September 11, 2008

Desktop Solution

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The guy I purchased the Acer Aspire One from Craigslist also had an OS X desktop system available. He originally quoted me a very good price. However, from the time I bought the Aspire One to when I emailed a few days later about the desktop system, the price had gone up by $150. The system specs were okay, but the sudden price increase put me off.

I decided not to get the pre-built system. I figured I could get a much better system for about the same price — assuming I’m willing to install the operating system and can actually get it running.

After work on Monday, a fellow conspirator and I went to Tiger Direct to pick up a hard drive for him. I wanted to look for a bag for the Acer Aspire — all of my bags are way too big. Any way, I ended up coming home with enough stuff to build a system with much better specs. I ended up paying about $600 for $700 worth of stuff (manager took $100 off of the Shuttle bare bones system display model so it was $250 instead of $349).

The base system is a Shuttle XPC, a small form factor that is perfect for the limited area on my desk. The Shuttle XPC also has a track record of being good for using with other operating systems. The model I ended up taking home initially was the gaming rig. The other items include an Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5 gHz, 500 gig WD drive with a 32 MB cache, 2 gig DDR2 Corsair RAM (240 pin, 800 mHz), and a nVidia 8800GS 384 MB PCI-e 16x card. I didn’t bother getting an internal DVD RW because I have an external one.

My friend and I went back to my apartment to put the system together. We had major problems with the system. We were up until 4:00 AM trying to get it to work. No luck. (System would sometimes boot and kick the monitor on, and then the cooling fans would kick in. After a few seconds, the system would shut itself off and restart. It would then repeat.)

Tuesday I went back to Tiger Direct at lunch to exchange the Shuttle case and the CPU. Because the other Shuttle case was the last one instock, I found another Shuttle case that was advertised at $249 ($299 with $50 instant rebate): Shuttle XPC Glamor. It turned out that the price on the Shuttle case was incorrect. It should have been $299 with a mail-in rebate for $60 off. However, because of the advertised price on the sign, I got the Shuttle for $249 — AND I get to apply for the $60 mail-in rebate. Yay! (My friend has been in shock over the prices and discounts I’ve been getting.)

Last night I tried to assemble the parts. First time putting in a CPU on my own. Not a problem. Followed the instructions and assembled the system. It took me a while because I kept double-checking things. Everything seems to be working okay. However, when I dropped the operating system install disc into the external DVD drive, I got a cryptic error message . Some work arounds are listed on the forums, but it’s an error message that is difficult to resolve.

I found people who have used the same case and motherboard that I have. They used a different installation . So… the plan now is to try a different distro and see what happens.

This machine is *fast*. I’m just drooling anticipating Oblivion on it. Might have to dual boot, but there is space for that on the hard drive.

My geeky self will be happy when the system is actually booting. Fiddling around with systems is fun — to a point. After that point, it just becomes frustrating.

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