I've been building a new computer to take the place of my six-year old machine that died. (Might only have been the power supply, but I was due for a new one anyway.)
I've had relatively few problems but was amazed at the complexity compared to most of the computers I work on. The only real problem I had was the video card - after loading and uninstalling drivers and software about twenty times, I was unable to figure out why I couldn't get rid of the errors. Trying to run DirectX 9 would reboot the machine. But I got that fixed. I'll address that first, since it seems to be a common problem.
The card is a cheap but sufficient ATi Radeon 9200 - under $100 at Wal-Mart. It's compatible with DirectX 9. They could really do some work on their software and their customer support - downloading drivers and programs from the site was a useless venture. Hunting for a solution was a long waste of time.
I had originally bought the AGP card for the earlier machine, and it worked fine, until the big crash, about six months ago. I've been squirreling away money for the new box ever since.
Anyway, after playing with it for much of a day, one restart produced an error, and I sent it to Microsoft. In what must be the event of the century, I got an immediate response, saying, "We have a fix for you!"
Blew me away. The fix was to go to Microsoft's Windows Update site and download a new driver for the card. I had immediately downloaded Windows Updates after installing the operating system using the plain jane 4mb PCI video card because it explicitly states in the video card manual that it will not work until AGP drivers are installed to the motherboard. (In other words, it's a better replacement card than one for a new install . . .) So I didn't see the hardware driver there while I was getting the updates.
Amazingly, that fixed all the problems. From that point on, the ATi toolbox-thingie would pop up on startup and it passed all the DirecX tests without a hitch.
The error message I was getting before the repair was: "AtiSServ failed to provide required interfaces!" During the software install, the error code: 0x80040707 appeared and the install could not complete. After getting the new driver, everything appears to work without re-installing anything.
As to the rest of the system - wow! It's fast. Here's a list of hardware:
A-Top black 901-BK-C case (very large tower - gorgeous - side fan - removeable
motherboard tray, tooless drive installation - tight fit on the ASUS board because
the 3-1/2 drive bays extend to the edge - unable to use one of the HD slots.
ASUS A8V Deluxe motherboard
AMD Athlon 64 3000+ Socket 939
1 gigabyte of Corsair Value Select Dual-Channel matched RAM
1 Western Digital Special Edition 80 Gig IDE hard drive, 7200 rpm
set as master - alone on primary IDE channel
Cooler Master Real Power 450 watt power supply (the cables are far too long)
Has nifty blue-lit power guage that mounts in 3-1/2" slot - I'm using plastic
drive adapter/carrier for a 5-1/4" slot between optical drives.
ATI Radeon 128mb DDR RAM AGP - retail
Lite-On DVD/CD burner set as master on secondary IDE channel.
LG 52x CD-Rom set as slave
HP 4-slot 7-in-one card reader, mounts to USB plug on motherboad - no drivers needed.
Mitsumi 1.44mb floppy
Stock processor fan from AMD retail box
2 Cooler Master 26 db 80mm case fans
1 80mm case fan in side opening - came with case.
Microsoft Basic keyboard 1.0A w/basic optical mouse 1.0A
mouse needed more to bite on than gray desktop so I stuck a linen/colored
placemat beneath it to keep it from jumping around the screen and it works fine.
Keyboard has three extra keys: Mail - Web/Home - Search and they all work fine
right out of the box. Keys are a bit small - I'm used to Natural Keyboards.
MS Windows XP Home w/Service Pack 2(I would have preferred Pro - but I needed the disk
Current CPU temp: 29C/84F (courtesy of ASUS probe)
Current motherboard temp: 22C/71F
ASUS Cool & Quiet says my CPU frequency (standard clock) is 1800.00 @1.4250v
The power guage says I'm running at about 60 watts at the moment.
ASUS POST voice needs to be enabled in BIOS prior to bootup - it's disabled by default. Caution must be taken to not mix firewire and USB plugs on the motherboard. Fans are plugged directly into the motherboard except for side fan. Power supply has a plethora of plugs for everything, including SATA, two floppies, lots of HD's or opticals, 12v, and 24-pin with converter to 20-pin main cable long enough to plug into another nearby case. I wish I had some pin tools to do a little customizing.
All parts black except for silver Cooler Master guage and gray HP card reader
Most parts bought from NewEgg except Mitsumi floppy and card reader from Geeks.com and plastic ($2.50) drive mounting kits from Wiredzone.com and Lite-On burner and Radeon 9200 from Wal-Mart.
System is protected by an old TrippLite 650VA UPS. Might be time for a new one of those. Connected to internet with onboard Gigabyte LAN through Blitzz wireless router and Motorola cable modem. (Two other computers use wireless - this one uses 10/100 cable.)
I have read reviews where the ASUS BIOS had to be updated before it would recognize the 3000+ processor, but this board had an updated BIOS already and recognized it with no problems. One great feature of this board is that the BIOS can be reloaded from either the install CD or from a floppy to recover from an overclock or BIOS corruption, even if the machine won't boot - which is great to recover from overclocking problems. And the current BIOS can be copied to floppy so you don't have to redo everything.
Needless to say, I am quite pleased with the project.
And I'm using AVG, Zone Alarm, Ad-Aware, Spybot, Spyware Blaster and Automatic Updates.
I seriously considered going with SATA drives, and this board is capable of RAID 1, RAID 0, and RAID 1+0, but decided I wanted to keep it simple and relatively inexpensive. ASUS provides SATA cables and beautiful charcoal-colored ribbon cables, but I switched to blue round IDE and floppy cables to aid airflow through the case. Temporarily, I am using one of the ribbon cables because the 18" IDE cable was just a tad too short - I'll be ordering a 24" cable to replace it.
Assembly went well. Only problem was that some of the standoffs didn't seem to be tapped correctly and I had to remove the motherboard from the tray a couple of times - but there were extras. Tip: test the screws and standoffs before screwing them to the plate. There are four USB ports and a firewire on the main bank, and an extra pair of USB ports and game port on a PCI slot plate, and another firewire port, too, on another plate. Both sides of the case open, which is handy when you need to wire fans or something. Case shipping weight - 24 lbs. I got it from Geeks.com without power supply in new, unopened box, for an unbelievable price. I don't know if it's a closeout or what. I'd recommend a slightly narrower ATX board, though.
The case is the 901 shown on This page.
Extremely good service from all companies concerned. Since I had the case shipped FedEx standard, it took about a week, but considering the ridiculous price (I paid $110 for an earlier version of the came case six years ago, and this one was $17.95 and $13.00 shipping!)