Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Unboxing the tower

A mystery computer complete with big screen and wireless keyboard? All for only $30? Gumtree you impress me once again. Now to find out what's in this thing...

While I'm barely pass the planning stages for my next MAME arcade cabinet build (one big drawback at the moment is living in a rental and really not having the space to commandeer half the garage for the build) I am always on the lookout for bits that I can hoard away for when the time is right.

So when this computer, screen and keyboard popped up for a low $30, I jumped at the chance. Mainly for the screen though - being 22 inches is the perfect size and similar to the BenQ one I used in my last build. Which meant the rest of my bargain was icing on the cake. Possibly old and crusty icing sure, but a bonus.

Of course before I agreed to buy it I did ask for the specs and the owner was wonderfully vague:

"It has Windows XP on it but I lost the password so you'll have to install a fresh operating system on it.."

And that's pretty much all I had to go on. But hey, correct sized monitor and some possible bonus bits I could use, why the hell not? So consider this an official unveiling, minus the crowds, guest speaker, cocktails and mini bits of exotic sausage on a toothpick and let's get into it:

Show me what you're working with

Firstly in the spirit of free love, someone has obviously loved this computer and proudly displayed their affection for it with a couple of stickers. Someone really loves this Gigabyte case.

 Secondly the back doesn't really scream 'up to date in the last ten years' at all. No DVI or HDMI and nothing to suggest an additional graphics card. Just a bit of rust, dust and a random audio cord sticking out of it.

But inside we find..
...a stupidly clean P4 Titan 667! No masses of dust, no mouse poo, a few bulging capacitors but all in all a nice clean board!

Yep, back when boards were boards and computers were slower than a tax refund, the Pentium 4 was once king. This board came with a 2.8ghz Pentium 4 which would play something like Neverwinter Nights okay but wouldn't gel so well with the games of today. It also had 1 gb of DDR ram with it too which is a pretty nice museum piece nowadays.
The 40gb IDE hard drive was a nice thought but fairly useless to me now as was the original floppy disk drive and the cd rom. I've tested the board with the monitor and nothing's showing up on screen - maybe the ancient on board GPU has croaked it? Also since the board was from the time before SATA I can't really find a use for it but there were a few things that I am more than happy to put to good use:

The old Gigabyte case: Old School and solid, it'll be a far better choice for my Mame machine than the skeleton remains of my old case. Less chance of getting sawdust where sawdust isn't supposed to go too when I finally get round to building the thing.

The dvd rewriter: Incredibly the previous retro case I bought came with a CD writer that could only read DVDs and not write them. So I've swapped them out for this very handy unit.

The screen: Currently being used to replace my old 19 inch LG screen that I've had for years. It's a pretty big upgrade and even though it's not the best of the best of this size, it'll make the arcade games look just fine.

(Possibly) The wireless keyboard: Tested and working, I don't actually need wireless capabilities for anything I can think of at the moment...but it's hilarious to play with so it's staying for now.

Everything else - going up on Gumtree and eBay to fund whatever impulse purchase I decide to make next. I can't wait to see what I find next week...

Edit: What was on the 40 gig hard drive?: Not much but still managed to find the previous owners resume and some pretty angsty poetry. Remember kids, if you're not ready to see your work make sure you take your hard drive out of any computer you're selling or even better pull it to pieces. Sure I'm going to wipe it anyway but it pays to be safe :)


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