Last week, I rebuilt my computer again (making this the third machine I’ve run on since this site opened up). Here’s the list of what I upgraded in the system:
- ABit IP35 Pro Motherboard
- A great motherboard with passive coolers on the MCH, ICH, and PWM component areas. A very handy digital readout is available on the board to troubleshoot boot-up issues (no more beep codes), and the overall layout is excellent. However, I have a few minor problems with the board. The SATA connectors are angled at 90 degrees, making it very difficult to attach the cables from my drives. I’m currently using SATA ports 5 and 6, because ports 1 through 4 are physically inaccessible. Also, my wireless network card wasn’t happy with the board, and I had to switch back to my old one, which has lousy reception. I’m going to fix this problem in a novel way; stay tuned for further details.
- Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 Wolfdale CPU @ 3.0 GHz
- After much thought, I decided to go back to an Intel CPU (after using an AMD X2 4400+ for a while). The Intel chips are just faster right now, and they use less power, allowing them to run a little cooler. I had a difficult time getting the stock heat sink to snap into the mounting holes on the motherboard, causing the motherboard to bend around the CPU socket (which concerns me). I’ll probably spring for an after-market cooler at some point to remedy this situation.
- 2 GB of Geil DDR2 800 (PC2 6400) SDRAM
- I’ve never used the Geil brand of memory before, but Anandtech recommended it on their last holiday buying guide, so I picked some up. The chips run at a default 5-5-5-15 timing, but they support 4-4-4-12. I made one attempt at overclocking the chips, but Windows wouldn’t boot, so I reverted back to the defaults. Changes in the default memory voltage is probably warranted here, which is something I failed to do on my first try. The copper-orange heat spreaders are very sexy.
- BFG Tech GeForce 8800 GTS (G92) 512 MB
- The 8800 GTS-512 line of graphics cards is based on the new nVidia G92 chipset (using a 65nm die). It’s notably faster than the 8800 GT, which is the card I had my eye on for a long time. The 8800 GTS has a larger cooler that’s not as loud, and it’s a beast of a graphics card. This is the first card I’ve had that takes up two slots on the motherboard, leaving me with only 2 out of the 3 available PCI slots. It runs a little warm (70 degrees Celsius at load), but I’m willing to live with that for now.
- Corsair CMPSU-620HX 620W Power Supply
- I was concerned that my old 500 W power supply wouldn’t have the juice required for this new build, so I bought this highly recommended Corsair model. It’s modular, which allows me to use as few cables as I need, and it’s incredibly quiet.
- 2 Seagate Barracuda SATA 250 GB Hard Drives
- These Seagate drives are a little faster than my old ones, they’re 90 GB larger, and they have double the cache (16 MB).
I have been test driving this new setup with a few games. Call of Duty 4 looks amazing in high resolution with all the eye candy turned on, and it has elevated my opinion of the game. The Crysis demo ran great at 1280 x 1024 at the ‘High’ graphics setting, and I may be able to push it a little farther (I’ve ordered the full game, by the way; I’m very excited). Team Fortress 2 is thrilling at 1600 x 1200, and even Half-Life 2, which will be four years old later this year, looks great running at 1600 x 1200 with 4x FSAA. Half-Life 2: Episode 2 should be equally as nice.