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…)
Case = US$170.50
Processor, Hard Drive, and CD-Drive = US$257.91
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.