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Home - Linux - Systems - Building a computer


Why camita? It's the nickname that we have given our child to be (Cameron + small). So it seemed appropriate for this other new addition that is also not born yet.

OK, so it's about time to build a computer. My friend bought a customized system that is awesome, but I couldn't really afford the price tag. So using the information he gave me on his system, I went about to make my own. In the end I didn't use much of that info, mostly I used the Toms Hardware website.

My goal was to make a high end system, and then look for the cheapest place to buy the parts. I should end up getting it for about 1/2 the price, but a good amount of this is from importing parts from the US. Another great way to save some serious bucks by not getting the latest and greatest .. just get the second latest model. After all, in a few months, that's exactly what I would have anyway :-)

I need the system for work, so it's needs some CPU grunt, but I don't mind the odd game or two (and hence the video card!). Since I will use it for work, it will end up running Linux (probably Red Hat 9.0). More Linux specific information will follow.



Well, at this time, it's hard to go past the P4, 3Ghz 800 MHz FSB with H/T. You might also see this CPU referred to as the 3.06Ghz.

US: PriceWatch.com US$417 (8/June/2003) Au: EYO A$770 (8/June/2003) Au: Razor Prices A$725 (umart and scorpian)(15/June/2003)


A lot of the recent boards look great, but there are only two ASUS boards that operate at 800Mhz at this time the P4C800 Deluxe and P4C800. They also have the 875P Chipset which has "PAT". Intel site says that the 865 chips have two known problems (seems like they are rare), but the PAT supposedly gives 3-5% improvement in performance. Drop it down to 533 Mhz, and you are talking much better prices!
  • One Tough Cookie: 10 Boards with Intel i875P Chipsets - Part I - Toms Hardware.

    Video Card

    I am going with the Radeon 9800 Pro, there is actually a faster video card out already (The new geforce card). But it's quite a bit more expensive .. not that much faster and not available yet!

    Also worth a look is the All-in-wonder Radeon 9700 Pro. It's actually a little cheaper, but has some cool TV and video features.

  • Picture of the box: http://www.ati.com/designpartners/media/images/R9800PRO_GIFTBOX_lg.jpg
  • Radeon 9800 Pro (specs)


    For use with the ASUS Board, Tom says: here that Kingston and Corsair memory performs the best, and actually quite significantly.

    Strangely, this memory is not certified by the mother board. This is a possible source of some concern, and I'll let you know if there are any problems.

  • Memory timings explained

    Hard Drives

    Didn't do too much research here. There are not too much choices for Serial ATA drives, and Segate is pretty much it. I also didn't research too much if they really are faster.

    Power Supply

    Trouble with getting a power supply, is also getting the case. Power supplies are notorious for being mis-labeled, and for not outputting the promised power. Particularly if you are going to overclock, you should get a good power supply.

    I'm trying to get an Antec 480W True Blue. But since I also want a good case, I'm still working on it.


    After thinking I now just need a case and a power supply, and some cables. Sounds easy. Well, not really. Check out toms hardware again for a review of what makes a good case. For me, the special features I would like are: front speaker/headphones (for use with roger wilco during games), two USB ports and maybe firewire. There is the ASUS ipanel, if I really find a case I like without these features, sadly no firewire, but I don't use firewire at the moment.

    I saw an Enermax tower with nice features like where the fans are in front of the drives, but it didn't have the front ports. I'm told the new version will. I could get an ASUS or SkyHawk panel to move everything to the front.

    Damn .. it's tough to find a good case. features I think I want:

    I get torn between a decent case (which is $150-$180 without PSU), and getting the Antec 1080 with 430W ($225). But it has no audio /usb plugs at the front. There is a Sky Hawk, that has all the nice features, but the one fan at the front is likely to not produce enough air flow. It has a side fan, and I don't know if they are any good.

    Antec Plusview 1000AMG ATX - A$141, good but no Audio at the front. (auspcmarket)
    Antec Lanboy - Should be okay, but no audio at front, and only 350W PSU. (auspcmarket)

  • Decent Case - Thread on Razor Prices about a case and some memory issues.
  • Review of Sonata. Glad I didn't get one now, since not enough fans, and my system will probably run a little hot :-) But don't get me wrong, still a quality case.


    Mostly, I found these prices on PriceWatch.com and the prices were last updated on Sun Jun 8 23:23:21 EST 2003. All prices in US dollars.

    In Australia, you can use Razor Prices, although really, that guy should pull his finger out and finish the job. (In case you are the guy from razor: link direct to the product page, fix your DB errors, add categories like for each of the different Pentiums, Major Video Cards etc, arghh.. and your games one is worse).

    Still need to get: 
    DVD / CD-RW
    Case/450W power supply
    power cable/another sata cable?/cables?
    Intel Pentium 4 Processor @ 3.0GHz 800MHz FSB w/ Retail CPU Fan
     419.00  1 419.00 
    ATI Radeon 9800 PRO 128MB DDR AGP 8X w/ CRT, TVO, & DVI - OEM
     365.00  1 365.00 
    Asus P4C800 Deluxe I875 Chipset 800MHz DDR AGP 8X Platform w/ Audio, Gigabit LAN, USB2.0, & IEEE
     185.00  1 185.00 
    Kingston HYPERX PC3200 512MB 400MHz DDR System Memory - Mfg#: KHX3200/512 (Free Shipping)
     106.00  2 212.00 
    Seagate Barracuda 120GB Serial ATA 150 8mb Cache 7200 RPM HD (ST3120026AS)
     138.00  2 276.00 
    Total Purchases 1457.00 
    Shipping 25.75 
    Tax 0.00 
    Total for BuyXtremeGear.Com 1482.75 
    power (need 240v/60Hz)
    connect PSU to
    	2 sata drives (need special cable)
    	CPU power
    		At least 250W ATX12V.
    		has additional power supply leads!
    	Video card power
    		cpu fan
    		case fans
    cd to audio?
    dvd to video card?
    leds? power/ hdd ?etc
    IDE cable - cd/rw? dvd?
    sata cable to hard drives (x 2)



    Thu Jul 3 03:57:39 EST 2003 Sadly, I cancelled my order with Xtreme Gear. A couple of items where backordered, and I couldn't really wait any more. So "googlegear" here we come.

     Item No.  	 Description  	 Price  	 Qty  	 Ext. Price
    240304 	Asus P4C800 Deluxe i875P P4 (800FSB) Skt478 DDR ATX Motherboard w/Audio, LAN, RAID/Serial ATA Retail ***(Free 2nd Day)*** . 	$187.99 	1 	$187.99
    101436 	Seagate Barracuda 7200.7 ST3120026AS 120GB Serial ATA 7200RPM Hard Drive ***(Free 2nd Day)*** . 	$131.00 	2 	$262.00
    80661 	Intel(R) Pentium(R) 4 Processor 3GHz, 800MHz FSB, Socket 478 Retail ***(Free 2nd Day)*** . 	$396.00 	1 	$396.00
    320741 	ATI Radeon 9800 PRO AGP 8X 128MB DDR Video Card Retail ***(Free 2nd Day)*** . 	$376.50 	1 	$376.50
    80097-20 	Kingston HyperX KHX3200AK2/1G 1GB Kit DDR400 PC3200 Memory w/Heat Spreader Retail ***(Free 2nd Day)*** . 	$218.00 	1 	$218.00
      	Sub Total: 	$1440.49
      	Discount: 	$0.00
      	Sales Tax: 	$0.00
      	Shipping: 	$0.00
      	ORDER TOTAL: 	$1440.49 

    Tue Jun 24 11:06:40 EST 2003
    My order still hasn't shipped yet (US June 23rd) (was ordered (US) Jun 16th), which is a little disappointing. Their site said all the items were in stock, but apparently that is not true. Their support was quite resonsive when I emailed them about it. They mentioned that the shipment from the manufacturer was delayed and should arrive June 27. A reasonable reason, but perhaps it shouldn't say "in stock" when it's not.

    Wed Jun 18 21:32:09 EST 2003
    Okay, so the order is in. I tried to add some case screws, a cable and a mouse pad to the order, but the shipping cost went up $24. So forget it. Actually, I thought that was kinda wierd, but still can't argue with the other prices I got. Total shipping is $24.75, so US$1482.75. Pretty good price if you ask me. Go visit Buy eXtreme Gear.

    Now I need a case, power supply and a monitor.

    Tue Jun 17 03:21:18 EST 2003
    Today (yesterday), I went to thediscshop (both stores) and gamedude. Both have good prices, although I liked thediscshop better since you could get in and look around at stuff. Much better since I was looking at features for my case. Also I did a little impulse buying at the discshop, which wasn't really possible at Game Dude. There are some posted warnings about warranty service from both these stores. Given this info, it doesn't bother me to buy from these places, I know my rights, and I'll make sure to keep the receipts etc.

    So the bottom line is, I'm no closer to picking a case. The Thermaltake(sp?) are absolutely huge, and absolutely heavy. Solid front panels, solid all round. Expensive, and pretty hard to justify, you certainly wouldn't want to lug this around to a lan party. And they say 19kg's , but really, that's heavy for an empty case. On the bright side, it comes with fans, and pretty much all the features. For overclockers (which I'm not, so don't listen to me), it seems quite good cause of the number of fans (7) including a top-side fan. I imagine that a top side fan is quite good and removing excess heat in your case. The audio plugs are on the top. I'm not sure if I like that or not, but sure beats the back. For some peoples setup, that would be ideal, but I tend to have my computer under the desk.

    In currently tending towards getting a generic case with a 400W PSU, or getting the Antec Sonata which has a 380W PSU in it. Or perhaps a clone case. We'll see if I can find a good one. Another thought was getting just any old case PSU, and get a good one when I head the US soon.

    Hmm.. Actually there's a point. If you buy a top of the range computer system here, you are looking at somewhere around A$5g (well, including someone putting it together etc). You could buy most of those parts in the US for definately less than A$3g, leaving you around A$2g to fly to the US :-) Okay, so it's not comparing apples and oranges, but it's a nice way to justify a trip if you wanted to go :-).


    Last Change: Monday, 10-Jan-2005 07:43:23 EST


    The information provided within these pages is provided AS IS, and without any warranty. Following these directions may (but not limited to) crash your computer, delete all the information on your hard disk, open up security holes or cause your house to burn down. I made these pages to provide some information about the setup that I have done, but I did not proofread it for correctness, and in most cases did not test it. There are commands in these pages that would definately delete or corrupt all the data on your computer (especially the dualboot section). In fact it happened to me.... So you are on your own!

    Cameron Gregory