As a follow-up to my original topic asking for system building advice, I've completed my new computer. There are more powerful FC5-based systems around, though this one is by no means weak. The system is completely passively cooled and has no moving parts whatsoever. I initially planned to get a discrete GPU, but due to the expenses and difficulties involved (read: PCI-E riser cards), I decided to go for a CPU with a mid-level GPU integrated.
- Case:Streacom FC5 WS Evo Black
- Motherboard: ASUS F2A85-M PRO
- Power supply: Streacom NANO150
- CPU/GPU: AMD A-Series A10-5800K 3.8GHz
- Memory: Kingston HyperX 10th Anniversary Series (Low Profile) 2400MHz 16GB CL9
- Storage: Samsung 840 Pro 256GB
- USB 3.0 Cable: Streacom SC30
- Thermal paste: Arctic Silver 5
Most of the build was pretty straightforward, though the mounting of heatpipes and the brackets holding them to the motherboard was a PITA. In addition to the thermal paste on the CPU, I added some to the areas where the CPU block connects with the heatpipes (the FC5 manual says to do this, but doesn't hurt to say it), the areas where they connect to the bracket, and also the areas where the brackets connect to the case (this wasn't mentioned in the guide).
As it's quite difficult to do this properly without some kind of a mess, my recommendation is to stick one screw in through the outside of the case first, attach the larger bracket (which in my case the thermal paste held affixed to the brackets), loosely tighten it, attach the smaller bracket using the same method. Then, make sure the heatpipes are properly attached to the CPU cooling block, add the remaining screws, and fasten the brackets and the CPU block.
Aside from this, the build went swimmingly, with only a few minor issues:
- The pin-cable provided by Streacom has a width of two pins, while the motherboard expects three (with one gap in the middle). I'm sure this could be easily solved by some creative use of copper, but I frankly don't even want an LED.
- The secondary power supply cable going to the motherboard is slightly too short, so it's rubbing up against the RAM.
- Mounting the SSD was a bit difficult as finding appropriately placed screw holes was easier said than done, considering I had an M-ATX motherboard. In the end, I attached it with just 3 screws - which hold it quite well. Since there are no moving parts, there is no danger of it falling off.
- Aesthetic issue: The PSU power brick is -huge-, but I can just hide it under the desk.
The computer feels lightning-fast, everything being snappy as hell. The UEFI BIOS allows for a great deal of configuration, though some options are strangely buried. For instance, if you want to manually choose how much RAM to dedicate to the graphics card, you have to change the "Use onboard graphics (or whatever the terminology was)" option from "Auto" to "Force" first - this allows a maximum allocation of 2GB, which I went for.
The OS installation (Kubuntu 12.10) took under 5 minutes, if you discard the time I spent looking at options.
Everything has since pretty much worked well. There is one slightly annoying bug, which I suspect has to do with the power supply, and that's that it can't reboot or shut down properly - it just goes into a state where nothing happens, the screen is blank. The unfortunate solution here is pretty much to hold the power button in until it shuts down. It has no problems booting up (something it does in about 10 seconds, or 3 if you discard the time wasted by the BIOS).
The heat generated is surprisingly low, I've yet to see it go above 45*C (although I haven't done any gaming with it yet). I can easily touch the cooling fins without any discomfort.
All in all, I consider this quite a success. I compromised very little on power (I could have gone for a monster Intel processor, but that would also necessitate a discrete GPU), while the costs and effort required would go up drastically. I was also quite worried that the power supply would be insufficient, but it hasn't shown any sign of faltering yet, after running the computer for the better part of a week.
Many, many thanks to Highfi for his help with selecting components and sharing his experiences. Without his knowhow, the computer would have likely ended up looking and working a whole lot differently - and not for the better. This dude knows what he's talking about!