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 Post subject: My Kitchen HTPC
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 8:16 pm 
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Location: Toronto
I have a large counter space in my kitchen where it's a perfect spot for some TV viewing and internet surfing. So I embarked on my first PC build in 6 years and tried to assemble as quiet of a rig as possible. I ran into some difficulties along the way, but thanks to the SPCR community, I was able to overcome my own stupidity, which included the ruining of a perfectly good Ninja Mini.

Image

After experimenting with a few fan controllers and different fan set-ups, I've finally decided on a set-up I can live with. Here's the set-up:

case: Nexus Psile w/ slim dvd burner
mobo: J&W 780G MINIX
CPU: AMD 5050e
Ram: 4Gb Kingston 667Mhz SODIMM
HD: WD Caviar SE16 7200rpm 640GB
PS: 120W PicoPSU w/ external brick
CPU HSF: Scythe Ninja Mini w/ 80mm fan (end caps removed)
Case Fans: 92mm Nexus and two 60mm Papst fans

Image

It's not going to win any prizes for being a silent PC. As MikeC has put it in another thread, the Nexus Psile is a thermal nightmare. As you can see from the photos above, I have 4 fans in this case! I tried to get away with just the two 60mm fans in exhaust and the 92mm Nexus fan blowing across the Ninja Mini. However, the System and CPU temps got into the mid-50's according to SpeedFan, so I reluctantly added the Scythe 80mm fan to the Ninja Mini, although I'm using one of those ultra-low noise connectors so that the fan is running at half the maximum rpm's. With 4 fans, I'm getting System and CPU temps in the mid to high 30's under load and about 5 degrees lower at idle.

Member GTGUAN, who posted a build that I copied almost identically, has found that using a video card in the PCIe slot instead of using the internal IGP does lower the temps, so that is something I will try in the future.

One issue I've come across is that the picoPSU might not be up to the task, or at least the external power brick isn't. I find that the fan inside the power brick turns on (and it's unacceptably loud!) more often than I would like. I believe the SPCR review states that this fan turns on when the power draw exceeds 90W? Now, I'm running this on a 27" Dell LCD at 1920x1200 and I also have a USB wireless network adaptor as well as a bluetooth adaptor for my keyboard. Is my power supply insufficient to handle the power demands of this system?

I had actually hoped to add a Hauppauge HD-PVR to the mix as well, but I had it connected for about 10 mins and the fan inside the power brick came on instantly and would not turn off. Perhaps I'm expecting too much for this HTPC?

Finally, I'd love to silence the system even more, but I just couldn't get away with fewer than 4 fans. Actually, if I use the stock AMD HSF, the temps stay nice and low and I could get away with just using the two exhaust fans, but the noise of the stock fan is just too loud.

Thanks for reading and your help/comments!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2009 11:57 pm 
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Location: Hong Kong
Hope you find a good solution that I can then try to replicate :)

I like the Psile case too and have been considering it for an HTPC build. But reading your posts on the cooling issues (4 fans!), the difficulty of fitting in the Mini Ninja and (for me) the added cost of a slot-load blu-ray drive, I am starting to think it might be the wrong case for the job.

Good luck.
Cheers, Joe.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 4:52 am 
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Location: Plymouth, MI
Hey. I bet you could shorten that Minja some more. Got a hacksaw? :wink:



Looks nice. Mid 50's is pretty borderline. How fast are the 60mm fans? Have you tried disabling one/both to see what happens (ie use Nexus as intake and see how natural exhaust works)?. Maybe move the Minja fan on that side blowing out towards the exhaust?

Is that a standard size hard drive in there? Maybe a notebook drive will help. Doesn't seem that your power draw should be going over 90W for very long at all (peak at boot, maybe if you run Prime95 and Furmark all day). Could be a cruddy power brick. Try raising it off the ground with something to help airflow around it?

That keyboard is sexy lookin 8)


Oh, and buy a Kill-A-Watt.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 6:45 am 
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The fan on the minja might be making things worse by messing up the airflow. Seems to me you should get rid of it and have those two fans attached to the case be intake & exhaust (depending on which way you want the airflow going). The air should go right over the minja.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:17 am 
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enigma54: very nice build you have there and excellent use of "deadend" space. Not too sure about the chair though, but if it takes your fancy, don't let me and the rest of the world stop you.

How far is that away from the cooking area? Are you afraid that the smells, oils and moisture from the kitchen may cause harm to the PC?

Do you watch the PC TV while you eat your meals? I have read of negative effects on digestion and health by doing this.

Apologies for the "interrogation". 8)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 7:43 am 
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Location: Virginia
Looks good. Seems like a good use of that extra space, without looking too crowded.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:24 am 
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Location: Toronto
psiu wrote:
Hey. I bet you could shorten that Minja some more. Got a hacksaw? :wink:



Looks nice. Mid 50's is pretty borderline. How fast are the 60mm fans? Have you tried disabling one/both to see what happens (ie use Nexus as intake and see how natural exhaust works)?. Maybe move the Minja fan on that side blowing out towards the exhaust?

Is that a standard size hard drive in there? Maybe a notebook drive will help. Doesn't seem that your power draw should be going over 90W for very long at all (peak at boot, maybe if you run Prime95 and Furmark all day). Could be a cruddy power brick. Try raising it off the ground with something to help airflow around it?

That keyboard is sexy lookin 8)


Oh, and buy a Kill-A-Watt.


Haha...I've learned my lesson about easing up on the dremel. I didn't even bother with the dremel on my replacement Minja...just took the caps off this time. The 60mm fans are rated at 2650 rpm's and 16 dB. The one annoyance is that the fan only has molex connectors and no 3-pin, although I was able to control them with a Fan Mate 2 because the Nexus fan has both a 3-pin and molex connectors. Right now, both the 60mm and the Nexus fans are going full speed.

There's no room in the rear of the case for anything larger than 60mm fans and following gtguan's lead, I used silicone to attach the fans directly to the case. I might try your suggestion though and disable the two 60mm fans and reposition the Nexus and Scythe fans and see if natural exhaust will do the job. That'll cut my fan count in half! Not sure the sound/noise factor will decrease by that same amount though :cry:

I've been wondering about my external power brick. It's the same one reviewed on SPCR and I do notice that when it's plugged in and the computer is OFF, there is a "tick-tick-tick" sound coming from inside the brick, loud enough that I can hear it when there is no ambient noise. So I wonder if I have a defective unit. Basically, the fan inside the brick comes on when CPU utilization hits above the 50-55% level according to SpeedFan.

Yes, that's a 3.5" hard drive and if I were to do it over again, I would opt for the Green drives as a start. I've thought about using 2.5" hard drives too, but I wasn't sure how much of a difference in heat/power that would make?

I'm going to pick up a Kill-A-Watt meter this weekend and check out the power draws.

One other thing i forgot to mention is that the little metal retention clips that hold the SODIMM in place in the slots...well, the little clip snapped off on both ends of the first SODIMM slot after many tries of monkeying around my set-up when I was trying to power up the system. So I had to improvise and I stuck a HDMI plastic cap in between the two SODIMM pieces in order to hold the first SODIMM seated and in place. Do you know where I can buy these little clips?


Last edited by enigma54 on Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:41 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:33 am 
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Posts: 34
Location: Toronto
tsmvengy - Yeah the Minja takes up over 2/3 of the case volume so the airflow is pretty hampered. In fact, even after removing the end caps of the Minja, the tip of the heat pipes still press up against the top of the Psile case.

Do you think I could get away with using just the stock AMD heatsink with the fan removed and then have a 92mm fan blowing across and over the top of the AMD heatsink? I can even have two 80mm fans in this same position. The stock AMD heatsink is actually a good size for the case, but the fan is unacceptably loud.

Shamgar - you're not a fan of the Panton chairs? :o It's hawt! The set-up is far enough away from the stove and I have a good range hood above my stove, but yes, I did think about all these things beforehand. It's nice to have an HTPC in the kitchen to check recipes on-line, surf the web and watch a bit of TV :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 2:49 pm 
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Location: Plymouth, MI
enigma54 wrote:
Shamgar - you're not a fan of the Panton chairs? :o It's hawt! The set-up is far enough away from the stove and I have a good range hood above my stove, but yes, I did think about all these things beforehand. It's nice to have an HTPC in the kitchen to check recipes on-line, surf the web and watch a bit of TV :D


We only have a townhouse sized kitchen (read: small) right now--but my Imac G4 is destined to be a recipe machine someday I think.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:50 am 
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Location: Where I Am
enigma54 wrote:
Shamgar - you're not a fan of the Panton chairs?
I like chairs with castors so I can wheel from one side of the room to the other without having to get up. Yes, call me old fashioned and staid. And a little bit lazy.
enigma54 wrote:
:o It's hawt!
If you say so. :wink:
enigma54 wrote:
The set-up is far enough away from the stove and I have a good range hood above my stove, but yes, I did think about all these things beforehand.
Glad to hear it!
enigma54 wrote:
It's nice to have an HTPC in the kitchen to check recipes on-line, surf the web and watch a bit of TV :D
Enjoy your home cooking and recipe successes/failures. Hopefully more of the former. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:45 am 
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Joined: Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:42 am
Posts: 104
Location: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
I can't tell from the pictures what exactly your coolong limitations are but perhaps if I describe what I am doing with my system you can develope another way to solve your problem.

The job of cooling a PC can be reduced down to getting the heat away from the CPU (and other major heat sources) and tranfering it to the ambient air of the room.

The upper chamber of my P180 case uses only 1 fan (not counting the video card). This Scythe Gentle Typhoon 120mm 1,150rpm Silent Case Fan fan does double duty by both getting the heat away from the CPU and moving room air through the chassis. The CPU fan is mounted on the Scythe Ninja on the side adjacent to the rear chassis fan location and blowing towards the rear of the chassis. A 2.5 cm (1 inch) duct mounted on the rear chassis fan location is made out of a 120mm fan with the guts cut out. The CPU fan and the duct align well enough for most of the air to exit the chassis. The CPU fan is connected to the CPU fan connector and the ASUS fan control is set for DC fan type and Silent profile. When the room ambient temperatue is 20'C the system is in idle the CPU fan runs at 700 rpm and speeds up to 1200 rpm at full load. Idle temperature is 42'C and full load temperature is 62'C.

This cooling setup campared to normal configurations reduces noise in these ways:

=> There is only one fan making noise.
=> The Scythe Gentle Typhoon has the most non-annoying noise signature that I know of.
=> The fan makes less noise sucking air from the heatsink than blasting turbulent air at the heatsink.
=> The turbulent air from the fan has time to moderate before hitting that nasty cheap steel stammping rear grill.

I hope this helps and as always "have fun" !


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 9:19 am 
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Location: Toronto, Canada
enigma54 wrote:
In fact, even after removing the end caps of the Minja, the tip of the heat pipes still press up against the top of the Psile case.

So the case can essentially act as part of the heatsink, and dissipate heat. Nice 8)
enigma54 wrote:
It's nice to have an HTPC in the kitchen to check recipes on-line, surf the web and watch a bit of TV :D

Home Theater PC? More like Home kitchen PC, HKPC. :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:06 am 
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speedkar9 wrote:
enigma54 wrote:
It's nice to have an HTPC in the kitchen to check recipes on-line, surf the web and watch a bit of TV :D

Home Theater PC? More like Home kitchen PC, HKPC. :wink:

HKPC. There's an untapped market. "Cook me up an HKPC to order. And no fries with that either."


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 Post subject: Update
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:56 am 
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Location: Toronto
Just wanted to provide an update as I've re-configured a few things and my current set-up, IMHO, can now be legitimately classified as a quiet PC.

First, I swapped out the WD 3.5" 7200 rpm Blue HD and put in a 2.5" 5400rpm Seagate 500Gb HD. Secondly, I'm now using a fanless Radeon 4350 video card instead of the IGP. Both changes have now allowed me to go back using just 3 fans - two 60mm fans as exhaust and a Nexus 92mm fan that blows across the Minja. Also, I have the 3 fans hooked up to a Fan Mate 2 and I have it dialed down to almost the lowest voltage levels, which means the 92mm fan spins at ~900rpm. The noise levels of the 3 fans are now almost inaudible!

For more CPU or system intensive tasks, I'll of course dial the voltage on the Fan Mate 2 back up, but for surfing and basic tasks, this set-up is very quiet and the temps are under control! One thing I'm unsure of is how hot the video card gets, because the 4350 heatsink gets very hot to the touch and the way it's positioned so close to one side of the case, there is very little airflow around it. I don't think SpeedFan measures the video card temp?

So, net net, my Martha Stewart PC is now running much cooler and very quietly in the kitchen :D


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 Post subject: Update
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 7:56 am 
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Location: Toronto
Just wanted to provide an update as I've re-configured a few things and my current set-up, IMHO, can now be legitimately classified as a quiet PC.

First, I swapped out the WD 3.5" 7200 rpm Blue HD and put in a 2.5" 5400rpm Seagate 500Gb HD. Secondly, I'm now using a fanless Radeon 4350 video card instead of the IGP. Both changes have now allowed me to go back using just 3 fans - two 60mm fans as exhaust and a Nexus 92mm fan that blows across the Minja. Also, I have the 3 fans hooked up to a Fan Mate 2 and I have it dialed down to almost the lowest voltage levels, which means the 92mm fan spins at ~900rpm. The noise levels of the 3 fans are now almost inaudible!

For more CPU or system intensive tasks, I'll of course dial the voltage on the Fan Mate 2 back up, but for surfing and basic tasks, this set-up is very quiet and the temps are under control! One thing I'm unsure of is how hot the video card gets, because the 4350 heatsink gets very hot to the touch and the way it's positioned so close to one side of the case, there is very little airflow around it. I don't think SpeedFan measures the video card temp?

So, net net, my Martha Stewart PC is now running much cooler and very quietly in the kitchen :D


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 Post subject: Update
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:28 am 
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Just wanted to provide an update as I've re-configured a few things and my current set-up, IMHO, can now be legitimately classified as a quiet PC.

First, I swapped out the WD 3.5" 7200 rpm Blue HD and put in a 2.5" 5400rpm Seagate 500Gb HD. Secondly, I'm now using a fanless Radeon 4350 video card instead of the IGP. Both changes have now allowed me to go back using just 3 fans - two 60mm fans as exhaust and a Nexus 92mm fan that blows across the Minja. Also, I have the 3 fans hooked up to a Fan Mate 2 and I have it dialed down to almost the lowest voltage levels, which means the 92mm fan spins at ~900rpm. The noise levels of the 3 fans are now almost inaudible!

For more CPU or system intensive tasks, I'll of course dial the voltage on the Fan Mate 2 back up, but for surfing and basic tasks, this set-up is very quiet and the temps are under control! One thing I'm unsure of is how hot the video card gets, because the 4350 heatsink gets very hot to the touch and the way it's positioned so close to one side of the case, there is very little airflow around it. I don't think SpeedFan measures the video card temp?

So, net net, my Martha Stewart PC is now running much cooler and very quietly in the kitchen :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:34 pm 
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You can measure the gpu temps with GPUZ. I`m not very familiar with the psile case but I think the minja (or any tower cooler) is not so well suited to it. A top down cooling setup might be more efficient. That said, it seems you`re getting some good results eventually and it certainly is a sweet looking pc.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:44 pm 
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Is that the Logitech DeNovo? Looks really nice with your setup.

And yes, the Psile is a thermal nightmare of a red-headed stepchild. :D

-D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2009 4:43 am 
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derekva wrote:
Is that the Logitech DeNovo? Looks really nice with your setup.

And yes, the Psile is a thermal nightmare of a red-headed stepchild. :D

-D


Yes, it's the Logitech diNovo Edge keyboard. Very stylish and functional, although not exactly cheap.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 2009 11:21 am 
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I don't know if that J&W mobo can be tweaked, but most 780G boards do, so I suppose you could undervolt a little that little heater of yours and get a couple of degrees less. I don't know if you've already tryed it, but I've read that AMD "e" series can get a nice voltage reduction without stability problems. I had to build for a friend of mine a LE-1200 system and it works at stock speed with mere 1'025v.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 6:34 pm 
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Interesting case for super low powered system


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:04 pm 
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I have one a Nexus Psile w/ a Zotac 9300 and a Intel e8400 and I'm wondering what HSF would be best? Not keen on chopping up any Minjas though ;)


Perhaps a topdown solution, with another fan taking air away from it?

Opinions appreciated.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 9:56 am 
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Location: Europe
format wrote:
I have one a Nexus Psile w/ a Zotac 9300 and a Intel e8400 and I'm wondering what HSF would be best? Not keen on chopping up any Minjas though ;)


Perhaps a topdown solution, with another fan taking air away from it?

Opinions appreciated.


I am planning to also use Zotac 9300 and Psile. Please share your experiences with your setup.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 2009 11:20 am 
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I've not yet completed the build, waiting on money for a PicoPSU and a HDD.

Just using the stock cooler for now, it'll be noisy but it should do the job until I can afford something better.

I'll keep you updated.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 3:38 am 
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How many mm's did you gain by taking of the end-caps?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:46 am 
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vils wrote:
How many mm's did you gain by taking of the end-caps?
<quake voice>Ne-ne-ne-necro post.</quake voice>

The end caps are not just to look pretty, are they? I assumed they were to protect the sealed pipe ends from re-opening. Is this not the case? Is it just because the tinned nubbies are ugly?

PS I'm not sure if it has been stated explicitly, but if you unseal your heat-pipes they become worthless chunks of metal.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 23, 2010 6:40 am 
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The end caps are only for decorative use, I spoke to Scythe support and the said there was no harm in taking them of.
According to them this would make the cooler 2-3mm lower.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 8:17 am 
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Looks nice


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 5:57 pm 
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Your chair reminds me of a toilet.


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