Well I love computers, but I still think there are quite a few better investments to make with my (limited) funds. Not to mention that most modern-day pc's are overkill for surfing, mp3 and text editing, which is what I do most. Buying a new computer is also a huge cost to the environment, they require lots of resources and energy to make, and more to recycle them...
SO: I made a computer from mainly spare parts.
Ok, I'm lucky enough to have good sources for this as you'll see. Here is the list of my components, and where I got them:
I got the following components from a friend when I upgraded his PC:
-P-III 700MHz (OC to 770)
-Maxtor 20GB HD
-Terratec XLerate soundcard
The next components I got from the bin behind a local computer store, they seem to "service" (i.e. throw away) many Fujitsu-Siemens computers, which have Fortron-Source PSU's (which have Yate Loon fans)...
-Crap Fujitsu-Siemens case (it looks better without the bezel)
-Fortron-Source 250W PSU
The next components I've had for a while (first-hand)
-Plextor 24x CD-RW
This I got when my brother upgraded the family-pc's (which is in his room, and which he always uses to play games) graphics card to a 6600GT
-Asus GeForce 4 Ti 4200 128MB
I had to buy this because I can't stand the stock fan on the gfx card:
-Arctic-Cooling NVSilencer 1 (~14Fr. == 10.50$)
The PSU has a sticker saying "w/ noise killer" on it, which means it's supposed
to have a temperature regulated fan in it. Well I tested it and out of the 3 ATX PSU's I had, it was the most silent, but not enough. There was one Micro-ATX PSU which was much
more silent it was also from FSP, but I didn't want to mess with adapting it into a ATX case, it was only 145W and it's interior was an example of extremely restricted airflow. The Micro-ATX PSU had a good temperature regulation circuit, that was apparently bolted on as an after thought: it was screwed to the heatsink, had a thermistor hot-melted to the heatsink, and the fan wires going to it, and then on to the main PCB. So I quite simply put the temp-regulation circuit and the fan (Yate Loon D80BM-12) into the 250W ATX PSU (with tape, themistor circled in red):
Here's an overview of this PSU, to me it seems like a rather good one, it also has the biggest heatsinks out of all of the PSU's I tested.
The hard drive: I didn't have any elastic, and (as you can see in the other mods aswell) I was lazy.
So I just jammed the hard-drive between two blocks of foam, and it already makes a big difference compared to hard mounting.
The case: my Dad just bought me some Wiss tin-snips
, so I had to have some fun removing the front and back fan grills (which were too restrictive anyway). I also put air filters from the vacuum-cleaner in the front intakes (I tried breathing through various household materials, and these where the best), and blocked all other possible intakes with tape (I hate dust, I spent long enough cleaning all of the components already). As for the fans, I took the original fan from the ATX PSU (Yate-Loon D80SH-12) as case exhaust, and another generic (the best of my remaining fans) one on my CPU with zip-ties. I just stuffed the bare leads of the fans into the 5v molex plug and taped it all up (told you I was lazy).
Well as you can imagine it's not perfect, I can still feel vibrations from the hard-drive on the case, and I'll always hear the motor. Also the PSU fan is still quite loud, I think that much of the heat of the CPU goes through the PSU, because of the annoying slot design.
The noise is silent enough for me to get annoyed by a strange noise coming from my the gas-boiler of my house that's in a sealed room down the corridor, guess which warranty I'll be voiding next.
Well I went for the full heavy GNOME install, with Evolution, OpenOffice.org, the GIMP etc... Needless to say that the RAM is maxed out, and when I open more programs the (slow) hard drive works for the swap space, and can make my mp3's skip. The processor is sufficient (at least it's not the bottleneck for the moment), the graphics card is overkill, but I needed it for dual-screens (it's really easy to get free 17" CRT screens
For the silence, I might suspend the hard drive properly (I bought some elastic yesterday), and some day I might put decent fans in it (Nexus 80mm, or Panaflo's ??? - I can get both just as easily). I might some day also buy a decent case, I consider it a good investment since I can reuse it for my next pc. (unlike buying SD-RAM or an IDE hard-drive for example) For performance, I'm trying to get my Mom to upgrade her PC, so that I can get the 128MB and 64MB rams from her PC...
Commentary/advice is of course welcome!