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 Post subject: VIA C7-D low power rig
PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:24 pm 
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Location: Northern New Jersey
So I've always wanted to have like, an ITX or very low power rig, and lo and behold, some patience has payed off.

When my dad came back from the dump, he had this little present for me, in the form of an Everex Impact GC3500.

Complete just as it was sold from Everex, I'm still searching for the perfect linux distro to run on it, but I only made a couple tiny mods.

Part of it's selling point is the 20W VIA C7-D processor, which is embedded on the board, and I can't complain about it much, rated at 1.5ghz with a 400mhz bus speed, it's got a similar feel to my sisters older P4.

The first mod took zero thought, it was grabbing the original 1gb DDR2-667 kit from this rig and throwing it in. I now have a spare 512mb DDR2 module, but I can't complain about that at all, considering the only computer i have with less than 1gb of RAM is my old Thinkpad T22.

Next up, I decided that I didn't like the power supply. Something about it bothered me, as it was a seemingly generic Hipro 300W power supply that just felt too light, too flimsy. I took a spare Antec Smartpower I had lying around, and tossed that in, for 350W...it's completely unnecessary, but it's much quieter than the Hipro.

Beyond that, I just pulled out the modem card, and now have an even quieter embedded system, with a little more juice than it did originally. I may get a PICO power supply for this eventually to reduce power usage even more, but for a free, low power rig, i can't complain for a second, but right now there's no OS on it, like my P4 2.8ghz/1gb rig because i just can't find one that plays nice with the onboard graphics.

some pics:
http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g142/ ... G_0898.jpg

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g142/ ... G_0901.jpg

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g142/ ... G_0899.jpg

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g142/ ... G_0903.jpg

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g142/ ... G_0904.jpg

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


Last edited by bonestonne on Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:20 pm 
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Nice budget system :lol:

So did I have a HD in it? Does it boot up OK?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:36 pm 
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:lol:
it's got an HD, but to be honest, i'm not about to use vista. especially on a lower power machine like this, i don't know what possessed th company to run this thing with vista home basic. the performance is garbage.

but yes, 80gb drive, just as the system was sold with. the warranty sticker was undamaged on the side panel when it arrived at my house (the one that makes it tamper evident).

to be really honest, this system is not really on par with windows vista at all. i'm slowly repairing the install sort of, and it's a crapshoot, between norton and all the viruses that are here, the C7 is throttling basically all the time, and by the time i get the processes down to a useable level, it BSOD's me.

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:13 pm 
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Vista? Seriously? WinXP or Win2k but certainly not Vista.

Sounds like it is time to wipe the drive and start fresh :wink:


I would suggest installing kubuntu (kde) or xubuntu (lightweight xfce). I recently installed kubuntu on an old Toshiba lappy (1gig celeron/512megs of ram/20 gig HD) and it worked quite well for basic web surfing, email and word processing. xubuntu would likely be faster and do all you need. 8.10 is a nice release and installs quite easily on most any hardware. I have only encountered one cranky machine that kernel panic-ed every time I tried to install it.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 7:51 pm 
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well, yeah. i was even thinking of going with Sabayon in a Fluxbox environment actually, or maybe going with Fluxbuntu, i have an old CD of that lying around.

basically, i might just fix up this OS, i'm removing over 200 viruses right now, i'm going to remove the user accounts so there's just the Administrator left, and that'll be that. maybe ghost the drive, and then install linux.

i even thought slackware, but the onboard graphics were not playing nice earlier when i didn't even try cleaning up vista.

but it's a learning experience, because i've never used vista before. i tried out the betas, but never the final release.

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:10 am 
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Looks nice. Have you measured the power consumption yet? And what about the tiny fan on the CPU heatsink? Is it disconnected or throttled - I assume it's quite loud at stock speed?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 4:26 am 
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I think it's criminal that working tech like that was thrown out at the dump! Haven't people heard of e-waste?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:27 am 
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i actually don't have a way to test power consumption, but right now, since it was left on all night, it's kind a toasty warmn, CPU sitting at 40C, but stable without problems of performance.

turns out one of the viruses killed the explorer shell whenever i tried to open the control panel, this thing had no protection on it at all for the 8 or so months it was used.

i'm about to ghost this drive and search for a new OS, i cleaned it up infinitely. deleted existing user accounts and files associated, all the passwords, existing software, and left it as it would have been when it was bought.

as for the fan, i wouldn't go so far as to call it loud, the sound is not intrusive, but it's definitely not the "Efficient Cooling" that Everex intended it to be.

i wonder if i could get better heatsinks for this...

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 6:42 am 
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bonestonne wrote:
i wonder if i could get better heatsinks for this...

Hmm im not sure. The CPU and northbridge are cooled by the same heatsink, depending on the mounting holes and how close they are together you might find yourself unable to cool both.
I suppose you could cut off the CPU part of the heatsink and remount the northbridge part, then just find a small cooler for the CPU. You could cool that thing passively with probably any mini tower cooler.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:43 am 
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Quote:
You could cool that thing passively with probably any mini tower cooler


my thoughts exactly.

HR-05 High Riser might be the perfect match, adjustable width mouthing, screw mounted for constant pressure, horizontal facing fins to utilize the second fan in the power supply.

*edit*

HR-05 can be for CPU only, Zalman NB47J for southbridge should be more than enough. temps might even be low enough to maintain full fanless capability.

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 13, 2009 7:14 pm 
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maybe double-stick tape an 80mm fan over the whole CPU/nb assembly? it *might* work 0.o


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:03 am 
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actually, on monday I'm going to order the HR-05 and the Zalman NB47J.

I'll get them by the end of the week, and I'll slap them in.

worst case senario, I have two new coolers to slap on my workstation motherboard to keep it cool.

I'm aiming to lose the 40mm, and just leave cooling up to the power supply, I'll block off the rear fan grill, the side fan grill, and the intakes on the bottom of the case. It should get more than enough air from the front, or maybe I'll leave part of the side open.

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 14, 2009 8:37 am 
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People throwing stuff like that straight in the bin just because they can't identify between bad maintenance and bad hardware upsets me. Stoopid people.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 12:08 pm 
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8 days late, but full of fun info!

yes, i did order the two heatsinks just as i said, and wow!

i don't have a beginning temp written down, but the CPU used to idle around 40C with a heatsink and 40mm fan. with the HR-05 on the VIA C7-D it now idles around 29C without a fan.

NB temps also dropped a lot, but i can't fit a heatsink on the SB, and i think it's the one that's roasting around 66C right now.

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g142/ ... G_0992.jpg

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g142/ ... G_0995.jpg

http://i55.photobucket.com/albums/g142/ ... G_0999.jpg

it looks overkill, it is overkill, but it's silent. the Antec PSU makes no noise that i can hear right now, and the WD 80 drive doesn't make much seek noise at all, even during boot.

now that this is re-done, next up is the main rig (P45 + E6750 on the way)

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


Last edited by bonestonne on Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: I have a similar board!
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 3:09 pm 
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Hey, I have a board pretty close to that one, it might be the previous revision, I bought it to replace an old via 600mhz mini-itx board. I have it in a cheapo micro-atx box, and that fan on the heat sink was driving me nuts, so I replaced it with a supposedly silent fan from silenx I picked up at frys. I also added a fan controller for it and the other fans, and it's tolerable now.

But I really like your passive solution, I may just try that. It has a little heat sink on it now, and the mounts don't look like anything too standard, but the mounts on your look adjustable, so that might work. Thanks for the post!

Oh, and as far as OS goes, I have standard Ubuntu running on mine off a 500GB WD green drive, it seems fast enough for me. I'm using a pico power supply, and the whole thing runs at around 35-40 watts or so.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 4:28 pm 
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i may have lost the board actually (maybe the rig was tanked for a reason).

refuses to post...i'll test it with a graphics card later. the drive seeks like it's booting, but i have no graphics at all, my monitor just goes into standby.

i'd just definitely suggest a fan for the CPU...it ran fine, but i was also pushing the system a little, and the HR-05 was getting hot to the touch.

if i can get the same board for cheap on ebay i will, it ran great, i couldn't complain at all about the board (although the OS needs to be chosen with care, this is not a vista friendly board).

tried reseating the HR-05, it's not a cooling issue...i'm not really sure what it is...sucks though, i can't get winamp or photoshop to launch on this rig right now, and i'm not about to wrestle it, with the P45 board waiting to get put in.

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject: bummer
PostPosted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 5:47 pm 
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Well, that's too bad. In my system, if I do get the hr-05, I'll have the big 120mm fan from the case right behind it, so that should help with the cooling. But then again, since I paid around $50 for the board with the cpu, I'm not too worried about what I'll do if I have to replace it. There's always fun new stuff to buy. Although I think I'll do a little more research before I pull the trigger on the hr-05. See if I can find it locally so returning it would be easier.


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 Post subject: got it and it works!
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:46 pm 
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Hey, so I got the hr-05 and installed it on my board, and it seems to work pretty well. I had to remove a bracket in my case to fit the vertical height, but tin snips took care of it with no trouble. I've been running for a day or two with no fan on the cpu, and it's still around 35C, so I'm happy. I haven't really pushed the cpu yet, but it seems pretty solid with the front 80mm and the back 120 mm fan pushing air through. So thanks for the tip, it's been helpful!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 3:50 pm 
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:roll:

no prob, i'm having some trouble finding a replacement board though...i may have to live without a low power computer...sure is a bummer though, they're great for streaming music.

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:28 pm 
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You do know there are ways to get the Vista serial from the install, so that you can reinstall legally with any Vista DVD?
Although I really understand if you don't want Vista on that one . . especially if it's broken.


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 Post subject: I might have a board
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:50 pm 
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bonestonne wrote:
:roll:

no prob, i'm having some trouble finding a replacement board though...i may have to live without a low power computer...sure is a bummer though, they're great for streaming music.


Well, as it turns out, I have an old 600MHz via mini-itx board that I just replaced, I'd be happy to sell it to you. Kind of old and slow, but it should be good enough for a music streamer. It has a 1GB sim in it, so memory shouldn't be a big problem. Interested?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:26 pm 
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well, i've got a VIA C3 866mhz, but the C7-D was a lot more of a novelty i guess...the PCI-e x16 slot was what i had the most use for.


as for the Vista install, the recovery partition was still intact, all i would have had to do was press F10 during boot.

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 7:07 pm 
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Trav1s wrote:
Vista? Seriously? WinXP or Win2k but certainly not Vista.

I haven't really seen CPU power as being an issue with Vista. Works fine on my Pentium M 1.6GHz and also was fine on a 2GHz P4 I tried it on once. Now if you don't have enough memory, even a modern CPU won't keep your Vista system moving. The 1GB you have in this thing could be enough if you you trimmed it down. But as long as you don't use the sidebar (the clock on it used 10% of the P4 CPU I think), vista does just fine on a slow CPU. Linux would still be a better fit.

(Could someone scale down these pictures? It's hard to read this thread.)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 12:45 am 
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BillyBuerger wrote:
(Could someone scale down these pictures? It's hard to read this thread.)


You need Opera! ;) "Fit to Width" zoom FTW!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2009 11:32 am 
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sorry for big pics

The issue with the low power rig is the 1.5ghz with 400mhz bus. Even running 1gb of ram doesn't give me the power vista needs, graphics or just grunt

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 4:58 pm 
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No pics yet, but thanks to nightmorph, I've got a PICO inside.

90W PICO with a 102W brick, I took out the 3x 160gb drives i had inside it, because i just don't have enough molex splitters or connections to have them all running.

At first though, I was ready to go nuts, I think the PSU stalled the first time i tried to boot, because the fan wasn't even trying to spin up. Eventually i got it on, and now it boots every time...not sure, but it's working now.

It's very interesting to see what started out as a spaghetti monster of cables turn into a big gaping hole, with one stray molex in the case.

eventually i plan to use either an SDHC or a CF card as a SSD. that'll leave everything to run off motherboard headers, so i'll remove the main molex/SATA lead (i removed the P4 lead from the PICO because this computer doesn't have that connection).

It's a whole new world of quiet and power efficient. I'm going to play with numbers, but although i have this good 102W brick, i'm curious as to whether i can use a smaller, lower power 12v brick with the PICO, maybe 4.5A instead of the 8.5 i'm using now. A 4.5W brick would give me around 56W to play with, still well within what i really need.

right now i only really use a PS/2 keyboard and a USB mouse with it, with an additional USB connection for my camera (rare). there's also a card reader, but unless I can use that for an SD or CF card to boot off of, it's not staying in the system.

There's also a PCI wireless G card in there, which will be replaced with a Wireless G USB adapter, modded to fit internally (still working on those details).

I'd like to make a custom case, but I'm not sure what i'll make it with yet. Acrylic is tempting because i think i have a sheet of it, but an aluminum case isn't out of the question. Basically i'm looking for something i can do on a college students budget, that still looks awesome. Sadly however, I don't have all the tools to do the work myself, but I do have the materials, I think.

I can't get a definite power usage yet, as i have no killawatt, but it's on the to-do list, and i can definitely say it's very low.

::References::
http://via.com.tw/en/initiatives/empowe ... /index.jsp
^VIA's website regarding the specific motherboard I'm using.

Everex USA tanked, but at least my board is the VIA model (original Everex board shot, I bought a replacement).

PICO was definitely as small as I expected, but very very well designed. I could only ask for a couple more Molex because of my older drives.

Rig will be put up soon...

I'm also thinking of a new OS for it, instead of the regular Ubuntu...maybe a netbook OS for it? I'm not looking for a lot of productivity, but the basics would be nice, Instant Messaging, Word Processing, and Web Browsing capabilities at the least.

Final Specs that I have:
1.5Ghz/400mhz/128kb
2GB DDR2-667
80gb SATA (not sure if it's 1.5 or 3.0 gb/s)
DVD+/-RW
Card Reader (no SDHC though)
90W PICO + 102W brick

Supposed to use ~35W at full load, ~24 at idle. I'm sure the PICO with the right brick will make a huge difference.

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FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 22, 2009 8:55 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:10 pm
Posts: 1832
Location: Northern New Jersey
Not to double post or anything, but here's a good update on what i've done in the past couple hours.

I was working out the math with a few power bricks I have lying around, and while the 102W works, I wanted to see if I could go lower.

I have tons of 12v power adapters, ranging from 1.25a to 8.5a, but I found the sweet spot for this computer. Since it's not supposed to use more than ~35W, I thought, how close to that can I get before being too close. Naturally, I think to myself for about an hour, going through power bricks anywhere from 15 to 56W, and I found a 40W adapter...how coincidental!

So naturally, right now I'm running Ubuntu linux (currently updating to the latest kernel), I've got two tabs open in FF, and I was copying a few pictures to upload off an SD card with the card reader, and I'm running a wireless PCI card for networking, off the 90W PICO running off a 40W brick, meaning there's no way I'm using more than 40W right now. I don't want to kill a brick testing out 24W, but with 40W and the system completely stable, I've hit a pinnacle of low power computing.

http://www.kwikpiks.com/files/129/IMG_0885.JPG
^ the rig in all it's micro-glory, you can see the 102W brick not being used, and up on the desk, that's the monitor it's connected to

http://www.kwikpiks.com/files/129/IMG_0888.JPG
^ that's the brick I'm using right now.

Now, there is a catch though. The 40W brick is pretty warm, but not very hot, so I'm not going to continue using it like this, although if I move up to a ~50W brick, I'll probably hit the absolute peak efficiency. For now however, while the 40W brick is a pretty sweet setup, I don't trust it long-term. The 102W brick will still be my main until I find another 4.5a brick (both are currently used by my monitors).

Clearly the PICO has capabilities far beyond what I thought, even after reading a lot about it here, I'm just a little disappointed I could only afford the regular 12v 90W version, as the 60W, Wide Input model would have suited my experimenting better.

I'm trying to imagine how much the performance and power consumption would drop by using a solid state drive with this, along with and even more streamlined OS.

To think this was pulled out of a dumpster! it uses less power than my laptops!
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::trimmed pics down to links for reader benefit::

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|Dual Intel Xeon E5-2620-Xigmatek SD1283 DK-II|Asus Z9PA-D8-HR-05 IFX|WD 250gb Velociraptor SATA3|16gb DDR3-1600 ECC RDIMM|WD Blue 640GB SATA2 x2|Logitech K750|Logitech Wireless Mouse|nVidia GTX660ti 2GB|Antec HCG-750|NZXT Source 210 Elite|M-Audio ProFire 2626|Art TubeOpto8 with Smooth Plate Tube Swap|Avid Artist Mix x2|
FartingBob wrote:
A 9500GT with 1GB of RAM is the most pointless thing since NASCAR.


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