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Transplanting a BEASTLY Dell Workstation into an Air 540 and making it look pretty

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
So this all started with two things. First, I purchased a 2012 dell precision t5500 with dual quad core xeons and 12gb of ram for $130 on eBay. Next, a friend of mine offered me his old Air 540 in black for a felonious price -- $20. Since the motherboard in the t5500 is zip codes away from standard sizing, I thought it was a lost cause. The board itself plays host to a daughter board which houses the second cpu and three dimms. It wasn't until I lined up the board with a full size extended atx board that I noticed that five of the holes line up. I figured I could drill and mount standoffs for the others, which could definitely work. Another problem is the absolutely atrocious green pcb of the motherboard. I've been scouring the forums for solutions and have decided to create a custom plate from white acrylic to shield my eyes from the horrendous color. To keep up with the black and white theme I have purchased black extensions for the 24 pin, and three 8 pin for the two CPUs, and my gtx 960. The power supply that came with the workstation surprised me. 875 watts and 80 plus gold. That won't need to be swapped out. Another problem that I could face is the proprietary front panel connector. The only way I see around this is to test the pin out of the connector. That aside, I still need to circumvent the custom fan headers which have been rumored only to work with the included fans. Since these fans are industrial quality and quiet, I have no problem with that. I will probably jury rig the included case fans to run off of a fan controller connected to the only molex connector on the psu. If all goes to plan, I would like to run a few white led strips off of the berg floppy disk connector.
Any thoughts on the insanity of this mod? Any suggestions? Any help is appreciated. Many thanks, Colladus (Ben)
    
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2 x Intel Xeon E5530 2.68ghz Dell T5500 Mainboard ZOTAC Geforce GTX 960 4GB AMP! Edition 48GB Samsung DDR3 1333mhz ECC Server Memory 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
Samsung 840 Series SSD, 120GB Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit LG 29UM67 29 Inch Ultrawide Monitor, Black Corsair Vengeance K65, Cherry MX Red 
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Dell CR68F 875w 80Plus Gold Power Supply Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 High Airflow Case Roccat Tyon, Black Creative Sound Blaster! Audigy 2 
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post #2 of 8
It would nice to see some pics to get a better sense of things.
 
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Corsair AF140 Bitspower VG-NGTX960 Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit Samsung Curved 27" S27D590C 
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Corsair Strafe RGB Apevia Iceburg 680 watts Apevia X-Sniper 2 EVGA Torq X3 Laser 
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AMD Phenom 9750 ASUS M3A78-CM PNY XLR8 GTX 460 Corsair XMS2 (4 x 1GB) 
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Hitachi 5K500 Silenx 92mm EFFIZIO Corsair SP 120 Red LED Antec 500watt 
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Intel Core i5-6400 Skylake ASRock A170A-X1/3.1 Gigabye G1 Gaming GTX 970 Windforce CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 16GB (4 x 4GB) 288-Pin DD... 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Bykski CPU-XPR-A High Performance Acrylic Nicke... EKWB Acrylic Nickel GPU Block Monsoon MMRS Reservoir Bykski BY-PUMP-XPH-PA Water Cooling Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Koolance 240 30 FPI Radiator Magicool 280 14 FPI Radiator Bitfenix Spectre PWM 120mm Fan Bitfenix Spectre PWM 140mm Fan 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
intel i5 750 Lynnfield Gigabyte GA-P55-USB3 ASUS Strix GTX 960 G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin... 
Hard DriveCoolingCoolingCooling
Crucial BX100 SSD 500GB EKWB EK-KIT L120 Corsair SP120 Koolance 2x140mm Radiator HX-CU1402V 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
Corsair AF140 Bitspower VG-NGTX960 Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit Samsung Curved 27" S27D590C 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Strafe RGB Apevia Iceburg 680 watts Apevia X-Sniper 2 EVGA Torq X3 Laser 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Phenom 9750 ASUS M3A78-CM PNY XLR8 GTX 460 Corsair XMS2 (4 x 1GB) 
Hard DriveCoolingCoolingPower
Hitachi 5K500 Silenx 92mm EFFIZIO Corsair SP 120 Red LED Antec 500watt 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i5-6400 Skylake ASRock A170A-X1/3.1 Gigabye G1 Gaming GTX 970 Windforce CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 16GB (4 x 4GB) 288-Pin DD... 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Bykski CPU-XPR-A High Performance Acrylic Nicke... EKWB Acrylic Nickel GPU Block Monsoon MMRS Reservoir Bykski BY-PUMP-XPH-PA Water Cooling Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Koolance 240 30 FPI Radiator Magicool 280 14 FPI Radiator Bitfenix Spectre PWM 120mm Fan Bitfenix Spectre PWM 140mm Fan 
OSPowerCase
Windows 10 Pro Corsair RM Series 850 Thermaltake Suppressor F31 
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post #3 of 8
Sounds interesting, you have my sub! thumb.gif
Gamma
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Intel i3 6320 ASRock Z170 OC Formula MSI GTX 970 100 ME MSI GTX 970 100 ME 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
ZADAK 511 SHEILD 16Gb Sandisk SSD PLUS 120gb WD Black 1Tb Seagate 2.5mm slim 500gb 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
BeQuiet Dark Rock TF Win10 64bit BenQ GW2760HS Cooler Master MECH 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Corsair RM850X Corsair Spec Alpha Corsair M65 Razer Vespula 
AudioOther
Kingston HyperX Stinger 2x LTT Edition Noctua 120mm 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Pentium G3258 @4.2Ghz ASRock H97M-ITX/AC EVGA 650Ti Boost Crucial Ballistix Sport 8gb 
Hard DriveHard DriveCoolingOS
Random 32Gb Samsung SSD Seagate 2.5mm Slim 500Gb  Cryorig M9i Win10 64bit 
PowerCase
Corsair CX430w Cougar QBX Kaze 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Phenom II X6 1035T Asus M4A88T-M/USB3 EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Classified 2Gb Generic RAM 
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Gamma
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Intel i3 6320 ASRock Z170 OC Formula MSI GTX 970 100 ME MSI GTX 970 100 ME 
RAMHard DriveHard DriveHard Drive
ZADAK 511 SHEILD 16Gb Sandisk SSD PLUS 120gb WD Black 1Tb Seagate 2.5mm slim 500gb 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
BeQuiet Dark Rock TF Win10 64bit BenQ GW2760HS Cooler Master MECH 
PowerCaseMouseMouse Pad
Corsair RM850X Corsair Spec Alpha Corsair M65 Razer Vespula 
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Kingston HyperX Stinger 2x LTT Edition Noctua 120mm 
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Pentium G3258 @4.2Ghz ASRock H97M-ITX/AC EVGA 650Ti Boost Crucial Ballistix Sport 8gb 
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Random 32Gb Samsung SSD Seagate 2.5mm Slim 500Gb  Cryorig M9i Win10 64bit 
PowerCase
Corsair CX430w Cougar QBX Kaze 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Phenom II X6 1035T Asus M4A88T-M/USB3 EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti 448 Classified 2Gb Generic RAM 
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post #4 of 8
Sounds perfectly do-able. You could paint the motherboard something phosphorescent, that'd be an interesting feat in itself.
Ultra II
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2nd generation Intel Core i7-2820QM Stock HP Radeon(TM) HD 6850M Standard HP RAM 
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Samsung 470 sieres Blu-ray player & SuperMulti DVD burner Standard 1-fan laptop setup Windows 7 Home Professional x64 
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17.3" diagonal Full HD HP 3D Ultra BrightView I... Backlit Keyboard with numeric keypad 130W Adaptable Power Brick HP Envy 17 3D Standard Case 
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Synaptics Touchpad Beats Audio HP 3D Active Shutter Glasses, HP TrueVision HD ... 
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Intel® Core™2 Quad Processor Q9550  XFX MB-N780-ISH9 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI... GIGABYTE GeForce 210 ADATA 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM 
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Western Digital Caviar Black Seagate Barracuda LG Black LG Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD ... Standard Fans 
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Ultra II
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Servolator
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2nd generation Intel Core i7-2820QM Stock HP Radeon(TM) HD 6850M Standard HP RAM 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Samsung 470 sieres Blu-ray player & SuperMulti DVD burner Standard 1-fan laptop setup Windows 7 Home Professional x64 
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17.3" diagonal Full HD HP 3D Ultra BrightView I... Backlit Keyboard with numeric keypad 130W Adaptable Power Brick HP Envy 17 3D Standard Case 
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Intel® Core™2 Quad Processor Q9550  XFX MB-N780-ISH9 LGA 775 NVIDIA nForce 780i SLI... GIGABYTE GeForce 210 ADATA 2GB 240-Pin DDR2 SDRAM 
Hard DriveHard DriveOptical DriveCooling
Western Digital Caviar Black Seagate Barracuda LG Black LG Blu-ray/HD DVD-ROM & 16X DVD±R DVD ... Standard Fans 
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post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radnad View Post

It would nice to see some pics to get a better sense of things.
Having just dreamt up this build today, all I have currently is the workstation itself. I will provide pictures of the motherboard and daughterboard and a video that nicely shows how they interact.
Assembly:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7YfKmMptByU
Mainboard:

Daughterboard:

Quote:
Originally Posted by compmaster View Post

Sounds perfectly do-able. You could paint the motherboard something phosphorescent, that'd be an interesting feat in itself.
Having looked into all the ways of making an ugly motherboard not so ugly, painting it seemed like the worst option for me. I've heard horror stories of motherboard and VRM overheats, and since this board has no accessible temperature probe on the board, I would have no way of knowing if that had happened. Finding a non conductive paint that doesn't trap heat also would be time consuming, and probably more expensive than a sheet of acrylic. Thanks for the suggestion though!
Thanks all,
Colladus (Ben)
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
2 x Intel Xeon E5530 2.68ghz Dell T5500 Mainboard ZOTAC Geforce GTX 960 4GB AMP! Edition 48GB Samsung DDR3 1333mhz ECC Server Memory 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
Samsung 840 Series SSD, 120GB Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit LG 29UM67 29 Inch Ultrawide Monitor, Black Corsair Vengeance K65, Cherry MX Red 
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Dell CR68F 875w 80Plus Gold Power Supply Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 High Airflow Case Roccat Tyon, Black Creative Sound Blaster! Audigy 2 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
2 x Intel Xeon E5530 2.68ghz Dell T5500 Mainboard ZOTAC Geforce GTX 960 4GB AMP! Edition 48GB Samsung DDR3 1333mhz ECC Server Memory 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
Samsung 840 Series SSD, 120GB Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit LG 29UM67 29 Inch Ultrawide Monitor, Black Corsair Vengeance K65, Cherry MX Red 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Dell CR68F 875w 80Plus Gold Power Supply Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 High Airflow Case Roccat Tyon, Black Creative Sound Blaster! Audigy 2 
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post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Okay, quick update:
Nothing else has arrived parts wise, but a few critical decisions have been made. For now, or until I can find the money, both CPUs will be cooled with stock coolers, not the Intel ones, but the ones that the T5500 came with. This means a passive cooler on CPU 1, and a dual heatpipe cooler with an 80mm fan on CPU 2. This bugs me so much that they do not match, but i simply dont have the room in my budget to allocate more to the cooling, as it already functions. There is a small, loud, and not very effective blower style fan on the three dimm slots on the daughterboard (see pictures in my last post). Since the DDR3 server ram I have is relatively cool on its own, I'm ditching that and the plastic shroud around it. This greatly cleans up the daughterboard, enough so that I plan to use some of the leftover acrylic from the main motherboard cover to make one for the second board. I also plan to remove the hideous handle from the board, as it won't be removed often and isn't really too hard to remove without it. The main purpose of the handle is to lock the board in place, and that will be done with two holes drilled in the plastic bracket that holds it up. These will screw into the aluminum backplate on the daughterboard which I plan to remove and paint white. Since the mounting holes for cooling are standard, the final build might see dual H60s or similar, depending on how my current financial situation plays out. The hideous cables that power the motherboard, two CPUs and graphics card are not only too short, but unsightly and with clear plastic connectors. I cancelled my order of the 24 pin extension, as I wanted to wait for validity on this build. I do plan to order extensions for the 2 EPS connectors, the PCI-e connector, and the 24 pin main connector from Amazon. To fit the black and white theme of the build, they are individually sleeved white with black connectors. Total, the 4 extensions are going to cost me $30, but these are necessary and will improve the aesthetic of the build. I didn't mention storage in any of my posts so far, so I thought I'd bring it up now. Currently, I have a Samsung 840 EVO 120gb SSD from my Sister's dead laptop, along with a 500GB Seagate Barracuda for storage. I don't use up that much space, as most of my schoolwork is stored online and I only play about 10 games regularly. I do hope to pick up a second 500GB HDD and RAID them, and then put them in the Hot-Swap 3.5 inch bays in the bottom of the Air 540. I cleaned the inside of the T5500 today, and took off the shroud on the GTX 960 from ZOTAC. It came off easily and has two angular metal parts which would look amazing painted black and white. I think the bigger one will be black, and the aggressive polished metal accent will be white. As for case fans, the case I'm buying off my friend has the stock fan configuration, two grey 140mm in the front with white LEDs, and a plain 140mm in the back. If the eventual system will have the two radiators in the top, this fan configuration will be perfect. I plan to move the front fans to the top, and put the stock fans from the workstation in the front. These have to go somewhere in the system, as the computer wont even POST without them. I tried that this morning. They are 120mm Foxconn fans, and run very quiet with the included anti-vibration mounts. If I can find a fan that looks very similar to them, I will put those three in the front, with the spare on a 5 channel fan controller, which I plan to mount in the second 5 1/4 bay.
That's all the ideas I have for now. Please feel free to add comments about them, tell me they are stupid, or provide different ideas. The friend who is selling me the Air 540 is waiting on the money to upgrade to a new case, so that is holding up the build a bit, but according to him it should be done soon, then the case is mine.
Thanks for sticking through my insensible rant,
Colladus (Ben)
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
2 x Intel Xeon E5530 2.68ghz Dell T5500 Mainboard ZOTAC Geforce GTX 960 4GB AMP! Edition 48GB Samsung DDR3 1333mhz ECC Server Memory 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
Samsung 840 Series SSD, 120GB Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit LG 29UM67 29 Inch Ultrawide Monitor, Black Corsair Vengeance K65, Cherry MX Red 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Dell CR68F 875w 80Plus Gold Power Supply Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 High Airflow Case Roccat Tyon, Black Creative Sound Blaster! Audigy 2 
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
2 x Intel Xeon E5530 2.68ghz Dell T5500 Mainboard ZOTAC Geforce GTX 960 4GB AMP! Edition 48GB Samsung DDR3 1333mhz ECC Server Memory 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
Samsung 840 Series SSD, 120GB Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit LG 29UM67 29 Inch Ultrawide Monitor, Black Corsair Vengeance K65, Cherry MX Red 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Dell CR68F 875w 80Plus Gold Power Supply Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 High Airflow Case Roccat Tyon, Black Creative Sound Blaster! Audigy 2 
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post #7 of 8
For the green PCB, what if beating it you join it, i.e., paint the motherboard tray or whole inside of the case green? Or use green acrylic inside the case in certain places to try and match it to make it look like it was meant to be green? Just some food for thought...
 
Spare Parts
(8 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
intel i5 750 Lynnfield Gigabyte GA-P55-USB3 ASUS Strix GTX 960 G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin... 
Hard DriveCoolingCoolingCooling
Crucial BX100 SSD 500GB EKWB EK-KIT L120 Corsair SP120 Koolance 2x140mm Radiator HX-CU1402V 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
Corsair AF140 Bitspower VG-NGTX960 Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit Samsung Curved 27" S27D590C 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Strafe RGB Apevia Iceburg 680 watts Apevia X-Sniper 2 EVGA Torq X3 Laser 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Phenom 9750 ASUS M3A78-CM PNY XLR8 GTX 460 Corsair XMS2 (4 x 1GB) 
Hard DriveCoolingCoolingPower
Hitachi 5K500 Silenx 92mm EFFIZIO Corsair SP 120 Red LED Antec 500watt 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i5-6400 Skylake ASRock A170A-X1/3.1 Gigabye G1 Gaming GTX 970 Windforce CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 16GB (4 x 4GB) 288-Pin DD... 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Bykski CPU-XPR-A High Performance Acrylic Nicke... EKWB Acrylic Nickel GPU Block Monsoon MMRS Reservoir Bykski BY-PUMP-XPH-PA Water Cooling Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Koolance 240 30 FPI Radiator Magicool 280 14 FPI Radiator Bitfenix Spectre PWM 120mm Fan Bitfenix Spectre PWM 140mm Fan 
OSPowerCase
Windows 10 Pro Corsair RM Series 850 Thermaltake Suppressor F31 
  hide details  
Reply
 
Spare Parts
(8 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
intel i5 750 Lynnfield Gigabyte GA-P55-USB3 ASUS Strix GTX 960 G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin... 
Hard DriveCoolingCoolingCooling
Crucial BX100 SSD 500GB EKWB EK-KIT L120 Corsair SP120 Koolance 2x140mm Radiator HX-CU1402V 
CoolingCoolingOSMonitor
Corsair AF140 Bitspower VG-NGTX960 Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit Samsung Curved 27" S27D590C 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Corsair Strafe RGB Apevia Iceburg 680 watts Apevia X-Sniper 2 EVGA Torq X3 Laser 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
AMD Phenom 9750 ASUS M3A78-CM PNY XLR8 GTX 460 Corsair XMS2 (4 x 1GB) 
Hard DriveCoolingCoolingPower
Hitachi 5K500 Silenx 92mm EFFIZIO Corsair SP 120 Red LED Antec 500watt 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel Core i5-6400 Skylake ASRock A170A-X1/3.1 Gigabye G1 Gaming GTX 970 Windforce CORSAIR Vengeance LPX 16GB (4 x 4GB) 288-Pin DD... 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Bykski CPU-XPR-A High Performance Acrylic Nicke... EKWB Acrylic Nickel GPU Block Monsoon MMRS Reservoir Bykski BY-PUMP-XPH-PA Water Cooling Pump 
CoolingCoolingCoolingCooling
Koolance 240 30 FPI Radiator Magicool 280 14 FPI Radiator Bitfenix Spectre PWM 120mm Fan Bitfenix Spectre PWM 140mm Fan 
OSPowerCase
Windows 10 Pro Corsair RM Series 850 Thermaltake Suppressor F31 
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post #8 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Radnad View Post

For the green PCB, what if beating it you join it, i.e., paint the motherboard tray or whole inside of the case green? Or use green acrylic inside the case in certain places to try and match it to make it look like it was meant to be green? Just some food for thought...
So this was the first thing I considered. First off, I really wanted to keep a black and white theme as it helps with the theme of the rest of my room. I could get around that if it weren't for the horrible color of green the motherboard is. I did search for a paint of that color but it doesn't really match anything, and if I custom mixed a paint, then it would be slightly off and clash horribly. There's also the problem of the rest of the components on the motherboard being god-awful ugly. The northbridge heat pipe heatsink can't be painted because of heat dissipation issues, and the blue components on the board would stick out like a sore thumb. Your idea is much appreciated though. Thanks so much, Ben
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
2 x Intel Xeon E5530 2.68ghz Dell T5500 Mainboard ZOTAC Geforce GTX 960 4GB AMP! Edition 48GB Samsung DDR3 1333mhz ECC Server Memory 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
Samsung 840 Series SSD, 120GB Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit LG 29UM67 29 Inch Ultrawide Monitor, Black Corsair Vengeance K65, Cherry MX Red 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Dell CR68F 875w 80Plus Gold Power Supply Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 High Airflow Case Roccat Tyon, Black Creative Sound Blaster! Audigy 2 
  hide details  
Reply
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
2 x Intel Xeon E5530 2.68ghz Dell T5500 Mainboard ZOTAC Geforce GTX 960 4GB AMP! Edition 48GB Samsung DDR3 1333mhz ECC Server Memory 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
Samsung 840 Series SSD, 120GB Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit LG 29UM67 29 Inch Ultrawide Monitor, Black Corsair Vengeance K65, Cherry MX Red 
PowerCaseMouseAudio
Dell CR68F 875w 80Plus Gold Power Supply Corsair Carbide Series Air 540 High Airflow Case Roccat Tyon, Black Creative Sound Blaster! Audigy 2 
  hide details  
Reply
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