A couple of months ago a friend came to me and asked about upgrading his machine. With his current rig running a Core2Duo, 3gb of RAM, Windows Vista 32bit, 2 Nvidia 9600GT's and a spinning hard disk. What he wanted was something that would boot quickly, handle his four monitors for stock trading and be an overall better PC. We had some work to do.
With the new Intel Sandy Bridge architecture out I knew that this was the way to go. An Intel i3 2100 @ 3.1Ghz would be more than enough for this build, heck, it might even be overkill. It really was a perfect part though, the price was right and it offered great performance. Gaming is an after thought on this machine, but even if he did want to throw in COD4 the i3 would suit him well.
A new Gigabyte GA-H67Z-UD3H (I love how that just rolls off the tongue) motherboard found it's way into our hands. This board didn't support SLi but we didn't need it. All we needed was a board that would support 2 GPU's to handle the four 24in 1080p monitors that he was using, I'll get to that later on.
30gb of OCZ Vertex Series Sata II SSD goodness handled our boot times with a fresh install of Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.
With the parts in hand we set of on our little adventure. The person that he bought his PC from didn’t know how to wire it. From the looks of things he probably built it in under five minutes. Wires, cables and unnecessary junk was all over the place. You could easily tell that this was just thrown together on some drunken night. I have never seen something that was this bad. Not only is this bad to look at but the cooling will also suffer. Once I had ripped out all of the old components it was time to do some tidy work. Installing new motherboard standoffs was first in line. It was missing a few of them from the last build. Not only does this put more stress on the board when installing parts it could also lead to shorting out the board. Once the standoffs were installed it was time to get all of the years of dust out. It really is pretty crazy how much dust can accumulate inside of a case. Once the case was throughly cleaned out, we started out installing all of the parts on the work bench. This will make life so much easier when you put the motherboard into the case.
What a wreck!!!
With the CPU, RAM and CPU cooler installed on the board it was time to drop it into it’s new home. Once we had the board screwed down to the standoffs we could go on with installing the GPU’s, optical drive. SSD and HDD. With all of those installed we moved on to routing cables along the backside of the motherboard tray. As I have always said “less is more” and it holds true with PC builds. Rout your cables so most of them can’t be seen. This will really clean up the inside of the case and aid in airflow over your heat inducing components. With every part installed it was that magic time to push the button and see if all of our hard work had payed off. You have to love the sound that the motherboard makes on startup. The iconic “Beep” that some of them make was music to my ears.
This is where it gets a bit tricky. Like I said before, this is a stock trading PC, not a gaming PC. So the second GPU was there just to add monitors, nothing else. I could really care less about the performance gain that we would have received with running them in SLi. Once in Windows it recognized both cards but we didn’t enable SLi since the board didn’t support it. The Nvidia driver only shows one card but the second card is outputting video.
Over the years people become accustomed to something and it is hard for them to change. Now having two drives in his PC, Matt had to teach himself to always download items on the second drive. Overall though I would easily recommend a 30gb drive. The only items that your really going to put on there anyways is the OS, browser of choice and a couple other small programs. You’re not going to be installing games on any SSD, your just not going to see that big of an increase in speed.
After the build was done I left him alone for a couple of weeks to see how he liked his new baby. The first part that he noticed was how much “snappier” the machine was with the SSD. Boot up times were in the seconds, not minutes. The 4gb of RAM let him open over 25 tabs in his browser without slowing it down and the machine also ran much quieter thanks to the new Intel stock CPU cooler. This is far from a gaming machine, but it performs right up there with other machines that I have built in the past. It’s almost funny on how much you don’t need when you are not gaming. After 3 months the rig is running perfect, no problems what so ever. If you thought three monitor gaming was fun, try four, it’s really a site to see.