PCNut Custom Pro Limited Edition

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UPDATE 7/5/99: I have been running this system steady for over a month now and just had to report that the system has been 100% stable. I have thrown anything and everything I could at this system and not even had 1 blue screen. This kind of quality and stability comes from careful selection of parts, a good burn-in process and careful setup of the operating system. My hats off to Humphrey for building the most stable system I have ever owned.

UPDATE 5/24/99: I have a pentium III 450 that I picked up to see if they were really as overclockable as everyone is claiming. This was an OEM unit SL364 Malay 99150934-0478 without any cooler on it so I ordered a Global Win VES20 to run on it. I put the CPU in my old system which was running a PII 333 @ 560. In this system it wouldn’t even show the Video Bios screen any higher than 527 so I figured I was one of the unlucky ones and got one of those chips that just wouldn’t cut the bacon and gave up.

I was playing with the PCNUT system when I thought “Hmmmmm, wonder what this CPU would do in here”. So I opened up the case and installed the PIII in the “PowerNut” system. I set the FSB for 124 (For 558) and Core voltage at 2.0 and let ‘er rip!. Booted cleanly into Windows 98. I ran Prime for about an hour with not even a hiccup. It was time for another reboot. Set the FSB to 129 (For 580) and she booted cleanly into Windows. Ran Prime and after about 20 Minutes, it crashed. Tried upping the core to 2.1 and 2.2 and that only caused it to crash sooner. Tells me it needs better cooling. (Next review if I can round up some PIII coolers!)

What’s the point of this update? Drop a PIII in this system with the specs which you can check out below, you can have yourself a system that really ROCKS! The disk subsystem is superb and the workmanship is outstanding! The PIII 450 has really dropped since the PIII 550 has been released so for a small amount more, you could have yourself a superb gaming/business system. I’m sure if you talked to “DaHeadNut” over at PCNut, he will set you up with some PIII lovin’. Don’t know if you’ll get 580 or even 558 out of it but from what the talk is, this is a VERY overclockable chip.

Here’s some Benchmarks. PIII 450 OC to 558@2.0 Volts. Leadtek TNT2 160/165

Quake 2 16 bit color
  640×480 800×600 1024×768
Massive 1 96.4 90.3 71.3
Demo 1 118.8 102.6 76.4
Crusher 59.6 57.6 50.3
3D Mark 99 MAX
  640×480 800×600
Massive 1 5583 5514
Ziff-Davis benchmarks    
CPU Mark 32 1372
FPU Mark 2980
Business Disk 4265
High End Disk 14630
Business Graphics 274
High End Graphics 623

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PowerNut Review:

I’m a hard person to impress. As you can tell by my reviews, it takes a lot for me to sit down and say WOW… I REALLY like that! I’ve been around Computers since the first “desktop” Computers were around. The only “pre-built” Computer I ever bought was an AT&T 6300. This was an 8088 CPU, 540K Ram, Dual 5 ¼ Floppy drives, 300 Baud Modem and NO hard drive. The OS was PC DOS (I think… Getting old!). I eventually did buy a hard drive for this machine, a 10 Meg MFM unit which cost about $500. I work with Enterprise Level NT Servers at work with Dual and Quad CPU’s and Gig’s of RAM. At home, I have 7 Computers running, one is a PII 333 running at 560 and another one is a Celeron PPGA 300 running at 527. Heck, even my Kids have a Celeron 400 running at 450!

I wanted to upgrade a couple of my PC’s and replace some old, worn out parts. I was getting a Bonus check from work so I decided to spend it at PCNUT and started building a list. When I was done, the list included enough parts to build a complete system so I contacted “Da Head Nut” over at PCNUT and said “Impress Me”. I said I had $1600 – $1700 to spend and he should build me a “Killer” system. I wanted to stay with a Celeron System because I wanted to replace my Gaming system. I must say, “Da Head Nut”, Humphrey, did a good job of impressing me…… I’m truly impressed!!!!

System Specs:

When I ordered the system, I just gave a list of the parts I wanted. No specifics, No brands and no Part numbers. Just a very general system configuration. I let Humphrey come up with the recipe and final product. Below are the ingredients that he came up with for this “Limited Edition” System:

  • ABIT BX6 Revision 2.02 440BX Retail Motherboard

    w/Thermal Probe & Motherboard Monitor Installed

  • Intel Celeron 300MHz PPGA Malaysia Retail Processor
  • Alpha PFH6035MFC Socket 7/370 Cooler w/Fan Installed

    Overclocked & Run Stable at 527MHz!

  • Mushkin 128MB Grade A PC100 CAS2 SDRAM Samsung G8
  • Leadtek WinFast3D S320-II TNT2 AGP Video Card 32MB

    Overclocked & Run Stable at 160/165MHz!

  • Promise Technology Ultra 66 PCI Retail Controller Card
  • Western Digital Expert 18GB Ultra DMA/66 Hard Disk Drive
  • Kenwood 52X TrueX Retail IDE CD-ROM Drive
  • TEAC 3.5″ 1.44MB Floppy Disk Drive
  • Diamond MonsterSound MX300 PCI Retail Sound Card
  • PCNUT NutCase SC725-A Deluxe Mid Tower Case w/250W PS
  • Extra SUNON 80mm Thermal Case Fan
  • Extra SUNON 60mm Case Fan
  • Microsoft Windows 98 OEM CD Installed/Included
  • Custom Driver Updates & Utilities CD
  • Microsoft Elite Natural Keyboard PS/2
  • Microsoft Intellimouse w/3D Zoom Scroll PS/2
  • One Year Parts & Labor Warranty

First Impressions:

They say first impressions are the most important.

When I picked the PC up from our local Fedex the first thing I did was open up the case to get a peek inside. What I found was one of the cleanest PC builds I have ever seen! I used to have my own custom PC business (Back in the 386/486 Days) and I worked for a PC Store/ISP where they built “Custom” Systems. The attention to detail was superb! Every Power Supply cable was neatly wire tied and tucked in place. The ribbon Cables were cut and tied so not to hamper airflow through the case. Even the LED and Reset button wires were very neatly grouped and wire tied! Hopefully you can see some of the attention to detail in the pictures below.

The Mid-Tower “Nutcase” is a very good looking case which is manufactured by Addtronics. It has a 250 Watt Power Supply and Plenty of fan mounts. It has cages for 2 80mm in the lower front, 1 80mm cage on each side of the Drive Bays and a spot for an extra 60mm exhaust fan in the back right below the power supply. My particular system was equipped with 2 80mm Fans in the lower front and a 60mm exhaust fan in the back. For a Mid-Tower it is also has plenty of room for good airflow.

Let’s fire this baby up!

I installed a 3com 905b NIC card (forgot to order one) so I could add the system to my LAN. Closed up the case and pushed the power button. 527 MHZ !! That’s right 527 Mhz from a Celeron PPGA Retail CPU @ 2.2 Volts! I know there are others out there, even faster ones. But 527 is VERY impressive from a 300 Mhz CPU!

Once Windows 98 Loaded, I started Prime 95 and went to change out of my Suit and eat some supper. Yes, I need to wear a Suit to work everyday! After I ate and came back about an hour later, Prime was running just fine.

Proceeded to load a few apps and just generally play around surfin’ the Net. I have to say. The disk sub system on this machine is extremely fast! The Promise UDMA 66 card and Western Digital Expert drive combination make the disk sub system feel as fast as an Ultra Wide SCSI.

Benchmarks:

All in all, this machine is much snappier than my PII 333 clocked at 560! I normally don’t include Benchmarks in my articles because in my opinion, there are too many factors, which can change the outcomes of benchmarks. Since Humphrey posted some benchmarks on this system HERE and he had a bunch of Benchmarks pre-installed on the system, I figured I would run a few just to see how this system would come out.

All benchmarks run with Leadtek S320II TNT 2 Clocked at 160 Core 165 Memory

Quake 2 32 bit color
  640×480 800×600 1024×768
Massive 1 79.1 60.8 42.9
Demo 1 91.4 66.1 40.8
Crusher 53.1 49.9 41.2
Unreal 224
  640×480 800×600 1024×768
Massive 1 65.2 58.3 35.5
3D Mark 99 MAX
  640×480 800×600
Massive 1 4492 4478
Ziff-Davis benchmarks    
CPU Mark 32 1049
FPU Mark 2800
Business Disk 4183
High End Disk 14198
Business Graphics 224
High End Graphics 605

Notes about the Benchmarks:

I ran exactly the same Benchmarks as Humphrey to see if I could come up with the same numbers. Not that I don’t trust him. I just don’t trust the Benchmarks. As you can see, every Benchmark was almost identical to the numbers that he came up with. Also, the performance of this system is just awesome!

Conclusion:

Personally, I would not hesitate to buy another system from PCNut. In fact, since I like this system so much, I have decided to use this system for my everyday system and I’ll probably purchase another clone of this system for a gaming system. I’ll probably use a PIII 450 CPU in that system and maybe an Ultra TNT 2 card.

Do I have any complaints about this system? The only thing I can find to pick on is that the case is a little of a pain to get into easily. You must pop the front off, then the sides will swing out. However, the pluses this case has make up for this little in- convenience.

One Final thing. With every Custom PC that is sold by PCNut, he includes a CD-Rom with all the updated drivers for the machine plus a few Benchmark utilities. Also on the CD were the Service pack 1 and 2 for Microsoft Office. This is a nice professional touch that really helps the purchaser to have all this stuff in one place.

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This review and comments are just my personal observations and
opinion. As with any products and services, please research throughly
before making any purchases. The reviewer and overclockers.com shall not
and will not be held liable for any damages cause by products reviewed in
this article.


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