OUR ICUTE PLATFORM

We use a gaming grade desktop PC in the shop. During the day we use productivity tools. On the weekend we like to play games. The flexibility of the PC makes this possible.
This 2004 machine was assembled in January from OEM components. The 6600 GT is a mid range card that provides gaming at 800×600 for best results. The P991 however can achieve 1600×1200 when a larger work area is needed and the CRT can then reduce resolution when 3D graphics is needed.

The Intel Pentium 820 runs at 3.2 GHz but we were able to overclock it to 3.4 GHz which is the same speed as the more expensive Pentium 840. This CPU was the first dual core processor offered. The thermal load imposed by the 820 forced us to procure a more sophisticated CPU cooler. In 2004 thermal interface material was still rather poor performing.

The new PCI Express slots meant a new video card was needed. The old AGP slots had finally left the scene. The x16 slot has double the bandwidth of the old AGP8. In addition there are 3 new x1 slots which are intended to replace the legacy PCI slots. The mid range 6600 GT provided basic graphics for the machine.

THE CURRENT SETUP

CHASSISiCute 640
MBIntel D915PGN
CPUIntel Pentium 820
RAM3096 MB DDR-400
GPUGigabyte 6600 GT
PSU450W OEM
MONDell P991
KB/MMicrosoft Digital Media Pro
HDSeagate Barracuda 7200.7 ST3200822AS
OSWindows XP x64

The motherboard offered a pair of PCI Express x1 slots however in 2004 the vast majority of add-in cards were PCI. It took several years for PCI Express cards to start replacing the legacy PCI versions.

We installed a HighPoint Rocket RAID PCI card with 4 ports and ultimately used 4 ST3200822AS hard disks in a RAID 0 array to increase performance. Eventually Seagate introduced a larger 750 GB disk that obsoleted the RAID array. Over time hard disk capacity has grown to almost eliminate the need for a RAID card. In 2015, 6TB and even 8TB disks are readily available.

The motherboard SATA headers were also the first generation, later on stronger connectors were used after many complained of cables becoming detached or the headers becoming broken.

The D915 uses a Molex connector between the regulator and the slot. The ATX12V only has 2 yellow wires, more modern machines now use the EPS12V which has 4 yellow wires to provide abundant power. Intel did not provision enough power for motherboards for many years subsequent.

We selected the 64-bit version of XP for the machine to support using more the 2048MB of main memory. The new PCI Express slot has double the bandwidth of the old AGP and this will solve some of the graphics issues. With enough memory installed, Windows XP x64 is actually a good operating system. Windows XP x64 proved itself to be an excellent OS with great game compatibility.

Video cards in 2004 are grossly underpowered when compared to cards on the market 10 years on. We replaced the 6600 GT with the 7800 GTX when the new generation of games became too demanding for the 6600 GT to manage. The PCI Express slot is capable of running even modern video cards, given enough power from the PSU.