Eric L. Carlson's Home Computer System

Updated July 23, 2011
Dell UltraSharp 1905FP 19-inch LCD monitor Princeton VL1916 19-inch LCD monitor Packard Bell clicky (buckling spring) keyboard Uniden TRU-9465 multi-handset phone system Desk lamp with CFL bulb Sandisk Sansa e280 with RockBox Antec Sonata Case APC Smart-UPS 1400 Kill A Watt P4400 AC power meter Vornado Zippi desk fan Dolphin Cat Grado SR60 Headphones Coaster Microsoft Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 Microsoft Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 base Creative I-Trigue 3300 - Left Speaker Creative I-Trigue 3300 - Control Creative I-Trigue 3300 - Right Speaker Creative I-Trigue 3300 - Subwoofer Power Sentry Smart Surge Protector Atech Flash PRO-Gear Solo USB 2.0 card reader Pens and stuff Z-Line Matrix 60-inch Glass Computer Desk Hover and click items

My latest build (Internal components) Initial i7 build: Feb 14, 2010
Manufacturer Picture Description/Model Notes
Intel CPU Core i7-860
Quad core plus hyperthreading, 8M Cache, 2.80 GHz (3.46 GHz Max Turbo). The stock CPU cooler if very quiet at idle, and still pretty quiet under sustained heavy load.
Gigabyte Motherboard GA-P55A-UD4P
System is running Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
OCZ Memory OCZ3P1600LV4GK
4GB Memory
OCZ Platinum Low Voltage 4GB DDR3-1600 (PC-12800) Dual Channel Memory Kit (2 + 2)
Western Digital Hard Drive WD1001FALS
1TB Hard drive
Caviar Black 1TB, 32.Meg cache, 7200 RPM
Antec Power Supply EarthWatts 380
Power Supply
80+ rated
380 Watts output capability is overkill considering the system idles at about 53 Watts output from the Power Supply (66 Watts input), and peaks (when artifically forced) at about 164 Watts output from the Power Supply (204 Watts input). It never even reaches 50% load, even when artifically forced, and idles below 20% load. Under normal operation, the computer spends most of its time at or near idle, so most of the time it's operating below the 80+ efficiency rating's range of 20-100% output power.
Antec Sonata Case Quiet Case
Nice case to work with. The drive rails and trays are convenient. I replaced the stock case fan with the fan and speed controller listed below. The only reason I didn't use the stock fan with a speed controller is that I wanted a fan with an RPM sensor, which the stock fan didn't have. The complete system is now very quiet.
Sony Optiarc CD/DVD writer CD/DVD Writer
Sony Optiarc
24X SATA CD/DVD Rewritable Drive.
Samsung Samsung SH-S162L CD/DVD Writer
16X EIDE/ATAPI CD/DVD Rewritable Drive.
DVD+R, DVD+RW, DVD+R DL, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD-R DL, DVD-RAM, CD-R, CD-RW, LightScribe. Includes Nero 6.6 software.
Cooler Master Round Cable Rounded drive cables TTC-A24 for CD and DVD drives.
(Not in use: TTC-F10 for floppy drive)
Vantec Vantec SF12025L case fan
"Stealth" case fan. Not at all quiet at full speed, but very quiet at 950.RPM. This was the only non-quiet component in the system, so I added a speed controller (below) to make it quiet.
PCToys Fan Mate Adjustable fan speed controller
FanMate MAXX
Goes inside the computer, and has a knob to adjust the speed of the fan (above).
Asus Video card EN8400GS Silent/P/512M
Video Card
PCIe X16 (unmodded)
Asus Video card EN8400GS Silent/P/512M
Video Card
PCIe X1 modded (was PCIe X16) (The modded card is not part of my i7-860 system)

Some of my newer stuff (and old stuff I still use)
Manufacturer Picture Description/Model Notes
HP Printer LaserJet 2100 TN laser printer I have it connected via its built-in LAN connection.
Monoprice Monitor arm Monitor arms (2)
Model # 7562
I have these on both of my monitors, but I removed one of the two arm segments on each for more stability and less clutter. On the 24" monitor, I also had to tighten the rotation and swivel bolts to keep the monitor from rotating or drooping on its own.
Monoprice CAT6A cable Cat6A STP (Shielded) LAN cables
Model # 5900, 5901, 5904
To reduce the potential for interference with my ham radio equipment, I replaced all my LAN cables with Cat6A shielded LAN cables. I wasn't actually noticing any obvious interference, but they are not expensive, so I upgraded my cables anyway.
Evoluent Mouse Vertical Mouse 3 Wireless My latest mouse. Still haven't decided if I like it any better than others.
Microsoft Mouse Natural Wireless Laser Mouse 6000 My previous mouse, before I decided to try the Vertical Mouse.
Logitech Mouse MX Revolution Cordless Laser Mouse Heidi uses this mouse now.
HP Monitor Monitor
24" (actually slightly more than 24.1") IPS LCD monitor. 1920x1200. This is my new primary monitor, and the 1905FP is secondary, in portrait orientation.
Dell Monitor Monitor
UltraSharp 1905FP
19" PVA LCD, DVI & Analog inputs
1280x1024 Landscape & 1024x1280 Portrait orientations, 8-bit per pixel color,, Built-in 4-port USB hub; Height, tilt, left/right rotation adjustable, wide viewing angle
Princeton Monitor VL1916 19" LCD monitor 19" TN LCD, DVI & Analog inputs, 1280x1024. Not exactly a great monitor, but okay as a second monitor.
P3 International Power meter Kill A Watt EZ P4460
AC power meter
Yes, I have both a P4460 and a P4400.
P3 International Power meter Kill A Watt P4400
AC power meter
CyberPower CyberPower UPS CP1500AVRLCD
900 Watt/1500 VA Battery Backup
Canon Canon LiDE 50 CanoScan LiDE 50
Linksys Router WRT54G v4
Wireless G Router
Running Tomato firmware.
Canon Printer i860 color printer  
HP Printer LaserJet 5p laser printer Still works great. I did add memory to it. It idles at only about 2 watts.
Belkin USB to Parallel adapter F5U002
USB to Parallel port adapter
Used with the LaserJet 5p laser printer. It works great with XP and with Windows 7 64-bit, and I didn't have to install any drivers for it for either OS.
Vornado Desk fan Zippi desk fan Very nice when you want a mild breeze at your desk and don't want a lot of noise along with it. Runs at about 15 watts.
Z-Line Desk Matrix 60" Glass Computer Desk  
Staples Tillman Chair Tillman Leather Executive Chair Color: Chestnut
Radio Shack Smart Power Strip Automatic power strip, adjustable Model 61-2781, circa 1989. Automatically turns off my speakers and desk fan when I turn off my PC. This one is adjustable, so it works correctly with the 6 watt sleep mode of my i7 system.
Power Sentry Smart Power Strip Smart Surge Protector PPP3275WA/17 Previously automatically turned off my speakers and desk fan when I turned off my PC. Unfortunately, it would sometimes wake up when using the 6 watt sleep mode of my i7 system, and it isn't adjustable.
Creative Speakers 2.1 speaker system
I-Trigue 3300
The sound is good, but the desktop speakers are heavy and tip over really easily (not exactly the smartest design), so I use Velcro straps to secure them to the side rails of my glass top desk, so they don't fall and shatter the glass. They also draw 15.Watts when sitting idle, so it's a good idea to turn them off when you're done using your computer.
Atech Flash Card Reader USB 2.0 card reader
8-in-1 memory card reader. About 4 times faster than my old USB 1.1 card reader.
Generic Generic 2.5 USB Enclosure 2.5" USB 2.0 drive enclosure 2.5" Hi-Speed USB 2.0 hard drive enclosure for IDE (Parallel ATA) laptop drives. Self-powered.
Adaptec Adaptec ACS-100 3.5" USB 2.0 drive enclosure
3.5" Hi-Speed USB 2.0 hard drive enclosure for IDE (Parallel ATA) drives
Koutech Koutech EEU323 3.5" USB 2.0 drive enclosure
Clear Acrylic 3.5" Hi-Speed USB 2.0 hard drive enclosure for IDE (Parallel ATA) drives. Looks great, but the fan is loud, so I don't use it much.
Olympus Olympus C-2100uz Digital Camera
C-2100 Ultra Zoom
10x image stabilized optical zoom, 2.1 MegaPixel, SmartMedia memory cards. Still a great camera, and still used regularly. It's probably taken well over 40,000 photos.

Some of my older stuff
Manufacturer Picture Description/Model Notes
Teac Teac CD-RW CD-R/W drive
  I tried updating the BIOS from 1.0a to 1.0c, and the drive had to be replaced under warranty, which took two weeks.
  The replacement drive wouldn't write to the brand of CD-R media I had been using with the original drive, but it worked fine with another brand of media.
APC (See above) Smart-UPS 1400 This died, and I replaced it with the CyberPower CP1500AVRLCD listed above.
BFG   GeForce 6200oc PCI video card  
Matrox   G450 PCI video card  
Intel Celeron 1.3Ghz Processor
1.3Ghz Celeron
P-III based. 100.Mhz FSB. Retail boxed with (rather large) heat-sink and fan. Yes it's ancient, but it works reasonably well, runs very cool, and uses little power (the whole box draws about 60 watts input from the AC, even under load, when using an Antec EarthWatts 380 power supply).
Asus Asus TUSI-M Motherboard
Socket 370, Micro-ATX, SIS 630ET chipset, built-in LAN, Audio, Video, 5 USB v1.1 ports, 2 serial ports
Using with 768.Meg RAM installed.
Seagate Hard Drive Hard drive
160 Gig, 8.Meg cache, 7200 RPM
Series: Barracuda 7200.7 Plus
BusLink USB 2.0 card USB 2.0 card
5-port High Speed USB 2.0 PCI card. NEC chipset. I plugged it in, and it worked.
LeadTek TV2000XP Deluxe TV/FM/Video Capture card WinFast TV2000 XP Deluxe. Great for watching cable TV on my second monitor. It can record too, and has a nice remote.
CompUSA/FMI Fan Speed Alarm Fan speed controller and alarm
Goes inside the computer, and has a 3-position switch to adjust the speed of a fan, and beeps if the fan stops spinning.
JustCom JC-201ASU USB switch
2-computer to 1-device Hi-Speed USB 2.0 auto/manual switch.
UPDATE 2: There is also a new version of the driver that fixes the problem by creating the correct reg keys during install.
UPDATE 1: It's fixed. I contacted Justcom again, and the solution was to add the registry key HKLM\SOFTWARE\Justcom\USBShare\ to both computers, and now the driver software remembers the selected printer, and automatically switches when printing. We're using Heidi's Canon i850 printer.
Wacom Graphire2 Graphics tablet
I'm actually using Heidi's Graphire 3 tablet, with my Graphire 2 pen (we can't find the 3 pen), instead of a mouse.
Dynex Dynex DX-H420P USB Hub
4-port Hi-Speed USB 2.0 hub
works powered or unpowered
SanDisk SanDisk Cruzer Micro USB flash drive Cruzer Micro 512.Meg 512.Meg USB flash drive
Logitech Logitech Attack3 USB Joystick
Attack 3
I didn't really need one of these, but it was only about $10, so I got one just in case.
Belkin Belkin F5D7230-4 Wireless G Router
802.11g, 54.Mbps, 2.4Ghz, WEP, WPA
Belkin Belkin F5D7000 Wireless G Desktop Network Card F5D7000 802.11g, 54.Mbps, 2.4Ghz, WEP, WPA. Probably includes support for WPA in Windows 2000, like the notebook card does.
Belkin Belkin F5D7010 Wireless G Notebook Network Card F5D7010 802.11g, 54.Mbps, 2.4Ghz, WEP, WPA, 32-Bit CardBus. Includes support for WPA in Windows 2000.
Microsoft Microsoft MN-720 Wireless G Notebook Network Card MN-720 802.11g, 54.Mbps, 2.4Ghz, WEP, WPA, 32-Bit CardBus. Requires 3rd-party software to support WPA in Windows 2000.
Bytecc USB Case External drive enclosure
USB 2.0 external 3.5"/5.25" drive enclosure
Very loud cooling fan, so I don't leave it running.
Belkin USB Hub USB 1.1 hub
4-port USB 1.1 hub.
I gave this to my father and got myself a USB 2.0 hub.
Siemens SpeedStream SpeedStream 2604 Router
4-port DSL/Cable router
To replace my finicky Netgear router
This one was much more reliable up until it died: the Status and Print Err lights remain red, the Power and Print Act lights remain green, and any ports with computers connected just flash slowly.
Artec driver Artec E-48U Scanner
600x1200 48-bit USB Flatbed Scanner
I gave this to my father since he had more use for it.
Compaq Compaq V70 Monitor
17" CRT monitor
Was second monitor for dual displays, now it's retired.
PNY PNY Ti4200 Video card
Verto GeForce4 Ti 4200
NVidia chipset, AGP, 64.Meg, Dual outputs, I was running dual 17" CRT monitors each at 1024x768, 85.hz
Western Digital Hard Drive Hard drive
120 Gig Special Edition, 8.Meg cache, 7200 RPM
Western Digital Hard Drive Hard drive
80 Gig Special Edition, 8.Meg cache, 7200 RPM
Western Digital Hard Drive Hard drive
40 Gig, 2.Meg cache, 7200 RPM
To replace the painfully slow hard drive in my (formerly) Compaq system
Motorola Cable Modem Cable modem
SURFboard SB3100
A lot faster than dial-up!
NetGear Internet Gateway Router Internet Gateway Router
Built-in 4-port 10/100 switch.
It had problems maintaining connections, so I replaced it.
3com LAN card PCI LAN card
EtherLink XL
CTX Monitor Monitor
17-inch CRT
HP HP Laserjet 3p Laser Printer
I had to replace the heater lamp in July 1998. Cost was $15 + $3 shipping from The Printer Works
HP HP Deskjet 660 Ink Jet printer
DeskJet 660Cse
I donated this to charity long ago.
Microsoft Microsoft Wheel Mouse Optical Wheel Mouse Optical USB, PS/2
A nice sized, good quality, optical mouse at a reasonable price
Mouse Systems BogeyMan Joystick Joystick
Set up in Windows Control Panel as:
1 = Thrustmaster Flight Control System
2 = CH Flightstick Pro
3 = CH Flightstick
4 = 4-Button flight yoke w/throttle
Palm Palm IIIe Palm computer
2.Meg, Serial data sync
PNY Memory Card Reader USB FlashCard reader For our Olympus digital cameras.
Reads CompactFlash Type I/II, SmartMedia, IBM Microdrive
Has been replaced with a USB 2.0 reader
(PK Electronics)
Blackout Buster UPS Uninterruptible Power Supply
Blackout Buster BU6
Serial data connector for monitoring and automated shutdown
Radio Shack Radio Shack Speakers Speakers
AMX-16 (40-1363)
Built-in 5 watt stereo amplifier. For those who've asked, the power adapter is 16.VDC at 1.1A, center positive, so anything that can put out a clean 16.VDC at at least 1.1 amps should work.
Umax Umax Astra 1200S Flatbed Scanner
Astra 1200S
I donated this to charity long ago.
Adaptec   PCI SCSI card
For scanner and ZIP drive
Iomega   ZIP drive
Internal SCSI, 3-1/2", Blue

My (formerly) Compaq 633.Mhz system (See my review below)
Now used as my secondary test system, running Linux and FreeBSD
Manufacturer Picture Description/Model Notes
Compaq Compaq Presario Computer
Presario 5BW220
Original specs:
Celeron 633.Mhz, 15.Gig hard drive, 40x CD-ROM, 64.Meg RAM (shared with video), 1.44 Meg floppy, 56.K V.90 modem, on-board sound and video, keyboard, mouse, Windows ME
Intel   Motherboard chipset
It died, so I replaced it
Built-in video and ESS ES1988 Alegro sound
Compaq   USB Keyboard
Includes special feature keys
Compaq   IDE CD-ROM drive
PCTEL   PCI modem
Platinum V.90
56.K, v8.00-9K-C
Maxtor   IDE Harddrive
Quantum Fireball LCT1
Too slow, so I replaced it
15.Gig, 4400 RPM
n/a   Memory One 64.Meg PC-100 SDRAM
n/a   Memory One 256.Meg PC-100 SDRAM

Here's the Presario 5BW220 review I posted on on Nov 9, 2000.

Good deal, but no powerhouse

I got mine at CompUSA for $400 after $100 mail-in rebate and $150 in-store rebate, so I can't complain about the price. I had to check the CompUSA web site for store stock every morning during the sale, and then run to the store as soon as they had them.

The best thing about this computer (other than the price) is that it is very quiet.

The worst thing is that it has a slow hard drive (only 4,400 RPM, compared to the low-end IDE standard of 5,600 RPM, and the high-end IDE standard of 7,200 RPM). A faster hard drive makes a big difference.

It comes in a useable configuration: while some other low priced computers have only 32.Megs of RAM, which is not sufficient if you actually plan to use the thing, this comes with 64.Megs, which is useable. There is a slot for one more SRDAM module, and I'll be adding another 128.Meg soon.

It comes with 3 free PCI slots (the fourth slot has a modem), but no ISA slots, so I couldn't use my old SCSI card for my scanner and ZIP drive. I had to get a PCI SCSI card. You also can't upgrade the video card since the video is built in to the motherboard, and there is no AGP slot.

It detected my new PCI SCSI card and my PCI LAN card with no problems. It also detected my IDE CD-RW drive, SCSI ZIP drive and SCSI scanner with no problems.

It doesn't have much room left for future expansion. I filled all the external drive bays with my old CD-RW drive and ZIP drive. There is space for a second internal hard drive, one more PCI card, and one more memory chip. There is only one serial port, but there are 3 open USB ports for external devices (the keyboard uses the fourth USB port).

The case design provides very easy access to all the internal components, which makes me very happy.

For now, it is an adequate replacement for my old 166.Mhz computer (check out my old computer at [This page]), but if I had built a new computer (which I had planned to do before I saw the sale), I would have built a faster and more expandable machine (at twice the price)

Previous custom 166.Mhz System
Manufacturer Picture Description/Model Notes
n/a Front of computer Case
AT style case with power supply
Digital Research 40X CD-Rom 40X CD-ROM drive
Really a BTC BCD-40XH rev-U1.6
IBM Keyboard Keyboard
The real thing
MicroSpeed PC-Trac Trackball Track ball
Abit   Motherboard (Pentium-class)
PLL52C59 clock-generator chip.
 Intel 82371SB PCI Bus Master IDE controllers.
 Intel 82437VX Pentium Processor to PCI bridge.
Via/Cyrix   CPU (Pentium-class)
With fan and heat sink.
133.Mhz clock speed.
Actiontec   Modem (Internal/Windows)
56.k V.90 PCI
Lucent LT Win Modem (Mars)
Won't connect above 26,400 over my Verizon phone lines.
n/a   Sound card
Drivers indicate Diamond Technologies DT197A30
Diamond   Video card
3D-2000, 2.Meg PCI
Using S3 Virge PCI(325) Windows 98 native drivers
Western Digital   Hard drive
n/a   Floppy drive
3-1/2 inch
n/a   Memory
64.Meg RAM
Four 16.Meg EDO SIMMs

Some of my even older stuff
Manufacturer Item Model Notes
Logitech Logitech iFeel Mouse iFeel Mouse USB, Optical
Provides feedback to the user, but we stopped using this feature. I gave this mouse to Heidi for her laptop.
Epson Epson ZIP drive ZIP drive
Parallel external 100.Meg
Same as an Iomega ZIP drive, except beige instead of blue
I still use it with other computers
Phillips   Palm PC
Velo 1
Wincows CE, Serial data transfer
Texas Instruments   Data organizer
64.K, Serial data transfer
n/a Speaker Speakers Non-powered
BenQ (Acer) CD-RW IDE CD Writer/Reader
2x write/rewrite, 6x read.
Microsoft Microsoft Mouse Mouse PS/2
Mouse Systems BogeyMan Racing Wheel Racing Wheel
(HINT: You set it up in Windows Control Panel as a joystick.)
Click here for a picture of the instructions.
CH Products Joystick Joystick Rarely used. (HINT: It doesn't use drivers. You set it up in Windows Control Panel as a joystick.)
Adaptec   SCSI host adapter
AHA-150x/1510/152x/ AIC-6x60
Driver ver-2.05.
Came with SCSI ZIP drive.
Mustek   Flatbed scanner
600 II CD
(Paragon 600 II SP)
Connected toAdaptec SCSI host adapter.
Originally had its own SCSI host adapter.
AVerMedia TV/FM card TV/FM98 The reception was so bad I returned it
Diamond Windows modem
SupraMax 56i It kept causing Windows error messages, so I replaced it
I had to force it to V.34 mode to connect over my Verizon phone lines
USRobotics /
Sportster 33.6 It kept disconnecting (possibly because of noisy phone lines) so I replaced it
MediaVision Sound card Pro Audio Studio Had compatibility problems, and the original company is out of business
Western Digital Hard Drive 2.1Gig IDE
Western Digital Hard Drive 500.Meg IDE
Samsung Electronics
(also Samsung)
CD-ROM drive SCR-830 8x IDE, rev-3.01
Didn't allow digital data extraction from audio CDs
n/a CD-ROM drive 2x With proprietary controller card
(Now owned by Seagate)
Tape backup drive TapeStore 250 Internal, uses floppy controller
n/a Floppy drive 1.2Meg 5-1/4 inch
n/a 486 motherboard    
n/a Video Card   VESA Local Bus
Via/Cyrix CPU 486DLC/40  
n/a Memory 8.Meg Eight 1.Meg 32-pin SIMMS

Software (This list is very old. Maybe I'll update it someday.)
Manufacturer Item Version Notes
PSPad PSPad 4.3.3 Free full-featured programmer's text editor
Sygate Sygate Personal Firewall 5.6 Free Personal Internet firewall and application control
IZArc IZArc 3.5 beta 3 Free archive manager (ZIP, etc.)
Werkema SpaceMonger 1.4 Free graphical drive use display - Excellent utility for cleaning up your files and freeing up drive space
FileZilla FileZilla 2.2.x Free FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client. Supports SSL/SFTP.
SpyBotSD SpyBotSD 1.4 Free spyware removal tool
SeaMonkey Mozilla SeaMonkey 1.0.x for Windows Free Top-Notch Web browser & E-mail client suite
Ahead Software Nero Burning ROM 6.6.x CD/DVD writing software
IrfanView IrfanView32 3.x Free graphics file viewer and processor, with batch processing
Jasc Paint Shop Pro 7 & 9 Photo editor
ACD Systems ACDSee Classic 2.4x Fast graphics file viewer and browser
ImageWalker ImageWalker 2.2x Photo manager, and web photo album generator
Homesite 4.5x HTML editor
WinSCP WinSCP 3.7.x Free SCP (Secure Copy) client
PuTTY PuTTY 0.58 Free SSH (Secure Shell) client
Microsoft Windows 2000/XP Windows 2000/XP Pro Operating Systems
Microsoft Office 2000/2003 Office 2000/2003 Pro Office application suite
SpeedFan SpeedFan 4.x Free temperature monitor and fan speed control app
Grisoft AVG Anti Virus System 6.0 Free Anti-virus scanner
Lavasoft AD-Aware 6.x Free spyware removal tool
7-Zip 7-Zip 3.13 Free archive manager (ZIP, etc.)
ZoneLabs ZoneAlarm 4.5.x Free Personal Internet firewall and application control
Knoppix Linux 3.x Operating System - Boots and runs from CD
RedHat Linux 7.x/9.0 Operating System
FreeBSD BSD 4.x Operating System
SmartFTP SmartFTP 1.0.xx FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client
Ipswitch WS_FTP Limited Edition v5.0x Free FTP (File Transfer Protocol) client

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