Not a very new rig but i never got round to posting it...
My cheap, quiet, small, ghetto-modded, passive stock AMD HS, Sempron64 PC
-AMD sempron 3000+ e6 (754) (Â£60)
-Biostar Tforce 6100 (Â£60)
-2x1GB hynix ram (Â£105)
-250gb Samsung p120 (Â£70)
-case: JNC MJA-007
--92mm ebuyer extra value fan (Â£1) (+ the outer edges of 2 80mm fans)
--Stock heatsink, passive!
+wifi (b) and TV card which i already had.. the TV card (althou the most basic winTV go!) i got for either Â£25+del with a 1.5v tbred B 1700+ and an MSI KM2M COMBO-L (which i wanted specifically at the time, for its mATX, onboard gfx and sdram+ddr) a couple of years back.. talk about deal of the century.
The case was the first thing i got, (it housed my KM2M before it broke).. At the time i was looking around at loads of mATX cases. i wanted one like the Dell optiplex or something. slim, stylish. unfortunately, despite me being happy to suffer mATX psu and half height PCIs, that didn't really exist, and still doesn't. And most cases were expensive and had terrible airflow, with 1x60mm fan being common. So when i saw this come up on ebuyer for a tenner, with two
80mm spaces at the rear, not too wide, front USB and audio, and looked ok (the picture on the website makes it look as if the bezel matches the rest of the case..), i wasn't going to say no. even if it was crap.. not a whole lot lost.. oh, and it came with a matx PSU too, not too shabby either (don't get me wrong, it was no name.. but quiet-ish, and didn't blow up), and had a 80x15mm fan; which alone could easily set u back Â£10. Both the fan and the psu broke, IIRC it was my fault.. definately the fan atleast.
When it came, it was a little bashed (which i was expecting as a possiblity from the reviews), and the door was a couple of mm off of being flush to the bezel at the top. but, it was small, looked decent (other than the aforementioned colouring issue) and all the edges inside were rounded, it was also nice and light (due to the thin steel..), which was good.. and still strong enough to sit on, not that it would need to be..
Modding the case:
The 'exhausts' were about the most restrictive i've ever seen;
All the airflow was being directed downwards. so the first thing i did was to get rid of them and put a couple of 80mm wire fan guards in their place. despite my amateur cutting, with no suitable tools, with the chrome fan guards it actually looked better
And of course 5v'ed the fans.
Then, i got to the stage where my (FSP) PSU was the noisiest component..
So i decided to remove the top fan, and let the PSU get fresh air from the outside via a duct. again, not having any suitably 'proffessional' tools, i set about using scissors, cardboard, and tape. it was actually pretty difficult to work out all the dimensions of each section of card, as it was working in tight conditions near the HSF, and had to not only move air upwards towards the top of the case, but towards the motherboard side also, as the PSU fan was more central than the rear case opening..
I didn't want to trust the PSUs fan speed circuit, as they always work on the side of caution.. So i opened it up, luckily it didn't have a warranty sticker on, but unfortunately, it was (IIRC) soldered to the MB, so, i had to cut it. Then i stripped a cm of the wire and twisted it with the mobo connector-side of an old noisy fan which i retired, and used some tape, insulating and securing it. So now i could connect it to a fanmate. after a while, i wanted adjustability, so i plugged it into the CPU fan header, which let me set the speed with PWM and and vary with CPU temp, which, in this system, was effectively going to be proportional to the load. It also let me adjust the fan speed in windows, and if it felt hot i could give it a blast on full speed for a bit.
The 'housing' for the PSU fan which came with the case now forms part of my PSU intake duct (a regular 80mm fan would block part of the intake of the PSU, and make the angle considerably tighter). I have left the PSU (fairly restrictive) fan grill as it was, as i want to keep open the option of selling the PSU (pico PSU appeals every so often!). if i could figure out a way to suspend the fan in the right place without the casing then i would probably ditch that part of the case..
The PSU fan starts as low as 3v and once going will carry on spinning at almost 2v!! It gets considerably quiter as it gets very close to the start up voltage. I run the PSU with the minimum speed possible, as..
1) As http://www.silentpcreview.com/article15-page1.html
has shown, its not that far off to run a normal PSU passively
2) i used to run a verryy old 200w PSU with the fan removed for quite some time.. it was fine.
3) from CPU cooling (and doing it passively), i'm aware of what a huge difference there is in cooling between 'NO' airflow, and 'very little' airflow.
so, atleast there is 'some' airflow then i am happy. whilst in the early tweaking phase i have had the fan not start (and me not notice).. and the PC would shut down after a while. so i'm happy that its safe too.. it goes up 1PWM value (out of 127, starts on ~32) per *C over 40*C.. but i think i may increase the temp it ramps up at as it does get noticeable when it goes up even a bit.
I read a post that said wire fan grills can reduce airflow by up to 30% (sorry can't find it).. so, bye bye fan grill. Then i decided to reverse the direction of the fan, so that the rear case fan would act as an intake supplying fresh air to the CPU, hdd and NB. I didn't do a proper testing of temps, but i'm sure it was no worse. Later i thought keeping the airflow separate (ie, cool) as long as possible would help, so i gutted another 80mm fan and used it like a duct. This had the added benefit of placing the moving fan deeper inside the case. With the wire grill thing in mind, i wondered how much airflow the four bits of plastic connecting the fan hub to the frame were restricting airflow... so, i cut 2 out. This worked fine for a while, again i didn't do any proper testing, but it couldn't be worse. after a while it started to lightly clip the edges however; making it noticeably noisy.
I had a spare 92mm fan.. and the setup wasn't far from directly cooling the CPU.. so i decided to extend the duct idea with a 92mm fan at the end. So i cut a corner off the now-noisy(er) 80mm fan.. and used it to extend the duct, filling in the gaps with tape; in the middle, only the bottom corner nearest the cam is 'fan', the rest is tape.(see top)
This is something i've done very recently. The fans direct airflow now clips the edge of the stock HS, so.. i tried taking off the fan (which, was a little too noisy with 2 fan mate (clones) in series... noisier than with the pwm header). @ 1.8ghz/1.3v, running P95 for quite a while, it seemed to max @ 54*C, low 40's idle. Whilst its clearly not as cool as with the fan, its quieter, and cool enough. i haven't delt with OCing or UVing in a while as its a bit of hassle and i've been quite content, but i'll get back round to it sometime.. it does OC to 2.8ghz (stable) so is no slouch, but i'd doubt it would semi-passively. 2.3 (the 'happy medium' speed) would probably be OK semi-passive like now.
The hdd sits on some foam on my WinTV Go card.. the sata power connector wont reach to have it at the bottom-front, but it works OK there, until i decide to get a x1 or x16 card anyway. Below that is my wifi card. its 1/2 height and the backplate is removed, so airflow can escape out there;
..not exactly bluefront-quality ducting, but it does the job, and u don't see it..
For peripherals, i have a labtec keyboard, which has laptop-style keys and is querty-compact layout; which is very good and not particularly wierd like many shrunken layouts. And a 17" flat screen CRT, which seems to work best at 1440x1080, and i use my familys old '93 Sony mini system (w broken CD drive) for sound.. standard optical scroll mouse. and i don't use an optical drive, nor usually a floppy drive.
aswell as of course setting the AAM, i have PortableFirefox, and many temp/cache DIRs in a small ramdrive, which loads at startup. I have put a small pagefile within this too, as it doesn't seem to reliably delete completely. This means i can browse for a while without having the hdd spin up..
i'm not sure whether to block off the parts which don't need airflow to force the air where i want it;
or to make the front less restrictive;
i'd need to cut out a bit on the bottom (underside) of the bezel to get any notable air intake. i'd like the SB to get a bit more air.. but, it is OK temp wise.. so maybe its not needed. also not sure about anything to deflect the airflow into either the HDD or the CPU/NB
unfortunately that floppy drive cutout is moulded to the case. i've been intending to spray the body silver so that it matches for a while, but haven't got round to it yet..
the plan has been to retire this as an HTPC when i decide to next do a total upgrade.. i'm thinking of getting a digital TV card (or usb dongle) soon.. and once i get a kill-a-watt and test my monitor, i might find i want to get a WS LCD (more).. (and as they keep on getting cheaper..)
Sorry if i rambled on a bit