, take the old one and toss FreeNAS on it. It just works.

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