This is my new PC:
My last PC had a Celeron 566A permanently overclocked (through a broken pin) to 850 MHz and stuffed into a tiny flexATX case. It was a good little box, reasonably quiet and powerful enough for most things I used it for (playing music & movies, mostly). But it took 12 hours to encode DivX movies, which I found myself doing a lot. I dreamt of a new, faster PC, but didn't want it to use any more power while doing easy things like encoding mp3s. The Pentium-M sounded wonderful, but was too far off in terms of price and desktop availability.
Then I read Deep UnderVolt/Clock: 4.7W CPU PC
, and realized that dynamic over/under-clocking was indeed possible without Cool-N'-Quiet or Speedstep. By adjusting the CPU speed (from windows!), I could maximize power efficiency for each task, running very slowly for playing mp3s and ramping up for more demanding tasks like video encoding. I decided to build a new PC with the following priorities, from most to least important: high power efficiency, small size, quiet operation, simple styling, and gaming prowess (more detail in my investigation thread, Back-of-LCD variable power consumption PC
Case: Silverstone Lascala SST-LC02
- Chosen for its small size (especially height) and relative lack of sacrifices in expansion and cooling. I was worried about the power supply, but it actually seems to be quite good - it was pretty quiet stock with a single slow 60mm fan, but I've removed its cover (along with the fan) and it runs well enough with airflow from the other two fans.
Motherboard: Biostar M7NCG 400
- Chosen for its microATX form factor (leaving a little room for 2.5" HDD and firewire bridge) and compatibility with 8rdavcore
Processor: AMD Athlon XP 2200+ 1.35v Barton
- Originally tried a Thoroughbred 1700+, but I managed to fry it while the cover was off the PSU. Oops...time to upgrade to a Barton. I've been able to run this one anywhere from 285 to 2220 MHz - not a bad range.
Heatsink: Thermalright SLK-900A
- Mostly bought because it was cheap and on the recommended list, it's worked out well. Can't hurt that the fins are oriented vertically when mounted on my motherboard, giving a little convection "assist".
2x Kingston 256MB DDR PC3200 CAS3 - Cheap, and happy enough running at 193 MHz at CAS2
System HDD: Fujitsu MHT2060AH 2.5" 60GB
- Probably not as quiet as the 4200-rpm -AT series, but extremely quiet to my ears. I've mounted it on some mousepad wrist-rest material to prevent transmission of vibrations to the case, and it stays cool with the nearby PCI-slot air intake.
Data HDD: Maxtor DiamondMax 9 3.5" 160GB
- Certainly not quiet, but it's rarely on for any length of time.
Optical Drive: Panasonic CW-8123-B laptop CD-R/RW/DVD-ROM
- A laptop drive is required for this slim case, and this one was the cheapest slot-loading laptop drive out there. It's worked well so far.
Firewire Bridge: Two-device Firewire 400 (1394a)
- Based on the Oxford 911 chipset, which is supposed to be one of the fastest. I wired up the data HDD and the optical drive to a switch so they can be turned on and off without rebooting.
1x Chinaflo 92mm on the CPU, 1x Japanaflo 80mm above the PSU, both directed out of the case and controlled by Zalman Fanmate 2
's. Extremely quiet if not inaudible at 5v. The 92mm makes a fair amount of noise at 11v, but it also pushes a lot of air for those times that noise isn't a concern.
Homebrew design using 0.5" plywood painted black. I needed a slightly higher LCD mount to give room for the video cable under the case, and decided to build this thing to hide some cables while I was at it.
A graph is worth a thousand words...
The system HDD temp varies from 28-35 degrees Celsius depending on the fan setting and activity level...well within the limits of the laptop drive.
Varies from 37W at minimum speed with firewire drives off to 170+W running Prime95 at maximum speed with the data HDD on.
I developed a simple benchmark for encoding efficiency in Lowest Power Consumption for DivX Encoding
- basically using the SiSoft Sandra Multi-Media Integer score (supposedly indicative of encoding speed) and dividing it by the total system power consumption. My old Celeron scored 85.6 ints/watt, and the new one hits 220 ints/watt. Two-and-a-half-fold increases in encoding efficiency make me happy.
Also note that the highest efficiency is extremely close to the stock speed of this processor - interesting.
Cable box in the painting stage
Closeup of the LCD mount - it's pretty solid.
Back view of the mounted LCD and closeup of the data HDD/optical drive switch.
The mounted motherboard, with cables routed behind.
Everything in except the tray for the data HDD and optical drive.
Questions and comments welcome!