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I'm currently writing a story where in 2005 a guy built a time machine out of a old Ford Mustang, a Casio ClassPad 300 calculator, some scrap, and a gaming PC, but the problem I'm facing is that I only started to follow the PC hardware market in 2010, and know nothing about older stuff. Hoping someone here could enlighten me.

I have done some groundwork about this PC, but don't know how off I am.

The PC can only run on a single core CPU, due to something about how the machine works, and it makes error when a dual core CPU is used, so I thought about using an Intel Pentium 4, but what about the AMD side, is there something better there?

Other things I have thought about is 1GB of RAM, a 160GB HDD, Antec P180 Case, leaving out GPU and PSU, what was good back then?

Another thing I thought about was using a custom Linux(Debian-based) as the OS, but how would that run on a '05 gaming tower?

The PC's duty is via the Casio calculator, is taking the date and using some highly advanced calculation to reprogram the circuit that drives the part that makes the car going through time, and outputs a speed + RPM the engine has to go before it can go through time.

  • I think this question actually might abide by the rules. It seems very interesting... – Rubyjunk Oct 24 '15 at 21:48
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    This post is being discussed on meta – Andy Oct 24 '15 at 23:58
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    I think this is an excellent question, but it's so specific (and well done) that we're overwhelmed. It just exceeds our site quality standards! :D – Zizouz212 Oct 25 '15 at 0:24
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In 2005, the most powerful single-core CPUs on the market (and the wet dream of every gamer) was AMD FX-55 and later FX-57. For such a machine, 2 GB of RAM would not be unheard of, even in 2005.

If you want something with more bang per buck that an ordinary gamer would be likely to have, an Opteron 144 mentioned in the other post would be a good choice (although it was introduced rather late in 2005). During that time, DFI LanParty motherboards with an nVidia nForce 4 chipset were quite popular for AMD rigs.

As for the GPU, the nVidia GeForce 6600 GT was generally a popular choice during that time. Alternatively, you could go with an ATI Radeon X800 XL which was rougly on par with a GeForce 6800 GT (the "Ultra" version someone mentioned was made mostly for the press and availability was very scarce).

As for the operating system - you definitely would not run any kind of Linux if you wanted to play games on your PC. But if your story is such that the guy re-purposes the PC for other stuff than games, then I guess it's OK. In addition to Debian, Ubuntu existed (from 2004) and some popular distributions were Mandriva (from Red Hat), Fedora and openSUSE.

Hope it helps!

  • Wonderful answer to such a vague question. And, also, welcome to HR SE! – Rubyjunk Oct 25 '15 at 23:36
  • I had to check, but I am correct: openSUSE wasn't actually called that until October 2005, before that it was simply SuSE Linux and SuSE Linux Professional. For me personally, it took quite a while before Ubuntu got to a point where it could be used for day-to-day usage so I would have a PC at that time run either Fedora or SuSE Linux, but that might be my personal bias causing me to misremember. Additionally, I can confirm that at the time, enthusiasts were fairly commonly running a dual boot of Linux and Windows XP, the latter specifically for gaming purposes. – Cronax Oct 27 '15 at 14:55
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In 2005, Intel was running into severe heat problems with the NetBurst-architecture CPUs. A gaming system would likely be AMD-based, running a high-end Venice-series Athlon 64. For homebuilt systems, a popular option was an Opteron 144 overclocked to almost twice the stock speed.

Incompatibility with a dual-core CPU would be quite believable, since the first consumer-level dual-core CPUs only came out in the middle of that year. Most mainboards required a BIOS update to recognize the second core, and Windows only supported the second core if you were running one of the business/server editions.

For a gaming system, 2GB or even 4GB of RAM would be more likely than 1GB.

If you've got an Antec case from that timeframe, you're probably using an Antec power supply of around 400-500 watts.

In the 2004-2005 time frame, a popular choice for a budget gaming card was the GeForce 6 6600GT with one of the best price/performance ratios ever, while an unrestricted-budget system would be running either the 6800 Ultra Extreme or the newly-released GeForce 7 7800 GTX.

If you're building a 2005-vintage PC, there's a reasonable chance you'll need a dedicated 100Mbps network card. Generic-branded $20 cards with a RealTek chipset were nearly ubiquitous at the time.

As for OS, if you're into gaming, you wouldn't have been running Linux unless you were running strictly older games, or the very few games where the developer worked on WINE support. Gaming was almost universally done using Windows XP.

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    > Windows only supported the second core if you were running one of the business/server editions -- not according to this, which says that (1) XP Professional supports 2 processors and (2) "dual-core processors count as a single processor". It is unclear if this was added in a Service Pack (2 was released 2004), but there was a 2006 hotfix to improve performance in dual-core systems. – Bob Oct 25 '15 at 3:23
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    I also find the claim of needing a Fast Ethernet card somewhat dubious - onboard Gigabit Ethernet was becoming common around 2006/2007, and I think onboard Fast Ethernet became common probably around 2000 -- maybe even earlier. For example, the 2002 GA-8IRXP had an Intel PRO100VE network adapter, which supported Fast Ethernet. – Bob Oct 25 '15 at 3:36
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    @Mark You absolutely certain about that? While Idid not have a dual-core system in 2005, all resources I can find suggest that XP would have coped perfectly well with one - both the licensing and technical restrictions look at the sockets. There are forum threads discussing this in 2006 and 2007 (dual-core was not very common in 2005 yet). – Bob Oct 25 '15 at 5:03
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    @Mark tomshardware.com/forum/… -- someone actually called Microsoft back in June 2005 to confirm that, yes, XP Home supports multiple cores on a single CPU. Apparently that might have been false before dual-core processors actually existed, but that's at least confirmation for XP Home allowing it within a month of those CPUs coming to market, at the latest. Here's MS explicitly defining "processor" and "core" (albeit for servers). – Bob Oct 25 '15 at 7:47
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    I also consider the Fast Ethernet card very unusual. I remember that back at the time, I've used Asus K7N8X-E Deluxe, which was a higher class but not top of the line motherboard, and it had both an integrated Fast Ethernet card and an integrated Gigabit Ethernet card. Also at the time, I've had (today a bit unusual) 3 GiB of RAM as well, due to limitation of chipset used. – AndrejaKo Oct 25 '15 at 12:12

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