Figure I'll bump up this with some new info for anyone interested. I finally got some parts together, some new, some hand-me-downs from my oldest boy. But in the end it came out pretty nice and I got to use the Black Box X2 6400+ CPU I won way back in January on one of Ryan's podcasts.

The hand-me-down hardware from my boy consisted of an Apevia X-Infinity Black Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case which comes with a Turbolink LC-A420ATX 420W Power Supply. The PSU is complete crap and wreaked havoc on my first-born's choice of motherboard, a Gigabyte GA-M57SLI-S4 with an 3800+ X2 CPU, 2x1GB Mushkin memory and two of his nVidia cards before he left it all to me. Nice case if you like the blue LEDs but the PSU should be replaced first thing. I actually tested his old Gigabyte system with my replacement OCZ PSU when it came in for a day or so and only had one crash. Before that it was crashing pretty regularly. I may try to use that Gigabyte mobo and the 3800+ in something else, nothing critical or heavily used. Might even try it in an HTPC. The other used parts salvaged were the HDD; a 250G Seagate SATA which seems to have survived intact but won't be used as a primary drive and a Lite-On DVD burner, which also seems undamaged.

So all I used from the old system was the Apevia case, the 250G HDD and the optical drive. To complete the box I bought a new Asus MA76-CM to accommodate the 6400+, an Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro cooler, 1x2G stick of Kingston HyperX RAM (budget prohibited me getting more but plan to later), a WD Caviar Green 640GB HDD and a new PSU - the OCZ 600W GameXStream. All purchased from NewEgg for a little less than $250 including tax, S&H. Not too bad, I think. The cooler was an open box unit and I thnk the PSU was a refurb but both work great and had all the necessary parts and accessories.

Before gutting the the Gigabyte mobo, etc from the case, as previously mentioned, I install the OCZ PSU and ran it for a day with no real issues verifying, at least in my mind, that it was indeed the crap PSU causing the prior crashing issues and the old mobo/cpu might still be of some use. The next day I installed the Asus and all the rest with little problem. There was a rivet in the case that gave me a little problem but other than that it all went together easily and uneventfully.

This was more than a month ago, but, as I recall, it POSTed first try, and with just some minor tweaking I'm using it today. I've ran some short game tests to see if it will run them and it seems to do alright. I don't game much, not like I did 10-20 years ago, heh, but I think this system will hold up fine. Perhaps I'll try some of the overclocking features out one day but right now it's a very solid and stable, general purpose system and that's all I was shooting for. And it is surprisingly quiet, too. The old Dell it is replacing on my desk has the loudest PS fan I think I've ever heard...but then it's like 10 years old. All-in-all I'm very pleased.

Oh, I forgot to mention my OS. I've been beta-testing MS Win7 and I used a couple of different versions of that during this build. I'm now using a trial version of Win7 Ultimate-64bit and love it. Stable, fast and pretty...and sooo not Vista. I don't care what they say. But when I buy it I'll be going for the Home version. I don't see much use, for me at least, of the features in Pro or Ultimate.

Please feel free to offer any suggestions, advice and point out any errors or things you may have done differently. It's all good. And any questions you have I'll answer best I can.

I'm sure most of you here on this forum will get this but I haven't had this much fun in a long time. The personal rewards of successfully building your own computer far outweigh the cost trade-offs of buying a pre-built system in my book. Not to mention the learning experience and the fact that you don't have to pay any tech when you have problems down the line because you know your own system inside-out better than anyone.

And lastly, by all means I want to send special thanks to:
  • Ryan for the AMD CPU and all of PCPer's great contests and give-aways.
  • My boy for all he donated.
  • And NewEgg for being one of the best PC parts retailers left online