Tag Archives: Byakko

Minor Upgrade to Byakko and Thoughts over Seiryuu

So my Geforce GTS 250 (512mb GDDR3) has had a bit of a history with overheating for the last week… So I decided to nip the issue in the bud and pick up a Radeon HD 5770 by Asus. Who’d have thought that a change to 1GB of GDDR5 would make a number of changes. To give some of you an idea of how bad the Geforce GTS 250 was overheating… Some days, the system would run about 50C – 60C (122F – 140F) on idle. While gaming, the temps would rocket to 85C – 100C  (185F – 212F) quickly. Sometimes the overheating was so bad it just plain locked up my computer and I’d just have to force it to power down and cool the card off before turning the machine back on. Continue reading Minor Upgrade to Byakko and Thoughts over Seiryuu

Byakko Documentation and Slated Upgrades

[Documentation] Project Byakko

[Formal Completion Date] April 25th, 2007

[Build Status] Stable and pending additional upgrades

This post is for the person who wants to find out how I built a phenomenal machine on the cheap. This is also for the person who wants to save a good chunk of coin for a system that won’t be stuck in the “stone age” while technology pushes on.

If you fear wires, this is not for you. If you fear installing Windows on to your own system, this is not for you. This write up is based on the current parts in it now and not from the current inception.

[Price Saving Tips]
What kept most of my costs down so far were a USB flash drive, a second hand LCD monitor, and reusing a good deal of peripherals. I can say part recycling is probably the major reason why sometimes system building can pay off big time in the end.

The purpose of Byakko is a budget build PC with the purpose of entertainment and being a workstation for me. The main requirements were to have an expansive hard drive for archival purposes and then also give the system some life versus what I was used to.

Byakko is named in the nomenclature that I name my computers after creatures from mythology. Byakko is known as the White Tiger of the West in Chinese mythology. In Asian astrology, it is composed with some of the western constellations: Orion, Taurus, Ares, and Andromeda.

[Purchase Information]
Most of this build has been composed of parts and deals from CompUSA out in Plano. The reason is that the store honors online price deals due to their ownership from Systemax/Tiger Direct. The build can be purchased through online if so desired and you may see additional savings. Your mileage will vary.

[Brand NEW Parts Shopping List]
$40 – Thermaltake Wings RS 100 midtower case
$50 – Biostar MCP6P M2+ motherboard (AM2/AM2+ AMD socket)
$90 – AMD x64 Phenom 9500 Quad-Core 2.2GHz processor (AM2 socket)
$30 – Ultra brand 450 watt power supply
$50 – Seagate Barracuda 320GB hard drive (SATA 3.0/7200 RPM)
$60 – OCZ ReaperX HPC 4GB DDR2 1066 RAM kit (2x 2GB)
$130 – XFX GeForce GTS 250 512mb GDDR3
$30 – Logitech ChillStream controller
$426 total part cost for NEW parts

[Reused Parts]
$0 – Logitech G9 Laser mouse
$0 – Logitech G13 Advance Gameboard
$0 – Pioneer USB external DVD+/-RW burner
$0 – Saitek Eclipse blue illuminated keyboard
$0 – Netgear WG311T Atheros 802.11b/g wireless LAN card
$15 – Generic 15″ LCD standard definition monitor

[Build Notes]
Because I did choose to go with the Geforce GTS 250, which is a double slot card, I effectively lose 2 SATA ports of the 4 I have on the motherboard. This will be later revised with the motherboard change later to come and described on this report. For the person who absolutely must have the PCI ports open, I could recommend using something like a XFX GeForce 9600 GT or 9600 GSO for single slot options.

I had opted for a quad-core for the future proofing, because even though dual cores are more popular for gaming now… I do see quad-cores being used more often later on.

The reason I used AMD’s chipset versus an Intel board is really due to cost as it was cheaper to obtain.

The choice of going with Nvidia versus ATi is more from the fact that more and more games are starting to see the Nvidia/Ageia Physx engine support… Not to knock on ATi, but the only big things going for them as far as their cards were mainly the GDDR5 memory and CrossFireX capabilities with their cost being a little too high for my liking.

I did come across one predicament where I couldn’t get my IDE DVD-ROM drive to be recognized… so I ended up copying my Windows Vista Ultimate DVD ROM to a USB flash drive and did the complete install via USB.

[Future Changes]
$90 – XFX nForce 750a motherboard
$80 – Hitachi DeskStar 1TB hard drive
$200 – Thermaltake Armor+ full tower case
$80 – Lite On Blu-Ray reader/DVD burner drive
$100 – Corsair 650w power supply
$60 – OCZ Blade 4GB RAM kit (2x 2GB)
$?? – Extra case fans to keep the system cool
$150 – Creative Labs Sound Blaster X-Fi Titanium Fata1ity sound card
$100 – Widescreen monitor

[Notes on Future Changes]
Most of the future changes are semi-dependent on the new motherboard as I will have ample room to play around with it. The additional RAM will max out the board to a grand total of 8GB of RAM giving me a full load. The power supply and fans go together as those will help in keeping the system cool, which is very important. The final piece really is the case as it will keep things even more cool and under control.

[Technology] Byakko’s Story – My New Project PC

I am not going to lie… Suzaku, my laptop, nearly died a few weeks ago. I was in a panic. To think that I had just about my entire academic life in Suzaku and the damn thing almost killed all of my work with it’s possible death. I won’t lie… I was in pure fear. The Beast v7 had died a great while ago due to a bad power supply, so I really was SoL (not to be confused with my cousin Sol) without a spare WORKING machine.

It was one of those moments that I had to almost pause time and evaluate everything… The thoughts started rolling in my mind:

What the Hell am I going to do?! I can’t afford a laptop…

Will Suzaku hold out until I can hole up at minimal $1,000 for a great laptop?

What will happen if my laptop dies?! I am not going to have a machine for college next semester!

But then… A thought had hit me like a bolt of lightning from a brain storm…

I have some birthday cash… Maybe I can make a budget build machine as a back up and slowly make it stronger.

So I settled and decided to do the unthinkable… I drove out to CompUSA out in Plano and said “Let’s see what $200ish can get me nowadays…” What I found shocked me, as if Heaven smiled on me… The game plan was to take the shell of the Shuttle xPC SK41G and just throw in new parts.

So… Here were the parts I had gathered from my run (4/25/2009):

$50 – Biostar MCP6P M2+ microATX Mainboard (nVidia nForce 430)
$90 – AMD x64 Phenom 9500 Quad-Core 2.2Ghz processor
$30 – Ultra 450w power source
$40 -OCZ High Performance Dual Channel Kit: 866mhz 2GB DDR2 RAM
Total cost: $210 + tax (8.25% in Plano)

To most hardcore gamers… I know this was not “uber” but my point was to make a machine comfortable to use. The reused parts were to be the 40GB hard drive and DVD-ROM from The Beast.

So on arriving home… I feverishly tore open The Beast, cleaned what seemed to be 3 years worth of dust and dried out thermal paste and I ran into a problem. Shuttle’s xPC series uses a propretary flex board for their mainboards. I remember the words from my mouth that were uttered were “Oh… For crying out… ARGH!!! %#@&!!!” Naturally, this flex board was longer and thinner than the new motherboard I just bought.
Family had picked a bit of a scuffle with me… but resolute that buying another poor laptop would only result in me being unsatiated, I would say “I will see my project out, no excuses.” Thus… I began to plot on CompUSA’s website for a cheap case that would be adequate too cool the machine, but also not break my college student wallet. That would be were I found my new case… The Thermaltake Wings RS-100. My quest would be to buy a new shell and this would effectively mean a brand new machine.
Sunday morning… I would run at what seemed like the first light of dawn to find that computer case and bolt up my parts. The reps had trouble finding a shell and eventually a brand new Thermaltake Wings RS 100 was found! The best part was it was on sale to boot!
$40 – Thermaltake Wings RS 100 Piano Black case
Total build cost – $250 + tax
After purchasing the case… I would assemble it in haste while family picked their battles with me. I remember one point getting so caught up with family that I didn’t finish the build and was even late to work from debating with them! So I was resolute to finish it in my dorm…
Post work, I made haste to throw Byakko into my car with an old 15″ Sony Vaio CRT monitor, a Chinese-English PS/2 keyboard, and a whole lot of faith. After making the boring drive home to my dorm… I ran into an issue with the build up: My DVD drive was not being recognized. The next problem was getting Windows installed but without a CD/DVD drive.
Luckily, the web had a bunch of people making tutorials on how to fit Windows 7 onto a USB drive… so I just transposed the information to my copy of Windows. With a lot of faith… I prayed and watched my machine process everything and then… I saw the confirmation that the install had completed successfully. I was elated…
That was almost 4 weeks ago…
Since then, Byakko has had a few budget upgrades to help it breath a little easier…
$15 – Second hand 15″ standard definition LCD monitor
$50 – 320GB Seagate Barracuda 7,200 RPM hard drive
On top of that, I have dedicated it as my gaming machine… so naturally, I moved over my Saitek Eclipse back-lit blue keyboard, my Logitech G13 Advance Gamer Pad, and G9 Laser mouse. So far for $315, it’s been a grand example of a machine. I know the next upgrades will have to be the Geforce GTS 250 and widescreen LCD monitor to make my gaming & productivity a lot more tolerable.
The later upgrades from there will probably be the 4GB RAM upgrade, a Corsair 80-plus 750w power source, an additional 1TB hard drive, a few more USB ports, possibly a Blu-Ray drive and just call it complete.
I will say that for a machine on a budget… it runs like a champ! This is proof that if you want something that’s a killer value and you don’t mind doing some part recycling… you can build a nice system on the cheap.