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My New SuperRig (AKA the gaming/media beast)

At home I’ve had a homebuilt P4 3.2GHz desktop for a while now, it’s done me well but new video cards, faster multi-core processors and ofcourse Vista…  it was time to build a new box.

Recently Scott Hanselman posted about his new Ultimate Gaming Machine he had built up and I was inspired to build my own super quiet super-rig but couldn’t bring myself to drop the $2500 it was going to cost to build a box just for fun…  So what does a cheapskate do?

So enters SlickDeals.net.

One of my favorite websites on the Internet is slickdeals.net, here you can find all the best ‘slick deals’ everything from super cheap promotions to amazing coupons and rebates.  Everyone that knows me teases me because I check this site 3-4 times a day for that slick deal.

Last week, the need for a new machine hit me again and slickdeals delivered this little morsel:

HP Home has a new $400 off $1000+ coupon DT4115 valid customized HP Pavillion Desktops. Thanks Selma

A well-equipped HP Pavillion m8100y Media Center/PVR desktop PC for a base price of $899

  1. Click here
  2. Click "Customize"
  3. Select the following options (or choose any other upgrades for $100 or more):
    1. Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q6600 (2.4GHz) [add $150]
    2. FREE UPGRADE! 2GB DDR2-667MHz dual channel SDRAM [add $0]
    3. FREE UPGRADE! From Xtreme Audio to Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer or FREE UPGRADE! From integrated to Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio [add $0]
  4. Checkout, apply $400 off $1000 coupon DT4115
  5. Your total will be $650 + applicable taxes with free shipping

Specs:

  • Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit)
  • Intel Core 2 Quad processor Q6600 (2.4GHz)
  • 2GB DDR2-667MHz dual channel SDRAM (2×1024)
  • 64MB NVIDIA GeForce 7500LE, DVI-I, TV-out, VGA adapter
  • 250GB 7200 rpm SATA 3Gb/s hard drive
  • LightScribe 16X DVD+/-R/RW SuperMulti drive
  • 15-in-1 memory card reader, 2 USB, 1394, video
  • ATSC-NTSC TV tuner with PVR, FM tuner, remote
  • Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeGamer or Sound Blaster X-Fi Xtreme Audio
  • Norton Internet Security 2007 – 15 Months
  • HP keyboard and HP scroller mouse
  • No Monitor (unless additionally selected)

Alternative upgrade options (choose one)

  • Intel(R) Core(TM) 2 Duo processor E6850 (3.0GHz) [$50 less, $600 total]

Now how anyone object to: A Quad Core CPU, 2GB memory, a 250GB SATA drive, a sound blaster sound card and a TV tuner with PVR, FM and remote control and to top it off Windows Vista Home Premium (which includes Windows Media Center) for $650!!.  It was simply a score, So I went for it.

Unfortunately it did have a couple shortcomings that kept it from being a super-rig:

  • Only 1 SATA drive (and only 7200RPM), ideally RAID 0 or RAID 10 – fortunately the motherboard supports this.
  • The video card options were weak.
  • The 350W power supply was no doubt going to have to be replaced with something else.
  • Certainly not showstoppers and nothing that couldn’t be resolved.

    Bring Forth the Video & Power

    The box arrived yesterday and upon looking in it, it was questionable if a large video card would fit in there.  A quick trip to the local CompUSA and $450 later we have a 8800GTS Video card and a 600W PCI-E ready powersupply. Those others wondering if the 8800GTS series video card will fit in a HP m8100y can be happy to know it’ll fit, you may never be able to get it out, but it will fit!

    Here’s The Numbers…

    Before the video card and power supply swap we had this:

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After the video card swap out:

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We went to 5.9 across all the video scores with only RAM & Disk I/O keeping us from a perfect 5.9.

What’s next?

Getting 5.9’s across the board ofcourse!

The RAM and Drive upgrades will come in a couple weeks as I’m also still debating if I should make the jump to Vista 64bit or stick it out with 32bit and will have to decide that first.  Ofcourse, many wll argue it’s not a super-rig  until it’s the ideal super-rig (Like Scott’s) with two video cards with SLI for video and dual monitors but I don’t have space in the new box for a second video card and the current card can support 2 DVI monitors as well as HD output.

My super-rig will be used as a media pc / gaming pc more than anything else so giving up the second video card for a TV-tuner/PVR card is acceptable.

But thanks to slickdeals.net I managed to build an almost-complete super-rig for about half of what I would have spent building the entire machine myself and probably 1/3rd what I would have spent if I spec’d out a similar machine through Dell, etc.

Now I just need to find a slickdeal on a 30" LCD monitor!

The final outcome

And here’s a little screen shot of what was going on last night:

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8 comments

  1. Jess says:

    The fan on the video card adds no noticeable noise to the box. The box was very quiet prior to the card swap and very much comparable to the newer dell desktops.

    The powersupply however was a coolermaster 600W http://www.compusa.com/products/product_info.asp?…

    and I'm sad to say it's not a very quiet PSU and has increased the noise level. It will have to be replaced before long. I read the reviews prior to purchasing this PSU and saw a couple people complain about rattling from the PSU fan agains the safety guard, I had the same problem and loosened the screws to provide some clearance there. For $50 it's a decent powersupply but I will probably return the PSU for a better unit.

    so 5 thumbs up on the desktop and on the video card, 2 thumbs up on the PSU.

  2. jcoburn says:

    Yeah James, first time it was posted on SD, I resisted as well. Second time I wasn't going to miss it! :)

    Just like the refurb zune for $99 first time didn't need it, second time oh yeah I needed it! What I'll do with it . . . I have no idea :)

  3. Ed says:

    Nice PC. I'm working towards building the same PC as you Jesscoburn. Too bad I got in on the M8100y deal like 2 weeks earlier and ended up with the E6850 system. Anyways, I went to bestbuy today and picked up the 8800 GT very card, I'm assuming this card will fit since your GTS fit. The question I have for you is that your PSU, are the cables able to fit into the box without any problems? I was looking into the COOLER MASTER Real Power Pro RS-750-ACAA-A1..Iwondering if you have any input on whether this sucker will fit into the 8100y case.

    Have you thought about adding one of those PCI fans…like the one here…
    http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchToo

    Let me know…how ur system is running now. THanks!!

    -Ed

  4. Jess says:

    Ed,

    The system is running great. BTW, on the slickdeals site HP is running this promo again on this machine for $650 so it's a good time to grab one if you need a spare (I'm considering picking one up as a home server).

    On the power supply, I had no problem with the fit or the cabling for the power supply. As long as it's a standard size PSU you should be good.

    One the PCI fan, not sure if there is room honestly. This thing is pretty full. I'd have to crack it back open and look. I'd be concerned about fan noise too. At some point I am going to pick up a different PSU because this one is a bit noisy.

    The box is still a lean, mean gaming machine. and for the price you couldn't ask for anything better. I love the front ports on it. I showed my wife how to connect the camcorder via firewire and rip her movies to DVD and this box does that without effort. I'm considering reloading this machine to Vista 64bit and will upgrade it to 4GB of memory before long too (2GB is 'ok' for vista, but she wants 4GB).

    Thanks for the comments.

    Jess

  5. Jess says:

    Oh and one more thing ed, tigerdirect is semi-local for me (they're in miami and I head down there frequently) but I prefer newegg.com, the prices are great and the customer service FANTASTIC!

  6. Ed says:

    Thanks for the input Jess. I ordered the Coolmaster 750watt PSU from ZipZoomFly. Great deal on it right now….after rebates, only 49.99 + shipping. Great reviews on that PSU. I actually got 4gb of ram on my system, but it doesnt seem that much of a difference in performance wise…will have to wait to see when i insert the 8800GT card in there. Can't do it till I get the new PSU tho, since as you know the M8100y only has 350w PSU. NewEgg is actually has a warehouse in my state of NJ which stinks because they charge tax. Have you tried the game Crysis on your new suped up system yet?

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