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04/14/07 03:24 PM
New Linux PC Build

After significant thought and planning, Tanker Bob took the plunge and bought all the pieces necessary for his new PC. I kept my hard disks, other drives (DVD, 3.5" floppy, and Zip), internal modem, keyboard, Logitech Trackman Marble, and Trinitron monitor for the new PC. Everything else had to go.

As I posted earlier, I designed the new PC around the Intel E6600 Dual Core 2.4 GHz CPU. According to tests at the excellent Tom's Hardware, the Dual Core processors sit at the top of the CPU performance heap by a significant margin at this time. The E6700 runs at 2.66GHz, but costs almost twice as much as the E6600. For the extra $200, I think that I can overclock the E6600 at least that far. This CPU choice was an emotional event because Tanker Bob hasn't used an Intel CPU since 1986. I've used a string of higher-performance products like the NEC V20 (dating myself), Cyrix, and AMD CPUs. The choice of Intel for this machine says alot about the performance of the Dual Core CPUs.

To keep that E6600 cool while overclocking, I opted for the Zalman 9700 110mm CPU cooling fan. I used Arctic Silver 5 Thermal Compound between the CPU and the Zalman's heatsink. These are the gold standards for the non-liquid cooling of CPUs these days.

Tanker Bob elected to plant the E6600 into an MSI P6N SLI Platinum motherboard. I chose it for two reasons. First, it had two IDE connectors supporting a total of 4 IDE/ATA devices. Chipsets newer than the NVidia nForce 650i either don't support IDE/ATA at all (in Intel's sets) or only 2 devices on the 680i. I need support for my 2 EIDE hard drives plus my LG DVD writer and 250MB Zip drive. The other reason I chose the MSI was the NVidia chipset itself. NVidia works hard to wring every ounce of performance from the components it supports, and also pushes the overclocking envelope.

I populated the board with 2GB of OCZ Platinum Revision 2 800 MHz (PC2 6400) DDR2 Dual Channel SDRAM. I thought about going to 1000 MHz memory, but the cost differential was well over twice the price. Again, the OCZ SDRAM has a good reputation for overclocking.

As a feast for the eyes, Tanker Bob settled on an EVGA NVidia GeForce 8800GTS graphics card with 640MB of 320-bit GDDR3 of SDRAM with a PCI Express x16 interface. This resulted from an extensive price/performance tradeoff. Again, Tom's Hardware had an excellent discussion on the best graphics cards for the money. Although I do not game, I plan on running Beryl which benefits from the same 3D acceleration capabilities. I considered the 8800GTX chipset, but that was again a steep price differential to climb for marginal benefit.

My toughest choice involved the case. I need 2 external 3.5" drive bays, but very few cases support more than one. I also wanted a couple of 120mm and 80mm fans to set up an internal wind tunnel to carry the heat from the CPU and 8800GTS card. This proved a rare combination. After searching for over a month, I settled on the RaidMax Smilodon STEEL ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 500W Power Supply. What a great choice that turned out to be!

In order to protect all this, Tanker Bob updated to an APC 750 VA, 450 Watt UPS. All that electronics isn't worth squat if it fries due to a line voltage spike. I've used APC products for many years and have never been disappointed.

In my next post, I'll discuss the construction process/results. As a clue, I'm typing this from the new PC.

Update: Read about how it all worked here.

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