My main reasons for wanting a file server were 1) I wanted to tinker with linux, and 2) I wanted a low-powered 24/7 pc for serving FLACs to my new squeezebox
. So, for $40 I picked up a 766 mhz PIII coppermine Dell Optiplex GX110, with 256mb of ram, a 10gb hard drive, and an old sony cd burner. I think that's a great deal - and the PIII has more than enough power for what I'm using it for. Plus, it's very convenient to have a pc on all the time - for stuff like quick emails and checking the weather.
It's, well ... ugly to say the least. Dents, missing paint, extra paint in some spots
, etc. Oh well - it's going in the office closet. Oh- and it's LOUD
. Chainsaw quality loud.
The rear case fan:
At first I though it was the rear case fan, an 80mm JMC Datec 0825-12HBTL powered from a motherboard header. The fan was mounted like many Dell case fans - with a 90-degree duct that covered the CPU heat sink. The fan pulled hot air off the CPU and exhausted it out the back. I asked about this fan in elsewhere
on these formus, and another poster replied that it was high-speed ball-bearing fan that ought to be quiet noisy. I wanted to replace this fan with a spare 92mm fan I had from an old Zalman socket 423 flower HS.
Based on a thread
at the official Dell forums, the 3-wire fan leads Dell uses are proprietary, as are the connectors. The third (yellow) wire is for rmp-sensing on most aftermarket fans, so it is reasonable to think that the white wire on the Dell fan would do the same. This is not exactly the case. Instead of reading and reporting RPM, this wire apparently has
to see 12V - so the motherboard knows that the case fan is spinning. If you cut this wire, you'll get a POST error message telling you that the fan is not on, and the computer will shut off in a few minutes.
I initially wanted to power the 92mm fan using the existing motherboard header, splicing the Dell wiring & connector onto the new 92mm fan wires. Since the 92mm fan uses only 2-wires, I followed the advice in the Dell forum & I taped the white Dell wire to the black wire. Sure enough, everything worked - fan spinning and no POST error messages. But, the fan was running at a constant 12V and was very loud. So, I finally just powered the 92mm fan @ 5V from a PSU molex, and left the white & black motherboard fan leads taped together and not connected to anything (you can barely see them bottom/center of the photo below - they're just taped together and dangling there). Now, the motherboard still thinks the case fan is spinning (because it still sees 12V at the fan header) and my case fan is quiet. Good.
Mounting the fan:
The Dell fan mounted to the sheetmetal with interlocking plasic retaining clips. Although the orig fan was only 80mm, the fan grill was almost
large enough for the 92mm fan. I decided I could make it fit. I hacked out the grill and was getting ready to drill new mounting holes when I realized there was a much simpler and much less elegant
way to do this (in keeping with the overall sh1tbox theme
). Using elastic, I tied the 92mm fan to the underside of the psu, aiming at the CPU heatsink.
The hard drive:
But it still sounded like a chainsaw. I now realized that it wasn't the case fan afterall (although it was
very loud). It was the ancient 10gb hard drive. Searching for a sale I found a 250 gig Seagate (love the 5 year warranty) 7200.9 for $70 after rebates. I installed it and finally had a normal sounding computer. The 7200.9 series are not known for silence, and the seeks are very noticeable - especially since it's hard-mounted. But's it's good enough and the price was right. It's mounted in the usual location and does not get any airflow (the Dell case has intake holes on the bottom, not the front). So I made a fan-shroud from some excess foam and wedged a spare Antec 120mm case fan in it, aimed up at the hard drive.
This is sitting right over the bottom case intake holes, and the fan is also running at 5V. Can anyone comment on this
- should I mount the HD upside down? I seem to recal that the top plates usually get warmer than the bottoms... any input (with evidence please!) is appreciated.
You'll notice the huge hole in the back where the expansion cards would normally go. The Dell motherboard has all of the PCI slots on a "riser" card (you can see the slot at the bottom of the mb). Since LAN and VGA are onboard features of the i810 chipset, I just removed the PCI sub chassis all together.
It's running Ubuntu breezy (which was another challenge - with Ubuntu, xorg & xconfig need tweaking before they would recognize the shared 4mb of system ram the i810 chipset uses for onboard VGA). Slimserver (the new debian build) installed without issue, and runs without issue. I have no idea where my temps are, because I can't get lmsensors to read anything
off of the Dell motherboard - despite its compatibility with the i810 chipset. I know it's installed and running, but it fails to output anything meaningfull - just the ram stats. Oh well - the CPU heatsink is never even warm to the touch, so I think I'm ok.
If I ever have the time (or the ambition, since it works just fine as it is), I'd like to re-do the 120mm fan housing. I think I could get away with having only 1 fan (plus the psu fan). I'd like to make a new hard drive enclosure that would sit right in front of the huge rear PCI chassis hole, using it as the intake. Then mounting the 120mm fan on top, blowing up onto the CPU heat sink. We'll see.