The Computer

The Computer

The computer. That is it. No introduction needed as I have given you many ‘glimpses’ at this dating back to last Christmas. Yes I know you have all been sitting on the edge of your chair for the last 8 months waiting for this very post, and now, you have good reason to fall off. *Cue Drum Roll* This is the computer.

Read more after the jump!

Here is a bit of background to the computer. This will be the computer we (being the Melbourne team) will use for reviewing and testing out new hardware and software. As well as doing that, it will also be used as a ‘recommended build’ for people who are looking at building a new computer or upgrading certain components (not at the moment as some things aren’t quite up to date).

We hope to update this computer every couple of months so to keep on top of all the new products out on the market at the moment. So without further a-do, I shall get into the guts of the computer itself.


Intel i7 950 Socket 1366

Yes this isn’t a Sandy Bridge. At this point in time I don’t really see any point in going Sandy Bridge with Ivy Bridge coming out in only a matter of months. The i7-950 boasts 4 cores which can multi-thread at 8 threads enabling all those multi-core compatible games and applications to run with ease. It is also compatible with triple channel RAM though these days that is not such a big thing. With a TDP (total design power) of 130w it is basically the most power hungry processor out, beating the new Sandy Bridge models (which isn’t something to be too excited about) though it certainly does deliver.


ASRock x58 Extreme

This motherboard is one of the cheapest Socket 1366 motherboards out (well it was when we were assembling the computer). It doesn’t have all those high end features i.e. USB 3.0 that all of the high end motherboards do, but saying that it just gets the job done with minimal cost. This board supports triple channel DDR3 RAM, Quad SLI/CrossFire with double spacing between each slot ensuring all cards can be plugged in no matter what size. The x58 Extreme has a LED display, known as Dr. Debug, as well as boot and reboot buttons soldered to the board. Overall this board is a brilliant performer for its price.


Corsair Dominator 12GB DDR3

When we came to the memory, we decided to go with a well-known, quality brand which is why we went with Corsair. We got Corsair’s Dominator 12GB RAM kit. It is DDR3 ram and is clocked at 1600 MHz, which is just under double what DDR2 RAM could be clocked at. This kit is Triple Channel which means you have 6x 2GB sticks, filling up all 6 RAM slots of the ASRock Extreme x58. Corsair has included their own AIRFLOW RAM cooler, which isn’t really needed unless you are going to overclock it. While running Windows 7 with Chrome, Outlook, TweetDeck, Skype and Word open, we still had around 9GB of free RAM which leaves us wondering how to use the other 9GB of it. This RAM kit is great, definitely giving you room to move when using those resource intensive applications.


Corsair F120GB SSD

SSD’s are known for their speed and the F120 is no exception getting around 230 MB/s data transfer rate opposed to the average 140 MB/s of a normal HDD. Comparing Windows 7 64bit boot times there was quite a large difference. The F120 managed to get from the start of the BIOS POST to the Windows desktop in 38 seconds, while a WD 2TB Caviar Black did it in 1 minute and 10 seconds. That’s quite a large and very noticeable difference. Running some speed tests show us that writing a 10GB file to the F120 takes 43893 ms (just under a minute), with a transfer rate of 227.827 MB/s while comparing that to the WD 2TB Caviar Black, it takes 71448 ms (nearly double), with a transfer rate of 139.962 MB/s. This SSD also comes with a 2.5″ tray for mounting in a 3.5″ slot, and as expected, silent.

Hard Drive

Western Digital Caviar Black 2TB

The Western Digital Caviar series are known for their reliability and performance and the Caviar Black 2TB we have is no exception. The Caviar Black series are designed with performance in mind with a speed of 7200 RPM, this drive will cater to our secondary storage needs (basically what we can’t fit on the SSD). In a speed test we managed to get a maximum write speed of 139.962 MB/s which is quite decent compared to a lot of other hard drives around and certainly make transferring data between the SSD and hard drive a breeze. If you didn’t want to shell out for an SSD, this hard drive fills that gap perfectly booting into Windows 7 64bit in just over a minute.

Graphics Card

Gigabyte 9800GT

This graphics card is merely a spare of mine as we haven’t been able to secure a graphics card as of yet. That said, it is still quite the performer. It is able to push Crysis (the original game) at Medium detail with a resolution of 1440×900 and Team Fortress 2 at 1920×1080 at very playable, quite reasonable FPS rates. The model we have is a manufacturer overclocked model sporting custom Zalman Cooling which will let your whole neighbourhood know when you are using the computer (not really, though it is annoyingly loud). This GPU was quite a good card in it’s day though today it is seen as noisy and slow.  

Power Supply

Corsair HX850W

This power supply is perfect for pretty much any situation, within reason. The HX850W is an 850watt modular power supply, meaning you can detach/attach the cables you don’t need/need. This power supply has 80 Plus Silver Certification which means that under any load, the power supply is 85% or more efficient in terms of how much electricity is converted to heat. The HX850W has a massive 140mm fan with is thermally controlled so that your computer is quiet when it needs to be and loud when it has to be. There is a plethora of connectors included with the HX850W including your standard 24pin ATX cable, the ATX13v 8 pin connector, a total of 6x PCI express connectors (2 wired directly to the power supply, 4 modular), 12x (yes 12) SATA connectors and 12x 4 pin connectors. This power supply definitely will connect to all your gadgets as well as provide plenty of power for them to chew up.


BitFenix Shinobi

This case is a great all round case which has very devious looks. For a sum total of $70 from PCCG, you can get this case in all its looks and glory. You thought it cost more didn’t you! This case has some nice features such as Bitfenix’s SofTouch technology which reduces fingerprints and stains on the case itself, and we do think it is very nice to touch. The interior is painted black, something which little to no cases in this price range have, with plenty of cable management routes. The only thing is the case does have a cheap, not quite perfect plastic feel, though this is shared with many cases up and above the Shinobi’s price range. There are also 2x 120/140mm fan exhaust vents at the top, 2x 120mm on the front, 1x120mm at the back, and if the size of the power supply permits, 1x 120mm vent at the bottom. For its price, this is a great buy.

Optical Drive

Lite-On DVD Burner

This is another one of my things. We haven’t yet got hold of a Blu-Ray drive though we will soon. This drive does everything that you would expect it to do. Fast at burning DVDs and CDs and plays them back fine. This is nothing special and we endeavour to upgrade this very soon.

Keyboard and Mouse

Logitech MK710

The MK710 is a well built, comfortable and feature packed keyboard and mouse combo, boasting a 3 year battery life, Incurve Keys and comes packaged with a Unifying receiver. It is a great mid range keyboard and mouse combo. You can read the full review here.

In Summary

This computer boasts speed, reliability and looks were it counts. Featuring an Intel i7, 12GB of RAM, 120GB SSD, 2TB HDD, 850Watt PSU all housed in a Bitfenix Shinobi, makes for a great computer. Next up: upgrading graphics card and quieting the computer down to a more suitable level.

There will be a video with a tour of the computer (and my appalling cable management skills) soon.

We would also like to thanks Logitech, Corsair, Western Digital, BitFenix and others for supplying us these parts to us for use in this very computer.

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