Show and Tell - My Self Built Gaming Computer - Quite the mess inside

Started by DaveLembke, March 19, 2013, 04:22:26 PM

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Figured I'd add a show & tell timeline here of my self built gaming computer, which started as an off the shelf model that was transformed to modern from mostly cheap and scrounged up parts over the years. Pictures below are of my gaming system. Not very pretty, but it performs well. And there is no visible cable management to anyone looking into this system with side panel off...LOL   But I did make sure no wires get into the path of a fan blade..  ;D

10 year Timeline - of this build that started as an off the shelf computer that has evolved to modern day self built, only using the original case 10 years later through progression of upgrades and modifications:

Started with Original Hardware:

Compaq S6030NX ( bought in 2003 for $549 at Radio Shack )
Athlon XP 2800+ ( 2.08Ghz )
256MB RAM DDR 333Mhz
CD-RW Drive
Windows XP Home

Upgrades after purchase of this box for gaming was to add 256MB RAM to get 512MB RAM and added $80 at the time, GeForce 5200 FX 8x AGP Video Card with dual-VGA and 256MB Ram for gaming vs weak integrated VIA GPU.

2003 to 2008 ( 5 good years of daily gaming,... however the GeForce 5200FX wasnt cutting it in 2007, so I upgraded to a GeForce 6200 AGP 8x card with 256MB Ram and moving from GeForce Series 5 to Series 6 made a world of difference with water effects shaders and shadows etc.)

2008 - Original Motherboard was malfunctioning with locking up tight randomly which got progressively worse, temps were fine, Ran Memtest86 which passed but swapped RAM anyways to see if issue would change, swapped Video Card back to 5200FX to eliminate that, swapped Power Supply in caseit was the cause even though that looked fine, and reinstalled clean OS with no solution to random lock up's. Problem was pointing to motherboard failure, and the system was showing its age anyways since most games at this time were calling for Dual-Core Processors for minimum requirements.

2008 - Bought cheap $65 barebone ( CPU/Motherboard ) bundle at newegg Biostar MCP6PB M2+ which came with AM2 Sempron x2 2200 65Watt 2.00Ghz CPU. ( Not a bad dual-core, faster than my Athlon XP 2800+ I had prior.) This motherboard also had GeForce chipset and for a few months I used the integrated GeForce 6150SE GPU until i could get a better video card for it. The GeForce 6150SE was ok, for older games and WoW at that time on patch 2.4.3, but I needed a more powerful GPU, and it was weaker than the GeForce 6200 I had. *Used single IDE ATA 100 port for 80GB HDD and DVD-Rom. Windows XP Home migrated to this new motherboard pretty well. ** Also had to cut the wire harness for the LEDs and power button and convert it from the specific Compaq single black connector that only pinned out correctly to the original motherboard that came with computer to universal harness, by use of using the universal harness from an old 486 computer which had the labelled single purpose connections for PWR SW, PLED, HDD LED, RESET, etc, so that the case is now universal. *** Also had to upgrade the power supply to a 300watt AMD/P4 power supply that I had gotten from a dead computer that had a good PSU. Had a 1GB and 512MB stick of DDR 667Mhz RAM from another junk computer and has system running on 1.5GB of DDR2 667Mhz RAM

2009 - Bought a Geforce 8400GS 16x PCIe video card with 256MB RAM for $25 to do away with the integrated GeForce 6150SE for games. BIG DIFFERENCE, Way Better! *But had to add 80mm Fan to blow cool air across the large passive heatsink to keep GPU temps away from critical when gaming.

2010 - Upgraded  to 500GB SATA Hard Drive for $9. Found Maxtor Hard Drive that was being thrown away that Seagate offered Warranty Repair/Replacement for, so I sent it back RMA just like the original owner should have done. Few weeks after sending it in, I was shipped back a 500GB Seagate Refurb Hard Drive with 2 year warranty. *At this time I also bought Windows 7 Home Premium Family pack ( 3 licenses ) and performed upgrade of this systems OS to 7 from XP as well as upgraded my wife to 7 from XP as well. ** This power supply did not have any SATA power jacks, so I had to add a P-Connector to SATA Power conversion link to be able to power the hard drive.

2010 - My friend cooked his integrated GPU in his 1 year old HP Pavilion with Athlon II x4 620 2.6Ghz AM3 CPU. I assist him with buying a motherboard. He decides that he wants even more power, he wants a Phenom II x6, so I pointed him towards a CPU/ Motherboard combo that would work in his HP case, and convert the wire harness of his system to universal. I offered him $50 for his Athlon II x4 620 that he didnt need anymore, and he gave it to me as payment even though I helped him for free, so I upgraded the Semrpon x2 2200 AM2 to Athlon II x4 620 AM3 for free.

2010 - 300Watt noname brand PSU started to fail with weak 5VDC Rail at power up. Upgraded to 460Watt PSU problem solved, and was able to remove the P-connector to SATA link that was needed prior.

2010 - My youngest brother spent crazy money, more than I'd ever pay to build a computer, and upgraded to a Core i7 system 16GB RAM 128GB SSD etc, and was selling his ASUS Core 2 Duo E6600 installed in motherboard with 4GB Corsair XMS2 DDR2 800Mhz Ram. Paid him $20 for RAM and  $70 for motherboard with CPU and massive heatsink that wouldnt fit in most cases with the side cover on. Installed the 4GB DDR2 800Mhz Ram into my gaming system, and realized that I had forgotten about the 3GB limitation of the 32-bit Windows 7 OS. And this motherboard ended up going into my wifes computer with a normal heatsink and native clock vs 2.4Ghz E6600 running around 3.2Ghz.

2011 - Upgraded GeForce 8400GS 256MB video card to ASUS AMD ATI 5450 HD with 1GB DDR3 for $30 at newegg.

2012 - With prices of SSD's falling, decided to buy two OCZ SSD's, this one in the pictures below is the OCZ Vertex 3 90GB which is SATA III running backwards compatibility on SATA II 3.0Gb/s, which I am using for my swap file and games to execute from. *Moving the swap file to the SSD as well as games like World of Warcraft to it that is greater than 25GB in size made a big different with load times and game performance. ** Someone with an eye for detail might also notice 2 hard drives installed, which is also the reason for the light weight SSD just hanging off its cables at a 45 degree angle. I cracked open a Western Digital External that's SATA to USB board had failed and installed the good 1TB SATA drive direct to the system, BUT, since I only have 2 SATA II ports, I disconnected the 1TB drive and left it in there, but before doing so I cloned the data from the 500GB to the 1TB using a western digital drive migration tool, so its in there now ready to run if I ever crashed the 500GB etc to shut down computer, move SATA power/com cables over and turn it back on. Some might question why not use the 1TB instead of the 500GB as the main drive, reason being is that I might as well put all the wear on this $9 500GB refurb, and when the refurb dies or is no longer large enough, move on over to the 1TB. So far 500GB has been plenty.

2013 - Latest modification was personal preference. Added a 2nd NIC to system that I modified to add a soldered wire pair with a yellow LED to the end of it to relocate the NIC Activity LED to the front panel of the computer, drilling a small hole in the plastic about the same diameter of the LED and using hot glue behind it to hold it in place. Moved network connection to this 2nd NIC and stopped using integrated NIC. Used mainly as an indication so that if I am not downloading anything etc and I see it very active I can check on what is downloading or uploading. Caught the Pando Media Booster installed through this which was torrenting updates and who knows what else outbound. Removed Pando and games still function without it.

Well enough info... now for pictures of this beast which I almost named Frankenstein, but the name Frankenstein actually was given to another computer that I have that was struck by lightning and I brought it back to live having to add parts from donors.

Hardware specs are currently:

Compaq S6030NX Minitower Case
Athlon II x4 620 ( 2.6Ghz ) CPU
Biostar MCP6PB M2+ Motherboard
4GB DDR2 800Mhz Corsair XMS2 RAM ( 3GB usable with current 32-bit OS )
ASUS AMD ATI 5450 HD with 1GB DDR3 PCIe 16x
500GB Seagate "Refurb" SATA II HDD C: (OS and stuff that doesnt need speed of SSD here )
90GB  OCZ Vertex 3 SATA III running at SATA II speed X: ( swap file and games on this )
DVD-RW LG IDE driver at ATA100
Intel 100 Pro Managed NIC as 2nd NIC
Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit OS

*Computer Case Alterations Required:

1.) Convert Compaq/HP wiring to Universal
2.) Drill holes in case to convert case from Compaq/HP power supply mounting pattern to Universal.

*Computer Case Alterations Personal Preference:

1.) Added 2nd NIC with relocated Network Activity LED to front panel.
2.) Added 80mm Fan resting upright on bottom of case with a twisty-tie mounting it from 2 holes in back of steel case.

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