Here’s a presentation of my current (#4) main computer :
The name Sulaco comes from the movie Alien 2 “Aliens“, Sulaco is the name of the space marines ship. It replaced AURIGA in July 2010 and I used it to make Binary Overdrive. I chose and purchased all components separately :
CPU : Intel Core i7 930 (2.8 GHz, 4 cores + HT)
MB : Asus P6X58D PREMIUM (Sata 3 & USB 3)
RAM : 6×2 GB – PC3 12800 (1600 MHz)
GC : ATI Radeon HD 5770 (1 GB GDDR5, 2 x DVI + DisplayPort + HDMI)
HDD : OCZ Vertex 2 SSD 60 GB + Samsung F3 HDD 2x1TB RAID 0
OS : Windows 7 Professional 64 bits
Case : SilverStone Fortress FT02 B/W (90 degree motherboard mounting)
Dimension : 497 x 616 x 212 mm, 23 kg
Date : 5th July 2010
Something that I spent a lot of time looking for is the case. I wanted something that looks nice, sober with original design and high manufacture quality. I finally discovered the SilverStone Fortress FT02 B/W that fulfills all my requirements.
Special features :
– Revolutionary 90 degree motherboard mounting
– Innovative 4.5mm aluminum unibody frame
– Three 180mm fans for unprecedented positive pressure and stack effect cooling
– Supports liquid cooling radiator mounting
– Motherboard back plate opening behind CPU area for quick cooler assembly
– Foam padded interior for advanced noise absorption
– Side window option
It’s huge [212mm (W) x 497mm (H) x 616mm (D)] and heavy (15 kg net) but it looks awesome (once I changed the top panel LEDs from blue to red and changed the top extractor fan to a red LED Enermax Apollish UCAP12–R). The cable management inside the case is perfect, excellent air circulation and the fact that the OI-shield is located on the top of the case makes it a lot easier to access cables and connect stuff than on a regular case where everything is in the back. Also the three massive 180mm intake fans have removable dust filter. This case is a bit expensive but totally worth it !
CORSAIR AIRFLOW PRO
I always liked pretty blinking LEDs so of course I had to put some inside Sulaco’s case.
The Corsair Airflow pro does 4 things :
– 2 fans to insure good air circulation around RAM modules
– 6 LEDs monitoring up to 6 memory modules temperatures
– 48 LEDs monitoring memory modules activity
– gives awesome style to your case
It only works with the latest Corsair Dominator Memory with DHX Pro technology (DOMINATOR Modules with part numbers starting with CMP and CMT). Those memory modules have a special port that you use to connect to the airflow pro. This device might not look very useful to many people but I like the fact that I can just have a look at the inside of the case to see if the computer is actively working on something. The temperature monitoring also gives you an idea of the temperature inside the case, around memory modules : in winter, the LEDs are usually blue (cold) and in summer, they’re between green and orange depending on RAM activity.
AEROCOOL FRONT PANELS
The Silverstone case looks awesome but I thought something was missing on the front panel… like LEDs and controls. I also needed some easy access ports. The Silverstone case already has 2 USB and 2 audio jack but I also needed memory card reader and eSata port.
The v12XT from Aerocool displays a nice speedometer-like graphic that shows fan speeds and temperatures inside the case. It can control 4 but I use it to set the speed of 3 of my fans : CPU cooler, top extractor fan and RAM cooler. It also acquires up to 4 temperatures with overheating alarms : CPU, GC, HDD and MB chipset. Mounting it inside the case wasn’t easy though, I don’t know if the device or the case was fucked up but I had to cut the plastic and metal on both sides so that it can fit inside the case.
The Coolpanel 3 controls the 3 intake fans and it also displays 3 temperatures inside the case. It has USB, eSata, headphone and mic-in jack and 55 in 1 card reader. On the screen, the red/yellow/green/blue LEDs are a VUmeter that reacts to sound. I also had to cut some plastic to fit it inside the case.
LITE-ON CD/DVD IHAS524
The CD/DVD reader/writer I chose is a bit special. The Lite-On IHAS524 has the Label TAG technology that can burn text or picture on the unused disc surface. It’s compatible with all CD and DVD but it only works if you have enough free-space after writing data. Depending on the CD/DVD you use, the final render quality can vary. I don’t burn a lot of CD/DVD but the few times I tried Label TAG, I was really happy with the result.
It took me a while to adapt my program collection to Windows 7 64bits. Also I had to find tricks to put back functions that were available in Windows XP and not in Windows 7, for example :
– ShellFolderFix : Remembers size and position of each explorer window when you close it and has other small explorer tweaks.
– AeroBar : Shows window name in explorer title bar (also available in ShellFolderFix).
– ClassicShell : Puts back the old winXP file conflict dialog window (which is a lot less confusing than the one for win7), allows to use both winXP start menu (easier to browse installed programs) and win7 start menu (useful for search box) at the same (one opens with mouse over, the other with mouse click), puts back useful buttons in explorer window toolbar (delete, undo, properties, etc…) and offers many other tweaks.
– Dexpot : I used to have Winroll to rollup my windows and optimize my screen space. It works on win7 but not on explorer windows, so I had to find something else. Dextop does the job, not as good as Winroll though, but its main purpose isn’t to rollup windows. Indeed it manages multiple desktops and multiple screens, I don’t really have a use for that function but I must say it works well. It also manages automatic settings to apply to any kind of window like transparency or right/left/middle click actions.
– Volumouse : Controls volume and windows parameters anyway you want. Mouse wheel, mouse over, keyboard shortcut, etc… with a lot of settings and options. I use it to control the main volume when I drag the mouse wheel over the desktop or taskbar. It can also adjust window transparency, screen brightness, show/hide/move/resize windows, etc…
I’ll add more Windows 7 useful programs later.
Windows 7 64bits works ok, I didn’t have any major crash so far but I think that the default theme/interface is ugly, way too bright and not comfortable to use. I’ve come up with a solution for that too and I’ll share it with you soon with something I like to call : Sulaco Visual Style Project 2000~
I tried to update my editing program and I installed Adobe Premiere cs5 hoping to notice an improvement in reactivity, reliability and speed since it was designed for 64 bits systems. But it was nothing like that, it actually seemed slower, more unstable and heavier to use than Premiere pro 2.0 that I’ve been using since 2004. Also Twixtor, my 60 fps plug-in, was impossible to use because of the weird relative time management that makes the plugin use scenes starting at the first frame no-mater if you already edited it. I think I noticed other stuff that I didn’t like but it was a while ago, I just remember that after 2 weeks trying to use it, I gave up and installed Premiere pro 2.0 again that actually does what I need… as long as the project doesn’t get too complicated cause then it becomes an “unexpected error” and various fucks up festival !
Other than that, everything works fine now, the 4 hyperthreaded cores of my i7 never really get saturated and it’s nice to know that I can always ask more and that the system isn’t gonna slow down. Although I know that basic i7 don’t have a lot of overclocking capabilities, I was thinking of trying some stuff but I think I’ll wait till I need to use programs optimized for 64 bits that might need more power. The graphic card is not the best but it’s very good for my use since I only play games on PS3.
Making this computer was really fun and I’m already thinking about making an other one… the only problem is that I wouldn’t know what to do with it so I guess I’ll just wait a bit.