Verbatim 2nd Edition Games Disk Flyer (1993)

On this lazy Sunday we have a flyer from inside a Verbatim 3.5-inch floppy disk 10-pack, circa 1993. Back in 2012 I went through and recycled the majority of my floppies, saving only the ones that I considered favorites. Now, during this de-cluttering phase of my life in 2017, the rest of them are headed for the shredder (check out the Floppy Disk Memorial too).

This was a pretty sweet deal back then: buy 10 disks, get another with 4 free games, plus another 2 disks via mail-in rebate, for a total of 13 disks. As can be seen from the missing panel, I definitely took advantage of this offer.

Both my sister and I enjoyed these games immensely. We both loved JezzBall, but I think her favorite was Rodent’s Revenge. I can still hear the sound of the bouncing balls in my head. A few years ago when I was still running an x86 version of Windows, I was able to run and install the games. Might have even been Windows 7.

As always, enjoy this museum post.

Flyer - Verbatim 2nd-Edition Games Disk

Flyer - Verbatim 2nd-Edition Games Disk

Flyer - Verbatim 2nd-Edition Games Disk

Flyer - Verbatim 2nd-Edition Games Disk

Imation SuperDisk Flyer

Was scanning some old floppies for nostalgia purposes when I ran across this old flyer from a box of Imation 3.5-inchers. It is incredible how far we have come in terms of storage; even the shittiest 8 GB phone today has more than 5,000 times the amount of storage on a 1.44 MB floppy disk.

According to Wikipedia, the SuperDisk format came out three years after Iomega’s Zip drive. No wonder I don’t remember anything about it (i.e. it came to the market too late and was doomed to obscurity).

This ad probably came out around 1997 or 1998. As always, hope you’ve enjoyed this short stroll down memory lane.

Imation SuperDisk Flyer

Imation SuperDisk Flyer

American Software Order Form

Here’s one more museum post before calling it a day: an order form from a shareware company called American Software. I probably got this from a once-ubiquitous computer show either at the Cow Palace or Oakland Convention Center. The additional cost for a 3.5-inch floppy disk suggests that this order form is from the early 90s. Googling the company and address shows almost no trace of American Software. The only matching results are ads from the company in Boys’ Life magazine (now in Google’s scanned archive). Coincidentally, I did read Boys’ Life during that time, though I probably wouldn’t have remembered this if I hadn’t encountered this order form.

Good night!

Order Form, American Software

Insert Floppy

3.5" Floppies
Insert next disk and press any key

Whenever I see photos of my old computer stuff from the 90s, I find myself feeling pangs of regret for getting rid of so much stuff back in 2012 when I decided to turn my life upside-down. And yet, if I hadn’t gone and taken these photos at that time, the stuff probably wouldn’t even show up in my thoughts, let alone my desktop slideshow. If I hadn’t thrown out my things, would I be comforted now knowing they are buried inside a box in my closet halfway across the world? At this moment the answer is yes, but I know that before 2012, I never would have asked this question in the first place. You know what they say: out of sight, out of mind.

Sound Blaster 2.0

For today’s museum post we have my old Sound Blaster 2.0 sound card.

My first PC had only a tiny 2.25-inch speaker, capable of single beeps only. At the memory test during POST, the speaker would make a click sound after each block was checked. If you skipped the memory test, it would click really fast as the memory count sped up. Then, the floppy drives would do their thing. I used to always get a kick out of that.

Games had “music” that was just a bunch of beeps strung together. When I first heard Wing Commander played with a Sound Blaster, I was blown away by the bass and actual music. Computer sound was no longer limited to a little tiny speaker. I wanted a Sound Blaster!

I don’t remember how I got the money to buy one, but I do remember buying it from a store on 3rd Street in downtown San Francisco. There used to be a Software Etc. or Egghead Software there (can’t remember which one, probably Egghead). I was super excited to bring it home and install it in my 386.

Sound Blaster 2.0 CT1350B Rev. 4 Sound Blaster Drivers and Software, 5.25"

Of course, applications were not limited to games. Windows now had sound (some ATMs still use the Windows chimes.wav from that period), and I could download MIDIs and MODs from BBSes to listen to music. The card came with a software suite that included a talking parrot, a piano, and a text-to-speech synthesizer. We had hours of fun playing with Dr. SBAITSO, making him say perverted things and setting up the computer to say things on boot-up.

Although the sound was much improved with the Sound Blaster, sometimes I’d still choose “PC Speaker” when setting up a game. It definitely had its own distinctive style that appealed to me. One of my favorites was 4D Boxing. It actually had voices that you could make out, and after I heard the Sound Blaster version, I realized just what a good approximation the PC Speaker sound was. Some games, like A-Train, used the Sound Blaster to play music and the PC speaker to make little clicks as the trains moved.

Goodbye Sound Blaster
After 20 years, goodbye

Looking back at some of these museum posts, I wonder if my decision in 2012 to throw out a bunch of old things was the wrong one. On one side, it would be nice to be able to pick these up and look at them, to feel and touch them (i.e. I’d like to thumb through the Sound Blaster manual above). On another, would I even think to do so if I hadn’t taken photos that would occasionally pop up on my desktop slideshow? And on yet another, is there a point to storing something for years or decades at a time just to be able to touch it once before putting it back in storage again? At this moment, I feel that the answer is yes. Perhaps I’ll change my mind once again when I go home and find that my closet is full of stuff that I never use. For now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this museum post.

Further reading: Nerdly Pleasures: The Sound Blaster 2.0 and the C/MS Upgrade

Floppy Disk Nostalgia

The past few months have been an ongoing exercise to rid myself of worldly possessions. I have thrown out, given away, or sold many objects that I once held dear. From my fish and aquarium, to hard drives I’ve collected over the years, to my car, anything that is not compatible with my future plans is fair game.

I once wrote that one purpose of this website was to write things down to help me reinforce what I learned about computers. At this stage of my life, I am writing things down to help me remember and cherish those objects that had brought me enjoyment. Although I would love to keep everything, the problem with doing so is that they take up space, and I do not touch, look at, or think about them for years on end. Then, every so often, I might pull out a box from under my bed, get really excited about its contents for a while, and then stuff everything back down there again for another few years.

If I am to move to a place like Hong Kong or any other place (including San Francisco) where living space is at a premium, then I had better find a different way to get my nostalgia and sentiment fix. One way I have found is to photograph and catalog nostalgic items, and then post the results on my website. Viewing photos and descriptions online rekindles the same feelings as pulling out that box, and is much easier. I can browse the nostalgia category or search on a keyword and instantly transport myself back to the good old days without having to crawl under my bed and pull out dusty old boxes. Of course, there will always be one or two objects that hold particular sentimental value to me, and these objects will be off limits to the garbage can.

Today, I will be transporting myself back to my early days of personal computing with my old friend, the five-and-a-quarter-inch floppy disk.

My favorite floppy disk has always been the 5.25-incher. To me, the term “floppy disk” will always refer to this size, probably because this was the first type that I encountered. (I could never understand how the 3.5-inch, with its hard shell, could be considered floppy. Rigid would be more like it.) The earliest memory of a floppy disk I have is from playing Pac-Man at a neighbor’s house in the early 1980s. It’s all a blur now, but the act of taking the floppy out of its sleeve, sliding it into the drive, and then rotating the lever to close the drive is something that I will always remember. Perhaps it is the sense of anticipation when preparing to load a game, or perhaps it is the rhythmic whirring and robotic sound of the drive as the floppy is being accessed. There’s just something special about the whole process.

After Pac-Man, it wouldn’t be until 1989 that I encountered floppies again. In middle school, we used Apple IIe computers to learn BASIC and LogoWriter, saving our programs on floppies. It was the first time I ever kept my own floppies. I treasured and protected them, write-protected them with the little black stickers, kept them in their own hard case and took the case with me everywhere, and took the “never touch media” warning printed on the sleeves to heart. I was a little pudgy middle-school kid carrying around a gray plastic 5.25-inch floppy case all over the place while other kids were listening to New Kids on the Block and starting to discover that the opposite sex wasn’t so disgusting after all. No wonder I got picked on all the time!

In 1991, when it came time for my family to purchase our own computer, I badly wanted an Apple IIe, but my mother and aunt had a different idea. We purchased a PC instead of an Apple, and I hated it. It came with two different types of floppy drive, a 5.25-inch and a 3.5-inch, and it would not read Apple disks. It was fun copying files from floppy drive to floppy drive, though. The activity lights on both would light up, one drive would click as it read data, and the other would clack as it wrote data. On every boot-up, the 5.25” drive would do a seek, the 3.5” drive would do a seek, and then the PC speaker would beep. It became a boot-up musical ritual that I would sing along to every time I turned on the computer. I quickly forgot about the Apple II.

In the beginning, we still mostly used 5.25” disks. The 3.5-inchers were smaller and more convenient, more durable, and could store more data, but they were still relatively expensive, similar to how BD-Rs today are more expensive than DVD-Rs. To save money, we even figured out how to increase the capacity of a 5.25” floppy by cutting a notch so that the reverse side could be written to. Alas, as with all newly introduced computer components, after a while the price of 3.5-inch disks fell and they became massively adopted, sending the 5.25s into extinction.

A few days ago I sent the rest of my own 5.25” disks into extinction. I copied the data off of them, photographed them, and then took them to a shredder service that specializes in recycling computer components. As I watched the worker grab my 20-year-old floppies and throw them into the shredder, a feeling of sadness came over me. It pained me to see my old floppy disks being torn apart into hundreds of little pieces. My mind flashed back to those days in the early 90s when I had first written data to those disks, when I was growing up and honing my computer skills on that old DOS 3.3 386 with two floppy drives that seeked on every boot-up. Childhood. Adolescence. Floppy disks. I will always cherish and look at those days with floppy disk nostalgia.

Further reading:
http://www.computernostalgia.net/articles/HistoryoftheFloppyDisk.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Floppy_disk

Museum:

My Build and Sell Computer Project

Introduction

Thumb Screws

Introduction

This is an experiment I am conducting to see how viable building a computer strictly for the purpose of reselling it will be. My objective is to build a complete computer system from scratch and then sell it at cost using a classified ad. The only profit I will receive will be the enjoyment of the entire computer building process. I will catalog the experience in this article.

Statement of Purpose

CompTIA A+ Certified
Yes, I am CompTIA A+ certified!

As mentioned above, I glean a certain amount of enjoyment from building computers. Unfortunately, I do not have the means to buy a new computer every 6 months, and I already have plenty of computers, so I cannot build computers on a consistent basis. When brainstorming for ways to overcome this hurdle, I came up with the idea to work on a single system at a time, sell it, and repeat the cycle again, and thus this experiment was born. If I have a hard time selling the computer upon its completion, then I will have to come up with some new ideas. Either way, this experiment gives me an excuse to build (yet) another computer.

Another reason for conducting this experiment is just plain old competition. Now, I know that I will not become the next Dell, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t try to build a better computer than they can. For once, someone will know exactly what they are getting in their computer. I will specify each and every piece of hardware and software in the upcoming pages. I will also describe the process I went through to build the computer. I believe honesty is the best policy and in my experience, computer vendors do not adhere to the same policy. It is my intention to show these vendors how it’s supposed to be done.

Starting Out

A computer is made up of many subsystems. In the next few pages I will describe the parts used in the system, the rationale for using each part, and the pricing for each part.

The CPU

The Socket 939 Athlon 64 3500+
If you look closely enough, you can just make out the 3500 denoting the CPU model…

The CPU – Socket 939 Athlon 64 3500+ (2.2GHz) OEM – $161.32 from Fry’s Electronics

The main criterion for picking this processor was price (its superb performance doesn’t hurt, either). When I bought it on October 16th, it was $161.32. Four months later, the lowest price online (Pricegrabber.com) from a reputable vendor for the retail version of the CPU is still over $200.00. Granted, this is an OEM processor, which means it only has a 1-year warranty from Fry’s (as opposed to a 3-year warranty from AMD) and doesn’t include a heatsink/fan unit. Still, in my experience, unless a CPU is manhandled, they simply do not break down. Overall, this was an excellent CPU deal.


ASUS CRUX MH7S CPU Cooler
This HSF will sufficiently cool the Athlon 64 3500+

Heatsink/Fan Unit – Asus CRUX K8 MH7S CPU Cooler – $12.87 from ZipZoomFly.com

Because the above CPU is an OEM version, it does not come with a heatsink/fan (HSF) unit. I chose the Asus CRUX K8 MH7S CPU Cooler because it was cheap and because Asus has a reputation for quality. The MH7S also features a copper core and temperature controlled fan, which is an added plus.

The Motherboard

The ECS nForce4-A939 Motherboard
The ECS nForce4-A939

The Motherboard – ECS nForce4-A939 Retail – $76.81 from Fry’s Electronics

The caveat of the CPU deal from the previous page was that it had to be purchased as part of a bundle with this motherboard. Most of the special deals at Fry’s work this way. The tradeoff for the low price is that you cannot pick your own motherboard. Nonetheless, I still chose this bundle because the motherboard that came with it features the nForce4 chipset, which is probably the best chipset for the Athlon 64 right now. The board features PCI-Express (the newest interface for graphics cards), gigabit ethernet, and built-in 6 channel sound. The ECS brand is known as a budget brand, but in this case the performance of the board matches that of more expensive boards, and for the price, it is hard to argue against using it.

Memory

Two Sticks of Corsair Memory
Two 512 megabyte sticks of Corsair Value Select DDR400 (PC3200)

Memory – 2x512MB Corsair Value Select DDR400 Retail – $96.31 from ZipZoomFly.com

Corsair is one of the top memory manufacturers in the industry. They are known as a company that makes ultra-fast memory for enthusiasts, but they also make their “Value Select” series, which is memory aimed more towards mainstream users who do not need the fastest of the fast in their computer. This was not the cheapest memory available, but I picked it for its reliability as well as its lifetime warranty. I also picked two DIMMs instead of one to take advantage of the Athlon 64’s dual channel memory controller.

The Video Card

The BFG GeForce 6600
The BFG GeForce 6600

Video Card – PCI-Express BFG GeForce 6600 128MB OEM – $74.99 from Woot.com

Again, price was the deciding factor in purchasing this video card. The NVIDIA GeForce 6600 is not the fastest GPU out there, but it can certainly and acceptably handle most of today’s games. This was the part that began my experiment. I could not pass up buying this card for this price. It is a PCI-Express based card, which means that it can be replaced by a newer and faster card if necessary. It also features a giant heatsink that does not require a fan, which means that it does not contribute to system noise. This was an excellent deal for a video card of this caliber.

Storage

Maxtor ATA133 200GB Hard Drive
The Maxtor ATA133 200GB Hard Drive

Hard Drive – Maxtor ATA133 200GB Hard Drive Retail – $75.76 from Fry’s Electronics

The primary storage of this computer is the 200 gigabyte version of the popular Maxtor DiamondMax 10 series. Currently, there is very little differentiation between brands in the performance of desktop computer hard drives. They mostly have 8 megabytes of cache, an ATA100 or ATA133 interface, and a rotational speed of 7200 revolutions per minute (RPMs). Having said that, this Maxtor hard drive fits the bill nicely. And, at a total cost of 38 cents per gigabyte (without a rebate), it is still one of the better hard drive bargains out there.


NEC 3540A DVD Burner
Burn DVDs like a Klingon Bird of Prey!

Optical Drive – NEC 3540A 16X DVD±RW Dual-Layer DVD Burner OEM – $49.95 from NewEgg.com

DVD Burners used to cost hundreds of dollars, which meant that you had better do some research before you buy. Nowadays, DVD burners are both cheap and fast, and it does not really matter what brand you get (to a certain extent). NEC is one of the biggest electronic companies in the world, and it just so happens that they produce DVD burners as well. The NEC 3540A is a member of the critically acclaimed 3500 family and burns to every popular format. Because of these reasons (and the price), I picked this burner as the optical drive for this system.


Mitsumi Floppy Drive/Card Reader Combo
The Mitsumi FA404M 7-in-1 USB 2.0 Media Drive

Other Removable Storage – Mitsumi FA404M 7-in-1 USB 2.0 Media Drive – $26.80 from ZipZoomFly.com

A lot of new computers no longer come with floppy drives. With the advent of CD burners and flash drives, floppy disks have fallen by the wayside. Still, there have been times for me when a floppy disk would have been the quick and easy solution to a problem, which is why I decided to add a floppy drive to this system. You just never know when a floppy disk will come in handy. This Mitsumi 7-in-1 media drive, however, is not just any old floppy drive. In addition to the floppy drive, it features slots for Compact Flash, MicroDrive, Secure Digital, Multi Media Card, Memory Stick, and Smart Media. I have found card readers to be extremely convenient. Instead of plugging your digital camera into your computer, simply remove the memory card and plug it into the reader. Granted, you pay about two dollars more than buying a floppy drive and card reader separately. But, you have to admit, it looks pretty cool!

Other Peripherals

Internal Firewire Cable
Internal FireWire Adapter Cable

Fax Modem – Hummingbird 56K/V.92 Fax Modem – $7.05 from Fry’s Electronics

As with DVD burners, modems have come a long way since they were introduced. For $7.05, you add fax and dialup Internet capabilities to your computer. There is really no reason why you should not have one.

FireWire – Syba Firewire IEEE 1394A Card – $10.85 from Fry’s Electronics

FireWire (a.k.a. iLink or IEEE 1394) is useful for connecting digital camcorders and external drives to your computer. I would not consider it a necessity for your computer due to FireWire’s relatively lack of popularity; most people prefer USB2.0. Still, I have found FireWire to be useful when connecting two computers together for file transfer. At 400Mbps, it is four times faster than 100Base-T Ethernet. The reason I added FireWire to this computer was that the case I picked (see the next page) has a FireWire port in the front, while the motherboard does not have a FireWire header.

FireWire Adapter Cable – 6 Pin Male to 2×5 Pin Female – $7.20 from FrontX.com

As mentioned above, the case I chose has a FireWire port in the front. It uses a cable with a standard plug to plug into the motherboard. Unfortunately, the internal header of the FireWire card is of a standard 6 pin variety. Thus, I needed a converter cable to plug the case’s plug into the card’s header.

My apologies for the lack of modem and FireWire card pictures. In my excitement to put everything together, I neglected to take pictures of them.

The Case/Chassis

The CoolerMaster Centurion
The CoolerMaster Centurion 5

Case/Chassis – CoolerMaster Centurion 5 – $63.01 from ZipZoomFly.com

I picked the silver Coolermaster Centurion case from ZipZoomFly.com for $63.01. It looks cool (read: nice and simple) and isn’t overly expensive, and it comes without a power supply, which was one of my main criteria for picking a case. It comes with two case fans: an 80mm in the front, and a 120mm in the back, and it is also tool-free. As mentioned previously, there is a FireWire port in the front, as well as USB and audio ports. After working with the case, I have to say that it is an excellent bargain for the price.


The Rosewill RP500 500W Power Supply
The Rosewill RP500 500W Power Supply

Power Supply – Rosewill RP500 500W ATX – $52.10 from NewEgg.com

I prefer not to use the generic power supplies that come with cases. That’s why I picked a case that did not include a power supply. Instead, I chose this Rosewill 500W unit. I’ve worked with Rosewill PSUs before, and their higher wattage models tend to be identical to their brand name counterparts. They’re heavy and solidly built. As for reliability, I have had a Rosewill 450W running in my personal file server (with 6 hard drives) 24/7 for over half a year now with absolutely no problems. Lastly, I chose a 500W so that this system would have plenty of power for any future upgrades.

Input/Output

LG 715Z 17-inch LCD Monitor
The LG 715Z 17-inch LCD Monitor

Monitor – LG 715Z 17-inch LCD, Retail – $222.63 from NewEgg.com

All LCD monitors are made by a select few manufacturers (LG is one of them) and rebranded when sold. Therefore, a “cheap” no-name LCD could physically be identical to a name brand LCD. With this in mind I chose the cheapest, yet aesthetically pleasing, 17-inch LCD that I could find. The monitor was listed as LG on the NewEgg site, but if you look closely, it features the “Z” logo that is a trademark of Zenith. Apparently, this is an LG panel that has been rebranded as a Zenith. The model number is L1715SN, which does not appear on the LG site. Upon further research, I have discovered that this monitor is identical to the LG L1715SL monitor (linked above), with the difference being color and logo. Either way, the display looked beautiful when I tested it – this was a true bargain.


Lite-On Black Natural USB Keyboard
The Lite-On SK-1688U Black Natural USB Keyboard

Keyboard – Lite-On SK- 1688U Black Natural USB, Retail – $14.89 from NewEgg.com

Lite-On is a major keyboard manufacturer (they even make keyboards for Dell), and I have used their keyboards for many years. I picked this keyboard because it connects via USB and matches the overall aesthetics of the system. For under $15 after tax and shipping, I don’t think you can go wrong with this keyboard.


Microsoft Black Wheel Mouse Optical
Microsoft’s Wheel Mouse Optical, in Black

Mouse – Black Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical, Retail – $26.36 from NewEgg.com

Again, I chose this mouse based on personal experience. Microsoft makes some pretty solid hardware. I have been using the same Microsoft mouse for four years and counting. This black optical mouse fits in with the black color theme of the system, and its optical tracking ensures a smooth and easy mousing experience. This is a great mouse for under $30!


Logitech X-230 Black 2.1 Speakers
Logitech X-230 Black 2.1 Speakers

Speakers – Logitech X-230 Black 2.1 Speakers, OEM – $40.30 from NewEgg.com

I have experience with these speakers and they are amazing for only $40. Granted, they are only 2.1, but I believe that for this system, a 5.1 setup would be overkill. These speakers deliver chest-thumping bass and clean, crisp sound. In addition, they match the aesthetics of this system perfectly. Another excellent bargain.

Software

Windows XP Professional w/ SP2, OEM version
Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2, OEM

Operating System – Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 – $160.38 from NewEgg.com

Microsoft Windows XP is probably the company’s most successful operating system to date. It’s stable, easy to use, and ubiquitous. If all you do is email, web-surf, word processing, homework, and other basic computing tasks, XP is perfectly fine for you. If you play games, then XP is a requirement for you, since pretty much all games support Windows and Windows only. There are some slight differences between the Home and Professional versions, but I feel that the Professional version is worth the slight premium in price, which is why I chose (and use) it.

Office Suite – OpenOffice.org – $Free from OpenOffice.org

Rather than pay several hundred dollars for Microsoft Office, I decided to go with OpenOffice.org, which is perfectly acceptable for someone who wants to do word processing, spreadsheet calculations, presentations, graphics editing, or database work. It will open any existing Microsoft office documents the user might have so he can get started with using his new computer immediately. And, of course, if he really needs MS Office in the future, he can purchase it himself.

Other Software

Here is a list of other software that I installed onto this computer:

All of the above software, with the exception of Nero Express and nvDVD, can be downloaded from the linked sites and used freely. Nero Express and nvDVD were bundled with their respective hardware parts.

Putting It All Together…

Assembling the Hardware

Once I had acquired all the hardware, I proceeded to put everything together. I will not go into the details here, since in the near future I will be writing a guide on how to build your own computer. I will, however, highlight some of the issues I encountered during the build process:

  • ASUS Heatsink – I had some difficulty installing this heatsink because it works with both Socket 754 and 939. The clip appeared to be too short to reach the retention mechanism, but upon closer inspection the clip on the heatsink is actually movable. Once I slid the clip down, I was able to install the heatsink without any problems.
  • Firewire – As mentioned in previous pages, the case has a Firewire port in the front, and I did not want to leave it unused. Therefore, I installed a Firewire card into the computer.

Other than the two issues above, the computer build was a smooth process.

Burning In

Burning in is the process of testing the hardware after assembly to make sure everything is in good working order. The computer is put under continuous heavy stress for 48 hours to see if any malfunctions occur. If none occur, then you’ll know that your hardware has no problems and will probably last you for a long time.

The first test I like to use is Memtest86. It is a free program that stress tests your memory and reports any errors. Here is the result of my test:

Memtest86 Result
50 hours, 175 passes, 0 errors

As you can see, the memory passed its test with flying colors.

The next step was to install Windows XP and then run some tests from within Windows. After installing Windows and all necessary drivers, I installed Prime95 and 3DMark2001. Prime95 stresses the CPU and memory, while 3DMark2001 stresses the video card. I ran them both simultaneously for over 48 hours and the computer again passed. Unfortunately, I reformatted without saving my screenshots, but considering the Memtest86 result above, I think you can take my word for it. 😉

Installing Software

After making sure the hardware was okay, I reformatted the hard drive, installed and activated Windows XP, and proceeded to install the various software applications listed on the previous page. The only issues I had with the software had to do with nvDVD and AMD’s Cool’n’Quiet. nvDVD kept crashing until I installed the latest patch from NVIDIA’s website, which apparently fixed the problem. Cool’n’Quiet didn’t seem to be working, as the computer kept remaining at 2.2GHz even when idle. After uninstalling and reinstalling, the computer idled at 1.0GHz, which meant that Cool’n’Quiet was working. I don’t know how to explain it, but apparently a reinstall fixed it. Those were the only software issues I encountered.

Summary

The Completed System
The Completed System

Now that we’ve taken a look at the hardware, software, and process of assembling the system, let’s take a look at the complete system specs:

Description Price
Socket 939 Athlon 64 3500+ (2.2GHz) OEM CPU $161.32
Asus CRUX K8 MH7S CPU Cooler $12.87
ECS nForce4-A939 Retail Motherboard $76.81
2x512MB Corsair Value Select DDR400 System Memory $96.31
PCI-Express BFG GeForce 6600 128MB OEM Video Card $74.99
Maxtor ATA133 200GB Hard Drive Retail $75.76
NEC 3540A 16X DVD±RW Dual-Layer DVD Burner OEM $49.95
Mitsumi FA404M 7-in-1 USB 2.0 Media Drive $26.80
Hummingbird 56K/V.92 Fax Modem $7.05
Syba Firewire IEEE 1394A Card $10.85
6 Pin Male to 2×5 Pin Female Firewire Cable $7.20
CoolerMaster Centurion 5 Case $63.01
Rosewill RP500 500W ATX Power Supply $52.10
LG 715Z 17-inch LCD Monitor, Retail $222.63
Lite-On SK-1688U Black Natural USB Keyboard, Retail $14.89
Black Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical, Retail $26.36
Logitech X-230 Black 2.1 Speakers, OEM $40.30
Windows XP Professional with Service Pack 2 $160.38
Total (including taxes and shipping costs) $1,179.58
The Extras
The Accessories

And here is a list of what you will get in the box (pictured), in addition to the hardware listed above:

  • CDs for Nero, NVIDIA Drivers and Software, Motherboard Drivers, and Ulead VideoStudio (not installed on computer)
  • Manuals and product inserts for the various hardware components and Windows XP
  • TV-Out cable with composite, s-video, and component video outputs
  • DVI to VGA adapter
  • 24 to 20-pin adapter cable (if you ever need to use the PSU with an older motherboard)
  • Extra serial ATA cable, with power cable
  • Power and phone cords
  • Bracket covers in case you ever take out any expansion cards
  • I/O shield that came with the case
  • OEM CPU box for storing the CPU in case of upgrade
  • Drive covers in case you ever remove the drives

Based on the specifications, this system is priced very competitively against retail systems. The only thing missing is a warranty and technical support, but I am hoping that the person who buys this computer will be savvy enough to provide his or her own support. Having said that, I will now provide a list of pros and cons for buying my system:

Pros

Fast – This system is fast. The Athlon 64 CPU performs more work per clock cycle than any other CPU in the market, and at 2.2GHz beats out even 3.0GHz CPUs from Intel. In addition, it features a built-in memory controller for ultra fast system memory access. The 1 gigabyte of dual channel memory is more than what most computers have today and further contributes to overall system speed. Software-wise, I install only what is necessary and nothing else, unlike all the major computer vendors who like to bog down their systems with “bloatware.”

Well built – I don’t like to toot my own horn, but this machine is very well built. I pay attention to details like tying up loose cables, tucking cables away to improve airflow, securing drives and cards with extra screws (in addition to the case’s tool-less fasteners), and wearing gloves while working on the computer. I build my own computers and I built this computer with the mindset that I would be proud to own this computer myself, and I think it shows in the final product.

Aesthetically pleasing – This computer looks good. I picked the parts so that they would match nicely with each other, and I believe this computer would look good in any bedroom, living room, or office. Unlike a lot of other enthusiast-built computers with over-the-top cases, this computer has a basic, sleek look to it. I am especially proud of this particular pro, since I usually don’t color-coordinate my personal systems.

Connectivity/Upgradability – With Firewire, USB2.0, a flash reader, a DVD burner, gigabit Ethernet, a 56k modem, socket 939, PCI- Express, and Serial ATA, this computer is ready to connect with any peripheral you want to throw at it. If you need more processing power, you can install a new dual-core CPU. If you want to make it a true gaming computer, you can install a faster video card. Need more space? Install another hard drive. With the Ethernet or modem ports, you’re ready to hop on to the Internet. There are quite a few possibilities!

Cons

No support – This computer will not officially have any technical or warranty support from me. Granted, if the buyer has some basic questions for me, I would be glad to help via email. But I am the technical support person for my friends, family, and employer, and I simply do not have the time or desire to provide extra support on the side. Thus, I am making it clear here that whoever buys my computer should have some knowledge of how Windows and PC hardware works, or know someone who does. Maybe you are like me, an enthusiast, but you don’t have time to build your own system. You then, would be the perfect buyer for this system. If, on the other hand, you know nothing about computers and don’t have a source for technical support, then perhaps you should buy from elsewhere (unless you are willing to learn on your own). This point is probably the most important point to consider for a potential buyer.


Well, there you have it. My first build and sell computer project. In my many years of experience dealing with computer sellers, I have found that many of them are unscrupulous and dishonest. They prey on consumers’ lack of knowledge and try to sell them more than they need. Having been a victim of their schemes, I now want to “show them how it’s done,” so to speak. Now, I realize that I probably will never be able to compete with them, or even be able to sell this computer in a timely manner, but I also realize that I have to at least try. Like I said, this is a computer that I would be proud to own even if I cannot sell it. But hopefully, a potential buyer will read this article and see the time and effort that I have put into this project and decide that it would be worthwhile to buy this computer from me. Thank you for reading about my project. I hope you had as much fun reading about it as I did working on it. I will end this article with some random pictures of the build process. Enjoy!