I'm busy changing certain things in my life and that includes my living room, hallway and eventually bedroom. As part of my living room I am having to first make sure my electronic device needs are being met. I'm doing that first because it is easier for me and it's less hassle and I don't need other people, mostly.
I am going to....
- Replace my 37" TV with a 32" TV that I will mount on a plasterboard wall.
- Put my router, modem and NAS in the meter cupboard in the hallway.
- Move my audio stack away from the computer and towards the TV
- Replace my audio DAC with a version that has a volume knob.
Not necessarily in that order. But today I am still busy doing my computer. It hasn't had much love as of late and is yearning for some money spent on it. And hearing this yearning, I thought of what it could want. And I realized it is time to replace the AOpen ATX case I have been using since 2001. Always having been a fan of Antec cases, I started checking out their current offering. And it was all pretty bleak; the Antec DSK3000B
has an attractive design but on the inside it is pretty much what I have today. The "Performance" series look amazing but they are too tall for my desk and with much of that space dedicated to a fixed array of internal drive bays - which I do not need. All of the other choices, such as the "New Solution" 3480
or the 4482
are pretty boring and cheap designs.
And then I came across the Mini P180 that was in production starting 2008 but which hasn't been for sale for several years. And I realized it is exactly what I need. For those who don't remember, here's a picture of the outside, and, equally important, the inside of the case:
Yup, the white version! And I had decided I want one. I love its external design, its looks, but I also absolutely love its dual chamber design for motherboard and PSU. I love the removable drive bays. I even love the 200mm fan, even though the SPCR review indicated it was not as quiet. But can easily be undervolted using a fanmate2. I love every bit of it.
And I went online to the national marketplace called "Marktplaats" and there it was: new in the box, for offer for a good bid. And I placed a bid of €70 and emailed the guy and he accepted right away and even offered to pay for delivery. Turns out he had had it sitting in his house for years and it really belonged to someone else but contact had been lost with that person due to various reasons and he just wanted to sell it not needing a high price. And it's on its way to my home, or will be soon, and I still can't believe it.
On a side note: I also wanted a very specific 2nd hand TV, the Sony KDL-32EX520 from 2011. I placed an ad for it and the very same day a guy from not very far responded and is willing to deliver it in person for €300 to my home (as I'm unable to arrange for transport or travel myself). And I can't believe it.
And I started shopping around for more items:
- Logitech Illuminated Living-Room Keyboard K830
I also ordered this tiny keyboard:
It's impossible to type on it, but it's pretty handy as a remote control for your PC, either to control music playback, or simply when you are sitting in front of the TV with the PC screen displayed on it.
I had previously bought a Razer Naga gaming mouse that was never right for me, which I am going to get rid of (sell).
While shopping for the Logitech keyboard I realized there was something else I needed to buy from that site, and eventually I found it:
It is a powered USB hub (cables not shown, and a bit of an annoyance as they drag the hub down) that is going to sit on a shelf behind and above my desk. Its purpose is to hold the various receiver-dongles for my mouse and those 2 keyboards. That way they have good reception. Right now I have it taped to my desk so it doesn't get dragged off by the cables:
As to the components of my new rig, that's mostly just whatever I have presently:
- Gigabyte GA-MA78GM-UD2H am2 motherboard
- Athlon X2 5050e 2.6GHz processor
- Scythe Ninja2 heatsink
- Samsung Spinpoint M5 HM160HC 2.5" harddisk (IDE) - 160 GB
- Samsung Spinpoint F1 HD642JJ 3.5" harddisk (SATA) - 640 GB
- Samsung SH-S202J DVD-writer (IDE)
- ZOTAC GeForce GT 640 ZONE Edition graphics card
- Club3d Theatron Agrippa DTS 7.1 sound card
Presently the faster F1 is my system disk, but I want to revert to my M5 for that even though it is much slower. The F1 is just going to be a local replica of a portion of the data stored on the NAS that I will keep synced. I stay away from SSD disks, I do not like them. They have bad vibes. The way I stay away from LED-lighting - that light gives me a headache. I believe the M5 will be fast enough for Windows 7 provided I turn all unneeded services off.
That way the F1 can spin down when I don't need it. I will only need it to run manual sync operations from the NAS. Something that doesn't require more than a double-click, ideally.
The NAS is a Synology DS112j with a 2TB 5400 rpm WD "red" disk, which presently goes entirely unused. That's mainly because I don't want to have that disk spinning in my living room, which is why it is going to the meter cupboard.
My DVD writer comes with 3 fronts: beige, black and silver. I think silver will be fine on the Mini P180. Here's another item I am going to add:
It's just a memory-card reader with fan control. It can automatically adjust fan speeds according to temperature just like Gigabyte's EasyTune utility can. It actually comes with physical temperature sensors that you can install anywhere in your system provided you have enough cable length for them. I would have installed some 3.5" bay but the P180 mini doesn't have any.
I am planning to put the DVD drive and the 5.25" panel into the lower chamber. The DVD drive and the 2.5" hdd need to be on the same IDE cable. Hopefully they will be close enough when I put the HDD into the lower removable drive bay.
That leaves one bay at the top and I'm thinking of just installing a blu-ray player. However, blu-ray seems to be a bit of a failed technology in the (desktop) computer area. Most vendors only offer one 5.25" bay model and all of them are black. All the writers are at least €60 euro and for that amount none of them have been good enough to supply some different fronts. It looks as though this 5.25" offering is only symbolic and not really meant to push out a lot of units. That means I have not really found something else to put in that bay yet. I don't really need it at this point, but 128 GB of data backup on a single disc is not bad. Perhaps something to consider again for the future.
I received today that Logitech keyboard:
The only flaw really (to me) is that it blinks its power led while charging. That makes me feel as if it is out of battery. The out of battery light actually blinks red, but I'm not that good with colours. That means in any case that the unit is not meant to be used on a permanent cable or I would expect that to be detrimental perhaps. The battery is supposed to last for over 600 hours of typing if you do not use the backlight.
This unit is *very* well crafted and designed. Perhaps I'll do a review of it some time, a short one. Let me just say: there is a key combination to change the tap-behaviour of the touchpad, and there is a key to change the backlight level for the keys, from off to low to high. There are even instructions on how to remove the battery for disposal!!
And it's also a very pleasant typer. Key resistance (force required to type) is higher than on a typical Apple keyboard, but still very good.
That's it for now.
One last thing: the 120mm on my Ninja that was mounted horizontally gave up on the day I started writing this topic. Well, it still works but makes a lot of noise now, so I unplugged it. Its actual purpose these days is not really to cool the CPU but rather the GPU
. I unplugged it from its fanmate2 and turned up the 92mm case fan a bit. My CPU is now 38° C. and my GPU is now ~41° C. I shan't be able to stress that GPU now, but I'm not needing to anyway. I won't replace the Ninja's fan in my Mini P180. Just passively cooled components with good airflow, that's the idea.
Also, I have a Nexus "Value 430" PSU that has been sitting in my closet for years that I will put to use now.
I have some more experience with the Logitech keyboard: On rare occasions while typing it activates a left-mouse-button click in a random way (not in a random location, just like a freak occurrence) . It is not related to the touch-pad because you can turn that off (tap-is-click). So while typing suddenly your cursor may be elsewhere in the text. Pretty strange and bad. Makes the unit much less worth. I'm hoping to get in touch with Logitech customer support about it. Still a very decent thing but not very well suited for ordinary PC use I think. If only because of its shape, the way it gets positioned on your desk-drawer, that sorta thing. When I switched back to my ordinary keyboard I got more relaxed, I was able to relax more immediately. But requires more testing and use.