Posted 14 May 2008 - 05:27 AM
OK....the second system is built. Only changes to the final list is that I got OCZ Reaper DDR3, as what I wanted was not in stock. I also had to buy a disk, because the disk from my crashed machine was -- well -- crashed. Though I had recovered the data from it, I could not write a new OS to it. Now, I can share some thoughts on this build.
Case: I cannot say enough good things about this case. The CoolerMaster CM600 comes with three 120-mm fans -- front, back, and left side. The case is vented with a mesh on the top and front -- even the drive bay covers are vented -- and there is a coarse filter in each drive bay cover. Drives are truly installed tool-less and easily. Expansion slot covers are plastic tabs. Just press down on one piece and rotate. Clip it back. Really nice. Cables are routed through a cable management system. PSU goes on the bottom and the fan vents out of the case. Genius! They should all do this. In a conventional system, all the PSU fan does is blow hot air on the rest of your components. Well-engineered and thought-out case. Best $85 you can spend.
Mobo: That ASUS was a great choice for my build....which is a basic Internet/office/light gaming platform. I like the crash-free BIOS so if you flash (more like flush) the BIOS, you won't be sitting there with a dead board. I wish my XFX 790i -- which costs THREE times as much had this feature. The built-in video is quite good and in fact can be used as hybrid SLI. Great little board. Only complaint: no firewire, so DV video capture can't be done. Not a biggie. I can probably get a PCI firewire card if I ever really wanted it.
CPU and Fan: What a pleasure to work with. With a socket AM2/AM2+, the CPU is surrounded by a large plastic fitting with two tabs on it. The fan locks down using these tabs. Just put the lever side in first and press down on the opposite side till it locks. Easy. The Socket 775 push-pin is absolute garbage and Intel should be ashamed of themselves for providing such a lousy solution to protect a hot chip. Further, the stock fan on this AMD 5400 is perfect for the job. I was getting idle temps at around 40C -- not bad at all. Comparatively, my Intel chip would start at 60C right out of the gate and soar to well over 100C in a few minute's time with the stock fan. I also used good judgement in avoiding the 125W AMD chips and sticking with the much cooler-running 65W version. At 2.8 Ghz with dual cores, this AMD 5400 is on a par with my Intel e8400...and the AMD is 64 bit. Those of you sitting on the fence about AMD....don't. Just make sure you get the right CPU. Right now, I think the 5400 is the best bang for the buck.
RAM: The heatpipe on the Reaper is excellent, though you don't want this if you're putting in a fan or liquid system that will cross over the RAM. I put 4 GB in the machine -- two 2GB modules.
DVD Burner: LiteOn -- my favorite. They work. What else can I say about LiteOn DVD burners?
I put in my Atech Pro 11+1 reader and my Thermaltake 500W PSU, as well as a Linksys PCI wireless card with a Hawking 6dbi antenna. I tested the machine first with an old 8-GB HDD and now I have a Maxtor 500GB IDE disk.
Right now, I'm experimenting with OSs on this machine. I tried Ubuntu studio 8.4. That distribution saw my video card and configured it correctly, but it couldn't activate my NIC and put me on the network. Mandriva saw the NIC and loaded the VESA driver for my video. I have 1024x768 16 million colors. Not bad. But I can't use the 3D desktop. Attempting to load NVIDIA drivers causes the Mandriva system to only go to a command prompt on following boot. And since I'm not familiar yet with Linux, that means another format and reinstall. I might fool around with other Linux distributions before I settle down with one, but this will be a Linux box for sure.