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 Post subject: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 4:35 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:08 am
Posts: 31
Location: Cambridge, UK
4 years ago, I posted a thread about my Tri-Monitor Rackmount PC. Somehow it managed find its way onto the front page of Digg and ended up with 340,000 page views!

I decided recently to upgrade both my desktop PC and my Home Theatre PC to Sandy Bridge, so thought I'd post some photos and stuff here for your amusement.

Goals:
  • Fast desktop PC for web browsing, photo editing and general use (don't really play games)
  • Quiet HTPC for live TV, movies and music
  • Low power consumption
  • Reuse some of the old components

Here's what I chose:
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For my Desktop PC:
  • Core i5-2500K
  • MSI P67A-G45 motherboard
  • 2x2Gb Corsair Vengence DDR3 1600Mhz 1.50V
  • 2xAMD Radeon HD6450 DDR3 512Mb
  • 120Gb OCZ Vertex 3 SSD
  • TBS8290 DVB-S2 PCI satellite card

For my HTPC:
  • Core i3-2100T
  • MSI H61MU-E35 motherboard
  • 1x4Gb Corsair XMS3 DDR3 1333Mhz 1.50V
  • TBS6981 dual DVB-S2 PCI-E satellite card

Let's start with my desktop PC.

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I've moved house since my last build and decided to bring along my 19" 12U rackmount cabinet, even though I have fewer rooms now. It's great for squeezing in lots of electronics into a small(ish) space. It's now sporting a Playstation 3 too.

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It has a 24 port patch panel and 16 port managed Gigabit switch (Dell PowerConnect 2716). My apartment is cabled up with cat-6, so this also connects up to another switch in my living room as well as my wireless router and VOIP box.

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The new motherboard has no IDE ports so I junked the DVD writer as it never got used. This frees up space for better cable management. My old 250Gb hard drive is still in place in a Scythe Quiet Drive enclosure and I'm reusing my Xilence Office Edition 460W Semi Fanless PSU. Both the Vertex 3 SSD and the hard drive are connected to SATA 6Gb/s ports.

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I also reused the Noctua NH-9U heatsink from my old PC. Massive thumbs-up to Noctua - they sent me a conversion kit (NM-I3) free-of-charge all the way from Austria to allow me to use my 4 year old heatsink on the LGA1155. Seriously impressive and I will definitely buy a Noctua heatsink next time!

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The Noctua is easy to fit, but does require removal of the motherboard in order to fit a backplate.

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Gratuitous picture of my OCZ Vertex 3. Droooool. Benchmarks later...

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My room is quite small so I found a glass corner desk that is just big enough for my three Dell 2007FP monitors. These give me a desktop resolution of 4800x1200.

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But three monitors is never enough! I bought an Optoma HD67 DLP projector for movies and TV. I fitted it on a floating shelf and ran the power and HDMI cable inside the wall. The projector is absolutely the best component I've bought!

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This rocks! It casts a 75" image next to the three monitors.

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Toggle bolts just to make sure it doesn't rip itself off the wall and result in my untimely death.

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Just a quick mention of my VIA EPIA EN12000E. I built this 4 years ago mainly for Network Attached Storage. It's still running perfectly (now with a vLited Windows 7 instead of Debian) with the main OS on an industrial 8Gb Compact Flash card. Current uptime is over 400 days!

Next up is my Home Theatre PC with Core-i3 2100T.

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Bottom box is the PC. It's a Claritas 390A from Stands Unique. It's has a gorgeous 10mm thick anodized aluminium front and room for a full size motherboard and microATX PSU.

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I bought the case in 2006 and this will be its third set of components.

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Again, I sacrificed the DVD writer as I never used it. All my music and movies are on the hard disk anyway. I replaced the PSU yesterday with a PicoPSU-90 and FSP 75W AC/DC adapter, but it intermittently failed to boot, so I've reverted back to the Seasonic PSU. This PC makes very little noise. Windows 7 and recorded TV are on a 2.5" HD and it has a 2Tb 3.5" HD for movies. I'll probably get a cheap SSD just for the OS. I've added Acoustipack foam to part of the case and lid for some more noise reduction.

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I'm going to replace the TV stand with something a lot nicer, but haven't worked out quite what yet.

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My china blue leather Chesterfield sofa. Most important part of the HTPC :p

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So, where does my TV signal come from?

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Here is the Sqish satellite dish on my balcony. This is a quad-LNB dish that is only 8cm thick. As I live in an apartment, there is nowhere to fit a regular dish. I wanted satellite TV with multiple inputs and was lucky that my balcony has a clear view of the sky. I get a good signal even though the Sqish is behind the glass railings.

After a bit of drilling through walls, I have two inputs into my HTPC (using a TBS6981 DVB-S2 PCI-E card) and two inputs to my desktop PC (although only using one input with a TBS8920 PCI)

Using Windows Media Centre in Win7, I have the Freesat HD service (I'm in the UK). This gives me all the main free channels and also five High Definition channels (BBC One HD, ITV 1 HD, Channel 4 HD, BBC HD and NHK World).

And finally...

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Here's the ATTO scores for my Vertex 3. It takes about 10 seconds to boot into Windows and I think it took about 10 minutes to install Windows 7!

That's all for now. Hope you enjoyed it.

James.


Last edited by jamesg on Sun May 15, 2011 2:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 5:12 am 
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Joined: Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:12 am
Posts: 96
Really nice, nice house, nice hardware!

Is your projector noisy?
Can you project in 1080p?

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SSD & HDD : Vertex Series & 3xWD20EARS
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Scythe Kaze Master Fan Controller
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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 7:27 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:08 am
Posts: 31
Location: Cambridge, UK
Thanks. Yeah, it's quite loud but it's mainly for movies so the sound mostly drowns it out. It's 720p.


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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 7:38 am 
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Joined: Sat Feb 18, 2006 10:29 pm
Posts: 276
Location: Glasgow, UK
Ridiculously neat setup, once again :). If I didn't have to haul my big PC out to LANs every so often, I think I'd duplicate the rackmount idea in seconds.

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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 4:07 pm 
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Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 1:46 am
Posts: 89
Location: Australia
That's a very impressive setup - so clean!


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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 4:49 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 26, 2010 2:18 am
Posts: 42
Very nice i've been toying with the idea of getting a projector myself but low noise is something only to be found in the high end models generally.
Used to have triple monitor setup but moved to a single 30" + 24" :).
Stock intel heatsink doesn't bother you too much?
Doesn't that dell switch have a small noisy fan?
What model rack unit is that i've been looking at getting one for myself and all my electronics


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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 6:03 pm 
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Joined: Sat Feb 20, 2010 9:00 am
Posts: 77
Location: Urbana, IL
what a clean setup. the whole place is clean. its amazing


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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 11:02 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:08 am
Posts: 31
Location: Cambridge, UK
Thanks. It's an Orion FS1 Free Standing Cabinet
http://www.rackcabinets.co.uk
It's 12u, 600mm depth.

The stock fan on the Core-i3 is very good and I never hear it. In contrast, the stock fan on the Core-i5 was rubbish and I replaced it straightaway. The Dell switch is fanless.


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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 11:32 am 
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Joined: Tue May 17, 2011 11:09 am
Posts: 1
Exemplary. Respect to you for the attention to detail, and all the careful research and planning that I'm sure you committed to everything. I particularly enjoyed the uniformity of cabling and labelling of your network gear.

I've got a 2100T arriving at the weekend, looking forward to joining that little club. Do you perhaps have any power consumption figures for the HTPC build? And would you have considered using the Ikea Lack tables for a rack 'cabinet' - you're obviously a very well-qualified style and domestic-fit guru to consult :-)

Now, please excuse me - I have to do some research into rack equipment for my study space! Thank you very much for sharing, and the ideas you give others.


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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 10:07 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:08 am
Posts: 31
Location: Cambridge, UK
Thanks for the feedback. Yes, I took some power measurements for the HTPC with a Kill-A-Watt. Idle figures taken on Windows desktop. Load figures taken running Prime95.

With Seasonic 250W microATX PSU:
Idle - 48 W
Load - 74 W

With PicoPSU-90 and FSP 75W AC/DC adapter:
Idle - 33 W
Load - 61 W

These figures didn't seem particularly good compared with others I've read on the forum, but I do have two hard discs and a PCI-E dual input satellite card connected to the dish outside (and a few USB devices), so I guess it all adds up.

You can get rackmount cabinets off eBay if you look out for businesses wanting rid of them. Typically very cheap or free, but usually collection only. I don't know much about making them out of Ikea furniture(!), but you'd have to make sure it was substantial enough. My 4U desktop PC weighs about 17kg and can slide fully out of the cabinet on rails. That will put a huge force on all the fixings.

Something that might help - before I got the glass desk, I used an Ikea desk but removed one of the legs. The 12U cabinet with castors removed is pretty much desk-height, so it can form part of your desk!


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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 7:13 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 05, 2007 2:10 pm
Posts: 1803
Location: Northern New Jersey
From a Mighty Mouse to the Magic Mouse, is it a nice switch? the only thing stopping me is that i don't want to go wireless with a mouse...too many batteries to go through for me.

I definitely remember the old build quite well, the new one looks great...your apartment is amazingly neat, and the computers don't seem to stand out either...I wish my desk was that nice...

Still using the old desktop? Nothing else hi-res enough?

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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Sun May 22, 2011 10:38 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 09, 2007 11:08 am
Posts: 31
Location: Cambridge, UK
The magic mouse is okay in Windows 7, but the scrolling is jerkier than in OS X and it doesn't support multi-touch gestures.


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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Mon May 23, 2011 2:45 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:55 pm
Posts: 61
Location: Australia
Duuuude

Freaking sweet well thought out setup!


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 Post subject: Re: My Quad-Monitor Rackmount PC and HTPC!
PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2013 8:08 am 
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Joined: Sun Jul 15, 2012 10:22 am
Posts: 23
Location: Poland
Very nice setup! I like the fact that You also like to keep Your pc in a rack case ;) I'm not alone with this :D

Best regards from Poland
Horgrim

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