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Building Your Own Computer Like My Super PC

Case And Power Supply

The case, which is the Antec KS-282, is outstanding. It includes a top-quality, AMD approved, 300-watt power-supply (the PP303X), which is a must. One of the prime requirements of the case should be its cooling characteristics, and the cooling characteristics of this case are excellent! It's also not imposingly big, standing about 18" tall and fitting nicely into the 20" tall cubby space I have in my computer desk. Yet it still has all the 3.5" and 5" drive bays you can reasonably want. To me, there's not a thing wrong with it. The only nit-pick I've read is the reset button is too small, which I don't think is true, and that there are not enough open 3.5" bays, but I think one for the floppy is plenty. Of course, you can always convert one of the open 5" bays to a 3.5" bay if you really wanted to. This case can't be beat for price and quality. The case and the sound card are the no-brainer decisions.

Motherboards today follow the ATX form factor and are all very close in size. Any ATX case should be compatible with any ATX motherboard. Besides the physical size of the case and its cooling characteristics, another important factor is whether or not the case has sufficient bays. Cases will come with bays sized at both 3.5", for floppy drive sized devices, and 5", for CD-ROM sized devices. Each bay, regardless of size, may be "open", meaning you can access the media inside without opening the case, or "closed", meaning you cannot. A closed bay may provide a LED indicator regarding the bay. Any case should have at least one open 3.5" bay for the floppy drive, and at least two open 5" bays to accommodate CD-ROM, CD-RW, and DVD-ROM usage. It's not uncommon for most of the 3.5" bays to be closed since they are primarily used to store harddrives. The case should include at least two LEDs, one for indicating the computer has power and one for indicating activity on the boot harddrive.

Most cases include a power supply. At the very least, it's important to check the power supply against the AMD Recommended Power Supply list for the processor speed you intend to use and verify it's approved. Even so, an upgrade of the power supply is a prudent precaution for computers that tend to "max out" it's capabilities.

How to build a computer - Antec KS-282 case outside view Power Supply Comparison - PP303X On Top In January 2000

AMD Athlon (Thunderbird) Processor Recommended Power Supplies

AMD Duron Processor Recommended Power Supplies

Click on the picture to see it enlarged.
How to build a computer - Antec KS-282 case inside view Here's an inside view of the Antec KS282 case with everything loaded inside, including the motherboard with several cards installed, the Highpower power supply upgrade, two case fans, one hard drive and a CD-ROM. As you can see, the case is quite roomy inside even with this fairly complete configuration. In addition to making it easier to work with, a roomier case translates into better cooling conditions.

Click on the picture to see it enlarged.

If I were buying My Super PC's components today then I would note that the PP303X power supply in the Antec KS-282 case was first produced prior to the availability of the 1.0GHz AMD Athlon processors and GeForce2 GTS graphic boards. Both of these increase the demand on the power supply and both of these have been used (and at the same time) in My Super PC. The PP303X is on the AMD Athlon Recommended list, but only up to 900MHz. Adding a DVD-ROM drive, a second hard drive, or upgrading to a faster processor would all place an additional burden on the power supply. So being the quality-minded PC builder that I am, I would swap out the PP303X power supply and use something more modern and powerful. The Enermax EG365P-VE is highly regarded and makes the AMD Athlon Recommended list all the way up to and including the Athlon XP 2100+! The price is not bad at all (click-through to Accessmicro and follow the "Computer Products" arrow, then enter POWEXAX365PVEFC into the search box). And don't forget the PP303X power supply can be removed and sold (on eBay, for example) to make up some of the difference. This Enermax EG365P-VE 350w Power Supply Review by JsiHardware sums it up rather well. Even if you choose a different case, you may still be well advised to swap out the power supply. Check how the power supply that comes with the case fares on the AMD Recommended list.

There's no way to tell for certain how much power supply you need for a particular PC configuration. Whatever power supply you use should be at least 300 watts and should be on the AMD Recommended list for the processor speed being used. If your configuration is on the lean side then that should do it. But if you're building your own super PC that includes a GeForce2 GTS video card or higher, an Athlon 1.0GHz processor or higher, and perhaps CD-RW and DVD-ROM drives then I strongly advise an upgrade to a power supply like the Enermax EG365P-VE. Other than the power aspect of the power supply, other characteristics worth considering are the noise level of its fan(s) and the number of connectors it provides. The EG365P-VE excels on these points as well.

But while I think highly of the Enermax EG365P-VE, it was the Highpower HPC-340-101 at PC Alliance that suddenly popped up for a great price about the time I knew I would be upgrading from the AMD 1.0GHz Thunderbird processor to the AMD 1.4GHz Thunderbird processor. The Highpower HPC-340-101 is on the AMD Recommended Power Supply list all the way up to and including the Athlon XP 2100+! Although it may have been perfectly fine to stick with the PP303X power supply, it makes sense to stop trouble before it happens and go with something beefier.

Upgrading the power supply unit (PSU) is about the simplest upgrade there is. Just unplug the PC from the back of the unit, unplug the power supply from the PC components, remove it from the case by taking out the screws, put the new one in the case and secure it with the same screws, plug the PC components into the new power supply, and plug-in the PC in the back again.

Below are a couple of pictures of the Highpower HPC-340-101 power supply in My Super PC. The PC Alliance link to the power supply has many more pictures. As you can see, the Highpower HPC-340-101 power supply comes with plenty of connectors of different types. And while the cords look long enough to reach anywhere in your PC regardless of what size case you get, they don't look so overly long that it will be hard to store the excess out of the way if you don't need it. I had no trouble at all.

I've heard that upgrading the power supply can lower your PC temperatures about one degree Centigrade. The reason is because often the fan is better on the newer power supply so overall cooling is improved. So I checked my temperatures before and after the upgrade and, what do you know?, my temperatures did improve one degree Centigrade! Now that's not much and maybe it's within the "margin of error", but so you know.

How to build a computer - Highpower Power Supply     How to build a computer - Highpower Power Supply Specifications     Click on either picture to see it enlarged.

Another important componet is case fans. Like the power supply, I wouldn't be at all concerned with what's included with the case itself (if anything) since even the best case fans are relatively inexpensive and buying them separately allows you to get case fans that you know to be quiet and well-performing. Even one case fan installed as the exhaust fan makes a huge difference in the system temperature. It's extremely important to keep a reasonable system temperature since overheating can cause other components, such as the hard drive, to fail. It may be tempting to pack every bay and slot with one thing or another to squeeze out as much capability as possible, but the more you pack the more heat that gets generated and the less air space there is for cooling! A reasonable case fan configuration and the one I use and recommend is two case fans total: one for intake and one for exhaust. More than that probably will not make a difference, but could be beneficial if targetted at a particular device, such as the hard drives.

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