Scythe's e-Otonashi fanless EPIA-M cooling case

Cases|Damping | Cooling
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Attaching the Heatpipe to the Motherboard

A VIA EPIA M10000 was chosen to go into the e-Otonashi case. It is the hottest of VIA's CPUs, and one specifically approved for compatibility in this case. The CPU cooler was removed by popping out the two spring-loaded pins and pulling gently to loosen off the HSF from the hardened thermal goop.

The CPU and the heatsink base were cleaned off as much as possible with an old credit card, pure alcohol, tissue paper and cotton swabs. You'll see that some discoloration remains on the outer surface of the CPU die above, but it cannot be felt with the fingers. Although some thermal interface material was provided, Arctic Silver Ceramique was substituted instead.

The next step, of attaching the looped part of the heatpipe to the CPU, and then reattaching the original CPU cooler on top of the heatpipe, was too fiddly and convoluted to capture in photos. It is a rather delicate operation requiring a lot of manual dexterity best done with three hands, but I managed with two without dropping or breaking anything. Arctic Silver Ceramique was used on both mating surfaces. The two screws that hold the entire assembly together seem a bit too small and fine to me, but I guess they are sturdy enough for the low weight and relatively low pressure they are subjected to. If the heatpipe had been 1~2 mm narrower, larger, easier-to-handle screws could have been used.

The end result is that the short looped portion of the heatpipe is pressed tightly between the CPU below, and the original CPU cooler above. The long part of the heatpipe goes underneath the board and extends out about a centimeter past the opposite edge of the board.

One question was whether it is possible that the heatpipe below could make contact with the circuit board traces and short anything out. The answer is a firm no. There are 3 reasons:

1) The motherboard is mounted on risers that place the bottom of the board several millimeters above the bottom of the case.

2) The heatpipe is clamped to the case bottom heatsink so that it is pulled away from the underside of the board.

3) There are two spring-loaded plastic pins (for the big chipset heatsink in the middle of the board) along the path of the heatpipe under side. The ends of these plastic pins stick out far enough that they prevent any contact between circuit traces and the heatpipe. (See photo below; the yellow arrows point to the pins.)

Installing the Heatpipe-equipped Motherboard

There was no mention in the instruction sheets about putting TIM between the heatpipe and the big heatsink, but I thought it would probably improve the thermal transfer function, so I applied ordinary silicone goop. It seemed too large an area to apply the expensive Arctic Silver stuff.

The motherboard was installed with four screws to the tapped risers on the bottom of the case, and the heatpipe clamped to the big bottom heatsink. Finally, the ATX cable from the PSU was connected to the motherboard.

Installing the 2.5" Notebook Hard Drive

A Seagate Momentus 40GB, 5400 RPM notebook hard drive with 8 MB cache (ST94811A ) kindly loaned by SPCR sponsor Frontier PC in Vancouver was used for this system. A notebook optical drive was not installed; instead I used a USB external optical drive for software installation.

Although a data cable was provided for connecting up a slim optical drive, no data cable for the HDD was provided, only the notebook to standard IDE adapter. This may have been an oversight or a simple anomaly in packaging. I borrowed a folded, short HDD data cable from the recently reviewed AOpen XC Cube SFF PC; this cable was perfect for the application.

The multi-connector DC power cable on the bottom left in the photo above is provided with the e-Otonashi case. I decided that this was too messy to use when all I needed was a single 4-pin connector and only the 5-volt line, So I scrounged through the parts bins once again and came up with a quick mod that would do the job more tidily: This is the 2-lead cable in the bottom right of the photo.

The hard drive is shown mounted in the photo above, with four screws from the underside. There are 2 small thin pads affixed to the plate beneath the HDD; these appear to be mostly for thermal conductivity.

Here's the end result, all neatly assembled, just before the cover was put back on.

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