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Building 'Nefarious' - Part 1: Assembly
Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3

I've finally decided to build myself a new computer. The last time I built one for myself, I attempted to be fairly conservative, and stick to known configurations. This time, I decided to throw caution to the wind and build something a little closer to 'bleeding-edge'. Since the system would be designed to run Linux (Mandrake-Linux specifically), basing it around the AMD Athlon 64 was a farily obvious choice - there was a current Mandrake version for AMD64, AMD appears to be actively supporting Linux and, just to show that we all fall into lockstep behind him, Linus has been quoted as believing AMD64 to be the better technology :)

I've broken this project into 3 seperate articles: Components/Assembly, Installation and Benchmark/Customization. Over the next couple of days I'll post the second and third articles, but for now, on to Components/Assembly.

Components

I decided early on to document the building of 'nefarious', along with screenshots. Not having a decent digital camera around, I borrowed a FujiFilm 3800 (thanks Jason!). This is one sweet camera. gphoto didn't have a configuration for the camera, but since it had USB, I simply did:

# mount /dev/scsi/host1/bus0/target0/lun0/part1 /mnt/disk
# mv /mnt/disk/* /tmp

Anyway, back to the system. I did a lot of comparisons of various board, memory and video card configurations. After extensive research, I came up with the following configuration:

AMD ATHLON 64 3200+ PROCESSOR 2000MHZ S754
ASUS K8V DELUXE ATHLON64 S754 DDR AGP 5PCI SATA RAID 1394 1000LAN SOUND
THERMALTAKE COLD CATHODE LIGHT 12 INCH ULTRAVIOLET BLACK LIGHT
SUNBEAM ROUND COLD CATHODE FAN 80MM BLUE 2700RPM 31CFM 28DBA
LOGITECH ELITE KEYBOARD BLACK MULTILINGUAL USB PS/2
MAXTOR 120GB SATA 7200RPM 8MB HARD DRIVE
2 x KINGSTON PC3200 512MB DDR 400MHZ CL3
LITEON 16X DVD-ROM INT E-IDE
EGLOBAL DRAGON 21in ALUMINUM CASE w/WIN/420W/U2/A/2 FANS BLACK
PIONEER A-06 DVD-R/-RW/DVD: 4x2x 12x; DVD+R/+RW/DVD: 4x2.4x12x; CD-RW:16x8x24, ATAPI
ASUS V9520TD GeFORCE FX5200 128MB W/DVI-I/TVO
VIEWSONIC VX900 19IN TFT LCD 1280X1024 ANALOG/DIGITAL
ALTEC LANSING VERSATILE 251 5.1 AMPLIFIED SPEAKER SYSTEM

So, 5 days and $3700CDN later (GST/PST, shipping and insurance can sure jack up the price) my system finally arrived.

Unfortunately, two items where backordered, and wouldn't be arriving for a couple more days. These two compenents where critical to my overall design and would cause great delays. OK, it was the black light and the blue fan, but what good is having a cool system if it doesn't _look_ cool.

I spent a lot of time taking pictures of the different components, but when it came time to write something about them, there is not much to say. The pictures themselves say more than any rambling nonsense I could come up with. (Clicking on a picture opens it in a new window)

Asus K8V and cables


AMD 64HeatsinkFX5200


Maxtor SATAEglobal DragonP/S


DVDR/CDRLogitech KeyboardAltec Lansing 5.1


ViewSonic VX900
Assembly

Since the power supply came seperately, I started with mounting that. In hindsight, I should have tested the power supply/motherboard prior to putting it into the case, but it ended up not being an issue. I did have to mount the Power Supply 'upside down', so that the third fan was facing down towards the motherboard (and so the mounting holes lined up :) ), so the writing on the fan speed control is upside down (Note: the higher you set the speed for the internal fans, the brighter the lights in the fan glow - Hey! stop snickering, everyone knows that coloured fans are better at decreasing system temperature).

I installed the CPU, Heatsink/Fan and Memory prior to placing it in the case. The CPU uses a ZIF-type socket, several markings to show which way to insert it and a pinout that can only be installed one way (you really have to try to screw this up). I used the heatsink/fan that came with the processor, and I was really pleased with the design. The clip arm on the heatsink extends out farther than the stock K8 heatsinks did, allowing you to clip it into place using your thumb (no more trying to force it down with a screwdriver). The heatsink has a black plastic arm that assists in locking it into place. The CPU came with a mounting bracket and a metal motherboard reinforcement standoff, but the motherboard alreay had these attached, so no extra work for me (yah!).

I temporarily mounted the motherboard (4 out of 9 screws, in case something needed to be replaced), plugged in the standard ATX power and the smaller 12V power plug, flipped the switch and waited for the smoke. No smoke. The little green light in the upper right showed me that the power supply was working.

Okay, so far so good. I turn the power off, install the graphics card and plug the monitor in. I have to reach for the motherboard manual so I can get the proper sequence for the power/speaker/reset connectors (I'm getting old, can't read that small of letting anymore) and hook them up. Turn the monitor on, turn on the power supply, press the power button on the case and wait for smoke. No smoke. I was greated by the K8V logo screen, and a split second later it was searching for my as of yet uninstallated drives. Time to power off and hook up the remaining devices.

Using the quick release mounts that came with the case, I installed the DVD/CDRW and DVD player - the quick release mounts rock - connecting them to the primary controller with an 80 pin cable. The drive bays unmount with a simple catch, so I removed the bottom one and installed the harddrive. The SATA connector is pretty slick, and it installed effortlessly into both the drive and the onboard SATA_PRI controller*. The motherboard came with a ATX-SATA power convertor, which was also much easier to install.

The final components to install were the Firewire port and USB ports. To finish up, I connected the fans and made sure everything was seated properly - and for those of you who are paying attention, I put the other 5 screws in.

That finishes off the assembly for now. The next step will be to fire the system up and attempt to install Mandrake 9.2 AMD64. If everything goes well, I'll put the final touches on the case and hook all the perephirals up.

Part 1 :: Part 2 :: Part 3


*Later on, I found out I had to use SATA_1 instead (I really should have read the manual).


Last Updated Wednesday, April 21 2004 @ 09:20 CST; 28,367 Hits View Printable Version


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