The 9GHz Rendiathon

Written by Wil Harris

August 21, 2004 // 1 a.m.

Tags: #aluminium #case-modding #modding #render #renderfarm #rendiathon

After searching around Internet stores, I found that I could purchase fairly decent computer components for very little if they were OEM and imported. At this stage I decided to take the plunge and purchase the items I had selected as they were limited stock, had all the technical trimmings I required and were at a good price. I decided that five computers would do the job, giving me a total of 9 GHz of computing power.

The five computers would be housed in a custom built case and they would all communicate with each other to share the processing load via an integrated network switch. This would also allow the unit to be controlled remotely across a network keeping the cabling to a minimum.

I purchased for just over £400:

5 x Syntax Socket A Via Kt266 DDR/SDR Sound LAN USB Motherboard
5 x AMD Duron 1800 266 FSB CPU
5 x Arctic Cooling Copper Silent Revision 2
5 x Kingston 128 mb 266 MHz DDR Non-ECC CL2.5 DIMM 2100
5 x UV Reactive Case Fan (Red)
1 x 8port 10/100 Switch
5 x 70cm 133 IDE cable
5 x 1m RJ45 Cat5 patch cable.

As soon as these parts arrived I decided that I would be very wise to test the boards in order to check whether they were D.O.A, which I was concerned about due to the price and the no-name manufacturer - coupled with the fact that with 5 of everything, there was 5 times the likelihood of things going horribly wrong.

In order to test the motherboards I needed other such components such as graphics cards, hard disk drives and PSUs. I decided that having spent already a lot of money on the new components of the case that I would try to find the rest of the components needed for as little money as possible - preferably for free. At this point I required:

5 x PSU
5 x Graphics card
5 x Hard Disk Drives

I began as before looking on various auction sites to find bargains, I only managed to find a few hard disk drives and graphics cards. I had more luck with friends who donated various graphics cards and hard drives for nothing (cheers guys!). The most annoying set of components to scrounge were the PSUs, as many people had spares at home they almost always turned out to be the old type - non ATX connectors. However after extensive searching I managed to get hold of three PSUs with the correct connectors. I managed to fill in the rest of the needed graphics cards and hard drives via private sales on forums. At this point I feel I should mention that these components were intended to be functional, not top spec, in fact the majority of the graphics cards are AGP 2X with 4 Mb of RAM. This is due to the fact the software I use for 3D does not utilise the graphics processor to render the images. This is the same with the hard disk drives which ranged from 2 GB to 6 GB.

After several weeks of continual scrounging, I ran out of people to ask for computer components! Despite managing to accumulate a whopping 25 MHz 386, I came to the conclusion that I would have to buy the remaining two PSUs that I required. I managed to pick these up for £4 each with a 300 W rating - a bargain!

Things progressed slowly for the next two months as exams had to be taken and then term time had to finish. I decided to take the project on much more heavily once the summer had begun.

I did, however, manage to test all the components and to my absolute delight they all functioned superbly with absolutely no issues. Great stuff!
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