It is currently Fri Oct 31, 2014 5:17 pm

All times are UTC - 8 hours




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 12 posts ] 
Author Message
 Post subject: Apex MI-008 + Zotac 9300 ITX Wifi
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 7:45 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:19 pm
Posts: 23
Location: NYC
So, after 2.5 months of reading, watching, planning, sketching, and labor, my baby is ready to be unveiled.

Zotac 9300-d-e (GeForce 9300 ITX Wifi)
Intel E8400
Apex MI-008
Hitachi 320 GB 7200 RPM 2.5" drive
DVD burner
PicoPSU 120 + brick
Thermalright XP-90 (modded)
Scythe 120mm PWM Fan

Backstory:
I dabbled in silence on my previous (first) computer build; an old AMD XP 2200+ built 5+ years ago. After having this hulking beast
taking up so much space under my desk, and seemingly getting louder and louder over the years, I decided that I wanted to go as
small & as silent as possible.

I don't do a lot of gaming and only rarely dabble in video editing, so this PC will be my everyday everything PC. Some
Illustrator, some video editing, online flash games, etc. With any luck, this PC will last me at least another 3-4 years.
After its useful life, it'll be small enough to port to any number of applications.

After some research, I settled on the components above.

Here is the photo story.

The Apex MI-008 is a beautiful case...shiny bezel, black finish, and plenty of room inside once the stock power supply is removed.

Image

Image

Beer scale!

Image

Image

Reference photos for those interested in possibly fitting a blu-ray into this case using stock PS..

Image

Image

An extra 1.5 inches / 4 cm for cables/extended drive. That should work fine.

Image

So, off to find my ideal aftermarket heatsink. After some research & scale modeling, I designed a cardboard prototype to find out how
much clearance I had for the HS & fan.

Image

I mounted the printout to cardboard and put it into the case so that I could easily measure how much room I actually had to work with.

Image

I also measured vertical clearance between the top of the mock mobo & the bottom of the optical drive & the top of the case.

Image

After a great deal of research, I settle don an oldie but goodie, the Thermalright XP-90. It fit all of the dimensions perfectly.
Before installing
the processor & Thermalright XP-90, let's make sure everything fits. As one can see, there's plenty of clearance all around.

Image

Image

There's even space for a 120 mm fan on top!!! SuhWEET!

Image

Unfortunately, at this point, I found that there was one major flaw in my plan. The baseplate of the XP-90 extended so far from the
processor, that the capacitors just behind the mounting plate interfered with the heatsink sitting down properly. I decided at
this point that I had nothing to lose by dremeling or hacking the baseplate of the heatsink in hopes of getting rid of juuust
enough for it to clear the caps. I found the dremel to be slow going and difficult to control, so I resorted to using a mini-hacksaw,
a gentle touch, some precision sawing, and half of a straw inserted into the heat tube holes to protect them from the saw.

The result:

Image

Image

A perfect fit!

Image

Image

After a bit of heatsink lapping, it all went together very nicely.

Image

Image

Image

Here I have not so aesthetically taped up the wires running from the pico.

Image

The tape here is the major component holding the fan in place. The black-tie looking things are actually something similar to
stretch magic...a product called Pony Bead Lacing. Instead of being solid, it is a hollow rubber-type material. 60 ft (20 m) was
about $4. I used this lacing to keep the fan separated from the case's rail, to tie the other end of the fan up to the opposing rail,
and to mount the hard drive. Being that I will be standing the case on end, the fan will mostly balance itself vertically, so I
didn't need to do anything more intricate.

Image

Image

So, I obviously had to create a new hole in the top of the case for the 120mm fan (Scythe PWM), but I somehow got turned around
and started cutting the hole on the wrong side (right/left) of the case. The plan has always been to mount the fan offset from the
heatsink so that it would provide more airflow over the integrated GPU (the hottest component of the case). The hole was originally
going to be a regular circle over the fan, but after the goofup, I just stretched the circle into an oval to fix the error. It has
come out looking just fine. I pilfered some plastic netting from work and simply taped it against the inside of the case.

Image

Image

Finally, I decided that I couldn't live with the stock red & green HD activity & power LEDs, so $5 later, I installed a blue power
LED & a white HD activity LED. I love the results (the picture doesn't do it justice).

Image

And so, here is my final (albeit messy) workspace.

Image


Reviews:
The Apex case is very pleasing to the eye. As opposed to some reviews that I've read, the case is pretty sturdy and was a pleasure
to work with. I found it to be rather spacious. The front power button is somewhat flimsy and I can see it easily being broken at some
point if care is not taken when pressing it, but the delicate piece seems to be one that can be easily replaced with some thought.

Mobo:
The motherboard is well constructed, but comes with what must be the flimsiest backplate I've ever seen in my life. I would like to
replace the IGP heatsink at some point for better temps, but it is not necessary at the moment. It's currently idling at
67 degrees C and stabilizing in the low 80's with full load from FurMark. If I don't decide to change the HS, then I may put a
spare fan in aiming directly at the HS, but again, it's not something I'm currently planning on.

**Update on the IGP temps. I added some cardboard around 2 edges of the fan to direct all of the non-focused air back towards
the HS. The results are better than I could have expected. The temps dropped back below 60 degrees C. I was even able
to lower the fan speed (down to 860 rpm now) while still keeping temps under 60.**

Aftermarket Heastink & Fan:
Honestly, if I hadn't purchased the Thermalright XP-90 before putting the PC together, I likely wouldn't have bothered with it.
The stock Intel HS & Fan was working plenty fine and plenty quietly. As stated, I had already bought the HS, so I decided not to
waste it. The fan was bought after I managed to fit the HS.

Idle wattage:
Without Speedstep - 46
With Speedstep - 37

Wattage at Load:
85 (running Prime 95 + Furmark)


Comments & Questions welcome.


Last edited by cman00 on Thu May 07, 2009 7:03 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 8:47 am 
Offline

Joined: Sat Jun 03, 2006 4:03 am
Posts: 84
Very nice. I was considering that mobo for my next HTPC project but decided on an mATX Gigabyte board. It would have been nice if you could have used passive cooling but that doesn't seem possible with your build.

Good job!


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 10:26 am 
Offline
Patron of SPCR

Joined: Sun Dec 14, 2008 4:42 am
Posts: 36
Location: denmark
Nice build.
I really like that case, good size and room enough to work with.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 3:25 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2008 1:56 pm
Posts: 74
Location: Detroit, MI
How is the stability with that motherboard? I've seen Zotac emerge within the last year or so and was curious about their BIOS/build quality. Haven't seen too many reviews on it, so what are your thoughts? I've seen S3-resume issues and usb-bus powered devices from newegg reviews.

Also, replacing the thermal material from beneath the chipset usually helps temps a bit. They commonly use cheap 'pads' which seem to do the trick. Ceramic compound is recommended, non-conductive/non-capacitive. If you can round up an old Pentium 2/3 Slot 1 heatsink, they make great chipset heatsinks with a hacksaw ;D Generally anything will work.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 06, 2009 6:41 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:19 pm
Posts: 23
Location: NYC
So far, the board has been very stable. It hasn't crashed at all and I have had no hangs or freezes. Smooth sailing, really. I don't push it that much, but I have done some video editing (a few hours worth) and have had up-times of several days and haven't seen a blip.

The S3-resume fan issue has (supposedly) been fixed with a BIOS revision. I haven't updated to it, so I can't comment, but if it says it was fixed, then I'll have to assume it was. (FYI, the issue with that was that the fans wouldn't resume on S3 wakeup. Obviously a big problem, but fixed within 2-3 weeks of being notified of it).

The wake-on-usb is something that they seemingly left out of the hardware configuration, for whatever reason. This is important (mainly) for those folks wanting to wake the PC from S3 state using a USB remote. This should have been a key feature if Zotac was aiming their board at HTPCs, but they left it out, and no one can really figure out why. As a regular desktop PC, this should not really affect performance. A workaround has been found though through certain remote-controlled hardware.

As far as the IGP temps, I had previously cleaned and reseated the HS with AS5 (carefully applied) and found a several degree C drop. When I installed the 120 mm Scythe, I think I lost some of the focused air force that I had with the 92 mm stock Intel fan (slower spin speed over a greater area = decreased pressure). To counteract this, I (yesterday, actually) thought to cut up an old Fed-Ex envelope I had to direct all of the unfocused air coming off two sides of the fan back onto the IGP, and wouldn't you know it, I dropped temps by 10 C! I'm back under 60 C at idle ... after reducing the fan speed!

The desktop is sitting pretty right now and I can't think of anything I would have done differently. I may even take the fan speed down another notch (currently at 860 rpm).

(FYI, my responses on the issues you mentioned are discussed on a thread at AVS forums that I am also a part of. Do a google search for "zotac 9300 avs", and click through to the first link that comes up. They discuss HTPC functionality there.)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 12:13 pm 
Offline
*Lifetime Patron*

Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 6:10 pm
Posts: 122
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Thanks so much for the detailed review. I'm especially happy to
see the power figures for idle/load with the E8400 CPU and the
integrated graphics. Very compelling combination!

_________________
E7500, Zotac GF9300-I-E, Lian-Li Q03b, picoPSU-150-XT, 4GB DDR2-800, 128 GB Samsung 830 SSD, 500GB 2.5" Hitachi Travelstar, XUbuntu 14.04 64-bit
My blog ...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:32 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:06 pm
Posts: 64
Location: MD
Found this thread with a quick search. :) Looks like a nice little system you've got yourself there.

I'm curious - I'm looking to put something together with very similar specs (the main thing being the possible addition of a TV tuner) and I expect a Pico PSU will be able to cover the power needs of the system.

What size brick are you using with yours? I figured I'd get the 150W model but wasn't sure about the external brick.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jun 19, 2009 7:18 pm 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:19 pm
Posts: 23
Location: NYC
I'm using the 102 (110) watt brick with the pico 120. I can only assume that a 150 w/ a brick to match should be able to handle the tuner. If I were you, I'd search around and try to find some wattage #'s for various tuner cards to see what they eat when working.

...at absolute worst, you can opt for the PW-200 and try to find yourself a 200 watt brick.


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 21, 2009 6:48 am 
Offline

Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2008 2:06 pm
Posts: 64
Location: MD
I'm actually looking at an e7400 now (as soon as ones with VT support are available) instead of the e8500 I'd planned (already have it, might wind up in a different box) so I'm thinking that the 102w brick mini-box sells ought to be enough.

Nailing down power numbers for peripheral cards really should be easier, IMO. Maybe I'll just e-mail Hauppauge and ask directly.

Thanks for the info cman00. ;)


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:50 pm 
Offline

Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2009 12:47 pm
Posts: 1
Location: uk
cman00, hi, im looking at getting this case.. can you tell me if there is enough room to fit a full length single slot craphics card such as as a 9800GT into your install?

Im looking for both width, height and length.
Will a 9 incher :-) clear the dvd/hdd bays?

obviously ill have to deal with the power issues somehow too :?


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Cutting tools?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 12:16 pm 
Offline
*Lifetime Patron*

Joined: Wed Aug 09, 2006 6:10 pm
Posts: 122
Location: Columbus, Ohio
Hello ... I've discovered this thread, and might be choosing this case. I was wondering how you cut the hole in the case sheeting so cleanly. I'd end up with a horrid sharp mess.

Thanks!

_________________
E7500, Zotac GF9300-I-E, Lian-Li Q03b, picoPSU-150-XT, 4GB DDR2-800, 128 GB Samsung 830 SSD, 500GB 2.5" Hitachi Travelstar, XUbuntu 14.04 64-bit
My blog ...


Top
 Profile  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:49 am 
Offline

Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 2:19 pm
Posts: 23
Location: NYC
chaOsEngine, sorry for the very very late reply, but a full-length card should most certainly fit in this system. If you look @ the 4th picture, you can see the entire left side of the interior (when looking @ the front) is open. The support bar that also holds the bracket for the edge of the HD/Optical is not right at the edge of the case, but inset an inch or two to accommodate. Hopefully you found this out much sooner!

b3nbranch, I wound up creating a thin cardboard (fed ex box) & masking tape template and positioned it on the inside of the case where I wanted the hole and then very carefully dremeled out the fan-hole, using a heavy-duty cutting blade, cutting parallel to the template. I made sure to leave about 1-2 mm or so from the actual cardboard edge after this initial cut.

In the next step, I very carefully used the dremel to get even closer to the cardboard edge, but this time cutting perpendicular to the cut-edge & template, almost like shaving the edge by carefully pushing or pulling the spinning blade along the metal edge

Then I used a relatively fine, rounded file from the exterior-side of the box, only shaving on the downward stroke into the hole to clean out the edges until it looked nice from the outside. Make sure to angle the top of the file towards the opposite edge of the hole that your're filing so that you're filing at an angle. You want to shave off the metal first, then after the right amount of metal is removed, very very very gently file off whatever remaining paint/finish is left by filing, this time, straight down, again, only on the down stroke.

Finally, I used a black sharpie so that the unfinished edge of the cut didn't look nearly so contrasting to the exterior finish.

I used the dremel from inside because, in my experience, when cutting through something like a painted metal surface, I like to cut through the metal first with the saw. I find that it's less likely to damage the finishing this way. That's pretty much it. I figured if I really messed it up, I could find some sort of flexible material or silicone to cover up the bad work (I once cut up an old straight phone cord). Luckily, it came out way better than I ever expected it to.

Hope this helps!


Top
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 12 posts ] 

All times are UTC - 8 hours


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group