It’s Alive! Home-Built Computer

Well, yesterday I bit the bullet and began assembling the Pundit-R computer. My misgivings about the noise were entirely unfounded, and the little guy is quiet and unobtrusive even before the case is put back on. The machine comes with a massive heat sink and fan for the processor. I installed an Intel Pentium-4 2.4 processor that has a 533Mhz front-side bus, which is less than the capacity of the motherboard, and will perhaps run cooler than the fastest possible chip.

The disk drive, a Maxtor 60gig drive comes with an S-ATA connector. This has a very short, stiff cable which caused some difficulty installing. I also installed a CD-RW drive which serves as the boot drive for loading an operating system. I attempted to install Novell Desktop 9.0 (Suse) which failed to load, and to boot and install Windows XP Professional which started a hardware check and then blanked out the screen. Finally Linux Fedora Core 3 installed without incident. Performance is snappy. It is working fine for the moment, and I’ll pursue the Windows problem later, (or not…)

Costs:
Case = US$170.50
Processor, Hard Drive, and CD-Drive = US$257.91
Memory=157.97

Total: $586.38

Note this is without software… if you add Windows, it would be another $133 or so.

Basic building time was about an hour…but I did spend some time troubleshooting a problem with the drive connections, (master and slave…channels, etc.) If I was building a machine for the first time, I think a small tower case would have been a better choice…it makes it easier to change things around.

But, place this in context. Checking on the Dell site, I see a Dell “workstation” machine with a 2.8Ghz processor, no operating system, 512Megs of RAM, 40 Gigabyte SATA hard drive and 48x CD ROM and a 3 year on-site basic warranty plan for $709 after a rebate, but before shipping, (which is usually $50.00 at least). Add $150.00 to bring up the memory amount, $49.00 for a CDRW and $40.00 to boost the hard drive to 80 megs. This gives a total of $938 before shipping.

Now, I’m not about to reward myself for a savings of $352 and say that I earned $300+ per hour for the assembly… but… if you have more time than money…well…

I think if I had teenagers who needed a new machine, this would be an ideal route. Make ’em build it themselves.

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One thought on “It’s Alive! Home-Built Computer

  1. Anonymous

    Sorry I didn’t see this sooner. I had a similar problem with this NIC in April 2004, but the patch was not added to the Linux kernel until much later.The ASUS Pundit-R onboard NIC will work with any distribution of Linux, as long as the kernel version is 2.6.8.1 or higher (in other words, FC3, but not FC1 or FC2). This is because the 3c59x.c driver source was patched to support this NIC (PCI ID: 9202) in version 2.6.8.1, just prior to FC3 being released. It has also been “backported” to the Linux 2.4 kernel tree, as of version 2.4.29.(If you’re familiar with kernel recompilation, you could do it yourself, without waiting for your favorite linux distribution (Mandrake, SuSE, Fedora, etc.) to update its kernel source…it’s about 4 lines of code.)

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