First post, by Gered
First build I've posted here and I'm quite pleased with how it turned out. 😀 The original computer was a Dell Dimension XPS M200a with all of its original components except the hard disk (seller did not include one). So, it's not a "full" build in that this is based on an OEM machine, but even still, I swapped out / upgraded a number of things and cleaned the whole thing up quite a bit!
This computer is built to be pretty close spec-wise to my dad's computer from that time. Why? Well it was 20 years ago this year, and it holds a certain fondness for me. The computer technically was my dad's, but we (my siblings and I) were able to play some games on it too 😀. I remember my parents occasionally buying me an issue of PC Gamer and I would ogle over the articles and ads for different PC hardware. In particular I remember I really wanted a Voodoo graphics card. Then in 1998, I wanted a Voodoo 2. Of course we never got any such thing. 😜 I didn't get my first part time job until a few years later when I was a bit older so I had no money to buy these things for myself either. So this build is basically a combination of what I remember from that PC and some of the additional hardware I wished we had.
Pentium 233 MMX
Intel 437VX Chipset
64 MB SDRAM, 512KB Cache (COAST)
S3 ViRGE/DX Q5C4BB On-board Video 2MB
8.4 GB HDD Maxtor 90871U2
24x CD-ROM Toshiba XM-6102B
Sound Blaster AWE64 CT4500
3Com 3C509B-TPO NIC
Diamond Monster 3D II (Voodoo2) w/ 12MB
Newton Power Ltd NPS-145PB-51C 145W PSU
Sony CPD-100SX 15" CRT Monitor
Microsoft IntelliMouse PS/2
Key Tronic E03601QUSST-C Keyboard
Missing is a pair of beige speakers. I stupidly tossed the set I had a few years ago. They were actually the original set used with my dad's PC back in 1997! D'oh!
This Dell originally came with a Sound Blaster Vibra 16C and a US Robotics 56k modem (forgot the model, sorry). The 56k modem would definitely be much more period accurate for 1997/1998, but has absolutely no use for me in 2017. So the 3Com NIC was swapped in. I swapped an AWE64 in simply because I had one. *shrug* I don't actually remember what sound card was in our computer back in '97-98. Some type of Sound Blaster anyway.
The Voodoo 2 is of course bottlenecked here by the 233 MMX CPU, but even still it performs quite well and I'm glad that 20 years later I finally own one. I actually finished a full playthrough of Unreal this week and even though this computer is definitely not ideal for that game, I personally thought it was quite enjoyable (the slower framerate was actually quite nostalgic for me). Quake 2 engine games obviously play great, as does anything from before that.
The CD-ROM drive in there now is the same model as what the computer originally came with, but the actual drive itself is a replacement as the original one had a lot of trouble reading CDs that worked perfectly fine in other computers. I wanted to see if I could get a replacement drive that was the same model, since it matched the beige colour of the case so well. Found one on eBay and bought it. When it arrived I discovered that I had not paid close enough attention to the photos in the eBay auction (dumb mistake!). The colour was most definitely not beige! However, since the original drive that wasn't working was in otherwise great cosmetic condition, I decided to just open them both up and swap the faceplates and CD tray and voila! Problem solved.
Since it was sold to me with no hard disk I had to put in my own. Luckily, even though a few years back I went on a "cleaning frenzy" and tossed out a bunch of old computer stuff (which I totally regret now), I did not toss any of my old IDE hard disks and still have a stack of five that all work. I decided to put in an 8.4GB drive. The next smallest IDE drive I have is 40GB and that doesn't seem too period-correct to me, heh. This drive is actually one I originally got with a P3 500Mhz HP Vectra computer that was actually my very first eBay purchase in 2003! (I wish I still had that computer 🙁) In this particular Dell model, the hard drive was apparently put in this vertical little beige plastic cage-thingy at the bottom front of the case somehow. That seemed really bizarre to me so I decided to instead mount it in the empty space up near the CD-ROM drive.
I haven't done the math on the PSU yet to see if I'm anywhere near close to its capacity. One of the main problems with these OEM computers is that they typically come with underpowered PSUs. I probably should check into that soon. The adapters for Dell's proprietary connector are easily obtained, so getting something a bit beefier shouldn't be a big problem if it's needed.
I picked up a nice 3dfx case badge from someone on eBay. I think it looks great 😀. Though I wish the other (original) badges on the case were a bit larger to match its size. Oh well.
I love this particular style of Dell case. Never really been a fan of Dell computers otherwise. The computer my family had back then actually was not a Dell, it was a custom build by the owner of a computer store in a nearby town we knew. However, when I came across this Dell computer for sale a couple months ago I figured "why not", since I didn't have a clear memory of what the case we had looked like anyway so would be picking something different anyway.
Not really any yellowing except for a little bit on some of the empty bay covers. There are a bunch of little nicks around the seams of the removable parts on the case, probably from previous owner(s) who didn't have a clue how to open it up. Can't say I'm completely unsympathetic, as these Dell computers aren't really super obvious as to how you're supposed to open them (even the manual is kind of poor at explaining it in a few places). Especially if you're used to modern tool-less cases.
The computer arrived super dirty, tons of gross dirt, parts of dead bugs, etc. Cleaned it up, scrubbed all the plastic parts down and I think it looks great now personally. Very happy with this computer!