Summer PC: Installation

  • Gran Turismo: An enthusiast’s PC geared towards PC gaming
  • Easy Penny: A very reasonable PC able to sustain a few years without letting its owner down

Too many web sites offer you a list of PC configurations that they pretend ideal. but they do not bother trying to really set them up. This is not the case here at Roumazeilles.net, we tried to install the Gran Turismo PC presented in these pages in the recent days. Here are the results of this experience.

Gigabyte GA-MA69G-S3Hwhen actually buying the parts, I did an exception to the list indicated previously: I let me be induced in buying a the Wifi version (or Wireless edition) of the Asus M2N32-SLI Deluxe motherboard. for a few euros more, the Wifi 802.11g function is integrated to the mobo and it comes with a nice little antenna.

In addition, I provided a keyboard and mouse. Nowadays, this is standard issue for most computers. The only recommendation is to ensure that you have a good mouse (this rodent will be used a lot and is sure to be the first part to break when you use your computer). I admit having a strong preference for Logitech when it comes to mechanical mouse. But since the advent of optical mice (they have the advantage of being very difficult to fill with dust and junk), I accept nearly any mouse.

Setting up the hardware was utterly easy. As a matter of fact, the power supply, the computer case and the motherboard came with extensive documentation (including clear pictures and photos, a lot of screws, more than a few bolts, cables and connectors to easily solve the little issues that could have been coming up. Even installing the CPU-cooling fan on top of the AMD Athlon x2 5600+ processor (box edition) did not request any effort (it’s nice to know that long gone are the days of the struggle required by the old AMD Socket A). The many connections are well identified, marked and mostly fool-proof.

One of the nicest surprises of this installation was the very low noise level of the configuration. It’s even the most silent PC in the room here, producing less noise than old PC machines (Athlon 750MHz, Athlon XP 2600+). The quality of the power supply (GameXStream 600W from OCZ) and of the computer case (Centurion 5 from Cooler Master) were critical for this, but the graphics card is still notably more silent than older like the Powercolor ATI 9800 pro.

The need to create a drivers floppy disk forced us into installing a floppy drive that would have been useless in any other situation. Fortunately, an old 3″1/2 drive found in a drawer and the floppy cable provided with the Asus motherboard easily solved the issue.

Microsoft WindowsThe comes the software installation. Windows 2000 pro (without any Service Pack) appeared to be too old to correctly install itself on a SATA-II disk like the one we selected from Seagate and connected to the ASUS M2N32-SLI deluxe Wifi motherboard. I tried to create a drivers diskette from the drivers DVD provided with the motherboard, but Windows 2000 still had real problems trying to recognize the hard drive (even after reformatting it using the Seagate utilities or the partitonning tools found on the otherwise excellent UBCD). Au mieux, j’ai réussi à copier les fichiers en début d’installation, mais impossible de finir l’installation de Windows 2000 pro.

The solution: Install a lot more modern Operating System, like Windows 2000 pro SP4, windows XP or Windows Vista (though I wouldn’t recommend the later because of the dire lack of drivers – or their very limited quality – even for the EN8800GTS 640Mo graphics card). You still need to provide the drivers floppy disk, but then it’s only a matter of pressing F6 when prompted by the installation program and then following the instructions to use the floppy disk appropriately.

Nota bene: do not forget to remove the Windows installation CD-ROM to let the computer reboot on the hard disk drive after the first file copy.

Gnu, too late for a live photoTuxNevertheless, you still can look at really ow cost OS (either free to download or cheap to buy on a DVD): GNU/Linux under the form of one of its many distributions (Suse, Debian, Ubuntu, Knoppix, etc.) the price difference between the Microsoft OS and the GNU/Linux family of oeprating Systems can be tremendous…

All in all the Gran Turismo PC was relatively easy to setup, is significantly less expensive than its branded counterparts and is more than satisfying. It will receive more and more FPS games (S.T.A.L.K.E.R. and Far Cry are already running and the aliens must be cautious here around) and will still be the basis for later extensions.

After the last addition of the mouse and keyboard, we will not add more to the configuration. So, we have:

  • Gran Turismo: 22€ for a Logitech media wireless desktop [mouse + keyboard] (current total: 941€)
  • Easy Penny: 22€ for a Logitech media wireless desktop [mouse + keyboard] (current total: 433€)

All prices are the best we could find in France at writing time.