Case and Power Supply. AMD recommends not
using a desktop case, but if you leave the top off a desktop case as I
do and use a quality CPU fan, the Athlon will be quite happy. I've
heard that the Athlon is fussy about power supplies. I have not seen
this problem. The MS-6167 motherboard and 650 Mhz Athlon worked quite
well with the 235 Watt ATX power supply that came with an AOpen
HX95 ATX desktop case. However, that computer was my computer
and was not as heavily loaded as the one built in this article, and a 235
Watt power supply is quite marginal for any Athlon box. It would
be more prudent to use a quality 300 Watt supply, as we did, or one with
greater capacity for a loaded computer like the one in this article and
a 250 Watt supply for an average computer. Although it is not on
AMD's recommended list, the AOpen
HX45A Mid-tower case, with it's stock 250 Watt ATX power supply,
would also be a good choice for the average computer. AMD has quite
a few 250 Watt power supplies on their Recommended
Power Supply List for the Athlon. The AOpen 250 Watt power
supply is rated at 14 Amps on the 3.3 volt line and 25 Amps on the 5 volt
line for a “combined power” of about 170 Watts. That compares quite
favorably to the ratings for other power supplies on the list.
Optional Chassis Fans. We played it extremely
conservative when we built this computer, our first Athlon machine. I
believe one chassis fan is more than sufficient. If you use the Antec
case, I would suggest installing it on the inside of the back of the computer. For
cooling fan fanatics who are inclined to cut holes in the fron of computer
cases, etc., we are building a computer, not a hover craft.
Motherboard. I believe the MSI board is
the best first generation Athlon motherboard on the market (at the time
we bought the parts for this computer 10/99). Newer chipsets and
motherboards should be entering the market in a few months. For example,
KX133 chipset will support a 133 Mhz memory bus and AGP 4X.
Processor. At the time we built the example
computer, the 650 Mhz Athlon was the fastest and (decidedly) most expensive
Athlon available. You might want to consider using the 500 Mhz chip
which costs less than half the current price of the 650 Mhz speed demon. 700
and 750 Mhz processors are becoming available.
Heat-Sink Fan. Again, the ChipCoolers CPU
fan was a conservative and more expensive choice. Most good quality
Pentium II/III, Slot 1 fans should be OK.
Memory. Quality PC-100, 8 ns memory should
work fine. You may want to start with 64 MBytes and wait for memory
prices to fall before adding more. AMD recommends that memory modules
be matched (same manufacturer and model).
Keyboard. The Focus 2001 is my favorite
keyboard and has been for more than ten years!
Mice... the choice is yours. The Logitech
mouse is simple and suites me fine.
Display Adapter. We built the example machine
with the high-end Diamond Viper V770 Ultra graphics board with 32 MBytes. Unless
you are game junkie or will otherwise be doing a lot of graphics work,
you don't need this expensive board. An eight (or even four) MByte
AGP board is fine for the average user.
Monitor. Again, the View Sonic PS775-2 monitor
is a higher-end 17 inch monitor. The display was just absolutely
beautiful. I wish I had one, but would probably settle for a less
expensive 17" monitor as a replacement for my aging 15" monitor. I
would rather have a high-quality 17" monitor than a lesser quality
19" monitor. The PS775-2 does not have the built-in the USB
hub. The PS775 with the hub was not available and may be out of production.
Hard Disk Drive. The Western Digital
27.3 GByte has a lot more storage capacity than I need. If you are
going to buy a smaller drive, I would suggest spending a little more money
for a 7,200 RPM drive instead of purchasing a cheaper 5,400 RPM drive. Two
smaller drives would allow you to make disk-to-disk backups.
Iomega 250 MByte IDE Internal Zip Drive. This
is certainly optional until the time your hard disk crashes and you don't
have a backup of critical data. It's worth the money.
Floppy Drive Mounting Kit... is not required for
cases such as the HX45A with two fully exposed 3 1/2 drive bays and is
not required for the Antic case if you do not include the Zip drive.
DVD Drive. A CD-ROM will certainly be OK,
but I really liked the Toshiba DVD drive.
Decoder Board. Not required if you don't
include the DVD drive. Software decoders come with many higher-end
video boards and is included with the Diamond board used in the example
computer. A hardware decoder is faster. Furthermore, the Creative
decoder has TV and S-video outputs. Creative has a newer decoder
board on the market, but the one used in the example machine is readily
available, coasts less, and works great.
Windows. Windows 98 Second Edition (SE)
OEM (Original Equipment Manufacture--a company that builds computers, etc.)
was installed on the example computer. There should be no reason why any
version of Windows 98 would not work. Newer versions
of Windows 95 should work as well. Because of the size of
the hard disk, you would want to use Windows 95 version OSR2 or later with
large disk support (FAT32). If
you have an older version of Windows 95 or even Windows 3.X or Windows
for Workgroups, you should be able to install the Windows 98 or 98 SE upgrade.