September 5, 2008

New developer rig

Long time ago I read Jeff Atwood's posts where he was building the ultimate developer PC  for Scott Hanselman. These posts touched my inner hardware geek, even though I hadn't given the hardware side of things much attention for years.

After reading the post (including Scott's post about his 12 second post-to-login time), I knew that this was not gonna let me go before I had build a rig like that myself.

So after a lot of research, fundraising ;-) and online shopping at hardware stores, waiting for parts forever, and making adjustments, here is the PC I came up with:

Case: Antec P182
Atwoods described of the craftmanship behind this case. And it is indeed a great case. The best things about this case: It is build with low noise in mind, and in good quality. A few minor issues: It's big. A few inches taller than my previous case. The top fan gave a noticeable hum (and I'm hysterical about noise), so I replaced it with a Scythe S-FLEX 1200. The side panels have small plastic hinges that can break off if you are not careful (ask me why I know).

Noise damping: Nexus DampTEK
I fitted this material inside the case to absorb any hiss and hum. Good material: Compact, fire-resistant and easy to remove and refit (the glue is not like tar, as it is on other similar products). The difference: Actually not much (I would say a few db at most), as the machine was quiet enough before.

PSU: Corsair CMPSU-520HXEU, 520 Watt
I like the modular cables, and the 500W should be more than enough.

Mobo: MSI P7N SLI Platinum
Just went for the upgraded version of the one in Hanselman's rig. Liked the idea of using nVidia chipset for both motherboard and GPU.

Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9300
Following the debate on Coding Horror about Dual Core vs. Quad Core I settled for a quad. I found that Q9300 had the right balance between cost and features for my needs.

Processor cooler: Scythe Mine
I was a little disapointed about the noise level, but adding a Zalman Fanmate lowered the RPM enough for it to be silent, but still cool.

RAM: Corsair TWIN2X4096-6400C4DHX x 2 (that's 8 gb)
You can't get enough RAM, and it is cheap these days. I did spend a little extra for better latency settings on these RAMs, which actually gave me a .1 better memory score in Vista.

Harddrive: WD Velociraptor 300gb
I waited more than a month before this drive was out on the streets. Expensive, but very, very fast.

Harddrive 2: WD Cavair SE 400AAJS
This is the only part that survived from my previous machine. I use it as data drive.

GPU: 2 x XFX GeForce 8600GT
I'm not a gamer, so these mid range graphics cards should do. I dream of a 3 monitor setup, so I got myself 2 cards.
These cards turned out have a quite noisy fan, so I had to replace it with silent NorthQ NQ 3850A coolers.

Monitor: Samsung 22" 2232BW
Stylish. Crystal clear. I just love Samsung monitors. I should get one more of these.

OS: Vista Ultimate 64-bit with SP1
Actually my 64-bit experience has been painless so far. Really. And it runs like a dream.

So there you go. Niiice machine, runs fast, smooth and quiet. I could have bough myself a Dell and saved many hours, but the process of building this machine was just as enjoyable as the end result.

I know this post should have been out sooner as hardware related stuff gets outdated quickly. Anyway, use it as inspiration.

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