At a glance:
Asus p8z68-v pro
Intel i7 2600S
16 gb 1333 MHz DDR3 CL9
Samsung 830 Series SSD + WD 2 TB Caviar Green
SAPPHIRE Ultimate Radeon HD 6670 1 GB
I used HFX Classic as the case. I wanted to go fully passive and this was the way to do it.
HFX Classic is a really nice case that can fit in a full ATX motherboard but it doesn't come without some serious design flaws. The system was an absolute nightmare to build with the choises I made but it was also much fun – and a lot of work.
If the already huge HFX Classic were only a one or two centimeters larger much of the troubles could have been avoided but in the end it all worked out all right.
I regret that I did not document all the building phases but here is the – nearly – complete system.
Seasonic X-460, ATX power source. 460 Watts of 100% passively cooled power with a 80+ gold rating. Doesnt' give out much heat at all. Had to do a bit customising though to get it fit in the case. Excellent power source. I was rather impressed with it.
After some deliberation I went with the Sandy Bridge Asus P8Z68-V PRO motherboard. At first I was going to use the deluxe model but as it didn't have integrated graphics so I chose the pro instead.
Intel i7 2600S for a bit lower TDP (65W) and that little extra punch but I suppose 2600K (95W) would have also worked fine without having to worry about overheating. But the I7 2600S has a plenty of processing power and I find it hard to think of a situation where I would need a faster processor. At first I thinking about installing one of those i5 processors but I decided to go with the i7 2600S instead.
I went with 4x4 gb = 16 gb 1333 MHz DDR3 CL9 sticks of ram since 8 gb sticks were hard to come by and rather expensive.
Samsung 830 Series SSD for OS and 2 tb caviar green HDD (in HFX vertical silence enclosure) as a storage space. Plus some cheap bluray drive.
The HFX vertical silence HDD enclosure looks as if it's made out of old car tires or some other cheap ass rubber but I suppose it does it's job. I can still hear the HDD a bit in the otherwise silent room but it's tolerable. Perhaps I would consider trying some other enclosure if it didn't mean dismantling the WHOLE computer including the motherboard to get to the HDD. But really, it's not very noticable.
Can't see much through that jumble of wire.
At first I wasn't going to get a discreet graphics card but the integrated HD 2000 was giving me some amount of trouble with Fedora Linux as my OS so I installed SAPPHIRE Ultimate Radeon HD 6670 1 GB card (TDP 66W) – which gave me some more trouble. More about that later on.
I also bought from HFX the BorgFX bridge heatpipe kit (which turned out be useless with this build except for the extra heat pipes), 2x BorgFX extension kits, BorgFX CPU (deluxe of course) and a BorgFX VGA kit just in case I wanted to get a discreet graphics card later on – which I did.
With some trial and error I found out that the drives were the first thing to install. Otherwise things would get very complicated later on due to the limited space. Not much suprises here otherwise except that I had to order some custom SATA3 left angle cables because of the placement of the SATA ports on the p8z68-v pro motherboard. It was a tight fit and I was able to use only 4 of the 8 SATA ports. I also had to cut a bit of plastic off from the heads of the SATA connectors in order to make it all fit. There is absolutely no extra space between the powersource and the (custom left angle) SATA cables. Half a millimeter longer case and it would have been a breeze to make it all fit.
This gave me SO much trouble that I almost thought about returning the motherboard. But in the end it fit and don't need more then 3 SATA connectors so I have an extra one. Besides – the 5”25 slot over the power source, as you can see, is completely unusable with the Seasonic power source installed – unless you want to fry your power source from the lack of ventilation. So you won't be installing any extra HDDs there with this setup.
It became quickly apparent that the powersource which was passively cooled - mainly from the top - could not be installed with the aluminium rack in one piece. So I had to cut a hole in the rack with what poor tools I had at hand. With pliers and side cutters I made this piece of art you see here. It might not be as pretty as it could have been given the proper tools. Nobody is going to see it when the lid is closed so it's all right.
It was not possible to make use of the aluminium heat sink next to the power source either with the Seasonic – but it was not needed anyway since the Seasonic X-460 does not produce much heat at all. The slight warmth from the seasonic was no problem.
I didn't manage to get a good picture of it but the cable management was rather difficult but doable with some effort. I had to cut off the plastic locking clamp from the motherboards' power cable from the end that goes to the power source since the case' power button would have otherwise prevented the proper installation of the Seasonic. The clamp was useless. In order to unplug the power cable you had to use extreme force. Absolutely no chance of it ever falling off my accident. Even with the locking clamp cut off it was a tight fit. Little bit of gentle bending and pushing and the power source was installed. Good planning was essential.
And of course the power cable that connects to the power source had a right angle. Left angle would have been so much nicer but instead of trying to find one that fits I just decided to cut off a few of the protective rubber rings from the power cable so that it was able to bend more sharply and fit.
In order to install the motherboard the drives and the power source had to be installed. Which in turn after installing the motherboard became impossible to remove. Also the SATA connectors had to be plugged in the motherboard before attempting to install it which also become impossible to unplug after the motherboard is installed.
It was a challenge to fit it in but no major suprises here.
I used 8 short heatpipes to take care of the cooling of the i7 2600S processor and the pipes were connected to both heatsinks. Perhaps a bit of an overkill with the capacity of each heat pipe to carry away 33W x 8 = theoretical 264 Watts of heat and with the theoretical heat output of 65W from the i7 2600S. Then again perhaps not.
The bluray player fit fine even with the double stack of heatpipes. But I bought the shortest drive I could find, so.
The integrated HD 2000 that the i7 2600S processor has had some trouble with screen tearing when displaying 23 fps movies and some of the usual opengl problems related to intel processor graphics on Linux. So I got the Sapphire 6670 Ultimate which is a passively cooled card. I threw away the standard heat sink that was installed on the card and installed some heat sinks on the rams and installed 4 heat pipes. I had to bend one of them ramsinks so it would fit under the heat pipes. At first I thought about using two sets of heat pipes connected with a block in the middle for easy installation but that just seemed wasteful and inefficient so I figured out a best way to bend the long pipes so they could reach and fit. Again, it's a very tight fit. I had to twist the block that attaches to the heatsink a bit otherwise the power cord would have been in the way.
It took a long time to plan and bend the pipes in their places (gently, very gently and slowly) but it was much easier than with the CPU cooler.
The card works fine now except that there seems to be current leaking somewhere to the frame or some magnetic disturbance – every time something happens on the screen my stereo makes a buzzing sound. Rather annoying actually. Since I was not able to find out the cause of this I decided to work around it by buying an amplifier that can use the optical S/PDIF TOSLINK connection that the Asus p8z68-v pro motherboard has. It should stop the interference from reaching the speakers. We shall see how that works out when the amplifier arrives.
The processor cooling seems to work very efficiently. Idle temperature is around 38 degrees C. Under load it can climb up to 45 degrees C (playing Fallout 3 or something) but hardly ever goes over 50 degrees. Under extreme load the temperature shoots up quickly and when the load stops temperature drops ~10-15 degrees in one second. A few seconds more and it's back to comfortable ~41-43 degrees.
System temperature stays around 40 degrees C.
The graphics card idles around 43 degrees and under load (games) gets up to ~50-65 degrees.
The performance is fine for casual gaming and other things and temperatures are not a problem.
I suppose in the end the system was a bit more expensive than what I had originally planned. I don't know exactly how much it has cost to this day but I suppose it's already over 2000 euros.
I didn't see much point including a picture of the computer with the lid on.
Thanks for reading. Hope you got new ideas.