The PC building issue!

Hello again! I’m getting into fairly frequent posting schedule, though whether I’ll be able to keep it up is another thing. As promised before, I’ve got the photos of the build process and the computer as it currently stands. It is still giving me some hassle and various teething problems, but hopefully they will be ironed out soon.

Sporting some very nice badges, which are soon to be replaced

I’ll start with the new (really old) case I was transferring everything into. The Dell Dimension XPS (extreme performance if you didn’t know!) T450. Takiing it apart was a bit of a shame, as it still worked perfectly, but it was going to waste in amongst a pile of other defunct computer parts and monitors. It deserved a second chance, with a new build.

The open case

Getting the case open was much easier than I initially thought it would be – only an unusual thumb screw and a couple of case clips stood in my way. Old computers don’t agree with me most of the time, thanks to the insane amount of dust they hoard over their lifetimes. Thankfully the workplace it came from was non-smoking so there was no cigarette stench or staining, which is one of the worst things when dealing with smokers computers. Not only are the computers contaminated, as soon as the fans begin to spin they cover the surrounding area too. After a lot of hoovering and dusting I was able to disassemble everything. This is an old computer, and as you can see from the motherboard with it’s ISA slot (big brown) alongside the regular PCI slots (smaller cream), it was from the period when ISA was being phased out in favour of PCI as an expansion slot. I think this computer had a different type of RAM too, but I’m not entirely sure (PC100 RIMM as far as I’m aware). Note the big cover for the CPU heatsink to draw the air over the processor and out an exhaust fan, which is one of the reasons the computer is so quiet.


Look at the dust! That picture was taken following the uncovering of the CPU and heatsink assembly, and there was a lot of dust. I think it had actually been partially cleaned at that stage, telling you a bit about the previous state of things. The processor is a Pentium 3 cartridge model, explaining the vertical orientation, which contrasts with the now standard socket processors. Sockets also take up a hell of a lot less space than these monsters, though a cartridge is easier to fit, without the risk of bending one of the many contact pins with normal socket processors. This isn’t always a problem, as I found out when building a PC using a Core i5 processor, which had ordinary contacts on the chip, and pins in the socket. That’s definitely the way things should be going – no more using a credit card to re-align all the pins!

The old cartridge processor

The processor itself…brings me back to the good old days of cartridge gaming, and having to blow the dust of the damn thing all the time. The holograph thing looks pretty cool, and the whole unit cleaned up really nicely. That’s what I like about old computer stuff. It may be ancient, and caked in layers and layers of dust, but the dust preserves everything; almost like wood in a bog. And when the dust is cleared off, it’s as good as new again. I have no idea what to do with all these components now that they’re removed from the system. I suppose I should stick them back into another old case and build a low power PC to give away, if anyone knows of someone in need of such a thing. A P3 is not to be sniffed at – there’s enough grunt for web browsing and basic multimedia, and it happily runs Windows XP. I need rid of it! I’m tripping over computers everywhere here; the vast majority of them being 10 years or older.

All shining

After cleaning and fitting the motherboard, it looked like this. Look at it shine! My motherboard is a little ASRock micro-ATX model I got a good few years back now. Come to think of it, it was the Easter when Everybody Hates Chris first aired on Channel 5 (2005ish), when I was rebuilding one of Dad’s computers he was giving to me.



The finished assembly

Skipping forward, the finished system is now equipped with a Radeon 9550 graphics card, a Linksys WiFi card, a spare network card, 1 Gb RAM and an Athlon XP 2400+. It can cope with most video up to about 720p resolution. I replaced the old chassis fan with a blue LED one I had lying about, so hopefully everything should be kept cool and quiet.

Here’s the testing setup as of this morning, when I was watching a freddiew video using the YouTube add-on for XBMC. The space dilemma is apparent in the photo thanks to the build in unit. Hopefully this has been interesting and informative, and I’ll have photos of the new position of the computer when it’s hidden underneath the TV. That’s it for now.

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