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Parts List

I'm publishing a computer parts list for the benefit of a few of my co-workers who are also planning to assemble computers in the near future. I ordered most of the components from Tiger Direct and all prices are after manufacturer rebates. (Rebates totaled $110.) I'm writing this after having ordered the components, not after assembling the system, so I might yet discover some incompatibilities.

Note to marketing analysts: I bought almost everything through Tiger Direct because they had a great price on the first component I shopped for — the motherboard. After my shopping cart had one item in it, I kept filling it without shopping at other sites. So, ya know, it might be a worthwhile strategy to sell motherboards as loss-leaders. Just FYI…

CategoryItemCost
Total$561.05
Processor Intel® Pentium® Processor Extreme Edition 840 n/a :-)
Cooler Intel® Socket 775 $29.99
Motherboard Intel® D955XBK $179.99
Memory PQI Turbo DDR2 667MHz (2GB, 4x512MB) $131.98
Hard Disk Seagate Barracuda 7200.9 SATA-300 (8MB/160GB) $49.99
Graphics XFX GeForce 6500 PCI-Express (128MB) $34.99
Case and Power Supply Power Up ATX Mid-Tower, 500W $49.99
Operating System OpenBSD 3.9 $45.00
Shipping and Handling Hardware $34.19 + Software $4.93 $31.12

OpenBSD is free to download, but I purchased it on CD. The current releases support both multithreading and 64-bit operation.

The processor is extremely high-end — almost too high-end, because I had to buy a correspondingly high-end motherboard in order to support it properly. The "trouble" is that it's a dual-core that also supports multithreading, so I have a total of four hardware threads. I very much wanted to buy an Intel® D945GNT because it offers integrated graphics, but that motherboard doesn't support Extreme Edition processors. (As an aside, don't mistake the "Intel® Pentium® Processor Extreme Edition 840" for an "Intel® Pentium® D Processor 840" or an "Intel® Pentium® 4 Processor Extreme Edition" — these are all very different products. Don't get me started on how much time it took me to fully understand the differences, and I work there…)

There are no motherboards for Extreme Edition processors that offer integrated graphics. This seems reasonable if you realize that this particular market segment is populated by computer gaming enthusiasts who need fancy and expensive graphics capabilities … but I'm not a gamer, and I don't need those capabilities. I would be happier with integrated graphics and fewer components to buy. As you can see, I did not spend big money on a fancy graphics card.

I did not purchase any thermal compound (to place between the processor and heatsink) because I already have some left over from the last computer I built even if the cooler unit doesn't ship with any. I'm not certain I'll stick with this cooler because I expect it to be fairly loud on such a hot processor. I may upgrade to something more expensive, but quieter.

You may have noticed that this is a "headless" machine — no keyboard, mouse, or monitor. That's correct. I'm going to add it to my KVM switch. I'd like to upgrade to an LCD monitor, wireless keyboard, and wireless optical mouse, but that will mean buying a new KVM switch too.

You may also have noticed that I didn't buy an optical drive. I'm going to salvage one from an older computer. I'll only use it to install the operating system, anyway. My CD/DVD ripping/burning needs are met by my laptop.

I toyed with the idea of building this system to be a media server and putting it in my living room, but I decided I'd rather upgrade my general use computer instead of having a media server. The multimedia capabilities of this computer will go sadly unused.

Tiny Island