Sunday, February 20, 2011

My new rig

I finally decided to get myself a new computer. I have been doing work using my Lenovo Thinkpad T60 which is a dual core machine. It is actually quite good for normal work but I figured a machine with the new Intel Core processors will give my chess engines some extra power.

I ordered a new rig (that is the casing part, minus the monitor and input devices, for those of you not familiar with the term) from an online seller. Big mistake. A communication error resulted I found I had on my hands the various parts not yet assembled into a complete PC!

Well it has been quite a while since I put together my own rig (easily ten years back I guess), but how difficult can it be? What do you need to build your own rig?

Intel Core i3 Processor
I choosed the Intel Core i3-530, one of Intel's latest processors. The reason is that this requires less power as well as running much cooler. This is great because I intend to use this with a chess engine to analyse positions for couple of days without the need to switch off. It is a dual core processor and the most affordable second generation processor. The Core i5 and Core i7 with quad and six cores are even faster but at a higher price. I figured dual core plus running at 3.06GHz is more than enough for my purposes.
CPU Cooler still in box

Gigabit motherboard attached to casing
I settled for the Gigabyte GA-H55M-S2H. You need to make sure the motherboard supports the newer chips so old motherboards will not do. This has on-board graphic chip (Intel calls it Intel HD Graphics ) so no need to spend extra on a separate graphic card. Interestingly besides VGA, it has one HDMI and one DVI ports. HDMI is a bonus in case I want to watch full HD videos on my TV. Beware there is another similar motherboard , the GA-H55M-S2 which only comes with VGA output.

The motherboard also has Gigabit Ethernet connection which is very important for me as I do a lot of internet work. There are eight (!) USB ports at the back - more than enough for any future external devices that I might want to connect.

Once upon a time, computer memory chips were so expensive. Someone once told me that RAM cost more than a similar weight in gold . Hard to believe. Nowadays you can buy 2GB for under a hundred ringgit.

I splurged a bit and went for 4GB of DDR3 memory running at 1333mhz.

Hard Disk
You will need some storage devices. I choose a Samsung Spinpoint F3 500GB hard disk because it is whisper quiet. Just make sure the disk is a 7200 RPM (revolutions per minute) as opposed to a 5600 RPM. Faster RPM means faster access to the data on the disk. This is a SATA II drive - if you still running IDE drives I feel sorry for you :)

Casing and power supply
The casing is required to hold everything! There are casings that run from less than a hundred to several hundred ringgit. I could not get my preferred casing which is the Cooler Master Elite 430. Settled for the Elite 335 instead.

Putting it together
It was a lot harder than I remembered. Make a few mistakes here and there and after some back-pedalling finally I had a working computer.

Completed rig paired with Samsung LCD
I'm running Ubuntu 10.10 linux and so far it has been brilliant. I can run Windows programs using WINE (windows emulator). Only drawback is my Babaschess client seems to crash for no reason. Thats a big problem for me as I use this program to play chess on FICS. Total cost for rig RM1110.


GilaChess said...

Nice looking rig you have there. I'm planning to get a desktop too. Haven't had a working one for years.

Is that a 23" Samsung monitor?

Jimmy Liew said...

20.5 inch I think

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