"The Aluminum Falcon" is a Windows Vista machine built with some of the best parts you could get in early-mid 2008. The name comes from a Robot Chicken sketch called The Emperor's Phone Call. The name fits the aluminum case.
While I was planning and building this computer, I chose parts that 10-year-old me would have absolutely loved. I've always wanted a computer with a WD VelociRaptor, and now I have two in RAID 0! I also love the motherboard's dual Gbit Ethernet and load LEDs. I really enjoyed finally getting to put together the computer I dreamt of as a kid. Actually, people of any age would have dreamed about this build. It would have been a real beast in its day.
Most of the parts in this machine were found at a recycler. The only non-recycled parts are the power supply and hard drives. The total cost of the machine was probably under $150. I was very lucky to find the parts I found in such good condition. In fact, the motherboard was found in a huge cardboard box with a ton of other motherboards. I have several other boards from the same box that were ruined because they were bent under the weight of all the other boards.
The Xeon E5440 is one of two engineering samples I found at the same recycler. These are very early examples of Intel's Harpertown lineup. Their stepping is B1, which was basically a late pre-production prototype that was never commercially available. They're not all that valuable or hard to find, but they're cool.
Initially, I was happy with the CPU being overclocked to 3 GHz. Eventually, I decided to see just how far I could push it. I ran it at 3.4, 3.6, 3.8, and finally 4 GHz. To run it at 4 GHz, I had to crank up the voltage, and even after that, it still crashed after about 10 minutes. In the end, I decided to run it at 3.4 GHz.
So far, I've mostly used this computer to play The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion and Spore. Oblivion does run fairly well, but it struggled with maximum settings at 1080p. A single 9800 GTX+ was just enough for Spore to run at 1080p and max settings.
I added a second 9800 GTX+ and used DifferentSLI (or something similar) to get them working with the non-nForce chipset. The result is a noticeable performance boost, and a massive boost in cool factor. It currently needs two power supplies to power these cards as the PowerSpec only has two PCIe power connectors.
- Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3P
- CPU: Xeon E5440 engineering sample (S-Spec Q3HE) @ 3.40 GHz (OC)
- RAM: 4GB DDR2-1066 (Corsair Dominator, 2x2GB)
- Hard drive: 2x WD VelociRaptor 150GB (WD1500HLFS) in RAID 0
- Operating system: Windows Vista Ultimate
- Graphics card: Dual PNY XLR8 9800 GTX+
- Power supply: 650W PowerSpec (not the best, but it works)
- Case: Lian Li PC-7 Plus (silver)