Building Your Own Graphics Workstation, Part Two
This is the perfect opportunity to invite over a pal, or get your reasonably aged child to help

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In the last installment, I chose the major components to get for our home graphics workstation rig and why to get them. OK, so far we've got all the major players specified, we have named our OS and platform of choice, we've picked out the components, we have called out the case, picked a power supply and we're ready to rock and roll, or smooth jazz, whatever you're into. Now I say "we" when it's really been me doing all the work. You really need to pick up some slack, buddy.

Here is the list of stuff as it stands right now (did you buy it all yet? Sucker):

  • Soyo P4S 645DX Dragon Ultra motherboard
  • Intel 2.53Gz Pentium 4 CPU
  • Either an ATI FireGL8800 or Nvidia 750XGL AGP Video Card
  • 1 GB Crucial DDR PC2100 RAM (2 sticks of 512Mb each)
  • 20Gb Maxtor ATA-133 7200rpm HDD
  • 80GB Maxtor ATA-133 7200rpm HDD
  • 100GB Western Digital ATA-100 7200rpm HDD
  • Chieftec Silver Matrix MA-01SLD full tower case
  • Enermax EG465P-VE 431W Power Supply
[an error occurred while processing this directive]However, beyond the major bits and pieces, there are a fair number of other bits and pieces that you'll need, some out of necessity like fans for the case, some out of convenience like the Digital Doctor 5 to control the fans, some just to satisfy a pure testosterone need to max out what you got, and some to stop any bleeding that may occur. I suppose estrogen fits in that need to max everything out too, but that's a long story with a lot of tangents that never really gets around to making much of a point and ends up giving you a migraine and a cold shoulder. In the interest of using the little bulleted list feature in my word processor again, here is a list of the additional crap you'll need, want, and have to have:

  • (5-6) Vantec Stealth 80mm Double Ball Bearing Case fan (Zalman fans are quite nice as well)
  • (1) Vantec Stealth 92mm Double Ball Bearing Case fan (Zalman fans are good here, too)
  • (1) Zalman CNPS6500B-AlCu P4 CPU heatsink and fan/bracket
  • (1) Zalman ZM-NB32J Northbridge Chipset Cooler
  • (5) Zalman Fan Mate 1 adjustable fan speed controller
  • (1) Digital Doctor 5 Fan speed/temperature monitor and controller
  • (2-4) 3-pin 12" Extension Cables for fan power
  • (6-10) Plastic End Caps for 4-pin Molex Power Connectors
  • (3) Rounded IDE ATA-100/133 cables (one long one at 36")
  • (1) Rounded floppy cable
  • Computer Speakers
  • Static Wrist band
  • Floppy drive
  • DVD drive & CD-RW drive
  • Keyboard and Mouse
  • (2 packs) PaxMate Sound Absorption Mats
  • Silver Spray paint
  • Phillips head screwdriver and needle nose pliers
  • Electrical tape and Masking tape
  • Dominos large three-topping pizza, Onion, Jalapeno, Tomato and Cheesy Bread
  • 2 Liter Coke or Jolt Cola (save the beer for later)
  • Band-Aids
Did you buy it all yet?
Where to get this stuff is up to you; you should go with the vendors you prefer and with whom you already have a good relationship. Since I've requested most of the components directly from the manufacturers -- aside from the case, fans and drives -- there wasn't a whole lot of buying I needed to do. One vendor, www.kdcomputers.com was very kind in sending me out the silver-colored Digital Doctor 5 from their inventory. They also carry a lot of the goods I've outlined above with good prices, especially a great variety of the rounded drive cables.

But I got most everything I needed from directron.com, which specializes in basically having everything you may want or need to customize or hand-build your own PC. I've been a customer there for a while now, and they've always managed to make me happy. They were kind enough to help sponsor this article by covering the cost of the case, fans, and some cables.

I'll run through why the things on this list are on this list as they come up for installation. Some are optional, but most are necessary. I trust you'll read this all the way through first before grabbing your wallet to buy everything (but if you do grab your wallet first, I have a bridge in Brooklyn).

Assuming you have everything, you'll need to declare a portion of your house or apartment off-limits to all non-essential personnel. Keep all furry things at a distance, as static electricity is your enemy -- cats love snooping around, dogs love to eat stuff, and girlfriends love to distract you with sex (stay on target, stay on target). I prefer to use pepper spray and a bullhorn. Additionally, it's best to keep everything in its box or anti-static bag until the moment you need to install it. This is very true of the motherboard, video card (or any other card), ram and CPU. Now this is the perfect opportunity to invite over a pal, or get your reasonably aged child to help. This can be prime "buddy-bonding" time. The kind of buddy time in films like 48 Hours or Lethal Weapon (without the shooting), sort of like working on the car in the garage with your football friends, punching each other in the arm, making derogatory jokes about women, but with computers and derogatory jokes about Macs.

How many iMacs does it take to replace a light bulb? None, you have to replace the entire house. There was once a Mac from Nantucketů. Aw, never mind.

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