As I have mentioned, the computer I have been using for almost as long as I 
have been a Protel user is a bit long of tooth. It's had surgery a few 
times, but the CPU is still a K6-450.

Further, I'm tired of babysitting Windows 98, with its resource limitations 
that prevent me from run much else at the same time as Protel 99SE, and I 
have learned that trying to upgrade W98 to W2000 can be an exercise in 
frustration. I tried it once and Microsoft tech support was unable to help 
me complete the process.

I considered buying a ready-made system, but I decided that I'd go 
piecemeal, for a number of reasons: buying off-the-shelf standard 
components means that everything is easily replaceable; every part of the 
system could be the just-behind-the-cutting-edge price/performance choice, 
and price was definitely important.

I've also wanted to go to two monitors. I could have done this under W98, I 
think, but W98 and Protel seemed to have stability issues when used with 
two monitors. I'm not sure about this.

Anyway, I thought that the record of what I bought, where I bought it, what 
it cost, and my experience putting it together and running it with Protel 
would be of interest to some readers, especially those in the U.S. thinking 
of upgrading, thus this post.

For a CPU, the sweet spot seemed to be an Athlon 1600+. I picked one up at, in a retail box, for $143. From the same place I bought a 
Kingston 512MB PC2100 266MHz CL2.5 ECC DDR DIMM memory, for $138.

The motherboard I picked up at auction on; I got an FIC AD11 Rev 
1.2A Skt A DDR 266 AMD XP READY board for $74. Caught up in the auction 
spirit, I also bought a Dell 21-Inch UltraScan 1600HS Trinitron CRT Monitor 
for $231. That's the only piece of hardware I have not received as I write 
this. It was sent by FedEx ground and should come next week.

Everything else came from my favorite long-time suppliers, Computer Gate 
International ( Cheap, but reliable; they were around 
before on-line shopping. I bought a backup supply once from them that 
failed after two years, they replaced it without charge. So here is the list:

Case/Power Supply, Super ATX4200-GS Medium Tower P4, 300W  $37.95
10/100 Base-T NIC, Realtek chip, PCI, 32 bit, RJ45           5.99
Maxtor 60GB IDE HDD ATA133, 7200 RPM, 9ms                  129.95
LG 16x10x40 CD-RW drive, IDE, bulk pack                     79.95
Logitech Internet PS/2 Keyboard, bulk pack                  15.95
Mitsumi 1.44M Floppy Disk Drive, internal, OEM package       8.95
Case second fan 3pin with thermal control                    5.95
Matrox G450 32MB DDR Dual Head AGP video card               89.95

Because my order was over $250, they tossed in an optical mouse. I also 
bought a few other odds and ends, such as two 100 foot CAT5 350MHz ethernet 
cables for $16.95 each.

I could have had Computer Gate set up and configure the system for me; it 
would have saved me some labor, but if they configure, the stuff is not 
returnable. I'd rather have the flexibility. Besides, I would have had to 
buy the motherboard and CPU from them. An advantage of doing this would 
have been that I'd have been eligible for the discount on the operating 
system. The motherboard and CPU would have been slightly more from Computer 
Gate than what I paid.

But I already had a copy of Windows 2000.

They also wanted about a week to assemble the system, whereas if I bought 
the pieces, they would ship the same day.

When everything arrived in a few days, I put it all together and ran into 
only two problems. The FIC motherboard has a case fan connector, but they 
had used it for a fan on some other on-board heat sink. So I did not 
install the second case fan. (The ATX power supply has its own fan and 
there is an additional large fan in the back of the case, but I will 
eventually rig up something to run the extra fan.) The AMD Athlon CPU came 
with its own special heat sink and fan and there were warnings to be 
careful to install it correctly. But the installation instructions were for 
some prior version and did not match the actual parts. I called AMD and 
made sure that what I had done was right. It was, but I could very easily 
have ended up scraping off the thermal compound thinking it was the 
protective plastic that they had said to remove.... there was no plastic.

I put the W2000 CD in the drive and turned on the power. Windows proceeded 
to ask a few questions and then installed itself without a hitch.

I had a few problems getting the W2000 machine to read drives on the other 
computers in my network, most of which boiled down to telling Zone Alarm 
about the new member of the family.

Protel runs ... fast! It's been almost a week, no problems. None.

Allowing $141.95 for Windows 2000, which is what Computer Gate charges for 
the OEM version (requiring purchase of CPU, motherboard, hard drive), the 
total comes to $871.59 plus $231 for the monitor, or about $1100 plus tax 
and shipping.

I'm planning on using my old 21 inch monitor, which is a tad fuzzy, as the 
second monitor. I'll report again when I've had more time with everything.
Abdulrahman Lomax
Easthampton, Massachusetts USA

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