HRPC WinXP PC (a Sleeper Build)

by Sven T Posted on: 3/20/2023

Build Description

Eons ago, I got a sweet deal on a case that came with a psu. No idea who made it. But I can recall reaching into a wire basket by the checkout line to lift it up and appreciate the good deal. That can only have been Micro Center. Probably the one in Yonkers, NY. The layout of how things are arranged, with nowadays a clearance shelf just before you make that hard right into the cashier line, it matches the memory, except with a wire basket instead of a wire shelf. It wasn't a wire basket full of closeout cases, either, just one case of the kind that was popular 20 years ago (nowadays) and a bunch of open box mice or whatever.

The case is sort of specific to the turn of the millenium because it has a flourish of see-through plastic (how Apple!) and a slot for the floppy drive. Long time builders will recognize it for what it is, or is trying to be. I have no idea how long ago that was, but the psu only had a 20-pin mainboard connector - so almost certainly at least a decade ago that I bought it. Since then, it has moved around with me time and again. I mean, it just looks so of-that-era, and I knew quite well I would want to build a pc again at some point. But I'm actually not that demanding, and so my 2500K served me well for a really long time.

Man, so November 2022 comes, and Micro Center has some sweet bundle deals for a system that is exactly 10 generations newer than what I was running. The bundles now are definitely not bad at all, but the 12600K and motherboard I picked up in the run-up to Black Friday were even better. Has an igpu, 32GB of RAM is double my previous amount, NVME's boot real quick, let me tell you... I am a happy camper!

See, I missed out on the whole shift from spinning platters to SSD's, so I am sooooo happy about the boot-up time. You know that person down the block running an otherwise-fine-for-their-purposes system that they wish wasn't so slow to boot up, and you make their day by throwing a $25 SSD in there? That's me. Made my own day.

Regarding the guts of the thing, I had to pick up another mainboard from MC because this is not an ATX case. I had gathered the cooler and one NVME over time, thanks to the buildapcsales subreddit, and I picked up the needed mATX board, some DDR4 RAM and another NVME from MC, and cobbled together a janky build that has plenty of storage (there's also an old set of spinning platters in there), along with a Tesla P4 to boost the igpu the 12600K comes with. Because I can't resist projects like that. And I don't really game, so something akin to an underpowered 1080 is more than fine if I can say i got it running thanks to some zip ties and the fan from an FM2 CPU cooler.

That fan on the Tesla P4, it spins up real loud for just a second at start up before the motherboard slows it down in accordance with the fan curve, which makes for a really weird effect that i really like. Like, I love it! And i don't care at all that it looks janky as all get-out in there, nobody cared about that back when we were building ourselves Cyrix 6x86 and Pentium II systems, so it fits the motif. I recognize the blue masking tape is a little funny-looking, but it's there to catch the eye if you open the case, since I cut holes into it and cut away most of the drive cage. This was my first time cutting holes into a case with a Dremel and some diamond cutting wheels, like the Youtube videos say to do, and so I have plenty of airflow through the bottom and out the back, In addition to what the front fan is pulling through those period-matching vents in the drive bays. I have two 140mm fans in that tiny case with no real gpu to speak of, and so they can run really slow and still move a ton of air.

It's the outside of the case that counts. That period-specific look, in what is certainly not the most elegant manifestation imaginable, but then dressed up with those stickers from Geekenspiel that obscure the case's lack of refinement (I mean, the see-through plastic is right on top of the regular beige plastic, I mean, come on!). I sincerely apologize to MC for not having MC stickers on there about the Millennium Bug, but I really couldn't find any - not even in pictures online. BB, well, they're kind of known for it at this point. Frankly, MC might not have done that! it's clearly where the smarter, more discerning customers shop.

And I found an appropriate floppy disk online to shove in that floppy drive with a 34-pin floppy extension cable running to a usb adapter card connected to a mainboard header by way of a header to usb jack adapter cable. That wasn't hard, but man, did I do a whole lot of work just to have a functional floppy drive that I'm never going to use. And it's funny, but every time I open Windows file explorer, it gets all audible and clicks away while it looks to see if it has a floppy inserted into it. I guess that's probably normal and just how things used to be. But it makes me happy, so be it. Plus, now I can crack wise that you can say what you want about rasterization and vector-based graphics, but Charts Unlimited, I mean, for charts, to this day, you can't beat it with a stick! And nobody really laughs as hard as me, but that's okay. I for one am much amused.

This has been a truly fun build for me, and I look forward to rummaging about in MC's excellent deals in the future!

Favorite Feature

The fan on the Tesla P4 spinning up, and the blueish hue of the 140mm fan visible through the front grille.

Parts contained in build

Intel Core i5-12600K Alder Lake 3.7GHz Ten-Core LGA 1700 Boxed Processor - Heatsink Not Included
Intel Core i5-12600K Alder Lake 3.7GHz Ten-Core LGA 1700 Boxed Processor - Heatsink Not Included
Qty: 1 $227.98
ASRock Z690M-ITX/ax Intel LGA 1700 Mini-ITX Motherboard
ASRock Z690M-ITX/ax Intel LGA 1700 Mini-ITX Motherboard
Qty: 1 $139.99

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