In Progress: P180 / Turion64 / i-RAM / Pico minimalist PC

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Eunos
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In Progress: P180 / Turion64 / i-RAM / Pico minimalist PC

Post by Eunos » Mon May 22, 2006 1:51 am

Well, my motherboard died yesterday when I merely changed some RAM over, and it isn't worth fixing because almost all the parts of my 'extreme minimalism' upgrade are ready to go!

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P180 quickly stripped to bare bones

History
First up a bit of history. The PC started out as a 'sensible' cheap AMD XP2000+ system before I got bitten by the bug. My first attempt at silence involved an Antec Phantom 350 power supply, Zalman Reserator1 water CPU cooler and a piece of foam to sit the WD 80 gig 3.5" on. It was very effective but I was curious to try and go even further.

Fanless Attempt
Before today, the motherboard was the only part of the whole machine that hadn't been replaced at least once! My first trial of fanless computing involved replacing the Reserator with a simple Sonic Tower cooler. It was a poor set-up and overheated regularly. Then I bought the P180 case, and not once did it overheat in many months of heavy usage, even without fans in hot weather. Please note I do not condone this dodginess. :D I ended up using the rear 120mm Tricool fan on low to quietly reduce case temperatures to sane levels.

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The TT is soon to go into another machine, with a Tri-cool fan zip-tied on!

Drives
The hard drive set-up today includes a Gigabyte i-RAM for the operating system, and a WD Scorpio single-platter 40 gig for important data. The latter is wrapped in a self-made enclosure made out of old carpet insulation. Equally critical is the HP Lightscribe 640i optical drive for regular dual layer DVD backups. To cope with the relatively small hard drives, all data that isn't required regularly (videos, old pics etc) is stored in 2 seperate locations on optical discs - which I much prefer to having unmanagable amounts of data on the hard drive.

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The WD Scorpio hidden in an enclosure of insulation

The New Upgrades
A Turion64 MT40 has been sourced from the US to try and take this to the extreme. The CPU has a TDP of 25 watts and 2.2 GHz performance. I am waiting on an MSI Mobile Pad heat spreader from the US, at which point I'll be ready to install the Scythe Ninja heat sink. Realising that I will be using barely any power, I'm Ebaying the Phantom in favour of the newly arrived 120 watt PicoPSU with 80 watt EDac brick, and should break even.

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The much-abused AMD XP and its laptop-derived replacement

The new motherboard is a microATX MSI RS482M-IL which is proven to work with the Turion64 and enable Cool 'n Quiet. It also has in-built graphics. I can also get rid of my add-on PCI SATA card for the i-RAM. My faithful 19" Samsung LCD will remain in service, however.

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Old and new power supplies side by side

What I am hoping to do is set up the rear fan to only turn on when it is actually needed, using an mCubed T-balancer or similar. And since I'm using almost none of the P180 case's features, I'd love to downsize to a smaller case in the future...

Will keep y'all updated!

hmsrolst
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Post by hmsrolst » Mon May 22, 2006 4:02 pm

Sounds great! Really looking forward to those updates.

elec999
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Post by elec999 » Mon May 22, 2006 6:54 pm

I am just curious. What you ebaying the phantom. Isnt this psu silent.
Thanks

srs
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Post by srs » Mon May 22, 2006 7:54 pm

Might you have problems with the hdd overheating? Especially covering that hole on the hdd that says "Do not cover this hole"?

pipperoni
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Post by pipperoni » Mon May 22, 2006 10:38 pm

When I read pico-minimalist, I was hoping you'd build minimal system using something like this motherboard:

Albatron KI51PV

But this motherboard isn't due out for a month at least and is a tad too minimal for most peoples likings :)

Dr. Gonzo
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Post by Dr. Gonzo » Tue May 23, 2006 11:26 am

pipperoni wrote:When I read pico-minimalist, I was hoping you'd build minimal system using something like this motherboard:

Albatron KI51PV

But this motherboard isn't due out for a month at least and is a tad too minimal for most peoples likings :)
Wow... :shock: that looks perfect for what I had in mind for a HTPC for watching divx/browsing the internet and such. Any idea what sort of case this might fit? (Mini-ITX according to the manufacturers).

Eunos
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Post by Eunos » Tue May 23, 2006 8:19 pm

Cheers for the replies guys. :)

hmsrolst, thanks! I've made a bit of progress overnight as you'll see...

elec999, the Pico was chosen in pursuit of even lower case temperatures and higher efficiency. Not exactly critical but it won't cost me much if anything by the time the Phantom is sold.

srs, 2.5" hard drives are generally capable of coping with their own heat and more. Wattage is super-low, especially since mine is used only for data and not the OS. If it does have problems I'll rethink my apathy. :lol:

pipperoni/Dr. Gonzo, as much as I'd like to use parts that won't be available for another month :D I like microATX as a compromise - I generally like to have over 1 gb of RAM. Very neat though!

Updates
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It looks half-finished, but everything is in there. The Mobile Pad isn't here yet so I'm sitting the case sideways for the CPU's sake. The lower P180 PSU/HDD chambers aren't really used at all any more, except to snake the power cable in.

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The second PCI card is a C-Port sound card (the main purpose of the machine). There are currently zero fans and I'm going to start by testing how hot the Turion gets with this set-up. The weather is quite cold at the moment but I doubt totally fanless operation will be a good idea in summer.

I have tried booting and the power light came on and Optical drive got power, nothing more. My Pico was purchased from an Ebay seller, but unfortunately did not come with the adaptors mentioned in the SPCR article. I was hoping the 4-pin motherboard plug wouldn't be needed, but instead I'll be getting an adaptor for it from a computer store. A molex double adaptor for the optical drive was needed regardless.

This lack of cables would be unimaginable with a 'normal' power supply, but when it is all set-up, I like the idea of losing the 500 unused wires in the case!

nemo
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Post by nemo » Wed May 24, 2006 7:08 am

love the minimalist approach.

this feels just so right compared to lots of the overengineered rigs seen here.

qviri
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Post by qviri » Wed May 24, 2006 7:20 am

I gotta say though... P180 is massive overkill for this system now.

Sell it second-hand and acquire a sexy micro-ATX NSK 3300. Sell its power supply and you might even make a profit ^_^.

nemo
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Post by nemo » Wed May 24, 2006 7:50 am

yay! I want to see a smaller case, too. Something like Mac Mini with a Sycthe Ninja hanging out of it :)

tay
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Post by tay » Wed May 24, 2006 9:17 am

That carpet :shock: :?

Interesting ideas for the build, but I'm with the posters calling for the P180's head.

vapb400
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Post by vapb400 » Wed May 24, 2006 3:03 pm

qviri wrote:I gotta say though... P180 is massive overkill for this system now.

Sell it second-hand and acquire a sexy micro-ATX NSK 3300. Sell its power supply and you might even make a profit ^_^.
QFT

thats what I would do. P180 is way overkill, make a small rig :) and deliver us a nice review of the NSK3300 :)

elec999
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Post by elec999 » Wed May 24, 2006 3:30 pm

This looks like a really nice project. I am betting it will be nearly 0db, if you dont need any cooler for the cpu.
Thanks

Eunos
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Post by Eunos » Fri May 26, 2006 12:44 am

Cheers guys, and yes the P180 is the next thing to go, but there's a lot of cases to consider... At the minute the i-RAM is the only drive so it really is 0 db :lol: but there's a few things to be sorted yet.

It's been running well since getting the 4-pin motherboard plug working (aside from the i-RAM's discharged battery deleting the OS), and I've begun temperature testing using rather primitive methods - in BIOS. First up, I left the CPU to idle indefinitely, and the temperature slowly climbed up and up, before maxing out at about 42 degrees C. CnQ is on, and room temp was sub-20 degrees with the case open and on its side - absolutely ideal fanless conditions.

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When I then blasted it with air from a room fan to see how low it would go, the temperature quickly fell to bottom out at 21 degrees.

For an interesting comparison, I have a friend's Turion PC here, same CPU/mb but with a Zalman CNPS7000 AlCu (1600 rpm) and Seasonic 430, and its idle in the same circumstances went no higher than 26 degrees.

Next up I'll be adding the MSI Mobile Pad and thermal paste to see if temps go down at all, but at this stage, true fanless is looking somewhat questionable...

davidstone28
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Post by davidstone28 » Fri May 26, 2006 5:25 am

One question: where on earth did you get that carpet? :shock:

paulesko
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Post by paulesko » Sun May 28, 2006 12:26 am

Wow... :shock: that looks perfect for what I had in mind for a HTPC for watching divx/browsing the internet and such. Any idea what sort of case this might fit? (Mini-ITX according to the manufacturers).
this case, for example

Image

vapb400
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Post by vapb400 » Mon May 29, 2006 7:20 pm

paulesko wrote:
Wow... :shock: that looks perfect for what I had in mind for a HTPC for watching divx/browsing the internet and such. Any idea what sort of case this might fit? (Mini-ITX according to the manufacturers).
this case, for example

Image
whoa what case is that? where can i get some more info?

qviri
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Post by qviri » Mon May 29, 2006 7:30 pm

psile

mini-ITX only, though.

wilburyan
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Post by wilburyan » Thu Jun 01, 2006 2:10 pm

Where on earth were you able to order a MSI mobile pad from?!?!

The only place I can find them for sale is direct from MSI, and they won't ship outside of the states (even though i'm just north of the border :x )

Eunos
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Post by Eunos » Thu Jun 01, 2006 7:58 pm

I'd say the next level of minimalist would be one of those Via chip/mb doodads, but I guess microATX at least has a bit more expandability.

davidstone28, if you're really interested I can get you my landlord's phone number... :?

wilburyan, I did a deal with a friend in the US from another forum. It was all a lot of drama, regular google searches in case anyone else stocked it etc. And in the end, either I'm doing something seriously wrong or the Mobile Pad is not even a good paperweight.

Installed as per the instructions, the Mobile Pad effectively isolates (soft-mounts) the CPU from the cooler, and temps just rise and rise. With the centre padding removed, the problem is reduced but it is still showing temps approaching 60 degrees at idle. However, with a cooler which can be tightened more (the Ninja just clips on) it might make better contact between CPU and the Pad.

The other interesting thing is that my spare Sempron 2600, though lower in speed (1.6 vs 2.2 Ghz), seemingly equals the low temperatures of the Turion.

Image

Anyway, I'm probably going to have to get a desktop-style Micro-ATX case because the Mobile Pad isn't looking good, and I don't want to endanger the CPU...

wilburyan
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Post by wilburyan » Thu Jun 01, 2006 8:11 pm

Ya, i'v been lookin at other solutions for the Mobile 64... Arctic Cooling recommended there alpine cooler and placing a rubber ring around the core, but that thing doesn't even bolt down, it's just clips to my knowledge.

One user on newegg has had some success with bolting a zalman on, it doesn't use the clips. But I don't want something too heavy that might damage the core.

I would also rather not be forced to remove the backplate on my MSI Neo Platinum to use the zalman backplate unless i absolutely have to.

The only reason I got a mobile in the first place was cause I was able to snag it off of ebay for $96 shipped, 3200+ Had i known it would have been this big a pain in the ass I would have just bought a retail desktop chip :S

You said you removed the pad, have you tried cleaning up the core and applying some fresh AS5?

frostedflakes
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Post by frostedflakes » Thu Jun 01, 2006 9:12 pm

You might consider a Scythe NCU-2005 for a bare Turion. This is what I used with my MT-34, and it worked beautifully. It's smaller and lighter than the Ninja, and most importantly, it uses springs and screws to mount to the board as opposed to clips or levers. This is ideal for bare processors, as it allows you to easily adjust how much pressure you put on the processor. I'd also recommend ripping some foam pads off an old AthlonXP and superglue those onto your Turion. With this modification and a screw-on heatsink, it's nearly impossible to mess up the die.

Here's an NCU-2005 on eBay that hasn't even been bid on yet.

Link

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