A couple of years ago we wanted to build a system that would not only be adequate when tasked with our everyday jobs using various Microsoft Office XP applications, building web sites, or working with huge graphic files, but one that would also be capable of performing video non-linear editing tasks as well. One of our hobbies/jobs is shooting videos of weddings, retirements, social events, rodeos, kids, grandkids, and so on. I inevitably always shoot several (many) video frames of feet, car dashboards, the floor, etc. when I'd forget to turn off the camcorder after shooting a scene. Prior to the introduction of video editing applications which would provid the capability to do non-linear video editing (NLE) on our PCs, video editing was performed using dedicated hardware setups that were quite costly and beyond reach of the average person (me) wanting to get into editing these mistakes from our videos. As a result, anyone that wanted to view my videos would also have to sit through my mistakes. It gets embarrassing after a while. Now, with advances in video technologies (digital video) and the resulting spin-off of new hardware and software, virtually anyone can edit their own videos with a properly configured PC (hardware) and the right compatible software. 

Here's a photo layout of the PC we built to handle the software version of  non-linear video editing tasks...and more! This system featured the new (at the time) Intel D850EMV2L Motherboard and the new Intel Pentium 4 2.4-GHz 533MHz FSB 512k Cache CPU. Our PCs built today continue to use the latest, state-of-the-art components and software, resulting in even faster, more capable machines.

(Please Note: Information and photos on this page are copyrighted by HLS Systems, Inc. Other materials and information provided by Intel.)

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Mt. Elbert PC
General Specifications

  • Intel D850EMV2L Motherboard, inc. 4 USB 2.0 ports, Integrated LAN

  • Intel 2.4 GHz, 533MHz FSB, 512k Cache

  • 512MB RAMBUS 800MHz 40nS wideband RAM

  • 4x60GB Maxtor 7200RPM ATA133 Hard Drives for a total of 240GB!

  • Two of the four hard drives configured as RAID, Striping Mode 0

  • Gainward dual-head nVIDIA GeForce4 TI4400 Video Card

  • Creative Labs Audigy Platinum 5.1

  • Plextor PleXwriter 40/12/40A CD-ROM R/RW

  • Pioneer A04 DVD-R/RW Burner-Player

  • 3.5" 1.44MB Floppy Drive

  • Creative Labs Inspire 5.1 Speaker System

  • Microsoft Office Keyboard

  • Microsoft Intellimouse Wireless

  • Windows XP Professional Operating System
     

THE CASE: One of our favorite cases we use for many of our PCs today is made of Aluminum-Magnesium Alloy, and has an acrylic-glass front plate available in blue, green, silver, and black tints. There's even a transparent version of this case for those who like to see if that Intel really is inside. This case includes 6 cooling fans to keep your electronics from overheating. It also provides for front panel breakouts of those connections you used to reach behind the PC to access (such as your USB ports, audio in/audio out or microphone  jacks, and firewire ports). We can customize your system with many different case designs and configurations depending upon your requirements.
The Motherboard Mounting Plate: This particular case employs a handy, slide-out mounting plate that provides for ease of motherboard and plug-in component installation and access. The two rear panel exhaust fans are also easily accessed by simply sliding the mounting plate out of the case.
The Motherboard Standoffs: Before you can mount the motherboard to the mounting plate, you must install an equal number of standoff screws into the plate as you have mounting holes in your motherboard. Be careful to place no more than you need, and that those you do install each correspond to a mounting hole in the motherboard to avoid the possibility of shorting out components on your motherboard when you apply power to the system. Avoid the smoke test!
Motherboard Standoff: Here's a close-up of one motherboard standoff correctly positioned and installed on the motherboard plate. Tighten the screw down only as much as needed to ensure a good, tight fit that will not permit the screw to dislodge. Tightening too much can either strip the screw threads or break the screw portion of the standoff in the motherboard plate.
IO Shield Panel: Intel includes a rather plain, non-descript IO Shield Panel with their motherboards. You may notice that while a very colorful color-coded IO Shield Panel is included with the case (shown laying in front of the case on the workbench), the holes cut in this panel for the motherboard's sound connections are running in the wrong direction. You must remove the included case IO Shield and install by press-fitting the Intel shield in its place (The Intel shield is shown mounted in place. Maybe Intel will see fit one day to color-code their shields as well). This picture shows the motherboard and replacement Intel IO Shield already installed. You'll want to install the new IO Shield provided by Intel PRIOR to installing the motherboard on the motherboard mounting plate.
Intel's IO Shield Panel: Here's a close-up of Intel's IO Shield installed showing the audio connections running vertically (the red, green, and blue connectors protruding from the right side of the shield) instead of horizontally as provided for by the original case's IO Shield.
ESD - Electrostatic Discharge: One of the easiest ways to destroy solid state components such as your CPU, memory modules, or any other integrated circuit on your motherboard (or any other electronic component of your PC for that matter) is to discharge a jolt of static electricity through an electrical component to ground. The insides of integrated circuits can have literally thousands of tiny transistor connections and circuit components welded together as the result of an ESD event, thus destroying the component. ALWAYS where a protective, grounded wrist strap when handling your PC's electrical components. We go a step further by also using grounded floor mats in front of our work benches and grounded anti-static mats on our work bench surfaces.
The Motherboard, Boxed: We use ONLY Genuine Intel motherboards in our systems. We've found over the years that there is a great amount of synergism between Intel and Microsoft that results in maximum compatibility between your Operating System, your PC's hardware, and the software you'll be running on it. This image is of the Intel D850EMV2L Motherboard package, the latest in the line of fine motherboards from Intel (as of this writing!).
The Motherboard: The Intel D850EMV2L includes support for Intel's Pentium 4 CPU with Intel NetBurst Microarchitecture, supports either 533-MHz or 400-MHz System Bus speeds, has dual RAMBUS channel support, its four RIMM sockets support up to 2GB of PC800 RDRAM, has a 4x AGP connector, Rapid BIOS boot, Fast ATA/100 Disk Support, 5 PCI slots, 2 back panel USB 2.0 ports with two additional internal ports provided for front panel USB connectors, has integrated on-board AC'97 Audio featuring SoundMAX with SPX (we disable this feature when including the Creative Labs Audigy sound cards), and an integrated Intel Pro/100 LAN connection which means you don't take up a valuable PCI slot with an added  plug-in NIC card.
The Motherboard, Cont'd: Here's another view of the Intel D850EMV2L motherboard, looking down at it from the front and top. The CPU mounts in the Zero Insertion Force (ZIF) socket located on the right side center of the motherboard, the RAM mounts in front of the CPU socket.
The CPU: For this system we are using an Intel Pentium 4 2.4-GHz CPU having a system bus speed of 533-MHz. It has a 512-kB L2 Advanced Transfer Cache, uses Intel's Hyper Pipelined technology and rapid execution engine, streaming SIMD Extensions 2, contains a 128 Bit Enhanced Floating Point Unit, an Execution Trace Cache, and employs advanced Dynamic Execution.
The CPU, Cont'd: Here's a photo showing the individual parts of Intel's Boxed Pentium 4 CPU package. On the right is the Intel CPU cooling assembly, consisting of a heat sink and a ball bearing fan with its RPMs controlled electronically by motherboard sensors and control circuitry. Just to the left of the cooling assembly, in the front center of the photo, is the CPU chip itself...it utilizes a 478-pin package architecture keyed to fit in a 478-pin ZIF socket...you'll want to locate the CPU's keyed corner for proper installation in this socket. Of course the package wouldn't be complete without an "Intel Inside" sticker to paste on the front of your system, which you can see sitting on the left.
The CPU's Motherboard Socket: You'll find a 478-pin zero insertion force  (ZIF) socket located on the motherboard. The socket locking handle is seen on the left side of the CPU socket in the up, or tension released position. The CPU itself is keyed to match the socket, so careful attention is paid to correctly insert ALL of the pins into the socket and that the pins are  lined up properly with the key. Bending a pin during chip insertion is a common problem. Exercise extreme care to make sure you don't bend any of the CPU's pins as you insert it into the socket. The CPU should insert with a MINIMUM of effort. Any extra force required may indicate you have a bent pin.
The CPU Installation: Here you can see the actual CPU as it is properly inserted into the socket. The locking lever is still in the tension released position.
The CPU Installation, CPU Locked: The CPU's ZIF socket tension lever is now engaged (laying flat), which causes each of the individual CPU's pins to be locked into the socket, forcing good electrical contact to be made by each pin (if you didn't bend any of the CPU's pins when you inserted the CPU into the socket in the first place!).
The CPU's Heat Sink: The heat sink assembly's job is to first of all absorb the heat generated by the CPU chip itself, and then to dissipate the heat away from the CPU. A rather large metal block performs the task of absorbing the heat. The black square located on the underside of the aluminum heat sink block is a thermal transfer substance used to enhance the transfer of heat from the CPU chip to the heat sink block. You must be careful not to remove the transfer substance as you place the heat sink block with the transfer substance directly over and on top of the CPU. A cooling fan is mounted on top of the metal block to perform heat dissipation, thus completing the job of the heat sink assembly.
The CPU Heat Sink In Place: Here you can see the heat sink assembly, the metal block with its cooling fan, mounted on top of the CPU. Each bottom-corner of the heat sink assembly has a small clip that must engage a corresponding catch on the motherboard's heat sink mounting assembly. The heat sink's locking handles are shown in the unlocked position, and remain that way until you have snapped each corner of the heat sink assembly into place.
The CPU Is Installed: The heat sink assembly's locking handles are now moved in the opposite direction, applying tension to each of the four corner latches thus locking the heat sink assembly rigidly in place.
The Heat Sink Fan Connection: And finally, you connect the heat sink fan's electrical connector to the motherboard's CPU Fan connection. In operation, the motherboard will sense the CPU's temperature and control the fan's RPM to compensate for increased heat as the CPU is called upon to perform more strenuous tasking. Later installation of Intel's "Active Monitor" software for this motherboard will make available the ability to display on your monitor the CPU's temperature and the CPU fan's rotational speed.
RDRAM: RAMBUS Dynamic Random Access Memory. This motherboard uses RAMBUS 800MHz 40nS RIMM memory modules. A RIMM is a memory module that consists of RDRAM chips (RIMM, Rambus Inline Memory Module, is apparently a Kingston Memory trademark). These "wideband" memory modules utilize 184-pin connectors, take up less space than the older DIMMs, and provide for a faster transfer of data. RAMBUS licenses their technology to several second source suppliers for production by them. You'll notice the careful shielding of the memory chips, always important when operating at higher frequencies to prevent radio frequency interference (RFI), and the insertion key located on the edge connector to help make sure you've inserted the memory correctly into the memory bank's slots.
RIMM Installation: As with previous motherboard arrangements, RIMMs must be installed in pairs, with each RIMM identical in size, speed, and density to the other. If you want a total of 256MB of memory, then you must install two 128MB RIMM modules in memory bank 0 (made up by the first two slots nearest the CPU). Additional RIMM modules of the same speed but different memory size can be installed in memory bank 1. Here you can see the RIMM installed in bank 0, locked in place by the retaining clips on each side. These are two 256MB RIMMs providing a total RAM memory of 512MB.
RIMM and CPU Installed: Here's an overhead shot of the motherboard showing the installation and location of the CPU and RIMM modules.
CRIMM: You've probably noticed that there are 4 physical memory slots that make up the motherboard's two memory banks, with each bank consisting of two of the four slots. If you populate only the first bank with memory (by filling only two slots), then you'll have the second bank sitting empty. Given how RAMBUS technology works, you cannot have empty memory slots. The solution is to install Continuity RIMMs, or CRIMMs, into the remaining open slots. You'll also notice that there are keys located along their edge connectors to ensure proper installation. These CRIMMs are supplied with the motherboard.
CRIMMs Installed: Here you can see the installation of both the active RIMMs and the passive CRIMMs, all locked into place with their respective retaining clips.
Motherboard, CPU and Memory Installed: Here's a view of the case's motherboard mounting plate with the motherboard, CPU, and memory installed. The fans for this particular case come pre-installed, their connectors can be seen dangling near the center of the photo. Make sure you don't rip any components off the motherboard with these exhaust fan connectors while working on the system.
Power Supply: Most lesser-expensive cases provide a less-expensive (and less capable) power supply as a part of their package. We prefer to use a higher quality power supply in our systems, the TruePower supply purchased separately from Antec. This power supply is ATX12V certified for operation with Intel's Pentium 4 CPUs, includes two fans (one intake, one exhaust) and control for up to three additional system fans via a special connector  for one of the motherboard's fan-control connections. Antec's Low Noise Technology substantially reduces overall system noise. Using an advanced temperature response system the power supply fans run at the lowest speed appropriate to load and conditions. This system achieves optimum balance between necessary cooling and noise reduction. Dedicated Fan Only connectors allow TruePower power supplies to control and monitor the speed of up to three case fans. The connected case fans will then operate at lower speeds until more cooling is needed. Each of the voltages required by your system are produced by independent supplies, and are not "stacked" from a single supply as would be the case using less-expensive supplies. This means that as the load for any individual supply increases, the other supply voltages aren't affected. This power supply also provides a mechanical AC power "on-off" switch accessible from the rear of the case, always handy when you've got the case open for maintenance. With this particular case, a power supply is not provided, so we are able to provide both a quality case AND a quality power supply with our custom configurations. Install this power supply prior to installing the motherboard mounting plate back into the case's frame.
Installing the Motherboard Mounting Plate: With the system's power supply,  motherboard, CPU, RIMM and CRIMM modules installed, it is now time to install the motherboard mounting plate back into the case's mainframe. Watch out for dangling cables, you don't want to pinch them between the frame and the plate. You'll notice that in this picture the power supply has already been installed in the case. It is a good idea to do this prior to installing the motherboard mounting plate to avoid possible damage to the motherboard or its components by an inadvertent slip of the power supply while installing it after the fact.
Mounting Plate Vs. Cable Bundle: As you slide the Mounting Plate into the mainframe, you will be competing against cables from the power supply, the front panel connector cable bundle, and if installed the cables from the front panel mounted Creative Lab's Audigy Platinum 5.1 Audio Control Panel. Cables from the case's top exhaust fan will also be in the mix.
Mounting Plate Secured: The mounting plate is now in its final position, and is secured to the mainframe with back panel thumbscrews. All major fastening screws are thumbscrews, virtually eliminating the need for a screwdriver...other than to snug these screws down.
Cable Groupings: Here you see three major cable groupings: on the far right is the power supply bundle; in the center are the cables from the front panel controls...power switch, power LED, reset button, and hard drive activity LED; on the left are cables from the front panel connectors...four USB ports, a firewire port, audio output, and microphone connections (or audio input connection, depending upon how you chose to wire the connectors). At the far left-hand side of the photo, you'll see a cover plate with a cable exit hole that you'll mount at an empty PCI slot position. This cover plate provides the cable exit route for the case's front panel connector wiring, through the mainframe's interior exiting the mainframe to the rear panel connectors.
Front Panel Connectors: This particular case provides for front panel access to the rear panel connections. You can see four USB ports, a firewire port, and two audio connections. These audio connections can be wired to the audio card's "audio in," "audio out," and/or "microphone in" connections depending upon how you wish to configure them. A cable bundle is routed from these connections to the rear of the PC where they are connected to their respective sockets.
Front Panel Cable Bundle: Routing wires neatly through the case's interior helps to ensure better airflow around most, if not all, of the components mounted inside the case by removing obstructions to that airflow from the front panel cooling air intake fans. Clips located strategically throughout the case help route cables properly...and makes for a generally neater appearance with less apparent clutter. Here you can see the front panel connector bundle routed through the pack panel's cover plate exit hole.
Front Panel Cable Bundle, Cont'd: A rear case view showing the front panel connector bundle as it exits the rear of the case through the cable bundle PCI cover plate. Arrange the cables so that there is no stress applied to any cable by the cover plate that might result in penetration of cable insulation. 
Back Panel Connections: If you've installed an audio card, you'll want to route the front panel audio connectors to their rear panel audio card counterparts. The "green" colored plug is usually connected to the audio card's "Audio Out" connector for subsequent connection to either earphones or an amplified speaker system. The "red" colored plug is usually designated for "Microphone In" connections.
Back Panel Connections, Cont'd: Just above the two audio plugs you can see where the front panel firewire connector is inserted. In this case, we have a Pinnacle DV500 capture board installed that provides firewire connectivity to the system. Most digital camcorders of any value provide a firewire port through which you can either input or output digital video to or from your PC. You can also see one of the two monitor connections made to the Gainward Video Card's standard video connection just above the firewire connection.
Back Panel Connections, Cont'd: You can optionally either connect the two back panel USB 2.0 ports to the front panel connector cables, or you can assign them to other functions such as keyboard, mouse, or USB Hub additions. If you add a USB Hub to your system, make sure it is USB 2.0 compatible to gain the benefit provided by the USB 2.0 back panel connections. While you can connect older USB 1.1 hubs to these USB 2.0 ports, you will curtail the USB 2.0 benefits to devices connected to the USB 1.1 hub as the older hub will not pass the USB 2.0 operating capabilities to devices connected to the USB 1.1 hub.
Back Panel Connections, Cont'd: We like to add little extras to reduce as much clutter as possible. Here we've added a clip to help contain the myriad of cables that will be present at the rear of your PC.
Back Panel Connections, Cont'd: Here's a better view of the clip holding cables in place.
Mounting the Hard Drives: This case provides a removable cage in which to mount your hard drives. Typical consumer systems mount only one hard drive, which leaves room for three more in this cage. Located at the front of the hard drive cage you will find two cool air intake fans and an air filter mounted on the rear of the front panel. These fans, in addition to providing filtered intake air for cooling the case's interior components, also provide cooling air for the hard drives, thus helping to ensure them a long and healthy life. The hard drive cage is also secured to the mainframe by thumbscrews. This photo shows the cage removed from the mainframe with three of the four hard drives already installed.
Cabling the Drives: Flat ribbon cables have traditionally been used to connect the motherboard's primary and secondary IDE connectors to hard drives, CD-ROM drives, ZIP drives, etc. Flat ribbon cables are also used to connect floppy drives to the motherboard's floppy drive controller connector. These flat cables can obstruct airflow through a case, giving rise to higher case temperatures and thus shortening the lives of your electronic components. We've found these round IDE cables to offer less resistance to internal case airflow and therefore prefer their use over traditional flat ribbon cables when possible. Besides that, they look nicer.
Installing The Floppy Drive: This case provides accessibility for up to three 3.5" devices at the front panel. In this case, we are utilizing only one of the three slots to install the 3.5" Teac 1.44MB floppy drive. Remove one of the three 3.5" aluminum front panels to accommodate the drive. The drive then slides into the case from the front, as you can see from this photo. Just above the floppy drive you can see a removable hard drive frame and carriage that we installed, but then decided to remove it to make room for the Creative Labs Audigy Control Panel. This drive was then installed in the hard drive cage making a total of 4 each 60GB drives available to our system. While the "big box" companies usually install only one hard drive and create a single "C" drive partition, we partition our hard drives to provide better file "housekeeping." Our main drive is configured into at least two partitions, the SYSTEM (Operating System Files) partition and the APPS (Applications) partition. Then, if we are using only one hard drive in the system we will also create a third partition called the DATA (where you store your .doc, .xls, .jpg, etc. files) partition. Using this configuration, all you have to back up periodically is your DATA partition. This makes life easier for you in the data backup lane, as you don't have to worry about which files to backup, just back up the whole DATA partition. This way you don't end up inadvertently copying your System or Application files every time...quite a redundant and waste of time...not to mention wasting valuable storage media.  Also, if you lose your "C" drive partition in this configuration, you DON'T lose your data because it is located in a SEPARATE partition. With the standard single-drive, single-partition method if you lose your "C" drive, you also loose your data! Mt. Elbert has a single 60GB drive used for the SYSTEM and APPS (application) files, and a separate 60GB hard drive used to store only DATA files. We use two additional hard drives configured in a RAID 0 mode to provide storage for captured and edited video files. That makes up the 240-GB of hard drive space. Oh...we also added an additional 80-GB external firewire drive as a backup component. I guess that makes this system capable of reading and writing to 320-GB total.
Installing the CD-ROM Burner: We've chosen the Plextor "PleXWriter" CD-ROM R/RW as our CD reader/burner. This unit has proven its worth by being able to read and install high data density CDs that some of our other units were not able to. Not only that, but it sounds nice when it runs, like a well-built unit ought to, giving you the feeling of quality as it performs.
All Units Installed: At this point we've also installed our Pioneer A04 DVD R/RW unit that both reads and writes DVDs, as well as the front panel controller for the Creative Lab's Audigy Platinum audio card installed internally in a PCI slot. During the installation of the Audigy system, an additional cable bundle is created that also routes through the PC mainframe and out to the Audigy PCI card's external connections.
Creative Labs Audigy Control Panel: Here's a picture of both the DVD unit and the Creative Labs Audigy sound system control panel. The Audigy Platinum system is the most complete high-definition digital audio solution that you will ever come across. With its onboard 24-bit/96kHz Analog-to-Digital Converter (ADC) and Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC), Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum delivers high-definition sound of outstanding quality with SPDIF support. This system, with its Audigy processor, is FOUR times as powerful as its nearest competitor. This enables awesome EAX Advanced HD technologies for your video's audio, music listening experience...and yes, OK....even games. Oh yes...don't diminish the quality of this experience by using two cheapo speakers. As a minimum I would recommend the Creative Labs Inspire 5.1 speaker system to accompany the Audigy card. This system provides you with a subwoofer, two front speakers, a center speaker, and two rear speakers that adequately surrounds you with a great audio experience.
Inside the Case: Here's an inside peak at the rear of the front panel showing the installed accessories. The cabling has not been completed at this point.
Tying Up the Cables: Well, now we've created quite the mess. The easiest thing to do at this point is to simply put the covers on and ignore it. However, we do want to ensure adequate airflow through the system, and we also want it to look nice when we show it off to our friends. The additional cabling (including the flat ribbon cable) comes from the front panel Audigy Platinum Control Panel. Cables for additional firewire support, auxiliary inputs, microphone inputs, MIDI jacks (MIDI adapter cables are included with the Audigy Platinum System), ear phones, optical inputs and outputs as provided by the Audigy system are routed from the control panel to the internal Audigy PCI card. So, latch on to a bucket of cable ties, and get started making the insides look like a quality job.
Let the Tying Begin: The idea is to group cables together in a logical, functional fashion first, then in a manner that will also provide for the shortest route between two points that will also be mindful of airflow within the case. It should also look aesthetically pleasing. Keep in mind that with this case. there are two additional fans in somewhat non-traditional locations. There is an exhaust fan on the left side of the case (as viewed from the front) as well as an exhaust fan located on top of the case. As you build your wire bundles, make sure you provide room for the fan located on the left side cover. When your bundling is completed, and you can't install the left side cover because you have a wire bundle occupying the same space the left side cover fan wants to occupy, you'll find yourself having to do some minor surgery with your cabling to provide the room after the fact. Ask me, I've been there and done that! Notice how nicely the round IDE cables fit into the system?
Can't Get Away From Ribbon Cables! There are those occasions when you either run out of round cables or ribbon cables make more sense. In this case, the ribbon cables don't really obstruct airflow within the case, so I decided to use them in this application. One could have used round cables here as well. The card to which these ribbon cables are attached is a Maxtor ULTRA/ATA-133 Hard Drive Controller. I use this controller, along with Windows XP Professional, to create a software RAID configuration using two of the four installed 60-GB 7200-RPM ULTRA/ATA-133 Maxtor hard drives. I use these hard drives in this configuration to capture video files using the Pinnacle DV500 Capture Board. These drives are configured in a RAID data striping mode (RAID 0), the results of which more than meet the requirements to capture digital video files coming across the firewire channel at 3.6MB/Sec. Striping Mode RAID 0 also puts the two 60-GB hard drives in series, effectively creating a total of 120-GB to accommodate large video file storage requirements. Keep in mind when capturing video data that 10-minutes of captured (or edited) video corresponds roughly to 2-GB file sizes. Our hard drive configuration provides for 600 minutes of video storage space in this case, or 10 hours of video file space if I've done my math correctly. Windows XP Professional does not have the file size limitations (either 2GB or 4GB)  that one will experience if using Windows 98, ME, or NT, allowing you to capture a video file up to the point where you run out of hard drive space!
Back to the Round Cables: Here's another shot of the round IDE cables in action. Sure makes for a neater arrangement with less apparent clutter. You can see the CPU's fan in the background. If you count the 6 fans integrated into the case, the two fans in the power supply, the CPU fan, and the Video Card's fan, you should come up with a number of around 10 total fans in this system. I'm sure I saw this PC hover about 6" in the air when I first turned it on, but it might have been a illusion as the hour was late and I had only one eyeball open when I performed its first "smoke test." The power supply can control up to 3 case fans, and keeps their RPMs in check so as to minimize noise from the fans. The CPU fan is also regulated to operate only as fast as needed, which also contributes to minimizing fan noise. Cooling is VERY important when it comes to ensuring the longevity of your system's electronic components. Monitoring my system's CPU temperature indicates 93 degrees F, while System Zone 1 is operating at 95 degree F while operating at a room temperature of 72 degrees F. This system is rarely shut off, so these are the kinds of temperatures you can expect over the long run (unless your PC lives in a room having 95 F ambient temps, then you can probably expect higher internal temps as well. At this point the PC's cooling fans become a very important piece of hardware).
More Round Cables: Here's another shot of the IDE round cables connected to the bank of four hard drives.
Video Card: And finally we get to the video card. There are as many AGP video cards on the market today as there are Carter's Little Liver pills (tm). After months of exhaustive research and trying to navigate through many PC magazine editorials concerning the subject, we settled on offerings by three different manufacturers: ATI, Gainward, and Matrox. For the needs of this system, I was interested primarily in a video card supporting nVIDIA's new offering, the GeForce4 TI4400 processors. Research revealed that this Gainward card offers more than most competitor's in terms of creature features.  While this particular video card may not be the most expensive card on the market today, it sure is an admiral performer. This card, manufactured in Taiwan using the new nVIDIA GeForce4 graphics processor with 128-MB of onboard DDR memory, offers enhanced, leading edge performance for the 3D enthusiast. This card also supports two monitors simultaneously, enabled by the nVIDIA nView Display technology with two independent 350MHz RAMDACs for office applications, 3D gaming, and professional applications such as CAD, DTP, animation or video editing. nView provides the user with the ability to select any combination of multiple displays, including digital flat panels, analog CRTs, and TVs, and to modify the display properties using an intuitive software interface. A Video In-Video Out (VIVO) connector is provided (along with a dongle cable), supplying both composite video and S-video signals for smooth video recording and playback. This card provides accelerated DVD playback with enhanced motion compensation in hardware. This card also provides performance enhanced, accelerated software drivers for all major operating systems and APIs. I use a monitor resolution of 1280x1024 and colors set to 16.7M colors. Using these settings, I can adjust the refresh rate up to 150-Hz. This photo shows the contents of this package, which you'll note also includes a stack of CDs, a VIVO dongle, and a video adapter for a 2nd monitor in addition to the video card itself. Pretty red card, isn't it? It really sticks out when you plug it in your system! Both Matrox and ATI make excellent graphics cards as well, using their own engines and sporting different specifications.
Another Fan! This card is as striking visually as it is a performer. You'll notice the rather large cooling fan, the copious use of heat sinks...all designed to cool this puppy down as you blaze away with your video productions (OK, or game playing).
Lots'a Connectors: This shot is of the video card's back panel connectors. The standard video output (Analog VGA connector) for a single monitor is on the left side. On the right side is a strange looking connector rather new to the scene. It is, by the way, a DVI Connector to which you're not going to be able to connect a standard analog monitor. Gainward provides an adapter that you can plug into the DVI connector which adapts it to a standard analog VGA connector to which you can connect a standard analog monitor. In the center is where you'll find the Video In - Video Out connector. Gainward supplies a "dongle" that breaks out the NTSC composite and S-Video connections to and from the card. I've got an analog CRT connected to one connector, and a TFT Flat Panel connected to the other, and it works just great!
And Adapters: This photo shows the DVI to VGA adapter on the right side of the picture.
Mt. Elbert at Work: We like our systems so much, we use them ourselves! This PC is simply "idling" while working with Adobe Premiere 6.0 or ULEAD's MediaStudio Pro 6.0. Photoshop isn't even a challenge for it. With this system we were finally able to get 30-year old 8mm movies edited, titled, music backgrounded with narration added, then translated onto a DVD for the enjoyment of our remotely located families.
UPS: No. That doesn't interpret to "United Parcel Service." Rather, it stands for Uninterruptible Power Supply. The last word here has to be of concern for your new system. We experience momentary power outages lasting mere seconds about once or twice a week, every other week or so. Most of these do not cause us to have to reset our VCR clocks, but there have been a few occasions where this has been experienced as well. Why invest a lot of hard-earned money in a system that you have not protected against power surges or plain old outages. Most folks are innocently happy to know that they've got a good deal on an extension cord surge protector from their local office supply store into which they've plugged everything they own on their computer desk. Some of these surge protectors are useless to the point where all you've purchased is an expensive extension cord, and will not protect your system from harm. After losing data on several occasions during several of our momentary power outages, I bit the bullet and invested in UPS units for all of my systems. When my main AC power is lost, the UPS's battery kicks in and I get around 8 - 15 minutes of reserve AC power keeping my systems up and running, depending upon how each UPS is loaded down.  Eight minutes is more than enough time to safely save your data and shut down your PC (unless you're rendering a video, and that's another story...you'd need a much larger capacity UPS to handle that). APC's "PowerChute" software is designed to automatically shut down your applications and safely shut down your system when the UPS's battery gets precariously low if your system should be unattended when your main AC power is lost. Typical UPS boxes such as those from APC, Tripp-Lite, etc. provide both surge protection AND the ability to supply a reserve of AC power generated by its battery and electronic circuitry. Some even provide you with an "insurance" policy that is supposed to replace your system if their UPS unit fails to protect your system. Be aware that if you are running the latest Operating System (such as Windows XP), some of these UPS units have not upgraded their included software (APC's PowerChute, for example) to work with them. However, in the case of some of APC's UPS units, for example, they do have compatible software that you can download from their web site and install on your system. Whatever you do, please make a good UPS unit one of your first purchases after you've finished building or procuring your new PC! This picture shows an APC BackUPS LS, 500W unit that provides my system with around 8-10 minutes of reserve AC power when needed, and includes a bank of surge protected only outlets separate from the Battery Backup/Surge Protected outlets.