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Once-Modern Builds (12024-05-15)

brook > pcs > modern

Here's the PC's I've built that weren't deliberately designed to run outdated operating systems. (They just slowly became obsolete on their own.) Right now there's just a few, but perhaps that will eventually change.

After four years of use, my Dell Dimension 8400 had started feeling very sluggish. I planned to create this custom build until my dad got me a similarly-specced laptop instead.

$120: XCLIO Windtunnel (Full Tower)
$180: ABIT Intel P35 (LGA775, ATX)
$190: Intel Core 2 Duo (3GHz)
$104: OCZ SLI-Ready Edition 4GB Kit (2x2GB DDR2-800)
$175: nVidia GeForce 8800 GT (512MB)
$91: Creative SoundBlaster XtremeGamer
$70: Western Digital 400GB HDD
$28: Samsung 22x DVD-R Drive
$31: Rosewill Card Reader/1.44MB Combo Drive
$64: Microsoft Sidewinder Mouse
$80: Saitek Cyborg Keyboard
Approximate Total Cost


My former primary computer was a custom micro-ATX system I started building in summer 12013.

Motherboard: ASRock 960GM/U3S3 FX
Socket AM3+ with 2 DDR3-1866 RAM slots
2xPS/2, 4xUSB2, 2xUSB3.0, 1Gbps
OS: Windows 7 SP1 (64-bit Home Premium)
Kept it installed out of spite through/because of "fuck the Windows 8 UI", "Microsoft fired the entire QA team", "Windows 10 users keep getting they shit broken", and "B-B-BUT MUH SECURITY UPDATES" phases.

12013-06-27 to 12014-11, started at approximately $935.

Case: Rosewill FBM-01
ATX micro-tower with pre-installed 120mm and 80mm fans
PSU: Cooler Master Elite (460w) (Given to PC5004)
CPU: AMD Phenom II X4 965 (4x3400MHz) with stock cooler (Given to PC5004C)
RAM: Kingston HyperX Genesis (8GB DDR3-1600) (Given to Office-A)
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 (1GB)
NIC: Edimax EW-7128Gn (802.11n@150mbps)
Audio: Logitech Z506 (5.1 Surround speakers) (Given to dad)
Operating System: Windows 7 SP1 (64-bit Home Premium)
I attempted to dual-boot Debian 7 alongside it, but couldn't figure out how to get graphics drivers working from the command line.
Windows Experience Index 7.4 (CPU bottleneck)
A: Sony FDD (USB2)
^ Initially wanted an internal floppy drive, but discovered that IDE-40 and IDC-34 are Different things. (Also pretty sure that 34p-USB adapters are a recent invention, would've gone for one if I knew about it.)
B: Samsung DVD-RW (SATA-II) (Given to Office-A)
^ Removed because I ran out of space on the 1TB after phasing out the USB HDDs used when my primary system was PC5011.
B: Toshiba 3TB HDD-7200 (SATA-III) (Failed)
D: WD Black 1TB HDD-7200 (SATA-II)
E: Toshiba 1.5TB HDD (USB3)
F: Slimline DVD-RW (USB2)
G: Front bay hotswap Dock (SATA-II)

Upgrades added from 12014-12 to 12016-11.

Case: Rosewill Blackhawk
ATX mid-tower with 4 pre-installed 120mm fans
PSU: Corsair CX600M (600w 80+Bronze) (Given to PC5004C)
CPU: AMD FX-8320 (8x3500MHz) with CM GeminII M4 cooler
RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury (16GB DDR3-1866)
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 7970 (3GB) (Died)
GPU: Sapphire Radeon HD 7770 (1GB) (Given to Office-B)
GPU: ASUS Radeon RX470 (4GB)
NIC: Edimax EW-7128Gn (802.11n@150mbps) (PCI slot failed)
NIC: TP-Link TL-WN822N (USB2) (802.11n@300mbps) (Died)
NIC: Panda Wireless (USB2) (802.11n@300mbps) (Unreliable)
NIC: NET-DYN WiFi Adapter (USB2) (802.11n@300mbps) (Unreliable)
Audio: Philips CSS2123B/F7 soundbar (2.1 virtual surround) (Given to dad)
Windows Experience Index 6.0 (GPU bottleneck)
A: Sony FDD (USB2)
B: WD Black 4TB HDD-7200 (Popped)
D: WD Black 1TB HDD-7200
E: Toshiba 1.5TB HDD (USB3)
G: Combo card reader/fan speed controller (USB2)
H: Case SATA hotswap bay

Upgrades added from 12017-11 to 12022-09. This configuration consisted of components costing $1300.

(HWinfo summary)

Case: Rosewill Blackhawk
ATX mid-tower with Arctic F12 PWM-PST-CO fans
PSU: EVGA Supernova P2 (650w 80+Platinum)
CPU: AMD FX-8320 (8x3500MHz) with CM GeminII M4 cooler
RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury (16GB DDR3-1866)
GPU: ASUS Radeon RX470 (4GB)
NIC: TP-Link Archer T2UH (USB2) (Unreliable)
PC5011 (MAC bridge) via onboard LAN (failed) AmazonBasics 1Gbps adapter (USB3)
Audio: TaoTronics 25" soundbar (2.0; got sick of cables everywhere)
Windows Experience Index 7.6 (HDD bottleneck)
A: 12005 Sony FDD (USB2) 11999 Imation LS-120 SuperDisk (ATAPI)
B: 12019 4TB WD Blue
C: 12013 128GB ADATA SX900
D: 12013 1TB WD Black 12021 4TB WD Blue
E: 12012 1.5TB Toshiba Canvio (USB3) 12022 2TB WD Elements SSD (USB3)
F: 12018 BOSLISA DVD-RW (USB3) 12005 Memorex DVD-ROM/CD-RW (ATAPI)
G: 12020 4TB WD Blue (USB3-SATA)
H: 12021 4TB WD Blue (USB3-SATA)

After a whole lot of trial and error and failed internet connection methods, I think this is about as powerful as I can get it.

Case: Rosewill Blackhawk (ATX mid-tower)
USB: 4x2.0, 2x3.0 (disconnected; no motherboard header)
Fans: 6x120mm Arctic F12 PWM-PST-CO
Bays: 4x5¼ external, 3x3½ internal
PSU: XFX Pro 550w (80+Bronze)
(Fun fact: I actually originally bought this for this PC back in 12013, but it didn't fit in the cramped-ass FBM-01 case with all them cables going everywhere.)
CPU: AMD FX-8320 (8x3500MHz) with CM GeminII M4 cooler
RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury (16GB DDR3-1866)
GPU: ASUS Radeon RX470 (4GB)
NIC: AmazonBasics 1Gbps adapter (USB3)
A: 11999 Imation LS-120 SuperDisk (ATAPI)
B: 12019 4TB WD Blue
C: 12013 128GB ADATA SX900
D: 12013 1TB WD Blue (from Office-A) in case hotswap bay
F: 12005 Memorex DVD-ROM/CD-RW (ATAPI)
Peripherals (USB2 via Dell U2412M and Monoprice KVM)
E: 12010 1TB WD Elements (USB2)
Lexar USB3 card reader (SD/µSD/MSP/M2/CF/XD)
Contour ShuttleXpress (12013)
CyberPower 1000VA UPS (12018)
Unicomp Model M (EnduraPro 104 Beige) (12014)
Kensington Orbit Trackball (12019)

After serving me well for 10 years, this aging warship has been moved to the home office, where it now serves as a dedicated video editing station. (And no longer heats up my room an extra 6° simply by being powered on.)

  • Total cost: $4775 spent over 123 months
  • Components: $1291 internal, $553 peripherals
  • Reused: $1570 in parts distributed to 8 other systems
  • Unused: $596 of USB-Wifi adapters sitting around /hj
  • Failed: $765 of dead headsets, GPUs, and hard drives

Office Commissions

A pair of systems I threw together for getting some work done on. Both remained in use at our office building until it was sold, after which B continued to be used as a work computer. Got a good 9 years out of 'em, then a bunch of websites mysteriously stopped working, so I switched them out for a pair of upgraded laptops running Linux Mint.

Unit A

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-F2A55M-HD2
Micro-ATX Socket FM2 with 2 DDR3-1800 RAM slots
4xSATA-II, 4xUSB2, 1xPS/2, 1Gbps
PSU: Cooler Master "Elite 460w" RS-460-PSAR-I3
APU: AMD A4-4000 (3.0GHz dual-core)
NIC: TP-Link TL-WN751D (802.11n @ 150Mbps)
Case: Rosewill FBM-01
ATX micro-tower with included 120mm and 80mm fans
2xUSB2, external 2x5¼ and 1x3½ bays, 2x3½ bays internal
GPU: Integrated Radeon HD 7480D
RAM: [12014-12017] 1x4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3-1600
[12017-12023] 2x4GB Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600
OS: Windows 7 SP1 (64-bit Home Premium)
C: WD Blue 1TB HDD-7200
D: Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE 24x DVD-RW
  • Built 12014-01 for $390
  • Retired 12016-??
  • Reinstated 12020-08 as HTPC
  • Attempted to update but failed because this jank-ass loser forgot its entire Windows Update history 12023-02
  • Replaced 12023-03-21 by IcedCream; RAM reused in PC5023, HDD reused in PC5014


After getting interested in Stable Diffusion, I decided to throw some upgrades at this system and see what could be made with it:

RAM: 2x8GB Leven DDR3-1333One stick failed Memtest86+
2x8GB Timetec DDR3-1600
PNY XLR8 GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
OS: Linux Mint 21.2 Xfce /dev/sda: 256GB Bto S400 SSD (Taken from PC5023)
  • Repurposed 12023-07-29 for image generation (+$110 for new RAM and GPU)
  • Reupgraded 12023-08-03 (+137 for new RAM and GPU) because Radeon is unsupported and one stick was defective
  • Decommissioned 12023-08-22; parts reused in PC5024

The system's core was then replaced with an AM4 motherboard (details in the next section), so I just started slapping some spare hardware together. Could make a nice late-2000s gaming rig?

Case: Sentey CS1-1410 Plus Classic
ATX mid-tower with 3 external 5¼ bays
USB: 1x2.0, 1x3.0
Fan: 80mm Rosewill (Taken from FBM-01)
GPU: Radeon HD 7770 1GB
RAM: 1x4GB Crucial Ballistix Sport DDR3-1600
USB: NZXT IU01 Internal USB Expansion
A: Sony MPF920 (34P-USB)
B: ATAPI ZIP-100 drive (IDE-USB)
C: 32GB CF card in SATA adapter
D: Samsung SH-224DB/BEBE
Rear 2-port eSATA bracket

Unit B

(HWiNFO summary)

Case: CM HAF 912 ATX mid-tower
2xUSB2, 2x120mm fans
Bays: 4x5¼ ext; 2x3½, 2x2½ int
Motherboard: Asus A55BM-E
Micro-ATX FM2+, 2xDDR3
6xSATA-II, 4xUSB2, 2xPS/2, 1Gbps
PSU: XFX Pro 550w(80+ Bronze) 2014-2023 (Given to PC5014), Elite 460wCooler Master RS-460-PSAR-I3
GPU: Integrated2014-2017 (Radeon HD 7540D), Radeon HD 7770 1GB2017-2023 (Added for triple-monitor support) (Given to XPness)
APU: AMD A6-5400K (2x3.6GHz)
RAM: 2x4GB DDR3-1333Kingston HyperX Blu; 2014-2023 (Given to PC5023)
2x2GB DDR3-1600Micron (Taken from PC5023)
NIC: TP-Link TL-WN751D(802.11n @ 150Mbps)
OS: Windows 7 SP1 (Home Premium x64) C: 120GB SSDCrucial M500
D: 24x DVD-RWSamsung SH-224DB/BEBE (Given to XPness)
E: 500GB 5400RPM HDDSeagate Momentus 5400.6 (Taken from N5050)



Me in 12015: "Upgrading a computer in a Micro ATX case is a pain in the ass! Never building something this small ever again."


While 5014 is a great system, its AM3+ hardware is starting to show its age. I wanted to build a mini-ITX system for running what it's not able to handle (i.e. newer and VR games).

December 12019 Planned Spec
Case: Fractal Design Node 202
PSU: Corsair SF600 (600w 80+Platinum)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3600 (update: lmao, dodged *that* bullet)
RAM: G.Skill Trident (32GB DDR4-3600)
GPU: nVidia RTX 2060 Super (8GB)
SSD: Samsung 970 EVO 1TB (M.2)
OS: Manjaro or OpenBSD dual-booted with Windows 10 Pro
Estimated cost to build: ~$1,550 (but I hopefully wouldn't have to upgrade anything for, like, at least three years)
Early 12023 Planned Spec
Unit: Beelink GTR7 Pro
(Ryzen 7940HS, 32GB LPDDR5-5600, Radeon 780M, 1TB NVMe)
Estimated cost: $870
Summer 12023 Planned Spec
Case: Reused from CandiedCane (Rosewill FBM-01 with fan upgrades)
Motherboard: Asrock B650M-HDV/M.2
PSU: Reused from PC5014 (EVGA Supernova P2 (650w 80+ Platinum))
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7600X
RAM: 32GB DDR5-6000
GPU: Reused from CandiedCane (PNY XLR8 GTX 1070 8GB)
SSD: WD Black 1TB SN770 (M.2)
Estimated cost to build: ~$530 sans reused parts

But I don't feel like paying that much, so I'll go for previous-gen parts until AM5 and PCIe5 stuff becomes worthless. That way the entire system costs what I otherwise would've paid for the CPU alone. #TrashIsTreasure

The original plan was to grab a Ryzen 9 mini-PC, then upgrade it with an external USB4 GPU when the 780M stopped cutting mustard. But, after running the numbers, it looks like building a microtower will cost less upfront if I gut Candiedcane and reuse its parts. Let's see what happens.

12023-08 Build

Case: Rosewill FBM-01 (ATX micro-tower)
USB: 2x2.0
Fans: 120mm (Arctic F12 PWM-PST-CO), 92mm (BeQuiet! BL038)
Bays: 2x5¼, 3½ external; 2x3½ internal
Motherboard: ASRock B450M/ac R2.0
Micro-ATX Socket AM4 with 4 DDR4-3200 RAM slots.
1xGen3x4 M.2, 4xSATA-III, 2xUSB2, 4xUSB3.1, 1Gbps
Included Intel 3168NGW (802.11ac + Bluetooth 4.2) M.2-E module
PSU: EVGA Supernova 650 P2 (80+ Platinum) (Reused from PC5014)
CPU: AMD Ryzen 5600 (3.4GHz 6-core) with TT Contac 9 SE cooler
RAM: Teamgroup T-Create Expert (16+16GB DDR4-3200 CL16)
GPU: PNY XLR8 GeForce GTX 1070 8GB
Which AFAICT is roughly on par with RDNA3 iGPUs at high TDP. So, in a way it's what I was hoping for, just uses more power.
/dev/sda: 256GB Bto S400 SSD
/dev/sdb: 11199 Imation LS-120 SuperDisk (USB via KVM)
/dev/sd[cdef]: 3½" front-panel multi-card reader (USB2)
/dev/sr0: 12013 Samsung SH-224BB/BEBE 24x DVD-RW
OS: Linux Mint 21.2 (Xfce)
Windows? More like, uh.. dumbass. #gottem

12023-09 Upgrades

RAM: Teamgroup T-Create Expert (4x16GB DDR4-3200 CL16)
5.25: Syba dual drive dock with 2xUSB3.0 ports
PCIe: Inateck USB3.2x2 Type-C
/dev/nvme0n1: ADATA/XPG SX8200 Pro 2TB (Gen3x4 M.2 2280)
/dev/sdg: Front bay 2½" dock:
12014 Toshiba 750GB 4200RPM 2½" HDD (Taken from HP Pavilion)
/dev/sdh: Front bay 3½" dock
OS: Nobara Linux 38 (Plasma)
(Gaming-optimized Fedora-based distro by the dev of ProtonGE)
$285.96 core, $192.31 upgrades, $406.94 reused


And, bam! Instant max-spec build for under 500 new.. Well, I suppose I could upgrade the CPU to a 5800X3D. But at the point when this thing is noticeably outdated I'll probably just fully replace it.

I was initially worried about reusing this cramped case that by all appearances should have no dang airflow, but so far the system idles at ~13°C above ambient, so it seems she can breathe.

Speaking of performance, how's the Ryzen compared to 5014's FX?
(+139% higher average benchmarks, 'Hugely faster' core speeds)
Fayst. Despite using a third the wattage at idle.

12024-01 Upgrades

Case: CM HAF 912 (ATX mid-tower) (reused from Office-B)
USB: 2x2.0
Fans: 2x120mm (Arctic F12 PWM-PST-CO)
Bays: 4x5¼ external, drive cage removed
Took out the card reader because I don't feel like buying another bay size adapter.
GPU2: EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB Gaming ACX3.0
Decided to spend another $94 to double my VRAM for running bigger LLMs... but it wasn't enough; just lets me run 7B and 10.7B with higher context.
GPU2: Nvidia Tesla M40 24GB (soon)
Look, I'm having a great time with this shit, but REFUSE to pay post-crypto prices for GPUs. (But buying 4 of them for $95-120 each until I have a working config is no problem, apparently. IDK how that works either lmao.)

Useful Links Best Thermal Paste Effectiveness: TG Kryonaut, Balance: Noctua NT-H2, Value: Arctic MX-4 Logical Increments Suggested custom builds for every budget from $300 to $3000. PSU Tier List Crowdsourced guide to reliability of ATX power supplies. Unicomp Model M Keyboards The best $150 you'll ever spend on an input device.

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