Windows Personal Computer

It boggles my mind that I can own a computer that is 10,000 times faster than the CDC 6600 that I once programmed. There are many reasons for this success, one being the free market of components.

So...Let's build a computer!

Components of Homemade PC

Case, Power Supply from PC Power & Cooling
Two 866 MHz Coppermine Pentium IIIs
Intel OR840 dual-cpu motherboard
Two 256MB RDRAMs with ECC
Two IBM IDE Disk Drives (very quiet)
ATI Radeon 8500 3D Graphics
Turtle Beach "Santa Cruz" audio
18" Compac TFT8020 monitor
Floppy and Zip Drives
3COM Network Card
Microsoft Windows XP Pro

Pentium III System

The finished product, my dual processor P-III system. NEC Superscript 1800 laser printer (left) was also a good bargin.

Pentium 4 System

Building a PC was fun, but I won't do it again. My current machine is a 1.8 GHz dual-processor Pentium 4 system from Dell. The big win is the maintanence contract, and it is also amazingly quiet. I treated myself to a 23" LCD monitor from Viewsonic, since I do graphics and image processing research.

A Kinesis Maxim keyboard and a Microsoft optical track ball are defenses against repetative strain injury.

Dual Opteron System

I like to replace my computer when I think I can get a 4x improvement in speed and storage. So in 2005, I built my second PC:

Lian-Li aluminum case
Two Opteron 252 CPUs
Tyan K8WE motherboard
8 x 1GB DDR-400 dimms
2 Western Digital 250 Gb drives
ATI X800 XL graphics
Apple 23" LCD monitor
Plextor 712 DVD drive
PC Power & Cooling 510 XE supply
Microsoft Windows XP x64

Dual Xeon System

I finished my third home-built PC in 2008. I was hoping to base it on the new AMD quad-core opterons ("barcelona"), but they kept delaying, so I chose the 45nm Xeons from Intel. The Dhrystone benchmarks on these last three machines is as followes: Dell Workstation: 8782 MIPS, Dual Opteron System: 25,683 MIPS, Dual Xeon System: 99,685 MIPS. The components (many from are:

Coolmaster CMStacker case
Two Xeon 5472 CPUs (3.0 GHz, 1600 MHz FSB)
Supermicro X7DWA-N motherboard
8 x 2GB 800 MHz FB-DIMMs
3 Seagate 750 Gb drives (for RAID-5)
nVidia 8800 GT graphics
Dell 27" LCD monitor
LG GGW-H2OL Blu-Ray/DVD rewriter
PC Power & Cooling 1 kilowatt supply
Microsoft Windows XP x64 SP2

Xeon Sandybridge System

I designed my fourth PC in 2013. It's based on the new Intel Sandybridge processor. It has a lot more memory, but I spent a lot less on memory, because prices of DRAM have dropped dramatically. Orignally (as seen in this photo) it used a Supermicro motherboard, but it malfunctioned and was replaced with an Asus board. The Intel liquid cooler is highly efficient and wonderfully quiet. The components are:

Thermaltake Level 10 case
One Xeon E5-2670 CPU (2.6 GHz)
Intel BXRTS2011LC liquid cooler
Asus P9X79 Pro motherboard
8 x 8GB Kingston 1333 MHz ECC Dram
Intel SSD 520 (240 GB)
Two Hitachi Ultrastar disk drives (2 TB each)
Asus GTX 670 graphics board
Dell 27" LCD monitor (from previous PC)
Later, LG 34UM95-P, 3440x1440 flat monitor
Liteon iHBS212 Blu-Ray/DVD rewriter
Seasonic X760 power supply (760 watts)
Microsoft Windows 7 x64

Xeon Skylake System

I designed my fifth PC in 2016. It's based on the four-core Skylake Xeon processor. This is sooner than I wanted to make a new machine, but my liquid cooler was failing for the second time, and I've had enough with that. I will use air cooling from now on. I chose a German brand of CPU cooler by Be Quiet, and it is indeed very silent. I went with all solid-state drives, including a very fast M.2 drive for the system C: drive. The components are:

Be Quiet case
One Skylake Xeon E3-1275v5 CPU (3.6 GHz)
Darkrock 3 CPU cooler by Be Quiet.
Supermicro X11SAE-F-P motherboard
4 x 16GB Samsung ECC Unbuffered DDR4-2133
Samsung 950 Pro M.2 SSD
Two Samsung PM863 SSDs (4 TB each)
EVGA 1080 GX SC graphics card
Benq 3840x2160 monitor (32")
Blue Ray burner
Dark Power Pro 11 power supply, (1000 W)
Microsoft Windows 7 x64

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Copyright 2003 Don P. Mitchell. All rights reserved.