I finally decided to replace my primary computer — a well-worn 2-year-old Sony Vaio PCG-FXA50 laptop — with a more modern, powerful, fully featured tower-style PC. Since I plan to share the system between both my consulting business and a wide range of hobbies and multimedia projects, I decided to make it dual-boot between Vista and some version of Linux.
Naturally, being an incurable hardware geek, I was compelled to build the system from components — of course it helps to have a Fry’s Electronics about half a mile away from where I live.
Wanting the system to last for 3-5 years (with upgrades), I opted for a motherboard in ATX format, based on an Intel LG775 CPU socket and using Intel’s relatively recent P35 + IHC9 chipset. I selected an Asus P5KC and populated it with a 2.66 GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 2GB of DDR2 DRAM, and an Nvidia GeForce 8400 GS PCI-e video card.
The P5KC includes everything but graphics
I’ve had quite a bit of experience with board-level computers from my Ampro days, so I naturally looked over the PK5C carefully to assess its quality. The verdict: it’s a work of art!
For the enclosure, I decided I’d had enough of the cramped system quarters and constantly failing power supplies of PCs I’d built in the past. With that in mind, I sprang for an Antec Sonata III 500.
The Black Tower
It’s a well designed and roomy skin for my new system, with a 500 Watt power supply, three 5.25-inch and six 3.5-inch drive bays, and lots of excellent quality DC and I/O cables. I was particularly impressed with the ease of motherboard and disk drive installation, and the documentation that came with the enclosure was excellent.
Inside the Black Tower
For starters I populated my new Black Tower with one DVD R/W drive and a pair of $99 500GB SATA drives…. it seems like a terabyte of disk space will take me decades to fill up, but I’m sure it won’t be long before I’ve got all those drive bays loaded up with graphics and multimedia files.
After bolting it all together and making all the required connections, I plugged in the Black Tower’s power cord, took a deep breath, and pushed the power button….
I breathed a sigh of relief as the system’s fans spun up, my LCD monitor displayed BIOS boot messages, and no smoke poured out the back!
Next it was time to load the system up with software, and take her for a spin.
…this story is continued here: