Description

DISCLAIMER: I live in Argentina, and USD 1 = ARS 20, so be aware before you tell me how much I suck for paying or selling everything at high prices

I needed a monitor...

I guess you can remember this build, in which I needed a 768p Monitor but ended up buying a computer with it. Well, after using that monitor for a while, I came to the conclusion that its resolution and size were insuficient for the kind of productivity I wanted out of the PC I had for that time. And thus, the hunt for a better monitor started. I wound up with yet another PC + Monitor combo, only this time I was getting a superior 23" 1080p Monitor with 2ms of Response Time (A SAMSUNG SyncMaster P2370 Monitor, to be exact). The combo cost me USD 200. Indeed a much better acquisition. This left me with a vacant 768p Monitor, and a PC I had no use for, except the consideration of giving it to my grandmother, who has no experience with technology and needed something to search recipes, watch videos and such.

Government Help

It was at this point where the PC became completely pointless, not so much for the specs it had, but because my grandmother got a free Android tablet from the Buenos Aires Government, as part of a technological insertion project involving retired people. And she was more eager to learn how to use that fondleslab than this big box. This gave me the creative freedom to try and do something different for the PC and sell it, besides, considering the price I was going to sell it, I would've recouped all the cash spent for the original PC + Monitor combo in the first place.

What do we have here?

So, let me give you a quick rundown on the PC we had here. It's an old PC, circa-2008, which is built on an AMD AM2+ Platform. Came with the already-mentioned SAMSUNG Monitor, and several peripherals which I liked. Internally it featured a quite high-end Motherboard: an ASUS M3N-HT DELUXE MemPipe, with SLI Support and up to 16GB of DDR2 RAM Supported, as well As Phenom II X6 Support. The CPU was an AMD Phenom X4 9650, one of the original K10 (10h) Architectural behemoths, long-remembered for being a huge disappointment in the face of the Core 2 Quad offensive of the time. It's kind of a bittersweet chip to me, the Phenom II Architecture was much, much better in comparison. RAM was a scarce 4GB of DDR2, typical Kingston ValueRAM stuff, still, it was 800Mhz. The HDD was a Western Digital 500GB drive. Up front on the case, we had two ODDs, both Pioneer DVD-RW drives. The GPU was a cheap Graphics Adapter: the always-hated nVIDIA G210. PSU was a generic 600W unit, with (surprisingly) a 6-pin PCI-E connector. Then let's talk about all the freebies I got: I got a Wireless New-Old Stock Genius Keyboard and Mouse kit, two USB 2.0 Hubs, a WACOM Graphire Bronze Tablet, several mice, a ViewSonic PS/2 Multimedia Keyboard, all driver CDs, some extra heatsinks for the motherboard, SLI Bridges, and even a Wi-Fi PCI Card and a Wi-Fi USB Dongle from TP-LINK. Neat amount of stuff. Of course, the PC needed to be cleaned up, but I decided against some simple maintenance, you know you read my builds because you know I like flipping this ****.

Restoration and Parts Selection

Cleaning and Restoration

Before I could even muster up the eventual final build, I had to strip the case down to the bare minimum... And here is why I love this case, and was in love with it back in the day. This case is the CODEGEN Briza. Released circa 2003, TAC 1.0 compliant, and Mid-Tower, it was the close you could get to a PowerMac G5 look-a-like. It is a very cheap case, mind you, but it had several things which I liked and would not find in a modern case, either because more convenient solutions came to light or because manufacturers don't seem to care about that anymore. One thing I liked was that while not a tool-less design, it had screws on many parts I would've expected to see rivets, meaning I was able to tear down this case to a basic, frail shell, and do a deep cleanse of every nook and cranny. The case also featured several dust filtration all around, with filter at the top, front and sides, some of these filters were screwed to the panels. But filters at the top for a cheap case, that I didn't expect. It was also quite spacious for a Mid-Tower, early to mid-2000's ATX case, and while no cable-management is achievable here, I did manage to keep most PSU cables ordered and tucked in certain spots, leaving to an overall fine end-result. Once I cleaned the case, I followed suit with all the other components. Most of these weren't much of a faff, but there was tissues and dirt everywhere in my room.

Component Selection

By this point, I had some extra parts laying around, with the idea of making this PC a bit more competent for some hyper low-end eSports gaming. The CPU was to remain the same. It's the aforementioned AMD Phenom X4 9650. I have no idea on how to overclock old K10 CPUs, I have more experience unlocking and overclocking Phenom II parts. The HSF was replaced by a more appropriate 125W Stock Heatsink from an AMD FX8350, which I happened to have laying around. The Motherboard remained the same, but this time, with the Chipset Blower Fan uninstalled (it was noisy as heck), and same goes for the mempipes, as I needed to install more RAM. Now we got 8GB of DDR2 RAM, all 800Mhz, all Kingston ValueRAM sticks. The GPU was changed by a beefier card I had in storage. A PALIT nVIDIA GeForce GTS450 1GB GDDR5. But not any GTS450. A low-profile card, no less. In order to provide enough juice to that Low-End Fermi card, I needed a better PSU. So I took the CoolerMaster EPP 500W that once powered the old Overwatch PC my brother had. Finally, the HDD was swapped by a leftover 2.5" WD Blue drive I had. I didn't have another 500GB 3.5" HDD around that was OK after diagnostics, and this one fit the bill IMO.

Building and Selling the PC...

First, I needed to reassemble the case, which took me more time than tearing it down. Then it was time to put the PSU, HDD, and the motherboard, with its heatsink polished, as well as the CPU, cooler, and RAM modules already installed. Front panel connectors, data and PSU cables connected at this stage, and finally, I installed the GPU and the Wi-Fi card, and plugged in the last PSU cable to PCI-E. I installed Windows 10, only to find tons of issues and BSODs, forcing me to downgrade to Windows 7, which was far more stable. Guess this PC will have to stick with this OS until it dies. Some driver installations later, and we had a working PC. I WD-40'd the exterior and posted an ad for USD150. Five days and 50 Facebook likes later, it got sold and shipped.

Conclusion

What was originally a bundled PC, and later a rejected PC, ended up as a simple eSports rig for some cheap Fortnite or CS:GO at the lowest quality settings. I got several compliments by several users upon seeing that PC, mostly loving the end-result and the cheap price I was selling that PC at. And so here I am sharing this. Overall, another successful build.

Thank you very much for reading this build log. Hope you liked it, and any feedback is welcome. See you!

Comments

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

Beautiful and clean.

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

Man, this is a classic. +1 for inginuity. I like it, using what is available and getting it ready for some light gaming at a somewhat reasonable cost. Excellent.

  • 15 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks, and it was the better choice to use what I had on hand, it helped me clear my room a bit in the process.

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

What's the used Phenom II market look like in Argentina? With that AM2 board's gloriously beefy VRM cooling (back when VRM heatsinks were actually heatsinks & VRM fans & especially VRM <-> chipset heatpipes weren't merely the domain of high end HEDT boards), you could slap a 6c/6t Thuban in there, give it a good overclock, and be absolutely off to the freaking races for hardware otherwise so old.

In fact, in numerous scenario's the PII Thuban's hold up better than the Sandy Bridge 4c/4t i5's (most especially, those that are locked) simply because of those extra 2-cores/threads, and that's DESPITE PII's IPC & clock-speed disadvantage (though admitably that's with DDR3). And as countless people could tell you, SB i5's are still PLENTY usable today.

If you can snag one for a decent price, you could turn that freaking awesome looking box, into a relatively awesome performing one as well (the TLB bug absolutely KILLED the otherwise fantastic 1st gen Phenom design. I mean, no chip, no matter HOW GOOD, could survive a ≈10-20% across the board hit to per core performance; ESPECIALLY up against a legend like Core 2).

  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Used Phenom II chips are still coveted by retro-enthusiasts or people in search for a cheap fix. And not only Thubans, but Denebs as well, both unlocked and locked. Prices are all over the place, and I happen to have some Phenoms to sell: an Unlocked B55, a 1090T, a 1065T and my still-in-use 1100T, some of which I sell for not a lot of cash compared to other sellers.

This PC got sold, but I have two pending write-ups, one being an 'AMD Commemorative Build' featuring a 1100T OC'd to 4Ghz and a HD7970 GHz Edition. The other one is pretty similar, but an ITX rig featuring the ASUS M4A88T-I Deluxe.

As for this PC, despite it being sold, I strongly advised the new owner to force some 4GB DDR2 modules on all 4 slots, and install and overclock a Phenom II Thuban.

[comment deleted by staff]
  • 15 months ago
  • 1 point

Blame TheRegister for that :)