Monday, February 9, 2009

Computer Build Update: Component Specs

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5600 Brisbane
Socket AM2
2.9 GHz
2 x 512KB L2 Cache 
65 W 
65 nm Fabrication 

NVIDIA GeForce 8200 
DirectX 10
Micro ATX Form Factor 
DDR2 1066/800
1 x PATA
5 x SATA
2 x PCI Slots
1 x PCI Express 1X
1 x PCI Express 16X
Rear Panel Ports:
  1 x LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps
  1 x PS/2 
  1 x D-Sub
  1 x DVI
  1 x HDMI w/ Full Audio
  6 x USB 2.0
  1 x eSATA 3 Gb/s
  1 x Optical S/PDIF Out
  6 Audio Ports

Disc Drive:
LG GGC-H20L SATA Internal 
6X Blu-ray 
40X CD
16X DVD±R 
40X CD-R

Hard Drive:
Western Digital Caviar Black WD7501AALS
750 GB
7200 RPM
32MB Cache
SATA 3.0 Gb/s 

Kingston 4GB (2 x 2 GB) 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM
DDR2 800 (PC2 6400)
Dual Channel 

Power Supply:
Antec Earthwatts EA380
380 W
ATX12V v2.0
80 PLUS Certified (At least 80% high efficiency at any load.)
1 x Main connector (20+4Pin)
1 x 12 V (P4)
6 x peripheral
2 x SATA
1 x Floppy
1 x PCI-E

Operating System:
Windows Vista Ultimate 64-bit SP1 with Media Center

Existing Components:
ATX Black Midtower Case with Front Panel Audio and USB
FireWire PCI Card, 3 Ports
Fusion HDTV Gold ATSC/NTSC Receiver PCI Card with 64/256 QAM
250 GB PATA Hard Drive

Total Delivered Cost: $465

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

New PC Build

So my trusty old computer from college, the first one I built from individual components, has finally bough the farm. Likely due to a damaged CPU fan, non-functioning case fan, dust accumulation, and rendering hours of home videos culminating in the processor reaching hellish temperatures. It served me well for over 6 years, and I will salvage as much from it as possible. The DVD burner is relatively new, the HDTV tuner card probably still works, and the case will live on. With death comes life, and so a new computer will rise from the ashes.

I have a couple of goals for a new computer; the main one being to build a capable home theater computer, but also to get my feet wet with Vista, finally get multi-core processing, accomplish full blu-ray playback, and do it all for a reasonable price. For home theater purposes, I need a device that has optical S/PDIF and HDMI/DVI outputs, plus it has to play nice with HDCP (a technology that is supposed to protect against piracy or something, but I just read it as HanDiCapPed, fuck the MPAA).

To achieve all this, the most important piece is the motherboard. I'm going to try the integrated video route, it's supposed to be pretty capable now a days. This will save money and I can always add in a video card in the future. For onboard video I chose the GeForce 8200 chipset, which is an NVIDIA motherboard GPU chipset aimed at home theater PCs using AMD processors. (Oh yeah, I'm also sticking with AMD. I can't get over my dislike of Intel.) So, my requirements narrow down the possible motherboard choices considerably.

For blu-ray playback I will obviously need a blu-ray drive, luckily these have been dropping in price since they were first released, but it will likely still be the most expensive component in the system. The capability to burn blu-ray is still too expensive on both the burner side and the blank media side, so I will steer clear of blu-ray burners. Some blu-ray drives will also read HD-DVDs (blu-ray's beta-max), and since HD-DVD is dead, movies in that format are cheap, so I will look at getting a combo drive.

For the processor, I’m going with a dual core, as quad cores don’t seem worth the price yet. I’d also like to get close to 3 GHz; this should be more than enough for HD playback. For memory, I probably only need 2 GB, but memory is not that expensive any more and it seems that Windows always needs more, so I’ll go with two 2 GB sticks. The hard drive has to be fat, because I will no doubt find ways to fill it, I always have. I’d like to get a terabyte, but 750 GB seems more economical. My existing computer case will work, but it will need a new power supply with higher wattage, better efficiency, and some SATA connectors. 

I'm most frightened of getting Windows Vista to function properly, but I do want to give it a chance. First of all, I don't want to blow my budget on a shitty operating system, so I will be acquiring it by other means. I'll be going with either Home Premium 64 or Ultimate 64; anything else is needlessly crippled like a Wic. The real headache will likely be getting the drivers right for all the components. I foresee a kind of "vision quest" though obscure forums via Google, which is the only real way of solving a technological problem in our modern era.

Updates to follow.