Worklog: The ULTIMATE Sleeper PC

Discussion in 'Modding Worklogs' started by Zenskas, Jan 29, 2011.

  1. Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    Hi guys recently I have been thinking of building a budget gaming machine that I could take to LAN parties and use as a backup PC at home in case my main rig is being upgraded etc.

    Now there were a few things that I wanted to achieve in this build:
    *Small size (mATX)
    *Fast enough to run any game at around 1600x1200 or less with high detail settings
    *Run cool enough during several hours of gaming load
    *Be quiet enough so that at home I can use it and not get annoyed (I know hard to do in a small box that I want to use for gaming)
    *Stand out from the crowd
    *COST UNDER $250

    So with those things in mind I figured a mATX box with some decent second hand parts from our very own OCAU trading section along with some small things I already owned would do the trick :D

    Now the first thing I decided on was the case. You guys probably wouldn't believe it but I found an old mATX Pentium 2/3 case to be almost perfect and I had it lying around the house in very, very good condition!
    And get this - it fits a standard ATX PSU (right up to AX1200/HX1000 length PSU's), a standard full sized mATX mobo, two 3.5" drives, an EXACTLY 29cm long GPU (without having to cut anything), and the potential to take some half decent cooling parts ALL WHILE BEING ONLY 36CM LONG AND ABOUT 32CM HIGH! What's more it was definitely something that would stand out from the crowd :lol:

    So I thought looking at the case the first thing I should work on is cooling. I stripped the case of all the old parts and had a good look at my options. First thing I could see it would take a standard 80mm fan on the back. It has vents on the side panel conveniently placed so even very long graphics cards (which they never actually had back in 1998) could get some air.
    It has a good amount of venting on the front of the case but no proper fan position. No worries, I found I could zip tie a full sized 120mm fan to the inside front very easily! Trouble is that would mean the biggest GPU I could fit in would have to be 26.5cm or less if I installed a full 25mm thick fan.

    I did some little mods to this case too which will be explained in detail later.

    So I ended up buying a 12mm thick fan the same as this one here so that I could fit a slightly longer GPU: http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9_509&products_id=8060
    I also bought an 80mm fan for the rear the same as this one here: http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9_508&products_id=6248
    Both of those fans cost me $15 plus $6 post from silvercloak from the WTS section. They will hopefully arrive next week :)

    The next thing I got was the mobo, I decided on going the AMD AM3 platform as it would be cheaper and 775 is pretty outdated now. 1155/6 was too expensive...
    So I got a Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 from Lujan for $20 plus $10 post. This board was awesome value having the AM3 socket, two DDR3 slots, PCI-e x16, heaps of rear USB ports and a very decent BIOS. Rear USB ports was a concern as the case had no front ones so I wanted a good amount on the back at least. This GB mobo has 8 which is plenty! I updated the BIOS to ensure all AM3 CPU's were supported and it was ready to go into the rig.

    I got some RAM at about the same time, 8GB of 1600mhz ripjaws (4x2GB) from RonDMC for $60 plus $5 post. The mobo only has two slots so two of those sticks will be used elsewhere. The RAM only just fit under the 3.5" bays so I'm happy with that :leet:

    Now I had to decide on GPU, and I remember seeing a super budget gaming rig on OCAU not long ago with a 3870x2. So when I saw one of those for a reserve of $45pp I jumped on it. I ended up getting it for $45 plus $15 post from tacoflavour. It is still in the mail but should come soon. The 3870x2 is 10.5" long so will just fit with the slim front fan installed at the same time. Looking at reviews it runs nice and cool/quiet and should be roughly equivalent to mid range cards of today such as GTS 450's but I won't hold my breath too much just yet!

    With that GPU choice came the PSU choice. I needed a modular PSU that could handle an almost 200w GPU TDP. And modular because the case has little space :)
    I found an Antec NeoHE 550W modular PSU from darren42 for $50 plus $20 express post. Should come on Monday I hope. It has an 80mm fan which goes in nicely with the case as you will see when I have pictures up. A standard 120mm fan'd PSU would not have gone very well ;)
    Reading reviews the NeoHE is quiet, stable, efficient and high quality. Everything I needed!

    I then hunted down an AM3 CPU, and bought one off Uncle-Fester for $35 inc post. It's an Athlon II x2 255 I believe but he was not 100% clear on that so it may be something better. So long as it's AM3 and dual core! Still waiting on it but will hopefully get it next week before the first LAN this box will go to. If not I have an Athon II x2 240 I can borrow from another box just for that occasion.

    To cool this CPU I wanted a decent tower cooler that was again fairly quiet. I was not going to be OC'ing but it needed to run the CPU cool for LAN parties. I had a Coolermaster TX3 sitting around with AMD mounts and the standard 92mm fan so it should do the trick. It just fit in with the 3.5" HDD bay in place as you will soon see. Gets cool airflow from front fan and the hole the floppy drive left when I took it out.

    For storage I needed something SATA, and it didn't need to be big as I only needed to install a few games that are commonly played at LANs. I had an 80GB WD drive lying around so that was perfect. I will be installing an E-SATA PCI bracket in this system so I can use external HDD's at good speeds for file sharing at LANs.

    That's all for now, pics and more info on mods that I did to the case/airflow layout etc will be coming soon. I have also done a few things to ensure the 3.5" bay fits in with the CPU cooler/RAM, it will be a tight fit but that's how I like it with small builds :lol:

    EDIT-WORKED OUT TOTAL COST:

    CPU: Uncle-Fester $35 inc post

    RAM: RonDMC $32.50 inc post (half the 8GB)

    MOBO: Lujan $20+$10 post

    HDD: Already had

    GPU: tacoflavour $45+$15 post

    PSU: darren42 $50+$20 post

    Cooler: Already had

    Fans: silvercloak $15+$6 post

    Case: Already had

    Keyboard/Monitor: Already had (mouse is undecided)

    Extras (e-sata bracket, PCI vent, sata to molex converter, sata cables, tools to cut holes): Already had

    TOTAL: $195+$53.50 post ($248.50 including all postage cost)

    PICS AT POST #11
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2011
  2. stroggos2k

    stroggos2k Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2001
    Messages:
    6,316
    Location:
    Rozelle, Sydney NSW
    This is a great story but I'm super keen for photos.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    Same :D
    Bought a new camera cable as I lost my old one so will be uploading ASAP and talking about the fitting of the parts/cooling a bit more.
    I also forgot to mention, if you hadn't already noticed by the description of the case, this is a "sleeper" PC. That means good parts in a super old case :eek:

    I have a matching beige PS/2 IBM keyboard to go with this, it's surprisingly better than the keyboard I'm typing on now. And it also means I can turn the PC on from the keyboard as the front panel wires are all wrong and USB keyboards don't support the "power on by keyboard password" function on the GB mobo AFAIK.

    EDIT: I am also looking for a name for this mod, so any ideas will be considered.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011
  4. Mr. Blue

    Mr. Blue (Banned or Deleted)

    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2009
    Messages:
    858
    Location:
    Melbourne
    I want to see the case bad. I'm thinking of doing something similar soon. Can't lug my fucking Lian Li anywhere.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    Managed to find a picture of the case on the net.
    Looks like this here: http://pinsroom.fc2web.com/pc/Gigativa-243/Gigativa-243-naibu-3.jpg
    Mine doesn't have that homemade 3.5" HDD bracket thing hanging off the original one and will be a lot neater cable wise :lol:
    It is very compact, and the steel is far thicker than what is used on most cases these days yet because of it's sized it is not heavy at all.
     
  6. Liighthead

    Liighthead New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    Melbourne
    sweet :D subbed for more + pics

    with the gpu can u put a fan on the bottom of the case? like under ur gpu instead of infront? :] jst put a dust filter + feet n ill it nice air from under the case :]

    piccccssss :D
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    Yes I was thinking about cutting a hole right below the 3870x2's fan. But I think the front fan and side vents should provide it with enough airflow and worst case I just up the GPU fan speed when at LANs.
    Taking some more pics right now!
     
  8. Liighthead

    Liighthead New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    Melbourne
    lol i think ive seen something like that at the tip :p

    or u could add a 240rad grille to the side panel :D! haha
     
  9. 1shot1kill

    1shot1kill Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2003
    Messages:
    8,959
    Location:
    Where the wild things are
    Where's the Pentium 3? :upset:
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    Oh I also have a separate project that is a legit Pentium 3 that I hope will eventually play at least Cod4. A dual socket server board with two 1.4GHz P3's and a couple gigs of PC133 RAM along with whatever the fastest PCI GPU I can find is :tongue:
    Pic's are being uploaded now!
     
  11. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    PICS!!!

    [​IMG]

    In it's full glory.

    [​IMG]

    Front. Some air will come in via the hole where the floppy used to be. The air for the PSU will come in the empty 5.25" bay hole.

    [​IMG]

    Stickers...lol.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see the side vent is very well placed and is right over the top of where the 3870x2 will be.

    [​IMG]

    Front door open.

    [​IMG]

    Other side.

    [​IMG]

    Back, you can now see why a PSU with an 80mm fan is a better idea. Also for PSU's with 120mm fans you have to mount them with the fan facing right up next to the top of the case otherwise the screw holes won't line up. This means they would probably run very hot.

    [​IMG]

    Serial numbers etc.

    [​IMG]

    Side panels and top is all one solid but flexible piece. Slides over the top and in very easily.

    [​IMG]

    Behind mobo tray. No room at all for cables here.

    [​IMG]

    Inside! It's also worth mentioning that all metal edges have been rounded. Amazing detail for a super old looking case.

    [​IMG]

    Location for the front slim fan. Heaps of mesh here and the front cover also has large unseen holes to allow air in.

    [​IMG]

    Closeup of one of the tabs I cut off so the fan will not be hitting it. The tabs used to hold the inbuilt speaker.

    [​IMG]

    Rear fan. The grille is fairly nonrestrictive but I think later I will cut it out and replace it with a removable wire frame grille.

    [​IMG]

    Top, a standard 160mm long PSU only just comes to the end of the big hole seen here. I cut the rectangular hole so the 24 pin, 4 pin and 6 pins etc can all fit through. Any extra slack on the cables will be bundled up at the top here where they don't effect airflow and looks so much.

    [​IMG]

    Front with bezel off.

    [​IMG]

    Closeup of the cut. A 24 pin fits through smoothly and the edges are not sharp as I filed them down a bit.

    [​IMG]

    Looking through the front 5.25" bays.

    [​IMG]

    Underneath the cable management hole.

    [​IMG]

    The removable 3.5" HDD cage.

    [​IMG]

    A side view of a hole in the HDD cage that I thought would fit a sata cable through if cut.

    [​IMG]

    A sata cable fit PERFECTLY! This means I can take a right angled sata cable that goes into the drive cage and comes out of the side. This is because a tower CPU cooler gets too close to the edge of the HDD so I needed to use a right angled cable.

    [​IMG]

    Inserting HDD cage. Hole is on the other side.

    [​IMG]

    Cage in place. Clicks in very strongly. Is NOT going to fall back out.

    [​IMG]

    Inside view with HDD cage in place.

    [​IMG]

    The top cable management hole is right behind the cage so will look nice and neat.

    [​IMG]

    HDD. A left angled SATA to molex adapter so once the HDD is in the cable can go straight up through the top hole to connect to the PSU.

    [​IMG]

    PCI vent for more airflow. There are four slots, two for the GPU, one for the e-sata bracket and one for this vent, either below or above the two GPU slots.

    [​IMG]

    Mobo with RAM installed. Long two slot card will cover two of the four sata ports but I only need to use two anyway.

    [​IMG]

    Closeup of the RAM.

    [​IMG]

    Rear I/O ports. Won't be using integrated video but will be using USB posts, gigabit ethernet and realtek HD audio.

    [​IMG]

    My "new" gaming keyboard :tongue:

    [​IMG]

    Old mobo/CPU/RAM.

    Took me a while to take all those photo's, re-size them, upload them then get them all typed up in this post so go easy ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011
  12. Liighthead

    Liighthead New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2010
    Messages:
    212
    Location:
    Melbourne
    sweet :D not bad really..

    so ur gonna keep the outside plain? or gonna mod it a bit.

    cut another 80mm exaust fan? does it fit :p

    be good to see what ya can do with it
     
  13. Madchimp

    Madchimp Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2007
    Messages:
    2,453
    Location:
    Heybridge, Tasmania
    You do realise you can just drill a new hole (as the other three still line up) and flip the PSU over so you can use a 120mm fan PSU.....
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    Yep already thought of another 80mm exhaust fan on the back but it won't quite fit next to the original one. I could cut a 92mm fan spot over the top of the 80mm spot but I have already bought a good 80mm fan and it wouldn't do that much for airflow anyway.

    I am leaving it completely stock on the outside to give the impression that it is an old POS that can't play games...then when I fire up Crysis I will get some good reactions :D

    I contemplated cutting a side window and actually ended up buying an old window kit from a forum member but am going to use it for another project. I like how simple it is, and it's so sturdy compared to any modern sub $100 case I have worked on. Even a CM690 II feels weak in comparison :eek:
     
  15. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    I realize that but I would then need to cut out some more on the back as the power socket of two PSU's I tried with will not squeeze in beside the 80mm fan cutout template on the case. Also I would only be able to screw it in with two screws as there is already the big cutout hole where two of them would normally need to be drilled.
    Besides, I'm after the older look so an 80mm rear PSU fan should help with that (until they see the rear I/O area!).
    And I got the PSU for a decent price too so can't complain :)
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011
  16. VIP3R

    VIP3R Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2001
    Messages:
    1,574
    Location:
    Carlton, Sydney

    Your gaming keyboard looks familiar

    [​IMG]

    Just missing the palm rest :p
     
  17. Kayjen

    Kayjen (Banned or Deleted)

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Messages:
    2
    A cheap trick you could do is cut up some old bike/car tubingto make some anti-vibration mounts ... wouldnt really add anycost
     
  18. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    Ha I have a black one just like yours too!!! And I have the palm rest for both of them, but I don't like to use it for some reason so took it off :p
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2011
  19. OP
    OP
    Zenskas

    Zenskas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2010
    Messages:
    1,703
    Location:
    Tas
    Anti vibration mounts for what? I could put some rubber tubing in between the HDD and the HDD cage I guess.
    The case is that damn solid though, I doubt it will vibrate much but will get a vibration silicone pad for the PSU and the rear fan has the rubber pin mounts that come with it.

    WORKED OUT FULL COST:

    CPU: Uncle-Fester $35 inc post

    RAM: RonDMC $32.50 inc post (half the 8GB)

    MOBO: Lujan $20+$10 post

    HDD: Already had

    GPU: tacoflavour $45+$15 post

    PSU: darren42 $50+$20 post

    Cooler: Already had

    Fans: silvercloak $15+$6 post

    Case: Already had

    Keyboard/Monitor: Already had (mouse is undecided)

    Extras (e-sata bracket, PCI vent, sata to molex converter, sata cables, tools to cut holes): Already had

    TOTAL: $195+$53.50 post ($248.50 including all postage cost)
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011
  20. Bort

    Bort Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2001
    Messages:
    1,365
    Location:
    Melbourne
    I'd be inclined to keep it looking as stock as possible on the outside, keep the late-90s beige look as much as possible. Go the sleeper look, if you will.

    Next trick will be to put an LCD screen into the case of a big old 19 or 21 inch CRT monitor, to complete the look :leet:
     

Share This Page