One’s Boxes: 1997-2010

A good friend, JD, posed about his favorite home built computers since his first in 1997. So, one thought it would be appropriate to share one’s computing history.

Let’s start back, a long, long time ago, in the year 1997. That was the year one received one’s fist computer. It was nothing special, a salvaged embedded computer with a Pentium 100Mhz, with a 1GB 2.5″ drive and 32MiB of ram. When one received it, there was no OS on the hard drive, so one had the pleasure of learning how to install Windows 98 on it. Unfortunately, one does not have any photos of it, and the case has since been recycled (If one still had the case it’d be a nice mini-ITX case).

Fast forward a few years to February of the year 2000. This is when one built the fist and only, all new parts, computer. It had a Pentium 3 866Mhz (Coppermine core, 133Mhz FSB) in a slocket adapter to fit into a Soyo Slot 1 motherboard. It was equipped with 256MiB PC133 SDRAM, a 20GB 7200RPM Western Digital Caviar Hard Drive, a Creative Soundblaster Live, and an ATI Rage Fury Pro. The best thing was it had no problem playing all of the games one had at the time. Some time later, one upgraded the video card to a Nvidia Geforce MX 4000, upgraded the CPU to a P3 1.0Ghz, added a 200GB Western Digital Caviar SE, added a 16X Pioneer DVD burner, and added 512MiB of PC133 SDRAM.

Fast forward to February of 2006, one acquired a second hand Athlon 1.4Ghz (Thunderbird, 266 FSB). Joining it was an ATI Radeon 9600 (completely passive), the Creative Soundblaster Live from one’s previous box, and 512MiB of DDR ram. For storage, it had a 20GiB single platter Fireball drive, and one’s 200GB Western Digital Caviar SE. Eventually, one of the sticks of memory flaked out, and one replaced it with a 512MiB stick of DDR400.

After a few short months, in May of 2006, one upgraded again to a P4 2.0Ghz (Northwood, 400Mhz FSB). This was a brief stint when one did use on board sound, since the Intel motherboard supported 5.1 audio. One equipped it with 1.5GiB of DDR memory (mixed speeds), and a 160GB primary drive. Later, this was upgraded to a P4 3.0Ghz (Northwood, 800Mhz FSB) and the video card was upgraded to a Nvidia Geforce 6600GT.

Now, skip ahead to about a year ago, January 2009. One upgraded to a second hand Celeron 430 (OC’ed to 2.4 Ghz using a “pin” mod), with 4GiB of DDR2 800 memory, a 250 GB Western Digital RE drive, and a Radeon x800XL. This was one’s first system to have a SATA hard drive, and it had Windows 7 Beta installed on it. A month or two later, one upgraded the video card to a Radeon 4830 (and subsequently OC’ed it a little), and installed a Creative X-Fi Titanium. A few months later, the Celeron 430 was replaced with a Core 2 Duo E8500, a Blu-ray player was installed, and Windows 7 RC was installed on the hard drive.

Finally, we’re at the current box. One took the CPU, memory, Blu-ray player, and sound card, installed them in a new case (the very nice Lian Li PC-A05B). Windows 7 Pro (64bit), was installed onto a Intel X-25M (Gen 1), and a 300GB Western Digital Velociraptor was installed for storage. The motherboard was upgraded to a Gigabyte P45 chipset board. In the not so distant future, the PSU and video card are going to be replaced (to a Corsair 650HX and a Radeon 5800 series card), hence no cable management had been done yet.

-John Havlik

[end of transmission, stay tuned]

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3 thoughts on “One’s Boxes: 1997-2010

  1. Nice post! I enjoyed reading about all your different builds :-).

    On your current box:
    #1 the Celeron looks pretty capable (especially overclocked), but what’s the max CPU that motherboard will support?
    #2 nice case!


    • JD,

      I have a Core 2 Duo E8500 at the moment, IIRC, the board can handle any socket 775 chip that exists (all the way up to the Core 2 Quad 9650). I guess I should also note that these are my “primary computer” linage, I still have some secondary computers to add into the list, and some more pictures, if I can find them.

      As for the Celeron 430, I had to wipe off the pin/pad mod (it was with circuit writing pen, so some isopropyl alcohol takes it right off) to test the current motherboard I have (it was an ebay salvage, with two bent ground pins, which I fixed). At stock speeds it was faster than my P4 3.0Ghz, and OC’ed it was pretty nice, though the Core 2 Duo E8500 was a nice step up again.

      -John Havlik

  2. Your article locked out a lot of memories. The country I come from (former communist one) decided to manufacture its own computers and decided to steal the know how from the west. Guess who they decided to steal the intellectual property from – Apple. So my first computer some 15 years ago is a awkward looking copy of the early Macintosh. I wish I had a picture of it handy

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