MacQuarium Goes Intel...

Wayne Baisley baisley at
Tue Dec 2 18:59:55 PST 2003

Someone asked who builds their own anymore (who buys MS, and a few related 
questions).  The day after Thanksgiving was just such a day for the women in 
the house.  I've built so many machines I lost track, but I wanted them to 
experience the joy before it goes the way of cottonginhaxoring.

This latest system started out as a relatively modest affair to add Office XP 
to the tools available for some college classes that required it.  It ended up 
as a toy that wouldn't embarrass the average gamer/case modder.  It all 
started with the motherboard.

After reading endless Tom's Hardware reviews, I settled on the Intel 875 
chipset, realized in the form of the MicroStar Neo-FIS2R.  It's got all the 
niceties like USB2.0, Firewire, 1000BT ethernet directly piped to the CPU, 
ATA-100, ATA-133, SATA.  And, the 875 Northbridge chip has a fan with 
3-colored leds, the review said.  I didn't much care one way or the other.

But when I went case shopping, I thought I should look at the models with 
windows in the side, too.  I wasn't going to pay extra for it, but I wouldn't 
rule it out.  Turned out the best deal at Global/Systemax/Tiger Direct/Dartek 
(their warehouse is 15 minutes from home) happened to have a window, and then 
some.  3-colored leds on the exhaust fan (and I had to add a second, you 
know).  Blue led-lit pillars on the front.  And an olympic flame (or is it a 
steaming cup of Barrera?), um, light stage I guess you'd call it, with a 
multicolored led.  Its colors range over the rainbow about every 8 seconds. 
Kind of reminds me of the motor-driven wheels and spotlights people used on 
their Christmas trees in the 60s.

And then the fan on the motherboard turned out to have 3 pairs of leds which 
gyrate through various patterns about every 3 minutes.

The whole thing has become quite marvelously tacky. (4th one down)

Other features:

2.8GHz 800MHz FSB hyperthreaded P4
1 GB PC3200 ECC ram

AOpen 48X CDRW+DVD drive
I/O Magic 4X DVD+/-RW drive

Sony SDM-X73 1280x1024 LCD Two Tone Gray 17" DVI Monitor, 16ms response time. 
  Not the 23" Apple Cinema Display, but a very nice monitor for $460.

The system disk is a WD 120GB 7200RPM 8MB cache unit I got over the summer 
when Office Max had a $100 rebate.  About $71 after taxes.

And for no good reason at all, I got the All-In-Wonder Radeon 9800 Pro 128MB 
8XAGP video card.  Now I can time-shift .hack//Sign.  I can have live TV 
wallpaper, which is like being drunk except it lasts longer.  I can stay on my 
old 266MHz W98 machine paying bills while the kids play.

Most of it I got via, a very good experience.  The case, monitor 
and the DVD were local/Global purchases.  ;-)

Should I get bored with that much horsepower, it's apparently possible to 
overclock the system from 200 to 250MHz.  That gives it a FSB speed of 1GHz 
(who needs Rambus?), and the processor then goes to 3.5GHz.  I'll need more 
tricolor fans.


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