Computer Collection



Over the years, I have ended up with way more computers than any sane individual should have. This is my page to show you my system specs, screenshots, and thoughts as I've ventured up and down the timeline of computing history.
I will try to keep this up to date, but since I'm always messing with my machines this page may deviate from reality now and then. If you see a contradiction of some sort, such as two machines sharing an identical part, that may be why. (Or I have two of that part-- you never know with me...)
Note that this is a perpetual work in progress. A lot is going to be missing for some time, because this takes ages to write up.

Production Systems
Generic: Socket AM4 [Main Workstation]
Generic: Socket AM3+ [Secondary Workstation]

Generic: LGA 1151 [NAS]
Generic: LGA 1156 #1 [VM host]
Intel 7th Generation NUC [Media Center]
HP Pavilion m8430f [MAME Cabinet]

Dell XPS 13 (9350)
Dell XPS 15 (9560)
Lenovo Thinkpad T530
PC Compatibles
Generic: 386DX
Generic: Dual Slot 1
Generic: LGA 1156 #2
Generic: LGA 1156 #3
Generic: LGA 775
Generic: LGA 775 #2
Generic: Slot 1
Generic: Socket 3 (VLB)
Generic: Socket 3 (PCI)
Generic: Socket A
Generic: Super Socket 7

Compaq Presario 3550
DEC DECpc 466d2 MT
Gateway G6-450
Gateway P5-133
HP Pavilion a1130n
Leading Edge Model D

Compaq LTE 5280
DEC HiNote Ultra CT475
Dell Inspiron 1100
Dell Inspiron 8200
IBM Thinkpad T41
Lenovo Thinkpad T61
Microsoft Surface Pro 2
Panasonic CF-41
Panasonic CF-M31
Toshiba Portege R100
Toshiba Satellite Pro T2150CDS
Apple
Apple IIe
Apple IIgs
eMac
iMac G5 (ALS)
Macintosh Classic II
Macintosh IIci
Macintosh Performa 600
Macintosh Quadra 800
Mac Pro (Mid 2006)
Power Macintosh 6100/60av
Power Macintosh 7500/100
Power Macintosh 9600/350
Power Macintosh G4 (Sawtooth)
Power Macintosh G4 (MDD FW800)
Power Macintosh G5 (Mid 2004)

MacBook Pro 15" (Early 2011)
PowerBook 520
PowerBook G3 "Pismo"
PowerBook G4 (Titanium)
Atari
1040STE
520ST
800XL

Commodore
Amiga 500
Amiga 1200
Amiga 2000
Commodore 64
Commodore 128

Hewlett-Packard
9000 C110

Motorola
StarMax 4000/160 DT

Radio Shack
TRS-80 Model MC-10

Raspberry Pi
400

Sharp
X68000 XVI

Silicon Graphics
Indigo2 IMPACT
Indy
O2
Octane
Octane "1.5"
Octane2

Sony
HB-F1XDJ

Sun Microsystems
SPARCstation 10
SPARCstation IPX
Ultra 60

Texas Instruments
TI-99/4A
Handhelds / PDAs
Handspring Visor Prism
HP iPAQ h1945
HP iPAQ hx2495b
Palm IIIx
Palm m105
Palm VIIx

Systems Formerly in the Collection
Apple IIc
Apple PowerBook 150
Compaq Armada 1750
Compaq Presario 2100
Dell Dimension 8250
Lenovo ThinkStation M57
Sony VAIO PCG-F480
Sun Ultra 5


Production Systems

Generic: Socket AM4
Main Workstation
Motherboard:
Gigabyte X570 Aorus Pro WiFi

CPU:
AMD Ryzen 3700X @ 3.6 GHz

Memory:
32GB DDR4-3200

GPU:
Nvidia Geforce RTX 2070 Super, 8GB (Asus)

Storage:
Corsair Force MP600 1TB NVMe SSD
Intel 660p 2TB NVMe SSD

Case:
Corsair Air 540

Other:
Rosewill 5.25" bay card reader with a bunch of extra USB ports

Operating System:
Windows 10 Pro

Added to Collection:
2019
This is my main workstation. It has certainly been a long time since the last upgrade! I originally intended to go with the 3900X but ongoing supply issues made me compromise and grab a 3700X. Still blows my old workstation out of the water, as the FX series had a lot of flaws. I'm also very happy ditching hard drives completely this time around and going all in on NVMe! Maybe I should have waited for second generation PCIe 4.0 drives though, the MP600 isn't really a noticable improvement over any other NVMe drive.

January 2020


Generic: Socket AM3+
Secondary/Workbench Workstation
Motherboard:
Asus M5A97 R2.0

CPU:
AMD FX-8350 @ 4.0 GHz

Memory:
16GB DDR3-1333

GPU:
AMD RX 580, 8GB (XFX)

Sound Card:
Asus Xonar DGX

Storage:
Toshiba 128GB SATA SSD
Western Digital Black 1TB SATA HDD
Lite-On Blu-Ray Reader
3.5" Floppy Drive (via USB floppy controller)

Case:
Antec Three Hundred

Other:
Rocketfish 3.5" bay card reader

Operating System:
Windows 10 Pro

Previous Operating Systems:
Windows 8.1 Pro
Windows 7 Home Premium

Added to Collection:
2013/2010 (see comments)
This is my previous workstation, now my workbench computer. During its 9 years as my main system, it had a chaotic history. It started out as my very first "from-scratch" computer build, an Intel LGA 1366 system with a Core i7-930, but over three years the overall stability kept decaying until it was basically unusable. I wasn't really sure at the time what was causing the issue and didn't have the resources to sink into buying replacement parts until I found the faulty one, so I just threw in the towel and moved to the FX-8350 as it gave similar performance and didn't cost too much. The much more mature SATA 6Gbps and USB3 implementations were welcomed too. In retrospect, it turned out the motherboard (Asus P6X58D-E) was faulty, and I've still never replaced it because X58 boards have stayed weirdly expensive. I'm pretty sure that even at the time, buying an AM3+ motherboard and CPU was cheaper than another X58 board.

This system went through a lot of upgrades and changes over the years. It started with 6GB of RAM when it was on LGA 1366, then became 8GB on AM3 and eventually was upgraded to 16GB. The SSD was also a late addition- better late than never. There was even a Lite-On DVD-R Burner that supported Lightscribe, which after Lightscribe went the way of the dodo I switched out for a Blu-Ray reader so I could rip my movies. I even threw in a floppy drive when it became a workbench machine-- while the M5A97 doesn't have any floppy support, a cheap USB floppy controller hooked up to one of the USB port headers does a great job.

This system also had multiple GPU upgrades because I kept getting lucky and finding slightly used models cheaply. It started with a XFX Radeon 5870 1GB, and moved to a Sapphire Radeon 7950 3GB before ending with the RX 580.


December 2010

June 2013

March 2019


Generic: LGA 1151
Network Attached Storage Server
Motherboard:
MSI C236M Workstation

CPU:
Intel Core i3-6100 @ 3.7 GHz

Memory:
16GB ECC DDR4-2133

GPU:
Intel HD Graphics 530

Storage:
Western Digital Red 6TB SATA HDD (x2)
Seagate Ironwolf 6TB SATA HDD (x2)
All drives in a single RAID 10 configuration

Case:
Corsair 100R

Operating System:
FreeNAS

Added to Collection:
2017
I'm very serious about my data-- I have decades of it built up at this point, both personal items and a ton of media (and all my software for my retro hardware!). However, I never really had a lot of space or resiliency-- it was spread across random flash drives and tons of crappy "Green" drives in USB enclosures hanging off my main workstation, and every couple years I'd have some kind of panic moment where a drive would start making death gurgles and I needed to shift data around. I decided enough was enough and built a serious system for serious storage. Having 12TB of network-accessible storage has revolutionized how I work. Everything I need is accessible from any machine, either via SMB for newer machines or FTP for everything else. FreeNAS made it easy for me to get things going quickly and I know I can trust the ZFS filesystem underlying everything.

Yes, I am aware of the fact that "RAID is not a backup". But at least it gives me a fighting chance when something does go wrong here. I have so far been able to catch two drives that were starting to fail before any data loss occurred. (Surprisingly both Western Digitals -- I usually never have trouble with those!) But one day I will throw money at making a second one of these for self-managed offsite backups ;)


Generic: LGA 1156 #1
Virtual Machine Host
Motherboard:
Supermicro X8SIE

CPU:
Intel Xeon X3470 @ 2.93 GHz

Memory:
32GB ECC DDR3-1066

GPU:
Intel HD Graphics

Storage:
Crucial MX500 500GB SATA SSD
Seagate Barracuda 2TB SATA HDD

Case:
Thermaltake Commander MS-I Epic Edition

Operating System:
VMware ESXi 6.5

Added to Collection:
2017
This is a catch-all machine for a number of small servers I run for my infrastructure-- monitoring, internal web services, a Services for Macintosh setup for retro Macs, and even temporary game servers. I got the motherboard untested with a box of other boards and found that it "didn't work" because a Core i5 was in the socket, which doesn't even support ECC so it wasn't going to work on the board. I put in a Xeon and some more RAM, used a random ugly Thermaltake case I had that was missing too many parts to be presentable, and it became my new VM host tucked away in the basement. I used to host VMs on an actual rackmount server (old dual-CPU PowerEdge 2970), and not only did it raise the ambient temperature to unbearable levels and was loud as hell, it also cost me almost $40/month extra in electricity alone!! The first generation Core architecture is ancient but this thing is rather quiet and still has a lot of power for my needs. People may disagree with using VMware for the home, but it's what I'm used to from both school and work so I might as well follow the industry standard. It's overkill, but I have been happy with it.


Intel 7th Generation NUC
Media Center
Model:
NUC7i3BNH

CPU:
Intel Core i3-7100U @ 2.4 GHz

Memory:
16GB DDR4-2133

GPU:
Intel HD Graphics 620

Storage:
Samsung PM951 256GB M.2 NVMe SSD

Operating System:
Windows 10 Home

Added to Collection:
2017
This tiny little machine sits under the TV in the living room and provides access to all sorts of media-- a cord-cutter's delight. I prefer this kind of approach to using an actual "smart TV" as I have more control over the experience and can be assured that the interface won't be plastered with ads or stop working when the manufacturer arbitrarily decides to drop support. It has just enough power to drive video playback at 4K60. I kind of wish I'd gone for an i5 model just for a bit more breathing room, but it still does a great job and only uses 15W at maximum power draw so I can leave it on all the time for instant access.
Something notable I found is that these machines (or at least the graphics) are heavily reliant on dual-channel memory. I originally had a single 16GB DDR4 DIMM installed, but had horrific performance with GUI and video performance when I upgraded to a 4K TV. I couldn't play any videos properly, even low resolution ones, without insane amounts of stutter. I found that the GPU load was constantly at 100% despite having the appropriate hardware video decoding. However I found that swapping to 2x8GB, thus enabling dual-channel suppport, dropped GPU load to merely 15-20%. So lesson learned: Just cause you can find a single 16GB stick for cheaper than 2x8GB, don't do it!


August 2020


HP Pavilion m8430f
MAME Cabinet
Motherboard:
Asus IPIBL-LB

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 @ 2.4 GHz

Memory:
4GB DDR2-800

GPU:
Nvidia GeForce 8500 GT, 512MB (original)
ATI Radeon 4670, 512MB (current)

Storage:
Sandisk 128GB SATA SSD

Other:
Asus NTSC/ATSC/FM Tuner w/ front panel inputs
(Currently removed while in MAME cabinet)

Operating System:
Windows 8.1

Previous Operating System:
Windows Vista Home Premium

Added to Collection:
2013
I built a MAME cabinet in 2014, and this old OEM box is still serving as the internals for it. Running a slightly old version of MAME, it runs well enough for the ~500 games I have on it. I put in a Radeon 4670 I got for $20 for just enough GPU power to get a nice CRT shader going.

The cabinet itself is not up to the meticulous levels of accuracy many people go for, but it was affordable to build and was specifically designed around the parts I had. It fits a 1280x1024 Dell 1907FPT monitor and an X-Arcade joystick panel. The back of the cabinet flips open to reveal the computer and all the wiring. The system auto boots into Windows and runs the Attract-Mode frontend. It's actually pretty elegant overall and has been popular with guests!

This HP box actually seemed like a pretty decent media-focused system in its original state-- card reader built into the case, TV tuner with ATSC support, and enough performance to make the maligned Windows Vista happy. The tuner still has its uses such as VHS conversion, but indeed it only has Vista drivers. I plan to eventually do additional upgrades to the cabinet, getting something with a lot more CPU power and swapping some of the controls for better parts. Once the upgrades are done, this computer will be reverted to its original configuration.


Dell XPS 13 (9350)
CPU:
Intel Core i5-6200U @ 2.8 GHz

Memory:
8GB DDR4-1866

Screen:
13" IPS, 1920x1080 GPU:
Intel HD Graphics 520

Storage:
Cruical MX300 525GB M.2 SATA SSD

Operating System:
Kubuntu Linux 20.04

Previous Operating Systems:
Antergos Linux
KDE Neon

Added to Collection:
2018
This is actually kind of a frankenstein laptop which was originally an XPS 13 9343. My brother used it for school for a while and it just died one day. I couldn't figure it out, so he got a different laptop and I got the parts. I bought a very cheap 9350 model on eBay which had a broken screen and reportedly a defective battery. It was as easy as just doing a motherboard swap (albeit with some minor cutting for the USB-C port to be accessible)... but I got it all together and... it didn't charge! It turns out that something is up with the new board too, and it will only charge via USB-C Power Delivery, so I just bought a third party one for the MacBook 12" and it works perfectly. This laptop mostly gets carried around the basement because it's so light, and I use it for terminals and research while I'm working on things.


May 2018


Dell XPS 15 (9560)
CPU:
Intel Core i7-7700HQ @ 2.8 GHz

Memory:
16GB DDR4-2133

Screen:
15" IPS, 1920x1080

GPU:
Intel HD Graphics 630
Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050

Storage:
Lite-On 512GB M.2 NVMe SSD

Operating System:
Windows 10 Pro

Added to Collection:
2017
I really needed a new laptop after using my MacBook Pro for so long, but I'd figured out years ago that MacOS just wasn't what I wanted. I was ready to go back to having Windows on the go-- so I picked up the XPS 15. It is powerful enough to do everything I want when I'm travelling, even moderate gaming. I'm hoping to use it for years to come. It does have some serious heat issues though, and is notorious for throttling. I need to do a bit of work to mitigate this, but haven't gotten around to it apart from trying to band-aid the issue with some undervolting.


Lenovo Thinkpad T530
CPU:
Intel Core i7-3720QM @ 2.6 GHz

Memory:
8GB DDR3-1333

Screen:
15.6" TFT, 1600x900

GPU:
Intel HD Graphics 4000

Storage:
Intel 330 240GB SATA SSD
Western Digital Blue 1TB SATA HDD (in UltraBay adapter)

Operating System:
Windows 10 Pro

Previous Operating System:
Arch Linux

Added to Collection:
2019
When I went to Vintage Computer Festival Midwest, I saw a big table of Thinkpads for sale from a recycler. I really like Thinkpads, so for only $35, there was absolutely no way I could turn down a T530!! Honestly, it's not that old of a system either- Ivy Bridge is still a platform with enough performance for most tasks and it does have USB3. I put in some spare parts, and now it's serving as a capable utility laptop. It is just delightful hardware and despite it not having the old "classic" keyboard I still find it pleasant to type on. It came with the i5-3320M and I replaced the CPU with the 3720QM for a little more breathing room. I could probably stand to swap to the heatsink from the dGPU version of the laptop though, as the fan kicks on a lot now.


January 2020




PC Compatibles

Generic: LGA 1156 #2 Motherboard:
Intel DH55TC

CPU:
Intel Core i7-870 @ 2.93 GHz

Memory:
8GB DDR3-1066

GPU:
Nvidia GeForce GTX 660, 2GB (EVGA)

Storage:
Silicon Power 64GB SATA SSD
DVD-RW

Case:
Cooler Master N200

Other:
Inateck KT4006 USB 3.0 Card

Operating System:
Kubuntu Linux 20.04

Added to Collection:
2015
This old fella was assembled from spare parts (though I had to buy a case) and is basically just another media system for the TV in the basement. I usually just run music off it while I am working. While it might not be much by today's standards, it still is good enough for that task and is a great opportunity to have a Linux system doing something productive in my home.


Generic: LGA 775 Motherboard:
Gigabye GA-EP45-UD3R

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 @ 3.16GHz

Memory:
8 GB DDR2-800

GPU:
Nvidia GeForce 9600GT, 512MB

Storage:
250GB SATA HDD
DVD-RW

Case:
Cooler Master Centurion 5

Operating System:
None

Added to Collection:
2016
Currently dormant... more details later when I set it back up.


Generic: LGA 775 #2 Motherboard:
Gigabyte GA-965P-S3

CPU:
Intel Pentium D 945 @ 3.4 GHz

Memory:
4 GB DDR2-800

GPU:
ATI Radeon X1900XT, 512MB

Sound Card:
Sound Blaster X-Fi XtremeMusic

Storage:
500GB SATA HDD
DVD-RW

Case:
Apevia X-Dreamer3-BK

Other:
Generic PCI TV Tuner

Operating System:
Windows XP Pro

Added to Collection:
2020
This system won't win any performance awards, but it is an interesting 2006-era build based on the idea of "end of an era": It uses the Pentium D, Intel's last evolution of NetBurst before their "real" dual cores via the Core series came out, and uses ATI's last GPU line before moving to DirectX 10 and a unified shader architecture. This places it right in the final days of Windows XP being the newest Windows, with Vista and all its new technologies (for better or for worse) looming on the horizon.

The X1900XT is a Mac card actually, but it didn't seem to boot up in my 2006 Mac Pro despite that being the appropriate machine for it, so I just flashed it over to a PC card and it works fine. It's a pretty cool looking card too!


Generic: Socket A

Motherboard:
Asus A7V8X-X

CPU:
AMD Athlon XP 3000+ "Barton" @ 2.167 GHz

Memory:
2GB DDR-333

GPU:
ATI Radeon 9700TX, 128MB

Sound Card:
SoundMAX Integrated

Storage:
Silicon Power 64GB SATA SSD
Western Digital Blue 1TB SATA HDD
DVD+RW
DVD-ROM
Iomega Zip-250 Drive
5.25" Floppy Drive
3.5" Floppy Drive

Case:
Antec SX1030B

Other:
Promise SATAII150-TX4 PCI SATA Controller

Operating System:
Windows XP Pro

Added to Collection:
2020

When life hands you an iconic case with a big Athlon XP badge on it, you have no choice but to go along with it and fill it with an Athlon XP build! The Antec 1030 is basically just Antec's rebadge of the well-known Chieftec Dragon, and they're still cool and easily serviced today. To me, they symbolize high-end builds from the early 2000s, around when I really got into IT. AMD builds do as well -- most of the OEM builds I knew of back then were Intel, with AMD being the reasonable hobbyist's choice.

The system itself is a rebuild of a previous Athlon XP system I made, which was used for utliity purposes, but getting the Antec case made me want to build it into something more substantial. It had a slower CPU, the cheapest case I could find and the crappiest GPU I could throw in, and was just used for writing floppies. The A7V8X-X is a pretty late board to have good support for multiple floppy drives, including 5.25" drives, so it is useful alongside the OmniFlop software to write exotic disk formats. It still is used for this, but also for gaming now, aiming at the 2003-2004 range.

For that time frame, there's no question that using the ATI R300 line of GPUs is the way to go. The Radeon 9700TX is a slightly slower Dell OEM version of the Radeon 9700, clocked at 263/263 instead of the stock 275/270. Luckily, they basically always run fine at normal 9700 speeds and most can go beyond that on the GPU clock (memory clock does not scale). Mine is running at 325/280 without issues. One thing to note is that the original 9700s have some issues with the VIA KT400 chipset used on this board, often resulting in instability or complete inability to boot at AGP 8X speeds. I had to force the card to run at AGP 4X speeds via SmartGART in order to not BSOD at startup. However, with that done, everything works great. Eventually, though, I plan to get a later 9800 card (Pro or XT) as these incorporate a hardware fix for the issue... and will provide a speed boost too.



Gateway G6-450

Motherboard:
Gateway Tabor 3 (Intel SE440BX Variant)

CPU:
Intel Celeron "Coppermine-128" @ 1.1GHz
via generic "370 PGA/FC-PGA Card" Slotket

Memory:
320MB PC100 SDRAM

GPU:
ATI Radeon 7500, 64MB

Sound Cards:
Ensoniq AudioPCI ES1371 (Integrated)
Sound Blaster 16 (CT2230)

Storage:
80GB Seagate IDE HDD
80GB Maxtor IDE HDD
Memorex 52MAXX CD-RW
Matsushita DVD-ROM
3.5" Floppy Drive
Apacer 3.5" Multi Card Reader w/ USB Port

Other:
Netgear FA311 Fast Ethernet PCI Card
StarTech PCIUSB7 USB 2.0 PCI Card

Operating System:
Windows 98 SE

Added to Collection:
1999

This system will always be very close to my heart. I'm pretty sure without it, I wouldn't be where I am today. It became a part of my life when I was just a kid and was with me as I dug into PC gaming and discovered the Internet for the first time. Later on, once it was outdated, it became the first PC I personally owned. I ended up adding all kinds of upgrades to it -- I added a 40GB hard drive alongside the stock 13.6GB drive, added a CD-RW burner, and replaced the original STB Velocity graphics card (not sure what chipset it was, possibly a Riva TNT) with a rather overkill but cheap Radeon 7500.

In more recent years, I've continued to jam it full of as much hardware as I can. I swapped out the hard drives for dual 80GB drives, added Ethernet (finally!), an SB16 for DOS compatibility, USB 2.0 and even a front panel card reader. I even upgraded the CPU a few times. Originally it had a Pentium II 450 "Deschutes", but I got a free Pentium III 550 "Katmai" for a minor speed boost. Then, I had a Pentium III 650 "Coppermine" in it for a while. More recently I brought it to what is almost the fastest CPU it can take (without getting too deep into hacking a PIII Tualatin Celeron to work...)-- I found a generic, unbranded "Slotket" adapter and put in a 1.1GHz Coppermine-128 Celeron. 1.1GHz is the fastest clock speed you can get on a Coppermine Pentium III with a 100MHz FSB. Admittedly, it's just the Celeron version so it won't be as fast as the full PIII, but the clock speed increase over the previous PIII-650 is worth it. (The full PIII-1.1 is too damn rare anyway.)

I should also note that the USB configuration on this is a little weird. I added the USB card reader to get a front USB port, but I found that having the card reader plugged in at boot causes it to fail to be detected. The front USB port worked fine. Luckily the USB port itself is a separate header so I have that plugged into the USB PCI card internally, but had to convert the header for the card reader to a standard USB plug and run it out the back of the case where it can be plugged in on-demand. Not exactly sure why that happpens, but this Apacer card reader doesn't exactly seem to be well built so I'll just blame it on that. However, it's the only beige card reader I own!

Anyway, I absolutely love this machine, probably for no real reason but personal attachment to it -- but it does do a great job at being a system reflecting the turn of the millenium and the rapid pace of technology at the time. I never plan to part with it.


March 2005

May 2005

March 2010

December 2020




Apple



Atari



Commodore



Hewlett-Packard



Motorola



Radio Shack



Raspberry Pi



Sharp



Silicon Graphics



Sony



Sun Microsystems



Texas Instruments



Handhelds / PDAs



Systems Formerly in the Collection

Compaq Presario 2100
CPU:
AMD Athlon XP-M @ 1.8? GHz

Memory:
128 MB DDR

Screen:
14.1" TFT, 1024x768

GPU:
ATI Mobility Radeon

Storage:
No HDD
Optical Drive (probably DVD)

Operating System:
None

Added to Collection:
2009

Left Collection:
2012?
This laptop was an early failure of mine. I got it for free but it was missing a hard drive... and the entire hard drive sled with the proprietary adapter attached to it. Damn it. I could not find one affordably at the time-- probably cause I was too young and dumb at the time to figure out a good search term to turn one up. So, it never really got used and eventually was tossed out as far as I remember. I also recall it being really picky about RAM as I tried to stick 512MB in it to run a LiveCD or something, and it wouldn't boot at all. Looking back, I probably could have figured this one out if I'd put more time into it-- what a shame.


Dell Dimension 8250
Motherboard:
Dell proprietary, Intel 850E based

CPU:
Intel Pentium 4 HT "Northwood" @ 3.06 GHz

Memory:
512MB PC1066 RDRAM

GPU:
ATI Radeon 9700 Pro, 128MB

Sound Card:
Sound Blaster Live! Dell OEM

Storage:
Western Digital 200GB IDE HDD
DVD+RW
CD-RW
3.5" Floppy Drive

Operating System:
Mac OS X 10.4

Previous Operating System:
Windows XP Home

Added to Collection:
2003

Left Collection:
2017
I was just entering adolescence when this computer showed up in my house. It was a massive upgrade from the old Pentium II and had that newfangled Windows XP! I spent many hours on it in those formative years, surfing the web with the new DSL connection, playing Star Wars Battlefront, and messing around with different emulators that the old PII couldn't handle. However, time was not kind to this machine. The Dells of this era were, frankly, complete garbage. The plastic creaked and groaned with the slightest touch, the power supply was woefully underpowered and had to be replaced under warranty, and the decision to use RDRAM killed any chance of upgrading it affordably ($200 for an extra 512MB... in 2009, six years later!?!?). It started to struggle under the weight of later XP service packs and a huge amount of bloatware which I was powerless to remove at the time since it was a shared family computer. I eventually drifted away from it towards my Athlon 64 system once I was allowed internet in my room, and it ended up in the original Basement Lab(tm) in 2009. At that point, I was messing around with Hackintoshing and turned it into a respectable OS X 10.4 system (10.5 didn't support the Radeon 9700 on Intel). That was fun! (Note that the weird "Dell OEM" Sound Blaster Live, which is a kneecapped version of the card that doesn't work with normal SBLive drivers, never worked in OS X, but a $5 USB audio adapter did the trick)

Over the years though, the thing really started to fall to bits. The fans stopped working, the front USB ports died, and the optical drives seized up. And I STILL couldn't stand that creaky plastic. I ended up scavenging the useful parts and took the rest down to electronics recycling. The CPU ended up in my newer P4 build and the Radeon got flashed to a PowerPC ROM and went into my G4 MDD and later my G5. Anyone need some RDRAM?


May 2005

August 2006

April 2009


Sony VAIO PCG-F480 CPU:
Intel Mobile Pentium III "Coppermine" @ 600 MHz

Memory:
192MB SDRAM

Screen:
15" TFT, 1024x768

GPU:
NeoMagic MagicMedia 256AV, 2.5MB

Sound Chipset:
Yamaha DS-XG

Storage:
12 GB IDE HDD (removed)
4X DVD-ROM
3.5" Floppy Drive

Operating System:
Windows 2000 Professional

Added to Collection:
2017?

Left Collection:
2019
I got this for free some time back. Never got around to testing it until now, but it turns out the keyboard barely works. Most keys don't do anything-- a few work, but not enough to be usable. It wasn't an easy case of a poorly connected keyboard and I couldn't see an obvious way to get a look at the actual keyboard matrix without damaging it. Given its poor cosmetic shape I didn't want to bother putting money into finding a replacement keyboard. It's not actually gone, though-- I'm merely using it as a stand to boost a Commodore 1084S monitor up a bit. :)


Sun Ultra 5 CPU:
UltraSPARC-IIi @ 360 MHz

Memory:
256MB

GPU:
Sun PGX64 PCI

Storage:
40 GB IDE HDD
CD-ROM
3.5" Floppy Drive

Operating System:
Solaris 8

Previous Operating Systems:
Debian Linux 6.0 "Squeeze"
OpenBSD 6.0
Solaris 7

Added to Collection:
2016

Left Collection:
2019
After starting to get into SPARC machines for a bit, I grabbed an Ultra 5 very cheaply to play around with. Easy to find, standard PC components, cute design, what's not to like?

Well, it didn't exactly turn out as I expected, and was overall a disappointment. The Ultra 5 uses IDE unlike most other Unix workstations of the time, and the disk performance suffers as a result. The implementation is really poor, and CPU-intensive. It was buckling under the weight of contemporary operating systems for like Solaris 7 or 8. I tried upgrading the CPU from 270mhz to 360mhz, doubling the RAM, and adding a PCI PGX64 framebuffer instead of the onboard chipset. I later tried a ton of different Linux and BSD variants and they all had varying issues with hardware compatibility-- usually the PGX64 would not work properly (if it all) leaving only the onboard 8-bit video. That was surprising for me, considering it was a standard Sun part with a well known ATI Rage based chipset.

The closest I got to anything working well was Debian 6.0 (see the screenshot) but honestly I felt "why bother with a SPARC machine when you're just running old Linux just like you could on a PC?". So I sold it. No use wasting time on it if I'm not enjoying it.


February 2017