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3D Gaming..... 3D Graphics.... 3D!! PERIOD! Just a few years ago... I thought my system was hot petuties. I had the Matrox 16mb Millennium II pci and a 3dfx Voodoo 2 PCI running to give me 3d rendering in both my work and play. Quake, then Quake II and now.... Quake III ARENA will take a 3D card and absolutely put it through its paces in so many different ways.

Today's hardware is a far cry from a year or two ago.  So.... here we are at the very beginning of the Dream Machine Series...

It never ceases to amaze me about how certain companies are stuck in the old mold of Tech Specs, Hard Copy Circulation and.... ah... who cares!  Those antique heads will soon fall by the wayside.  I can understand about how they wish to avoid being scammed by enterprising individuals claiming to be reviewers but when a fourteen year old company with ten years on the Net gets the run-around it becomes more tragic than the loss of a mass produced card or software package to a scam artist.

I begin with this statement to ensure each of you are aware there are companies out there who seem to have the idea the WEB is composed of a bunch of "Johnnie come lately" scam artists and therefore show little or no respect for anyone who has dropped hard copy circ in favor of a highly visible website whose hit counts are so far through the roof that we removed the counter because the numbers began looking un-believable.  Rather than explain they were real and that they reflected a six month roll-over... we dumped that grief.

Please, if there is a product you would like to see reviewed and tested in our Dream Machine Series... let us know. We will do our very best to obtain the product and do the review.

The concept of the Dream Machine Series is to show and tell the real facts. The main fact being that IF..... a user is willing to LEARN.... they will be able to build a far better machine from high quality, fully enabled components than any one may purchase pre-built at the Computer "Super Stores and Discount houses".  We really do not care to mention any "brand names" but I'm certain any of you can get the message. Additionally, our purpose is to show our reader the hardware we had the most success with.  The hardware and ultimately the software we recommend.

You won't try to sell yourself any gimmicks or make any outlandish offers of kickbacks (rebates) or any other such nonsense.  Why take the marketing beating from the pre-packagers? DIY!! (Do It Yourself!)

The main Benefit....You will learn how to assemble the computer you've always dreamed of and do it at a lot less than the pre-built mediocre "stuff" that's out there.


Okay... now that being said we go.


Cabinets & Power Supplies

hmmm fond of that full tower?  Don't care to buy another? That's fine, its relatively easy to convert to ATX.

The 300w atx power supply is a bolt in. It is usually four screws and its done.  Then comes the power switch on the front panel.  This real a simple operation but "sounds" complicated.

For a push button switch to do the off and on thing with the old power supply it had to turn on the flow of electricity to the power supply. With the new atx power supply it merely has to "trigger" the power supply into action.

  • Remove the switch from the front panel.  on the inside usually two screws and a few wires using slide on connectors.

  • once removed view the shaft of the push button and note the tiny "S" hook coming out of the switch body to a tab on the outside. 

  • Remove the "S" hook.  You now have a momentary switch.

  • Now examine the rear apron of the cabinet - where the connectors are. NOT the Card SLOTS!

  • you will see that, in most cases, the entire strip is removable.  If not a pair of sharp tin snips are in order. 

  • If you must use tin snips... measure the opening needed on the motherboard by doing the width and height of the atx motherboard's connector bank.

Or, you may buy a cabinet with a 250-300w power supply installed, set to go for an ATX for well under $100.00

You are now ready to mount the motherboard into the cabinet.  Use at least two of the brass stand-offs and stand-off the remainder of the MB with the plastic or nylon stand-offs.  I've known a few assemblers who have used the brass stand-offs all the way 'round but that's overkill and can get expensive.

With the power supply in and the motherboard in we are ready to check our work ... so far


  • the clearance under the motherboard making certain that all areas of the motherboard are supported by stand-offs.

  • the modified push button switch is mounted and ok

  • the power supply is in place properly and the leads from the power supply are oriented properly.

  • Now, connect the atx power connector to the motherboard. 

    • Do not plug anything in for now.

  • Now the fun part, installing the CPU and Dimm(s)  it is a snap!

    • check the manual for the motherboard's CPU jumper setup if your mb has a softmenu if it does then ok then this is done for you. 

    • Now check the book for the location of Dimm slot 1

    • Install both the CPU and its fan connector PII & PIII and the Memory DIMM in today's machines 128mb is not uncommon

Next, let's mount any new hardware we have Drives, etc....

In the case of new IDE High Performance Drives... Our test motherboards, TYAN Trinity 400's and a Tiger 100 were ready for the new UDMA33/66 high speed hard drives... Be sure to use the special noise canceling ribbon cables that come with the drives. They're color coded as to master/slave and board connection.

Most new MB's will show PIDE (Primary IDE) SIDE (Secondary IDE) on the motherboard PIDE is #1 Side is #2

Finally, let's install any cards we are going to use.

Article 2 - Inspection and First Power-Up


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