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[Case Mod] The Frankencomputer! (Resurrecting an HTPC) --Thermaltake Armor A30--mATX--

post #1 of 72
Thread Starter 
Current Status:



(It's still an awful mess thumb.gif)



Updates:


Edited by Datsun - 12/20/14 at 3:58pm
post #2 of 72
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. Long time lurker here. I figured the best way to introduce myself would be to dive right in with a work log thread.

Most of the parts I'll be working with were donated, salvaged, or bought second-hand locally and from ebay. The case I'll be working on, a Thermaltake Armor A30, was purchased as part of a former HTPC system which included a Phenom II x2 and Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3. Most of the cooling setup was salvaged from a computer of mine which I sold years ago.

I'm a big fan of watercooling, but I'm too tight on funds right now to be able to afford a proper case and setup (not to mention good hardware) to work with. The idea that I'm shooting for here is to "resurrect" this computer with my old watercooling setup along with and a couple of upgrades while keeping the cost as low as possible, hence the Frankenstein theme.

Goals

  • New paintjob
  • Install full internal watercooling loop
  • New windows
  • Internal cable management
  • Fabricate a better looking front and top panel



Parts list:
(New parts in bold)

Thermaltake A30
Phenom II x2 Replaced with FX 8320
Gigabyte GA-78LMT-USB3
Gigabyte GTX 460 SE Replaced with AMD 7950
Generic 6GB DDR3 memory (2x1GB, 2x2GB) Replaced with 16GB G.Skill Ripjaws X DDR3 1333
Seagate 250GB HDD
WD 1TB HDD
Swiftech Apogee GTZ
Swiftech MCW60
2x MCR320 radiators
2x EK DCP2.2 pumps
EK DCP 2.2 X-RES

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the case before I started hacking it to pieces doh.gif. Here's a picture of the case in it's full, unmodified glory:
(Picture used with permission from TweakTown. Thanks!)
3981_99_thermaltake_armor_a30_sff_chassis_review_full.jpg



Here's the system with it's guts pulled out.




I'm still throwing around ideas on how to get the radiators and pumps mounted most efficiently.

That's all for now!
Edited by Datsun - 6/26/14 at 6:54pm
post #3 of 72
Isn't that Phenom going to be a massive bottleneck for the 460? My Athlon X2 was for my 9800GT. Either way, I'm intrigued.
post #4 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by KillThePancake View Post

Isn't that Phenom going to be a massive bottleneck for the 460? My Athlon X2 was for my 9800GT. Either way, I'm intrigued.
Absolutely! I ran a few tests on this setup when I first received it, and the processor struggles even on some older games like Team Fortress 2. I'm quite confident that my old Q6660 in my previous setup can outpace it! Right now I'm asking around and occasionally checking ebay for a replacement processor, because if I understand correctly, I can upgrade to a Bulldozer processor with a BIOS update.

I had a bit of a rough day at work today, so there's not much progress to speak of. I stripped out all the hardware and pulled off the acrylic windows and front panel. I've always found the front panel to be a bit of an eyesore, sooff it goes.



The powdercoat job on this case was scuffed up badly, and it wasn't great to begin with. I decided to pull out my orbital sander and scuff up the paint for a quick rattle can job.



To my surprise, the paint came off with little to no persuasion. Stripping the entire outside of the case, including hand sanding some hard to reach areas, took a little over 35 minutes headscratch.gif




It's dark now, so I'll probably end up priming it after work tomorrow.

Cheers.
Edited by Datsun - 12/15/14 at 10:10pm
post #5 of 72
Interested to see what the new paint will look like!

And yeah that's what I kinda figured lol. My Phenom II X6 really makes the graphics card shine. Even for a 9800GT, it still plays BL2 around 40-45 FPS with pretty much everything maxed.

That's weird too, because Source Engine games run so smoothly and run great on older hardware.
post #6 of 72
Thread Starter 
Little update:

Case masked off. Not to worried about overspray on the front as it'll be hidden



Found a couple of cans of primer kicking around.



Case primed and drying. It was getting dark when I started, so the coat is a little rough. It looks like I'll be spending some quality time with 320 grit paper tomorrow!




That's all for now.
post #7 of 72
That motherboard is the best out there with the 760g as far as I know, it wont OC the best, but will support up to 8350 no problem!!
Also looks really nice so far, cant wait for more thumb.gif
Jaguar
(11 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Xeon E3-1230V2 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Boost) H61 Asus EVGA GeForce GTX 960 02G-P4-2962-KR 2GB SC GAMING 4GB Kingston HyperX 10th anniversary heatspread... 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
G.SKILL Value Series 8GB F3-10600CL9S-8GBNT Seagate 1TB 7200.14 Seagate 250gb Cooler Master Hyper TX3 Evo 
OSMonitorPower
Windows 8 Pro 19" EVGA 100-W1-500-KR 500W 
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Jaguar
(11 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Xeon E3-1230V2 3.3GHz (3.7GHz Boost) H61 Asus EVGA GeForce GTX 960 02G-P4-2962-KR 2GB SC GAMING 4GB Kingston HyperX 10th anniversary heatspread... 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveCooling
G.SKILL Value Series 8GB F3-10600CL9S-8GBNT Seagate 1TB 7200.14 Seagate 250gb Cooler Master Hyper TX3 Evo 
OSMonitorPower
Windows 8 Pro 19" EVGA 100-W1-500-KR 500W 
  hide details  
Reply
post #8 of 72
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chromejaguar View Post

That motherboard is the best out there with the 760g as far as I know, it wont OC the best, but will support up to 8350 no problem!!
Also looks really nice so far, cant wait for more thumb.gif

Thanks!

Another small update, paint is on.



I had some leftover rattlecans of white tremclad in a box 'o goodies I keep in the basement. It wouldn't be my first choice of colour, but white paint is good for hiding scratches and defects (which, by the way, there are a lot of wink.gif)

The warehouse I work at was throwing out some scraps of metal which I snagged. The galvanized pieces are probably going to be difficult to work with, but the ~14 gauge piece might come in handy.


post #9 of 72
Looking good! Gotta love leftover paint biggrin.gif
post #10 of 72
Thread Starter 
Some good news and bad news to bring.

I'll start with the good news:

I scored this on the weekend off a buddy for $85 wheee.gif



It's an FX-8320! And the best part is....



It works on my motherboard!!!

I also got around to chopping the top of the case off. I was initially going to mount one of the two MCR320 radiators on my case, but who doesn't like a little bit of overkill? thumb.gif



It's now very flimsy with most of the metal cut off, so I'll have to add some sort of crossmember to stiffen it up.

And now the bad news....

I found an old Pentium 4 IBM computer that had a nice solid metal cover which I thought would make a great donor front panel for my case.



After cutting about 4 inches into the panel, my Dremel decided to give up the ghost. sad-smiley-002.gif



Great. Less than 10 hours logged on the tool and I already have to RMA it. mad.gif
I'm not sure what's wrong with it. I get the impression that the tool just went into direct drive, as the speed controller and battery gauge stopped working and the tool spins at top speed all the time.

Anyways, it looks like this build will be postponed for a couple of weeks while the Dremel is being repaired, or at least until I get my hands on another rotary tool.

Thanks for the feedback so far, and good night.
Edited by Datsun - 6/7/14 at 8:21pm
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