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The Red Dragon

The Red Dragon January 7, 2004

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The Red Dragon

  • AMD Phenom 9850 2.5GHz Quad-Core
  • GIGABYTE GA-MA790FX-DS5 motherboard
  • AMD 790FX north bridge
  • AMD SB600 south bridge
  • 4GB DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) OCZ Reaper HPC SDRAM
  • 4GB DDR2 1066 (PC2 8500) Kingston HyperX T1 Series
  • Radeon HD 3870 video card
  • WD 37 GB 10,000 RPM SATA
  • SAMSUNG 1TB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s
  • Seagate 3TB 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s
  • Rosewill RCX-Z3 CPU cooler
  • 431 watt Enermax power supply with monitored fan
  • 3x80mm Red LED case fans
  • 2x80mm case fans in hard drive bay
  • Red Chieftec Dragon series aluminum case
  • Samsung 20X DVD-R DVD burner
The Red Dragon

The Blue Dragon inside (2004)

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Present status

The Red Dragon has been serving as an stand-by backup computer since 2011. It uses wake-on-LAN to receive boot signals so that backups can take place but spends most of its time powered-off.


The Red-Dragon has a long history and several complete hardware changes over its life.

The Red-Dragon was born in December of 2003 as my primary console. This duel processor system was running two CPUs before duel-core CPUs were available. This system had run pretty much 24/7 for its birth until 2008 when the Blue Dragon took over primary console operations.

The Red Dragon suffered from a couple problems. The system always runs hot with average CPU temperatures around 140° F (60 °C). Many of the fans listed are no longer in use. Most of the fans have begun to cease up and without regular (monthly) oiling simply stop spinning. During the summer months, a squire cage blower fan had to be used to keep the temperature down. Naturally, with all the heat generated from the system, power consumption is quite high.

In late August of 2009, the Red Dragon suffer a major failure. I believe the power supply failed catastrophically, and this failure destroyed most of the electronics of the machine. The mother board, RAM, hard drives, and power supply were all replaced. Thus the Red Dragon is pretty much a different machine.

Upgrade History


Motherboard/CPU/RAM replacement


Most components are replaced


Removed 500 GB, 750 GB drives and 1 CPU


Added 750 GB


Added 500 GB


Dual monitor setup


Video card upgrade


Upgrade to 1 TB RAID-5


750 GB RAID-5


120 GB drive added


Initial build date

In late July, the Red Dragon finally stepped down as my console after four and a half years of service. The two overflow hard drives—a 750 and 500 GB drive—were moved to the Blue Dragon.

Due to the excessive heat problems of this system, one CPU was removed. Each CPU draws 66 watts and due to failing fans over the years, the system ended up requiring an external blower to remove the heat from the system. With one CPU gone, the Red Dragon was able to maintain a temperature under 160°F without external cooling. Performance did suffered quite noticeably.

The Red Dragon was initially built with 100 GB of RAID-1 storage along with the 37 GB boot drive. Storage capacity has been increased several times to over 1,400 GB.

The video for the Red Dragon was upgraded in March of 2005 and two monitors used there after. In April, a 21" monitor was added was added to the system.

Before retiring as the primary console, the Red Dragon had the following specifications. All the pictures are from the Red Dragon in this configuration.

Initial specifications

Original Background

The idea of building the Red Dragon holds an important position— this system will have to be extraordinary.

I started by selecting a case worthy of housing such a system. Cheiftech Dragon series cases have been my favorite ever since I first discovered them. Both Pluvius and I have built systems with this case. It happens Cheiftech did make an aluminum version of the Dragon series case— in red, and with a window side. It would be the perfect start to the Red Dragon. We ran into some trouble finding someone who actually had the case in stock, but that was eventually resolved. As it turns out, the case would be the same price but also include a generic 400 watt power supply. I didn't want the supply for the Red Dragon, but it would do fine for the single processor Black Dragon. The Enermax power supply from the Black Dragon would move to the Red.

The case would be cooled and light from 4x80mm ThermelTak Red LED fans— 2 rear exhaust, 1 intake in the window and 1 intake in the front. One more 80mm fan would be placed as intake in front of the primary hard drive bay.

The Red Dragon

Close up of Red Dragon (2004)

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Some of the additional parts would be acquired from the Black Dragon as this computer would change from a console to a drive server and auxiliary console system. The Asus video card and SoundBlaster Live would be transferred, as well as the 100 GB RAID array. This would leave the Black Dragon with the 80 GB RAID array, an other 80 GB and 60 GB drive. The idea of taking the 100 GB RAID array was the thought of adding an other 80 GB drive to make a 4 drive 80 GB RAID 0+1 array— a 160 gig stripped and mirrored drive.

One bottle neck of any system is program load speed. In my experiences, this slows down the system more than any other factor. So, for the boot and applications drive, I selected a Western Digital 36 GB, 10,000 RPM, SATA drive. The specs were very impressive, despite it's small storage size. It would make a perfect primary system drive.

Since the motherboard we would be getting did not support serial ATA, we decided on a Promise RAID card, that supported both serial ATA and parallel ATA. The parallel ATA would be used for the 100 GB RAID. This case card could also use the 3.3 volt, 66 MHz 32/64 bit PCI slots on the motherboard. The boost to 66 MHz would increase performance.

The Red Dragon

Close up of Red Dragon (2004)

(Click for larger image)

The motherboard selection was done my Pluvius, who now had some experience with duel CPU systems. He chose a Gigabyte 7DPXDW+ motherboard using the AMD 760MPX chipset— 762 Northbridge / 768 Southbridge. It also had integrated Intel 82550PM 10/100Mbps Ethernet, Promise PDC20276 RAID controller and 2x64-bit/66MHz PCI slots. For CPUs, Pluvius found 2xAtholon MP 2000+, running at 1.666 GHz. We also selected 2x512 MB 266 MHz DDR RAM chips for a total of 1 GB of system memory.

Parts for the system arrived over the next couple of weeks until everything was ready. As usually, we ran into problems. The first motherboard is DOA— not a thing from it. After it was RMAed, the system jumped right to it's feet. The OS installation started to have problems due to the CD being dirty. It installed, but didn't work too well. On the second try, things went a lot better, and the Red Dragon was alive and running.

Community computer

Some months after the Red Dragon stepped down as the primary console it suffered complete motherboard failure. Over the next couple of years the system had a couple different slower motherboards. It served as a community computer used primarily to browse.

2011 Specifications

In September of 2011 the Blue Dragon had a full motherboard upgrade and the old system was moved into the Red Dragon.

No longer a community computer the intended purpose of the Red Dragon was as a rendering computer for 3d modeling. It has never served this purpose. Instead it acts as a standby backup server that powers on via Ethernet for periodic automated backups.

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