I’ve built my new desktop computer / server and now have it up an running. It’s been 4 years since my last PC, so it was time for an upgrade. The biggest advantages of the new computer are a dual-core processor, a super-quiet case, and a RAID hard drive controller card that provides protection against drive failures and lets me add disks to the array to make one huge drive. Biggest advantage: all of my movies stored on my network, so that I can use the PC in my basement to browse and play movies. Just like TiVo, only with a better looking interface (Windows Media Center 2005 + My Movies plugin).
Update 2006-Mar-19: Asus released a new beta bios, version 10.11-006, that fixed the A8N-SLI Premium / RAID card compatibility issue. I’m glad that it is released and fixed, but disappointed that it took them so long.
Old Info about Hardware Incompatibility: For the first time in years, I’ve had a hardware compatibility issue. The is odd because I’ve probably built or upgraded 15 different computers over the past few years and issues seem to be a thing of the past. Not now; my Asus A8N-SLI Premium motherboard does not properly recognize my Areca ARC-1230 RAID card. I had to place it into “dual video card mode” to even get it to acknowledge the card. Now, exactly every other time I reset the system, the motherboard fails to recognize the card. So every single time I reboot, I have to wait for the BIOS power-on self-test to complete and then hit CTRL+ALT+Delete to reboot and recognize the card. BIOS updates have not helped and I’ve changed every single setting in the BIOS to no avail. I e-mailed ASUS technical support, but 6 days later and they still have not even acknowledged the request.
I did find some info on the problem, here are the relevant links:
Anyway, these are the components I used in my system:
- CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ Socket 939 Dual Core Processor (better value than any Intel dual-core processor)
- Memory: Kingston ValueRAM 1GB 184-Pin DDR SDRAM DDR 400 (PC 3200) ECC Unbuffered System Memory Model KVR400X72C3A/1G (ECC to offer a little more reliability, but purchase unbuffered instead of registered for compatibility and speed)
- CPU Fan: ZALMAN CNPS7000B-CU 92mm 2 Ball Cooling Fan/Heatsink (very quiet)
- Case: Antec Performance I P180 Silver Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case (very quiet)
- Motherboard: ASUS A8N-SLI Premium Socket 939 NVIDIA nForce4 SLI ATX AMD Motherboard (ASUS has a great reputation for reliability and compatibility)
- Card Reader: Atech Flash XC-14U 15-in-1 USB 2.0 Int/Ext media Card Reader (more important than a floppy drive)
- Video Card: ASUS EN6200TC256/TD/64M Geforce 6200TC 64MB PCI Express x16 Video Card (fast and cheap)
- Power Supply: SeaSonic S12-380 ATX12V 380W Power Supply (very quiet and high efficiency)
- Floppy Drive: Sony Black 1.44MB 3.5″ Internal Floppy Drive (still need these for operating system installs if you install to a drive on the RAID card)
- RAID Card: Areca ACR-1230 12-drive PCI Express to SATA controller card with 256 MB cache
- Hard Drives: Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 ST3500641AS 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s Hard Drive (quiet and they have a 5-year warranty)
I did run into one issue when I installed Windows. My card-reader was plugged-in and it has 4 drive letters. My main hard drive, instead of being Drive C, was Drive G because Windows assigned C, D, E, F to the card reader (ahead of the hard drive). Brilliant. I had to unplug the card reader and reinstall Windows because that is the easiest way to fix the problem. This really needs to be fixed in the new Windows Vista.