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College PC Refresh Project

Sat May 23 2020

Before going to college, I saved up some money to do my first PC build, back when that was a thing and becoming popular with nerds.

My goal was to build a PC meant for gaming in the dorms since I was anticipating a heavy gaming community, which was pretty accurate.

That was back in 2002 when the parts I bought were nearly top of the line. I actually was able to find notes on what I used and the machine had a Pentium 4 3.2GHz CPU along with and ASUS P4C800 Deluxe motherboard, along with 4 x 1GB of PC3200 DDR memory, and a GeForce 4800 Ti 4800. I was very proud of this build when it came off the assembly line in my bedroom. If I remember correctly, all of the parts ran around ~$2,000 at Frys Electronics.

However, time took its toll, and I was forced to make some “upgrades” to it which really just meant fixing things to make it work so I could edit Word documents. Even Fry’s Electronics doesn’t exist anymore in the same fashion it did back in the early 2000’s. Everything now is NewEgg or Amazon, along with PC PartPicker.

Since the machine had suffered from years of neglect, the motherboard and CPU had gone out, and I was too cheap to buy new equipment in the same price bracket as the former components.

Basically what exists now is the bare minimum to run: a Celeron D CPU and an Abit IS-10 motherboard with 2 * 512MB PC2700 DDR memory.

Now that it’s 2020 and these parts are woefully underpowered, I’ve since had the idea to repurpose this machine to be a media server or something that can function with minimal CPU utilization.

Intel Celeron 2.66GHz 256K cache 533MHz FSB CPU

I’m not going to be breaking any speed records with this thing.

dirty cpu 1

This thing has sat in a closet or in the garage for years, and I think I’ve maybe turned it on 2 or 3 times since 2008? The CPU thermal paste is solid. Good thing I didn’t try to start it up. I’ll definitely have to add new paste before I try to use this again.

dirty cpu 2

Intel Socket 478 HeatSink Cooler Fan

The stock Intel CPU cooler was in pretty good shape, and just needed to be cleaned up. I also had to scrape off the old CPU thermal paste. I ended up breaking one of the clips on this thing at some point so I’ll either have to find a way to glue the broken pieces back together or, shrug, buy another one.

cpu cooler

Western Digital 100GB HDD

The 100GB HDD I had with this thing is still hopefully good and doesn’t have any bad sectors. It looks to be in good shape.

hdd

ABit IS-10 Motherboard

With basic CPUs come basic motherboards. This beast is an actually a MicroATX board and doesn’t use all the right standoffs, so it wobbles everywhere =/. Sadly I don’t think I wanna go down the road of finding an old motherboard to support a Celeron.

mobo

Corsair 512MB DDR 333MHz Memory

No that isn’t a typo, it’s actually just “DDR” =(. 512MB of memory isn’t going to get me very far, so I imagine I’ll have to order more. The Abit motherboard supported a max of 2GB so I’ll go on eBay and pick some up.

memory

Bestec 250W 12v ATX Power Supply

Upon testing the power supply, it made some clicking noises and failed to power a simple case fan so I can reliably say this thing is fried. At 250W anyways, who cares. I’ll go pick one up from Amazon for $15 and hope nothing else breaks =/.

This is also a 20 pin ATX power supply and most of the ATX ones out there now are 24 pin, so I need to find one that has a 20+4 pin configuration.

psu

Radeon 7000 64Mb Graphics Card

Not sure what happened to the GeForce card…

video


Steven Wright

Written by Steven Wright who lives and works in Sacramento building useful things.