Allow me to introduce one of my retro rigs and the story behind it!
I originally set out to recreate the computer I had built myself in high school (2003-04?), but I quickly ran into a couple problems. First being, my memories of that time are... vague at best... and thus I can't actually remember most of the details about that computer. Second being, the parts I do remember or have a photo of, like the case, I have not been able to track down yet. And third, I realized that system would be basically useless for what I want to use it for today. I always had second-hand parts that were a generation or so behind, and while I did put many hours of gaming time on this rig, and I was very proud of my build back then, I must admit that it gave me laughably slow framerates and performance compared to the latest (and expensive) stuff.
AMD Athlon XP 1700+ CPU. I remember playing with overclocking but don't remember how far I was able to push it.
384MB SDRAM eventually upgraded to 768MB which may have been max supported
First motherboard manufacturer and model have been lost to time. The PCB was tan and yes, it took PC133 SDRAM! It was not actually an Athlon XP board.
That MB had some capacitors fail, so I replaced it with a Gigabyte GA-7 (GA-7VTXE maybe). I liked how this MB was blue, and it used DDR memory.
I believe I eventually ended up with 1GB DDR memory.
Started with a 20GB Seagate IDE HDD (the one with the black rubber bumpers or whatever they were). Upgraded to a 120GB Maxtor IDE HDD*
Started with CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives, then got a DVD burner
No idea at all what graphics card(s) I had back then. I do remember being in the ATI camp and not really a fan of nVidia for whatever reason.
Pretty sure I started with a 64MB AGP card of some sort, and then eventually got a 128MB card. None of them were ever high end or high performance cards. BUT I COULD PLAY DOOM 3 on low settings!
The case was black, with a small rectangle of silver on the front, and an acrylic window shaped like an "X".
I had green 80MM LED fans, blue cold cathode lights, a UV cold cathode light, and a bunch of UV reactive parts like PCI slot covers, IDE cables, and ??
Stock CPU cooler - loud and hot
So what I ended up doing is basically a "tribute" to that PC, and not an accurate reproduction. I really would love to find that case some day, but it's been really elusive, especially not knowing the manufacturer.
The tribute system:
Antec Three Hundred "illusion" ATX case with its original Antec blue LED fans. A newer case obviously, but it definitely follows the aesthetic I like. (Craigslist)
Shuttle AK31 v3 motherboard, on which I replaced 5 blown capacitors, and then flashed with the official "performance" BIOS. (eBay)
AMD Athlon XP 1700+ 1.46 GHz OC to 1.61GHz, which is about a 1900+. (eBay)
An enormous Thermaltake Silent Tower heatsink that mounts using the 4 holes in the MB. This is WAY overkill and very unnecessary, but why not! (eBay)
Slowed down the Thermaltake CPU fan with a Noctua low noise adapter.
1 GB OCZ DDR400 with the copper heat spreaders (local sale)
Maxtor 120 GB IDE HDD - the EXACT one I bought brand new retail back in 2004! Somehow it traveled with me all these years and I never threw it away. It still works fine and has no bad sectors.
ATI Radeon X800XL 256 MB AGP graphics card. A little newer (2005), a bit overkill, and I would never have been able to afford this back in the day. But this enables me to play games at more comfortable framerates. The X800 has an Arctic Cooling Silencer 5 aftermarket cooling solution. The fan always ran at full blast so I spliced into the wire and connected it to a fan controller to slow it down a bit. (local sale)
Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2ZS sound card. I don't remember what sound card I had back then, but this is an upgrade for sure. (local sale)
Noctua 40mm chipset fan with a Noctua low noise adapter
Blue cold cathode lighting (Amazon)
Kingwin 1000W PSU (local sale)
I wanted to run Windows 2000 Professional because I enjoyed that back in the day. However, I started having trouble with it and installed XP instead. Worked fine for a while and then got more BSOD. Turns out it was bad RAM! I don't think brand new DDR memory purchased on Amazon is actually brand new. I had bought 2 sticks, expecting a matched pair, and when they arrived they were not. Plus, one turned out to be failing. My guess is that the seller just "tests" some used memory and slaps on a new label for resale. I might eventually take it back to Windows 2000, but for now all my games are installed on XP.
Not sure what else to say about it! I'm not an expert at cable management as you can see, and the placement of the ATX power connector on the Shuttle AK31 is problematic, so the main lead crosses over top of all the components to reach the connector. But I did the best I can, and airflow is not an issue in this Antec case. I may eventually like to cut a window into the side panel but so far have not found the courage to cut up such a nice case.
The "biohazard" is a custom case badge I made myself in Photoshop many years ago. I used to stick one on every PC I built as my own "brand" or whatever. Now I add them to all my retro systems for some extra nostalgia.
Shuttle AK31 v3 / AXP 1700+ @ 1.61GHz / 1 GB OCZ DDR / Maxtor 120 GB IDE / Radeon X800XL 256 MB AGP / AC Silencer 5 / TT Silent Tower / Audigy 2ZS / XP Pro
ABIT BE6 / P3 Katmai 500 / 512 MB PC133 / 120 GB IDE / Voodoo3 3000 AGP / Diamond MX300 / Win 98SE