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AMD Athlon XP2600+ "Thoroughbred B"

March 2003 arrives and it's time to upgrade again - having had most of the components staying the same for some 20 months. This time around all but the monitor, graphics card, DVD player and cable modem were changed. This also included a major change up to the Windows XP Home operating system.

Note: All images with a watermark of "k1114" have been reproduced with kind permission of Paul at the EPoX nForce2 FAQ

Processor: AMD Athlon XP2600+ "Thoroughbred B"

AMD Athlon XP Thoroughbred B

AMD Athlon XP "Thoroughbred B"

With Intel introducing the Pentium 4, they took a substantial lead over AMD so they had to respond and their response was in the form of the Athlon XP series. Along with this came some confusion relating to the numbering and the related clock speeds. This was in main due to the feature AMD introduced called "quanti-speed". I don't intend to expand on this any further as it isn't the relevant place so if you want to find out more information visit the AMD web-site. In my case I had an Athlon XP2600+ which represents the equivalent of a 2.6GHz processor but with the clock only at 2.088GHz.

There were 5 revisions of the Athlon XP - Palamino, Thoroughbred "A", Thoroughbred "B", Barton and Thorton. My XP2600+ was a Thoroughbred "B" with a core FSB of 166MHz (333MHz effective because of the use of DDR RAM).

The processor was bought on-line from Komplett

Heatsink/Fan: GlobalWin CAK4-88T

I chose this heatsink because it was relatively inexpensive, rated for a higher speed processor than the one I was buying and had a variable speed fan. The fan speed varies based upon a temperature sensor located within the "fins" of the heatsink. At 30°C the fan speed is ~2800 RPM and pushes ~38CFM of air at a noise level of ~31dBA (relatively quiet). At 38°C the fan speed is ~4000 RPM and pushes ~55CFM of air at a deafening noise level of ~41dBA. For more information see the full specifications here.

The heatsink was also bought on-line from Komplett.

GlobalWin CAK4-88T

GlobalWin CAK4-88T

Motherboard: EPoX 8RDA+

EPoX 8RDA+

EPoX 8RDA+

The 8RDA+ was one of the best of a new range of motherboards using the nForce2 chipset from nVidia - designed purposefully for the AMD Athlon XP series. It's specifications were as follows:

The board was "jumper free" with changes available via the BIOS for voltages (Vcore = CPU, Vdimm = RAM, Vagp = AGP), FSB frequencies and clock multipliers. For a good description of the BIOS features refer to the manual.

The main advantages of nForce2 based motherboards are:

The latter two enable to "overclockers" amongst us to be able to adjust the FSB without worrying about the impact on add-on cards and hard disks as was previously the case - see the section on FSB changing in the Overclocking section.

The motherboard was bought on-line from The Overclocking Store.

Case: Thermaltake Xaser II A600A Plus

With all those fans running in conjunction with the other sysyem fans it was a bit quieter than my old OcUK Coolercase "Tornado". What does all this look like - take a look by clicking on the thumbnails below:

Thermaltake<br />Xaser II A6000A Plus Thermaltake Hardcano 7 Xaser II A6000A Plus Exploded View
Thermaltake
Xaser II A6000A Plus
Thermaltake
Hardcano 7
Xaser II A6000A Plus
Exploded View

I did like this case but in my opinion there were some flaws, some of which appear to have been rectified in the newer (and therefore more expensive) Xaser III series:

I utilized the 3.5" HDD bay that included the 80mm intake fan by placing one HDD in the uppermost bay and a second in the lowermost bay. This ensured a steady flow of air around my 2 x 7200 RPM hard disks.

For the integrated Hardcano 7:

To make the most of the windowed side-panel I included a blue cold cathode tube (like a neon tube)! This case (and windowed side-panel) was bought on-line at Dabs.com.

Memory: 2*512 MB TwinMOS PC3200 (DDR400) CAS2.5 DIMM's

The version I bought on-line from Komplett uses TwinMOS own brand RAM chips whereas the more popular version uses Winbond chips - at a cost premium.

I successfully tested the pair I bought (sequential part numbers) with the popular Memtest86 program with the memory and processor in asynchronous (independent of each other) mode up to 222MHz with settings of 7-3-3-2.5 @ 2.9V. Therefore if the processor and motherboard Northbridge could get that far the memory would cope.

CD-RW:- LITE-ON LTR-48246S 48x 24x 48x BURN-Proof

The key features for this one were speed, price and the fact that it was BURN-Proof (which virtually eliminates bad CDR's).

I bought this on-line at Dabs.com.

Hard Disks:-

30GB - Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 8 Ultra DMA/ATA133 - 6E030L0, <10ms seek time, 7200 RPM, 2MB buffer

Formatted as:

20GB - Maxtor DiamondMax Plus D740X Ultra DMA/ATA133 - 6L020J1, 8.5ms average seek time, 7200 RPM, 2MB buffer

Formatted as:

20.0 GB - Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 60 Ultra DMA/ATA100 - 5T020H2, <8.7ms seek time, 7200 RPM, 2MB buffer

Back-up drive for the C:, D:, E: and G: partitions on the 20GB drive. Back-up's are made using the excellent Norton Ghost 2003. This drive wassn't normally installed in the machine (because of the obvious drive letter conflict) so I used a removable IDE caddy so I could insert it when needed.

Removable IDE Caddy

Removable IDE Caddy

Now, you're probably asking "how is it possible to have 5 IDE devices (2 x HDD, 1 x HDD caddy, 1 x CD-RW, 1 x DVD (from old system) when only 4 are supported by the EPoX 8RDA+ motherboard?" Well, the answer (as you may have guessed already) is that I bought an additional 2-port ATA133 controller card.

Controller:- Highpoint Rocket133 Host Adapter

As I was used to having 4 IDE ports with my old Abit KT7A-RAID motherboard I wanted a similar arrangement with the new system. The Highpoint Rocket133 Host Adaptor provided me with the ideal solution.

Highpoint Rocket133

Highpoint Rocket133

After reading the EPoX forum at AOA Forums I noticed that some people were complaining about the IDE performance of the nForce2 chipset. My mind was therefore made up to have the Rocket133 host my 2 main hard disks with the 8RDA+ ports hosting the CD-RW/DVD and IDE caddy. This decision also resulted in tidier internals because I installed the Rocket133 in PCI slot 5 (not 6 as it shares an IRQ with the AGP slot) which was closer to the Xaser II hard disk bay wheras the 8RDA+ IDE ports were closer to the 5.25" bays. Therefore I have the following IDE configuration:

I bought this on-line from Komplett.

PSU:- Thermaltake Silent PurePower 420W PSU

As the Thermaltake Xaser II A6000A Plus case was supplied without a PSU and I wanted to sell my existing case as is I needed a new PSU. After reading various reviews 4 makes of PSU seemed to be the most popular - Antec, Enermax, Thermaltake and Q-Tec. The Antec and Enermax products were regarded as the best available by many but for that you pay a premium on the price, the Thermaltake seemed to be very good quality with a mid-range price whilst the Q-Tec were the bargain buys.

My choice came down to a number of factors - the supply rating, performance whilst under load on an overclocked PC, quietness and number of available connectors.

In the end I opted for the Thermaltake Silent PurePower 420W. Reviews of this suggested it was a very quiet performer (to compliment the 21dBA case fans on the Xaser II case) and gave steady supply rails within 5% of the rated voltage even under load. The 420W version also comes with 6 4-pin Molex connectors which is what I needed with the addition on one Y-splitter cable (2 x HDD, 1 x IDE caddy, 1 x CD-RW, 1 x DVD, Hardcano 7 fan controller (to 5 x 80mm fans daisy-chained), 1 x case light).

Thermaltake Silent PurePower 420W PSU

Thermaltake Silent PurePower 420W PSU

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