Low Budget, Zero Moving Parts PC.

Show off your quiet rig.

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Brian
Posts: 177
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:41 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY

Low Budget, Zero Moving Parts PC.

Post by Brian » Tue Dec 11, 2007 1:15 pm

I've been toying with the idea of a PC with no moving parts for a long time. I finally rounded up enough parts from the garbage and EBay and got it done.

Parts:

$20 2GB Transcend CF card, 120X. Supports DMA. I got it on NewEgg a while ago.
$5 CF-IDE adapter. Does not support DMA.
$20 ASUS Cusi-FX motherboard. It's bigger than MiniITX and smaller than uATX. Integrated video, S370. Comes with electrically insulative manual, pictured below.

The following parts were salvaged from a Gateway a relative was throwing out:
1GHz P3, now at 750MHz.
.5GB RAM
DVD drive
A very nifty heatsink, de-fanned.

Image
In the final version, the snowman was replaced with a de-fanned ATX PSU.

Unless you put a disc in the drive, it's got no moving parts! Natural convection keeps the northbridge very cool, and the CPU stays nice and toasty.

Good points:
No moving parts.
The machine has enough power to run XP, Office, the Internet, and Skype.
It was cheap.

Bad points:
I wish it had more than 2GB so I could keep things like music and movies on it.
Has only two USB 1.1 ports.
It's not silent. It's got a faint buzz/crackle coming from the CPU area. Probably the VRM. No big deal, since you can't hear it from where I sit, 1m away.

All in all, I'm very happy with it.
Maybe I'll buy a PicoPSU and build it a case at some point.

Edit: I should add two things:
The power consumption: 20W AC.
If you're thinking about building one of these, I would strongly recommend you get a card reader that supports DMA, and get a Sparta.

fmriguy
Posts: 53
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 4:20 pm
Location: California

Post by fmriguy » Tue Dec 11, 2007 2:53 pm

Very nice, too bad the snowman in all of his stylish glory can't power it himself... So what were you planning on doing with the system, just using it for casual web browsing, office, etc? I suppose it would also work quite well as a low-power home server. Although you don't have much in terms of storage, you could easily use a small linux distro and mount network shares (or external USB) and voila! At the very least you could use it as a firewall or printserver. So many options 8)

Also, did you have to slow the 1Ghz proc down to 750 for stability reasons given that you removed the fan from the heatsink, or was it just for power savings? Regardless, a nice bit of tinkering. Post again when you make your own fancy case for it. :wink:
[size=84][color=navy]Main: Antec P180 :: Seasonic S12-600 :: Abit IP-35 Pro :: Intel E8400 w/ Scythe Ninja :: WD 250 & 500 :: PNY 8800GT :: 4GB Crucial[/color][/size]
[size=84][color=navy]HTPC: Custom Wooden Case :: Antec Smartpower 500W :: Asus A8N5X :: AMD X2 3800+ :: 7200.10 400G + Hitachi 80G :: Passive 6600GT 128MB :: 2 GB Corsair & OCZ[/color][/size]

Brian
Posts: 177
Joined: Wed Jan 18, 2006 3:41 pm
Location: Buffalo, NY

Post by Brian » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:32 pm

Thank you.

This system replaces Motorcraft, and I'm using it right now. I've got Office and Matlab on it, so it's my main work box, too.

I chose 750MHz since that's what simulations predicted my heatsink could handle. The simulations were right: CPU temps get up to about 55°C under sustained load.

I could undervolt this beast, which would enable me to bump up the CPU speed a tad while staying inside my thermal envelope, but undervolting a P3 is a hardware mod, shorting pins on the CPU or socket.

ivionday
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Jan 10, 2008 11:28 am

Post by ivionday » Fri Jan 11, 2008 4:08 pm

This is really cool.
Similar to what I did in college with a cardboard box and fullsize atx. I remember a similar electrical buzz , but it came from the power supply i think.
This little rig is a proof that these utility pc's could be sold for 100 bucks. I always heard that regular flash memory can't be used as a system drive because of the write limit. What's your insight on the subject?

williamn6133
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Jan 07, 2008 6:07 pm
Location: UK

Re: Low Budget, Zero Moving Parts PC.

Post by williamn6133 » Sat Jan 12, 2008 1:15 pm

Brian wrote:I've been toying with the idea of a PC with no moving parts for a long time. I finally rounded up enough parts from the garbage and EBay and got it done.
Cool! Can we see some pics of the finished, working product?
[size=75]Quiet Rig. Antec Solo, E6300 @ 2.80GHz. 7950GT. Samsung 500GB suspended. Fanless Scythe Ninja. Zalman Copper on GPU (fan@ 5V). Rear 120mm Noctua at 500rpm (7.5V). Front 92mm redwing@ 5V. Hiper 530W (fan swap). Skythe Kama Bay (de fanned) for extra air at the front; reduces CPU by 4C. Power supply externalised - means I can overclock my CPU and keep fans very slow.[/size]

Rebellious
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Joined: Sun Dec 09, 2007 12:53 pm
Location: EU, USA

!

Post by Rebellious » Mon Jan 14, 2008 12:27 pm

Nice, I like no moving parts, except the electrons of course

How did you install XP on the CF-IDE? Did Windows see it as a hard disk?

Spare Tire
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Location: Montréal, Canada

Post by Spare Tire » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:18 pm

Could you bench the 120X CF card? I benched my rated 280X CF card with HDTune and i got only ~11Mb/sec, much lower than what it's rated. Don't know why. My computer certainly isn't the chokepoint.

pingu666
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Post by pingu666 » Tue Jan 15, 2008 2:43 am

could be the usb controller, some are pretty random with speeds they give :\
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main rig:q6600, 4 gig ddr2, 3870, x fi, modded akasa psu, 4+hd's
leechbox, p3 something, 80gig hd, soundproofed case[/size]

Spare Tire
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Location: Montréal, Canada

Post by Spare Tire » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:20 am

No, i plug it straight into the IDE header.

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