My wife Michelle is in need of a new computer. So my usefulness factor has just increased 10 fold.

Her current system is an aging 3-4 year old computer that I passed onto her when I got a new system 2 years ago.

This will in turn be passed onto my mother-in-law, who currently shares and fights over this computer with my wife. They mainly use it for a few games from PopCap, word processing, photo editing and printing and spending hours upon hours watching Korean Dramas.

I was considering buying a prebuilt computer system but these things swayed me away from that idea:

  • it’s a lot cheaper - don’t have to pay for labor
  • you get to choose quality components rather than rely on generic parts packaged into the system
  • I get to get my hands dirty building a PC which I enjoy and haven’t done for a year or two now.

The only downside to this route is the time it will take me to put it together and getting it up and running.

Current Specs

ASUS A7N8X-E Deluxe
AMD Athlon XP 2400+
1.5GB DDR400
GeForce 4 Ti4200



  • Built in sound is not supported in Vista - I had to buy a cheap USB sound card
  • Seems to have an issue corrupting external HDDs plugged in via USB - not too sure about this one, it’s only developed in the last two months or so
  • No Vista Aero
  • Needs more graphics grunt to play my wife’s favorite games like Bejeweled

New System

ASUS P5K Pro $149.00
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 3Ghz $248.00
4GB (2x2GB) G.Skill-PQ DDR2 800 $105.00
512MB ASUS Nvidia 8600GT $84.00
750GB 7200rpm Western Digital SATA $157.00
Pioneer DVR-215D (Black) SATA $34.00
Coolermaster iTower RC930 $185.00
Total $1061.00


Decision Process

I could have gone down a budget path, but I want this system to last (like the old system did). I am hoping this will last for another 3-4 years.

That’s why for most items I chose premium parts. The only things that I did skimp on was the graphics card. If I was buying for myself than I would have gotten the 8800 GT or 9600 GT. But since she doesn’t play the latest and greatest games, a decent DX10 graphics card would suffice.


I looked into 3 cases:

In the end we went with the Coolermaster iTower case for the hotswappable SATA bays. This is very convenient for myself and my wife because we literally have a stack of HDDs lying around archiving all our media. This will replace the 6 external HDD enclosures we currently use.


I was pretty much dead set on the ASUS P5K from all the great reviews it has received (TweakTown and Hexus). It was all a matter of which version. I chose the PRO version because of the 6 SATA ports that it offered instead of the standard 4. I needed this because I needed 4 for the hot swappable SATA bay, 1 for the internal HDD and 1 for the optical drive.

Computer store

I will be purchasing this from my budget vendor of choice MSY (when you see a website like that you know the price is going to be low).

MSY can be frustrating at times. They are the cheapest around but don’t deliver (except in QLD) and because of that there are generally very long queues and it gets so busy that telephone calls don’t get through (to the Auburn store anyway). Because of this, it is very hard to find out what’s in stock. It’s always very disappointing after waiting in queue for half and hour only to find they don’t have the part you’re looking for.

However, to their credit, they are trying to improve this with more stores opening (one about 5 mins from where I live) and a VIP Counter for email orders and system pickup.

Hopefully this will make things smoother and quicker. I have sent through my email order and I’ll keep you updated on their turnaround time and progress. I will also do a PC building post when I get all the parts too.

Other thoughts

The other interesting thing is that this new system will slightly edge out my Macbook Pro in terms of performance.

My mac has:

  • Intel Core 2 Due 2.6 Ghz
  • 4GB DDR2 667 SDRAM
  • 256MB GeForce 8600M GT

I can no longer brag to my wife that my MacBook is faster than her computer :(