Jeff Atwood has tiny hands :-)

The last couple of computers I bought have been fairly high spec Dell machines and since its been 3 years since my last desktop purchase I decided it was time to upgrade from the P4 that has served me very well.

I looked at Dell again but this time I just wasn't happy with the specs - it seems that to get a decent dev rig with DX10 cards I had to start stepping up into the crazy gamer alienware type PC and those get crazy pretty quick. I resigned myself to months of research and building my own. But then Jeff over at CodingHorror was 'commissioned' by Scott Hanselman to build him a developer computer. So I saved myself lots of work and just copied him!

The final parts arrived today so I've spent this morning putting it together. Things are a bit more complicated than 8 years ago the last time I did this - CPUs seem smaller but the heat sinks are much bigger. There was no SATA last time I built and this is the 1st time I've put in a power supply with its octopus bunch of mystery cables. The graphics cards are much bigger too and have their own personal fans attached.

Other than going with 1 card (since I only have 2 monitors at the moment and have no need for SLI) I just bought the stuff on Jeff's list however there's been a few teething troubles.

  1. Jeff's list doesn't quite match what he built for Scott - he changed the motherboard to a different make and I didn't notice. Sadly according to the box this board doesn't support quad core over clocking which is a bit sad since I paid for the faster memory chips just to enable that. Hopefully a bios upgrade or something will fix this
  2. The second power connector on the motherboard is in one of the most hard to reach places I have ever seen. It took several long tools to get that in there and the fins on the CPU cooler are sharper than they look
  3. The motherboard only comes with a 'quick install' manual - you have to go online to find the actual manual with the schematic to find what all the bits are
  4. The online schematic nor the manual doesn't tell you where the 1394 header is - thankfully this article on HardOCP does.
  5. The online schematic doesn't tell you where the sound header is for the front panel - thankfully if you actually read the manual it tells you.
  6. The motherboard only comes with 2 SATA cables and 2 SATA power connectors... somehow I managed to get the SATA DVD drive so I need to go and buy a cable even though my house is full of cables I kept 'just in case'
  7. Hmmm do I connect my 2 SATA drives to different SATA controllers?? Is it like IDE in that respect - nope the manual doesn't tell you that. Seems like Jeff put his on #1 and #2 so thats good enugh for me.
  8. When Jeff suggests putting the hard drives in the bottom enclosure DO AS HE SAYS... the middle enclosure is no use at all when you have the big ass graphics card there because you just can't fit a drive in it!
  9. The fan on the CPU cooler doesn't actually fit in the motherboard - the memory gets in the way on the right hand side and the chipset cooler on the bottom. The top and left side already have case fans within an inch and the cooler claims its fine with passive cooling so for now I will just let it go and see what happens as I test it and overclock it. I have to say when I opened the box and looked at this beast of a cooler I just about died. It has to be one of the meanest looking things I ever paid $40 for.
  10. My hands are fricking HUGE. Jeff must have the tiny hands of a 5 year old to be able to reach in and build this thing fast :-)

After about 3-4 hours of reading, surfing and trying to plug in connectors in the dark I have a booting PC... well as far as the BIOS anyway. Then it took me another hour to make the hard drives work (must have had a loose connection on the power - after i unplugged and replugged everything they worked just fine).

So now on with the software build up.... I see Scott has already got his list of things to install though he is shaming me with he 3 monitor setup and his attempt at tidy cabling (maybe next time I will post pictures of my half assed attempt solving at the cabling problem under my desk).


Published 06 August 2007 04:07 PM by zman


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