Saturday, January 29, 2011

Computer upgrade!

After getting about 3 years out of my current computer, it started not booting intermittently. I tried to troubleshoot the problem, but ultimately, it seemed that the motherboard didn't like the cold.

I decided it was about time to upgrade. I went from a Pentium E2160 overclocked to 2.7ghz with 4gb of RAM to the following:
  • AMD Phenom II X2 560 BE, unlocked to 4 cores @ 3.3 ghz (~$100)
  • Coolermaster Hyper 212+ CPU cooler (~$30)
  • Gigabyte 890GPA-UD3H with the AMD 890gx chipset (~$90 AR)
  • 8 GB of DDR3 (Corsair XMMS3 @ 1600mhz) (~$95)
  • 60 GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD (~$100 AR)
My final cost, after all the rebates, comes out to around $415. I could have saved $50 by waiting a few days for some cheaper RAM.

The system is a lot faster than my old computer, though I don't know which component it's due to. The SSD, surprisingly, hasn't amazed me with its performance yet -- perhaps it'll prove better as time goes on.

Whenever I build a new machine, I have to go through the trouble of stress testing it, even more so if I'm overclocking or unlocking cores. From searching the interwebs, I decided on a combination of the following tools:
I ran Memtest86+ overnight, then Prime95 on the small FFT test overnight, followed by an hour of OCCT and 10 runs of the Intel Burn Test.

I was also expecting to run into some trouble with Windows 7 activation, but I was able to use the key from my old computer and it activated online with no problem. (I'll probably take out 2 GB of RAM from the old computer and put WinXP on it).

A note about my case, an earlier version of this Antec case -- while it's nice to have a smallish case, the space inside is very tight. I had to take out all the hard drives and the rear fan to get the motherboard into the case. There's also no good places to run wires, other than stashing them in unused drive bays. On the good side, it is big enough to fit the Hyper 212+ cooler (though barely, there's probably half an inch from the top of the cooler to the side panel.

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