The Graphics Card

Between the time of buying these parts and completing this build log, times have changed and I’m sure people will question the title ‘Performance PC’ with only a DX9 card featuring in the build. At the time of purchase, DX10 was underperforming, was grossly overpriced and the problems that came with the backward compatibility were not worth the risk. That is why I decided to opt with a high performing DX9 card which was proven to be a good all round performer and great ‘bang for buck’. The Radeon X1950 Pro is a great card, and as I own an Xbox 360 for pretty much all of my gaming needs, I needed a card with dual outputs, a large amount of memory for rendering and large screens, and HDCP – which could still perform well in games if the need arises.

The card provided by Sapphire, came with everything you could possibly need (even DVI-VGA adapters). It’s a good looking unit, and is double sized, so it does take up a considerable amount of space in the case. The installation is straightforward and hassle free too!

ATI Radeon x1950ATI Radeon x1950ATI Radeon x1950

ATI Radeon x1950

To install the card, it’s a ‘simple clip-in and screw-in’ to secure. As the card needs more power to function, the PCI-E power cable was attached from the PSU, which I will cover next.

The Power Supply Unit

With the motherboard secured in the case the next step is to install the PSU. In this build I’ve allowed for plenty of headroom by opting for a 520W Corsair PSU. As the pictures show, the product comes well packaged, and installing this into a Lian-Li PC7 case is trivial. A back plate is simply affixed to the PSU, and the unit is slid into the case, to be secured with thumb screws. This is demonstrated in the pictures as best as possible. Now, as the PSU is modular, it means we only have the power cables that we need, so as the pictures show, there is minimum clutter (albeit they are quite thick and ‘difficult-to-manage’ cables).

PSU Corsair 520W PSUCorsair 520W PSUCorsair 520W PSUCorsair 520W PSU

The Optical Drive

This is a simple install, so I’ll leave out the details! Simply slide and secure the drive in place, and run the power from the PSU and the SATA to the motherboard. For those interested, the drive is a Samsung SATA LightScribe Writer (20×20) and is highly recommended. I also purchase a black front place which sits over the drive on the Lian-Li case. This brushed aluminium cover will allow the case to maintain its sleek and minimum look; again this is easy enough to install with just two screws.

Samsung LitescribeDrive Cover

The IMON Ultra Bay

I picked up the IMON Ultra Bay for a bargain price, and thought it would be a nice addition as the PC is going to have a media use. I aim to have it connected to a large TV on a second output, so the remote controlled aspect would be a beneficial one. You can get this product in black, so it looks good in the case, the only thing that is slightly disappointing, is the matte black finish. Brushed aluminium would have been preferable or even a slight Samsung-esq black gloss would have looked better. Anyway, this takes up 2 bays in your case and is fairly easy to install. I would make sure you’ve got a decent sized case for this as the cables are again very difficult to manage. As the pictures show, there are connections to the power cables and the motherboard. If you are installing one of these, a nice cable management tip is to run the thinner cables down the outside of the drive bay, as shown in the pictures.

IMON Ultra BayIMON Ultra BayIMON Ultra BayIMON Ultra BayIMON Ultra Bay

The Hard Drives

I wanted to have sufficient storage in this PC to prevent multiple external hard drives, and with only two spaces for drives I opted for what (at the time) was the best possible option. Two 500GB Western Digital AAKS SATA Hard Drives. These obviously arrived as OEM and are highly recommended, reliable hard drives. This would provide me with 1TB of storage. The plan? One will be partitioned 250GB / 250GB with dual boot operating systems, Vista Home Premium (x64) and XP SP2 respectively. The remaining 500GB would be for storing all important projects, university work and of course my ever growing music collection!

To install the drives, it’s a simple slide and screw in procedure. I was slightly concerned that they would be noisy as there is no shock proofing in the case; as it’s purely a metal hard drive caddy. However, after using the computer this was not an issue and the hard drives operate very quietly.

500GB Western Digital AAKS Two 500GB Western Digital AAKS SATA Hard DrivesTwo 500GB Western Digital AAKS SATA Hard DrivesCable Mess

Tower Complete!

Tower CompleteTower CompleteTower CompleteTower CompleteTower Complete

At this point in time, all of the necessary components have been installed in the case. In the next part of the series, I’ll post some pictures of peripherals and some comments about their performance, and any recommendations I have. Also, there is still the process of installing the software to get this machine up and running, all of which will be covered in Part 5 – the final part of the build log.

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