Jordan's Quiet DampTek'd Home Theater PC

Do-It-Yourself Systems
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Jan 27, 2005 by Jordan Menu("Cob")with Mike Chin

Over the last year or so my mother has been dabbling in some amateur photography. She also scanned about a thousand old family pictures for my grandmother. After every photo shoot she insists on showing everyone in the family her exploits. Late last year with the holidays fast approaching and family on the way, she told me that showing all her pictures on her "tiny" 17" LCD wouldn't be very good. I suggested utilizing the huge 52" television we have in the family room as a monitor.

Here was born the idea for a Home Theater PC in my house. After much discussion it was decided that an HTPC computer could also serve as a backup server for my mother's photos as well as my uncle's home business. After a major upgrade to my main computer we already had many of the components for this system.

Home Theater system in bottom shelf of AV cabinet blends in nicely.

The goals I set for this PC were:

  • quiet so as to not disturb the viewers.
  • run cool at the bottom of a Home Theater component cabinet.
  • be powerful enough to show and edit photos, as well as stream movies off the network (so I could watch my movies on the big screen).


1. Silverstone SST-LC01 Case - This case was chosen for its combination of aesthetics and features. In stock form, this case has decent airflow characteristics as well as the ability to accept a full-ATX motherboard and a full size power supply.

2. Abit NF7-S V2.0 Motherboard - This motherboard has a wide selection of CPU Vcore and clock speed adjustments. It was left over from an upgrade I had done a few weeks ago. This motherboard has also been modded with a Zalman northbridge heatsink to remove the noisy stock NB fan. It is listed in SPCR's recommended list of Undervoltable Motherboards.

3. AMD XP 1700+ JUIHB DUT3C CPU - This CPU went along with the motherboard. I had originally bought the two together, used, from a friend who had done some major overclocking. Both components has already been put through their paces, with the CPU reaching overclocked speeds of 2.6GHz+ on air cooling. For this project I wanted a stable CPU that ran cool, and in this one I was guaranteed both. I also had the past experience of knowing that this CPU was able to run at a huge variety of different speeds. I have tested speeds ranging from 1200 MHz at 1.2v to 2600(ish) MHz at 2.0v. This CPU is a great performer.

4. 512MB PC2700 Infineon Chips - Chosen because it was lying around at the time of building.

5. nVidia Geforce 4 MX440 64MB - Again, chosen because it was available. In the future I'd like to replace this card with a one that outputs better quality for my HDTV.

6. Fortron 400W PSU (FSP400-60PFN-R), modified with Panaflo 80L1A fan swap. In stock form, it's a good performer. Modified with a Panaflo fan, this unit becomes a good performer with very low noise characteristics.

7. 80GB Seagate Baracuda 7200.7 - Chosen because it was available. While not the "quietest" drive available, the acoustics are decent. Capacity is a big plus.

8. Sunbeam HDD Silencer. (It appears to be discontinued). This NoVibesIII HDD suspension mounting knockoff works well to eliminate any noise caused by vibrations transmitted from the hard drive to the case. (But in the end, the hard drive was left hard mounted to the chassis because benefits of suspension were not significant with the computer located in the cabinet across the room from viewers.)

9. 16x DVD-ROM - Chosen because it was available.

10. Thermalright SLK900U on CPU - This is the heatsink that was used when the 1700+ was being heavily overclocked. Works well in low airflow conditions. Great design, great performance.

11. A 92mm and an 80mm Panaflo L1A with wires soldered together connected so I could control them both with the only Zalman Fanmate1 I had at the time. The 92 for the HS, the 80 for case exhaust. Both fans start and run very quietly with the fanmate turned to the minimum setting.

Close-up shot of the fans connected to the Zalman Fanmate 1. (Why did I have to run out of heatshrink?!)

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