Named after the 400 foot barrier for roller coasters, which was eventually broken by www.cedarpoint.com in 2003, named his latest computer TERA.
Why? Because Robert called for it by screaming TERA TERA TERA in the news groups. Many said it couldn't be done, but it was, and the people came to ride TTD.
Pictures are taken with a Sony V1 with extra Flash. Pics are big (1280x960) so you can see the detail. Click each picture to make it big, then back to return.
On to the computer.
Antec Silver Mid Tower Case P-160WF (will match the one in my sig) $119
Antec 480 Watt NeoPower $121
Asus A8V $133
AMD FX53 $849
BFG 6800 Ultra OC Water Block $588
Corsair XMS PC3200XLPRO 512x2 $314
Adaptec PCI 29320A-R SCSI Controller $195
Seagate 73GB 15k Cheetah SCSI ST373453LW $535
SB Audigy2 ZS $86
Pioneer DVR-108 $88
Teac 1.44 (the floppy lives) $10
Koolance Exos-AL $200
Koolance CPU-300-H06 Water Block $49
Microsoft Natural Keyboard $22
Logitec Blue MX510 Mouse $43
Shipping = $50
Grand total ~ $3402
09/23/04. Can Robert put all this stuff together? The back of the BFG water block is shown so you can see the bios version. The front of the card after it was installed. Robert will start with the stock heat sink fan and an older Ti4400. Now, the thing you need to remember, is that I'm not a reviewer, don't have tons of friends, don't have a work bench, and I'm not bragging. I know there are other web sites that show how to build a computer. The reason I made this web site is to show you what goes wrong when you build a machine. You never know what it will be, but there are always bumps in the road. If you ever watched those motorcycle shows on the Discovery Channel, you'll see they run into all kinds of problems when putting together a bike. Well, it's the same when building a computer.
09/24/04. And yes, I know most of you will freak seeing the parts on a carpet floor. Static is not a problem down here in South Florida, and I ground myself before touching the parts, so everything turned out ok. Picture 1, the case, the starting point for all computers. 2nd Pic, the Power Supply (PS) is installed (4 screws) and the mother board tray is out. Looks so clean doesn't it? Pic 3, I'm about to put the MB in the tray. I'm setting up the screw posts to make sure I get all of them and don't short anything. Pic 4, the MB is in the tray, I've checked and re-checked to make sure there are no extra posts. Pic 5, the CPU has been installed. Pic 6, I've spread a thin layer of Artic Silver 5 on the CPU and attached the stock heat sink/fan assembly.
I carefully insert the MB tray into the case. It still looks so clean and pretty, I could cry. Now I've added the floppy and CD rom.
I boot the computer, and of coarse, nothing happens. The PS spins up, MB light is green, but the CPU fan is dead, and nothing appears on the display. What's going on? I pull all cables from the MB, try to power up, nothing. What is it? I shake the PS connector and everything comes to life. Wow, I've got it. Not quite. I shut down, reconnect some stuff, and try it again. Nothing. What is it?
Then, out of the corner of my eye, I see it, the PS connector is loose.
See the yellow wire to the left? It came loose when I connected the 24 to 20 pin adapter to the MB cable. Apparently, one of the pins was slightly off center. So when I pushed the connector together, the pin was pushed back. Yet, I couldn't see it until I caught it out of the corner of my eye. Computers are measured in microns, yet here, mine won't start because of a loose wire. Bottom line. When you are connecting the adapter to your PS cable, don't force the connectors, and support the wires by holding them with your fingers.
What happened when I tried to boot? The PS fan spun up, the devices came to life, but the CPU and fan were dead.
09/25/04. Here's a close up look at the 24 to 20 pin connector. I suggest Antec connect this piece from the start. That way, if someone doesn't need it, they will be PULLING apart the connectors, and they will stay perfect. But when you add this extra piece, and ask users to push them together, then pins can be PUSHED BACK. I would like to say the Antec Neo PS rocks in spite of this little mishap. It has many molex connectors, and hooking them to the PS a breeze. Another picture of the computer with an old Ti400 for now and the stock AMD heatsink and fan. Yes, the wires are a mess, but I'm not going to risk pulling any more pins out by moving them.
09/26/04. Ahhhhh, the computer boots with everything connected. Picture is out of focus, but you get the idea.
The Asus Probe Monitor screen, CPU temp is 46c with the MB at 35c. Of coarse, all that will change soon.
10/01/04. A few days later, I clean up the wires using tie wraps and twist ties. Doing this brings the temperature down to 41c. I try installing the Tribes Vengeance Demo and it crashes. 3dMark05 also has problems running, stopping after a few tests. Something is up. I suspect the XP install I've done is bad. I move on to installing the water cooling system and the BFG 6800 Ultra OC.
10/05/04. I carefully remove the heatsink from the CPU, and try placing the CPU cooler. Hmmmm, doesn't fit, something is up. Look, it's sideways. WTF? I go on the Koolance site and find I need an adapter. The black bracket surrounding the CPU needs to be removed. In picture 2, you can see this is gone after removing the two screws. Now what, the adapter I have doesn't fit, and they want $6.95 on the Koolance site for the FX53 adapter. Screw that, I don't feel like waiting for the parts. I get out a pair of vice grip pliers, and start bending the clips I have. In picture 3, you can see the CPU block has been turned with the clip in place. I put the Artic Silver on the CPU, and slowly tighten down the clip until it's snug.
10/07/04. I install the water cooling system following the directions. It's easy and straight forward to do. There are many articles on the net describing how to do this. I had no problems getting the water cooler to work. It started up the first time, filled it up, no leaks, perfect. As you can see from the screen, I'm getting a reading of 32c on the front panel. The Asus Probe reads 41c for the CPU, and 26c for the MB. This is some insane cooling. The three fans on top run very quiet, I can barely hear them.
10/10/04. I start the computer, it booted, but when I tried to run 3dMark05, I still had crashes and the Tribes Vengeance Demo would not run. Something was up, I was getting random crashes in windows. Then I ran 3dMark05 again and got a Out of Memory error. Oh boy, I'm on to something. I go on the Corsair site and start reading messages. I download Memtest.org and run it. Sure enough, my system is failing at the default timings. I need to relax them. Ramguy suggests 2336, so I do that and it runs stable. I run Prime95 for 8 hours and it passes.
10/16/04. Just when things are getting good, I install Novaback. Now remember, it worked up above, so why would I think otherwise. Guess what? It didn't work this time. I re-installed the SCSI driver, re-installed Novaback, and it still wouldn't see the drive. Format C: /Q and start over. I install XP, SP1, and then try Novaback, this time it works.
10/18/04. I E-mail Novastor to let them know that Novaback67 doesn't work with SP2. Their tech e-mails me back within minutes with a possible fix pointing me to some Adaptec ASPI drivers I can install. I download the drivers and start yet another format of the C Drive.
10/19/04. I finish installing XP with SP2, and try the new ASPI drivers. I have to manually move some DLL files to the proper locations, and the tape drive still doesn't work. Just when I'm about to give up, I decide on trying to move the Adaptec SCSI card because it's in slot 5, which is shared with the AGP card. I move the card to slot 3 and try again. To my surprise, the tape drive works! But during a full backup, I get a weird message saying my system files have changed and I need to restore them. Huh? The system boots but eventually crashes to the point where I can't recover.
10/21/04. I up the voltage on the memory to 2.8 and the timings work at 2225 running memtest.org for 2.5 hours.
10/22/04. I start over yet again, XP with SP2. I get Novaback working, and set a restore point. I back up, and sure enough, the system won't boot. I go back to the restore point I set and the system comes back. I either run SP2 with no backup, or run SP1 with the tape drive, tuff decision. For now I'll stay with SP2 and keep important stuff on my other rig. I run Prime95 with the 2225 timings and it only runs for 6 minutes. Just for fun, I run the benchmarks again.
10/26/04. I get home from work and decide to do some more OCing. I set the multiplier to 13.5 and try and boot the machine. It hangs. Not only that, I can't get it to boot. I have to reset the Cmos, which is a pain in the butt. I have to take out the video card, sound card, the MB battery, short the RTC jumper for 5 seconds, put the battery back, and reboot the machine. It takes 30 seconds to boot as I freak out thinking the chip is fried. It's not, but I have to reset everything. No more of this, I install Clockgen. I set up some ghost icons to adjust the multiplier.
Here's a pic of my case closed up, looks ok but I've got many sails so it's not going to win any pretty case awards.
How I OverClocked the CPU.
1st pic, here's the advanced menu of the bios screen. Press return on the CPU configuration prompt. 2nd pic, Press Enter on the Memory Configuration prompt. 3rd picture, Press enter on the Memory Configuration prompt.
Here's the screen where you'll change the memory timings. When you first go into this screen, most prompts will say Auto. Look down to the Cas Latency (CL). Thats the first number in the memory timings. TRCD is the 2nd number. TRAS is the 3rd number. Notice it comes before TRP, they are mixed up. TRAS is the last number in the memory timings. In this picture, my timings are set at 2336.
Go back to the 1st screen and go to the 5th line down, which is System Frequency/Voltage Configuration. Press enter and a menu will appear. Now, depending on the settings, you will see different prompts. You need to set a few to Manual to make all the prompts appear.
This is the main overclocking screen. Press Enter on the 1st line and set it to manual, go down to line 3 and set it to Manual, and you'll see all the prompts like you do in the picture. The first thing you may need to do is set your DDR Ram voltage to 2.8. For Corsair PC3200XLPro, Ramguy suggests setting it to 2.8. On the 2nd line is the FSB Frequency. The default is 200. Since you've already changed line 3, just leave it. On the 4th line is the CPU multiplier. This is the easiest way to attempt an OC. Since the default multiplier is 12 and the FSB is 200, that makes it 200x12 = 2400. Now, if you want to OC to 2600, you can set the multiplier to 13, press F10, and reboot. Let's say you want to try for 2700. Set your multiplier to 13.5, leave your FSB at 200 (13.5 x 200 = 2700). You will definately need to set your CPU voltage to 1.70 to try this OC. On line 5 is the CPU voltage. To OC, you will probably need to raise this value a little bit. On my system, I can OC to 2600 by leaving this value at the default of Auto, but if I want to go higher, I need to set this value to 1.65 or even 1.70. Setting this value higher causes more heat. You need to watch your CPU temperature as you raise the CPU voltage. It's really a matter of trial and error. You raise the FSB or the multiplier, and if it doesn't work, you raise the voltage a little bit. But watch your CPU temperatures using the Asus Probe Monitor. If it gets too high, don't raise the voltage anymore.
This is the highest I can OC my system. Here I've got the FSB set at 231, with the multiplier at 12 = 2772. I've found out this is the highest my memory will clock before it gets errors.
Asus has a way to easily OC the system from the first line of the menu. Press enter, and you get a few choices. I went with 10% and the system clocks to 2639. I ran some tests and found this setting to be really nice because this gives me my highest 3dMark05 score. If you set this value to Standard, the system will go back to 200mz. As you can see, when you use one of these settings, all the other choices disappear, until you set it to manual.
Here's a screenshot of the 3dMark05 score running the system at 10% over. The CPU is running at 2639 with a voltage of 1.70. I OC the memory to 1200. My 3dMark05 score is 4778. I run Doom3 timedemo1 at this overclocked speed and get 120fps.
3dMark05 450/1200 (CPU at 2639) 1.70v = 4778
10/30/04. Ramguy of the CorsairMicro forums suggested testing each module separately, so I did that. One module fails Prime95 at the 2225 timings after 14 minutes. The other module runs for 12 hours while I'm at work. So the memory will probably be sent in for replacement. I have another machine, an Abit IC7 Max3, P4 3.4c, and 1 gig of Corsair PC3200LLPro (2326). So the idea is to take a stick from this machine and put it in the new one, that way both machines can be working, because both sticks must be sent back in pairs. Just for fun, I run Memtest on the P4, and it fails. I had never run the test before. One of the modules fails in either machine right from the start. Well, this certainly changes the situation. Having my older memory fail Memtest in my main rig, is far worse that the new failing in Prime95. I put the good stick of PC3200XLPro in my P4 rig, run Memtest, it passes, so I leave it there. Now I have to send in the older PC3200LLPro for replacement first.
11/02/04. I get an RMA from the CorsairMicro site, pack up my PC3200LLPro ram, and send it in for replacement.
11/03/04. I buy and download Counter-Strike Source. Steam installs fine and the game downloads in a couple hours. I run the stress test and get 150FPS at 1280x960.
11/04/04. I leave the machine running while I'm at work and Steam downloads all content for HL2 and the other games available. I start CS:S, put my settings at 1600x1200 and run the stress test again and get 141FPS. Plays great and everything looks schweet.
11/11/04. I get my memory back and it's PC3200XLPro (2225) instead of the PC3200LLPro (2326) I had sent in. I'm thrilled thinking I got a bonus, until I put the memory in my AMD machine and test it at 2225. As you can see, the memory fails before the first pass finishes. A picture of the memory timings screen. I set the timings to 2336 and it passes memtest.
11/12/04. I leave the timings to 2336, start Prime95, and go to bed. When I wake up in the morning, the system has passed. Oh well, 2225 timings are not meant to be. It was still nice of Corsair to send me XL to replace my LL memory. Thanks guys.
11/18/04. The [H] came out with HL2 benchmarks and released their demo to the public. The article explaining the benchmarks can be found here. For these benchmarks, the slider in the display control panel stays at the default of Quality and the Application Controlled box is checked regarding AA/AF settings.
They have the exact same setup as me, just that my GPU is
faster because it's cooled on water and I'm overclocking it.
FX53 at stock speed, no OC.
BFG 6800 Ultra Waterblock @ 451/1200
HL2 at max settings, Reflect World, 1600x1200, 4xAA, 8xAF
Map -------------- [H] result --------My result
D1_Canals ----- 91.55 ----------- 96.55
D2_Coast ------ 83.06 ----------- 88.18
So I'm getting a few frames more with my OC on the video card.
Of coarse, you're all asking me to OC my CPU, and of coarse, I will.
FX53 OCed 10% to 2639. The [H] result remains the same.
Map -------------- [H] result ------- My result
D1_Canals ----- 91.55 ----------- 98.25
D2_Coast ------ 83.06 ----------- 89.57
Only a couple frames from OCing the CPU. Not really worth it if you ask me. But having a faster video card does matter.
The twin towers. On the left is the FX53, my gaming machine. On the right, the P4 3.4c, the main rig, used mostly by the daughter and the one I do my bills on. As you can see, even with water cooling, I still have an extra case fan on the FX53. The Antec fan pushes some air into the case, but it's not enough. The extra fan blows air across the CPU and memory sticks.
12/07/04 - The [H] has a SuperPi contest running the program at 32M. First picture, my score at 10% over is 29m 51s. 2nd Picture, I drop the multiplier of the CPU to 11 and raise the FSB to 251, which gives me a score of 29m 22s. Highest temperature running SuperPi and Prime95 at the same time is 53C.
01/18/05 - I buy G.Skill LE PC4400 memory, install it, and do some OCing. I run into the same roadblock, stuck at 230mz. No matter what I do, I can't get the CPU to run above 2800. I put the 2 gig of Corsair back in and here's what it looks like. It runs slightly slower in the Super Pi benchmark, but looks cool.
After doing some research, I find out the VIA K8T800 Pro chipset is the reason why I get stuck when trying to OC the system.
06/09/05 - While playing Tribes2, my machine locks up. When I try to reboot, I get artifacts on the screen. The machine locks up and it seems the card is dead. I RMA it back to BFG, they have a lifetime warranty. During this time, I buy a used BFG6800 GT OC from the Anandtech forums to hold me over. The card works and I can play CS:S and the BF2 demo.
06/20/05 - The package from BFG arrives I put in the card and get artifacts on my screen. Hmmm, I figure it's my power supply. I switch one of the power connectors on the card to a different molex and reboot, machine runs fine. So after 6 months of using the card, turns out it was the power supply going bad with one of the connectors on the GPU.
As you can see from the dates next to each paragraph, I took my time and didn't freak out along the way. With a full time job, and the hurricanes moving thru Florida, I didn't have time to do it all at once. But it worked out in the end. Don't expect to build your machine and get it up and running in 1 day, it took me almost a month. If you do, good for you, but expect to spend a few weeks trouble shooting and thinking over the problems. The journey is the reward.
More updates to come.
Good Luck with your builds.
End of report. Thanks for reading.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.