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Homebuilt *Portable* gaming system with *portable* monitor, $1300 including monitor!



 
 
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Old July 27th 04, 10:40 PM
Dave C.
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Default Homebuilt *Portable* gaming system with *portable* monitor, $1300 including monitor!

3DMark 2001 sco 13,666
Speed test on Comcast cable modem: 9000 kbps down (not a typo)

A friend told her teenage son that if he got high honors this year (he did
it last year, but she didn't think he could repeat), that she would buy him
a new gaming computer. Foolish her. He got high honors again. So he
wanted something portable, upgradeable (ie, NOT a notebook) and good for
gaming. My friend doesn't have a ton of money to spend. She asks me to
build it. I'm not a gamer, but I have built many systems. I figured how
hard could it be to build something portable, upgradeable, powerful and
cheap? (Ha Ha) Two out of four? NO problem. Three out of four? Very
tough. Four out of four? Well, I think I pulled it off pretty nicely.
This is what I built. All hardware except the monitor was purchased through
Newegg.

Antec Aria Case w/300W P4 power supply (accepts Micro-ATX mainboards)
Biostar P4VMA-M micro-ATX P4 socket 478 800MHz mainboard
Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz Prescott, 800FSB, 1M cache, OEM
Speeze all copper HSF
Mushkin DDR400 CL2.5 512MB RAM (1 stick, to leave 1 memory slot open)
Chaintech SA5900X FX5900XT 128MB video card
NEC ND-2500A black 8X DVD R/W drive w/Roxio software, OEM
Western Digital 80GB IDE hard drive, 7200RPM, 8MB cache
Creative PCI 128 sound card
Windows XP SP1a Home
Encore V.92 PCI modem (temporary, awaiting cable modem)
Logitech black keyboard
Logitech black optical mouse

The above is from memory, but the total of everything except the monitor was
$900 with shipping.

Now the best part . . . NEC makes a PORTABLE monitor that happens to be a
kick-ass gaming monitor. It is the LCD1565. It has a hard plastic shield
over the screen, and folds flat for transport. It's kind of pricey at ~$400
retail, but it's the only monitor of it's kind I've ever seen or even HEARD
OF. It fits perfectly in a (16" or 17") notebook carrying case!!!

So he ended up with a very capable gamer that uses all standard parts, and
fits in two airplane carry-on sized bags!!!

If anyone wants to try this project, be warned that the Antec Aria is a very
difficult build. This is probably not a project for a first-time builder.
The case is so small that there is like NO room to work in there. I'm lucky
the CPU cooler I chose fit it. The cooler I got was low-profile. If it had
been 1mm taller, it would NOT have fit in the Aria. But it was a
worth-while project. It will probably kick the crap out of notebooks
costing twice as much money, yet it's still reasonably portable. (lan
party, anyone?)

I was originally leaning toward Athlon64, but went the P4 route to keep
costs down (the extra money spent on a Athlon64 mainboard and processor
would not have been justified by the small potential increase in
performance). I was somewhat worried about the Prescott in a small case
with one cooling fan (almost chose a Northwood instead). But it's 39-43C
under load, so no problem there. I also considered Athlon XP, but the cost
was about the same compared to P4, as far as bang-for-buck goes, unless I
overclocked it. I didn't think it would be smart to over-clock in the Antec
Aria case, and I normally frown on over-clocking anyway. So P4 was what I
chose, and no regrets. Normally I'd deliberately try to steer away from
Intel, but it seemed the logical choice this time.

I built the system at my house, and then the owner brought some of his
friends over to test it out. I knew it was fast, but hadn't run any speed
tests on it. One of the friends decided to benchmark my cable modem just
for the heckuvit and the results blew everyone's mind. 9000kbps down on a
connection that usually runs about 3500 down and 500 up (with a much less
capable computer). We thought it was a fluke, so we ran it several times
and the slowest was 7700kbps down!!! That's with the built-in 10/100 lan of
the Biostar mainboard, a Netgear brand wireless G router, a Linksys befcmu10
(Version 3) cable modem, and the latest version of Mozilla. Then he ran
3DMark2001 on it. I don't know what 13,666 means (I'm not a gamer), but I'm
told that's very good for 3DMark2001. The important thing is, the owner (a
hardcore gamer) is VERY HAPPY with his system after playing his favorite
games on it for many hours.

Anyway, if anyone is looking to homebuild a portable gamer, here's one
suggestion -Dave








 




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