After months of lurking (and asking the occasional question), I've built
my first new rig in several years. My goal was to make it 'better' in
all respects compared to the existing computer: faster, quieter,
smaller, less electricity. Thanks to SPCR, I think I've done it.
First, the statistics, and then the photos. Let me compare three
systems: the old rig, the new rig, and a reviewed Puget Custom
with which my new rig shares a case, video card, and motherboard.
The new rig specs are: Silverstone TJ08 micro-ATX case, AOpen
i945Gtm-VHL motherboard, T7400 Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB DDR2-667
RAM, 2 x 100GB 7200rpm 2.5" notebook HDD in RAID 1 under Linux,
Gigabyte 7600GS passive video card, Seasonic S12-380 PSU. XP-90
heasink with Nexus 92mm fan.
Old New Puget
power draw "off" 6w 1w -
power draw "idle" 137w 56w 54w
power "cpu load" 163w 98w 82w
pwr "cpu+gpu load" 171w 110w 92w
cpu temp "idle" 33Â°C 33Â°C 33Â°C
cpu temp "load" 39Â° 48Â° 56Â°
The new systems idles nicely, but the effect of having a T7400 Merom
instead of a T2400 Yonah shows up under load. It's still waaay better
than the single-core Athlon XP. The XP-90 and Nexus fan keep the
T7400 plenty cool.
Now some photos. First, my homemade suspension for the two
Hitachi notebook drives:
The well-perforated front plate of the TJ08:
I removed the cage for the 3.5" drives, and added a second 120mm fan.
All fans are attached with velcro for easy-on off. (Tip
: if a stiff cable
tends to push the fan off the velcro that's supposed to adhere to the fan,
a drop of superglue fixes it nicely).
There is a Silverstone fan controller with three connections & knobs on
the back (one of the PCI slot openings). The small card that connects
the controllers to the fans (with some exposed electronics!) is velcroed
near the top-left of the back of the front panel:
Here's a shot of the mostly-finished interior. The HDD cage is velcroed
to the floor of the case in front of a fan. With the ease of changing fans,
I've already made some swaps but don't have any conclusions to report
yet. At 22Â°C ambient, I can run the fans very low (I'm guessing between
6 and 7 volts) so it's pretty quiet. The top front fan appears to be optional
for cool weather, but when this room gets to 30Â°C ambient on a hot
summer afternoon I'll probably need it.
Another point about room inside the case: the lower fan clip for the
XP-90 will hit the video card when in transit between the attached and
unattached states. That is, if I ever change the fan, I need to remove
the video card first.
I also note that the CD-in and HD-audio (front panel) connectors on the
motherboard are very close to the video card, as seen in lower center
of this shot:
And finally, an exterior shot. The combined 3.5" slots and the unused
5" slot have homemade wood+paint ventilation grilles. Overall, a very
"clean" exterior look I think.
A final "noise" note. Although I can hear the HDD seeks, they are
not intrusive. Overall there is a light whooshing sound. If this was
under my desk, it would be inaudible, but part of my reason for going
micro-ATX was to get the box on top of the desk. (I have very long
legs and kept attacking the old system with my knees!). For what it's
worth, the whoosh of "tbroma" (short for theobroma, the species name
of cacao theobroma
, the chocolate tree) is noticeably less than
that of my wife's 4-year-old iMac (the pod with an LCD sticking up).
Again, a tip of the hat to all the posters and reviewers here on SPCR.