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The ULTIMATE Sleeper PC

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
Hi guys recently I have been thinking of building a budget gaming machine that I could take to LAN parties and use as a backup PC at home in case my main rig is being upgraded etc.

Now there were a few things that I wanted to achieve in this build:
*Small size (mATX)
*Fast enough to run any game at around 1600x1200 or less with mid-high detail settings
*Run cool enough during several hours of gaming load that it won't overheat
*Be quiet enough so that at home I can use it and not get annoyed (I know hard to do in a small box that I want to use for gaming)
*Stand out from the crowd
*COST UNDER $250

So with those things in mind I figured a mATX box with some decent second hand parts from the Overclockers Australia trading section along with some small things I already owned would do the trick biggrin.gif

Now the first thing I decided on was the case. You guys probably wouldn't believe it but I found an old mATX Pentium 2/3 case to be almost perfect and I had it lying around the house in very good condition!
And get this - it fits a standard ATX PSU (right up to AX1200/HX1000 length type PSU's), a standard full sized mATX mobo, two 3.5" drives, an EXACTLY 29cm long GPU (without having to cut anything), and the potential to take some half decent cooling bits ALL WHILE BEING ROUGHLY 36CM LONG AND 32CM HIGH! What's more it was definitely something that would stand out from the crowd :lol:

So I thought looking at the case the first thing I should work on is cooling. I stripped the case of all the old parts and had a good look at my options. The first thing I could see is that it would take a standard 80mm fan on the rear. It has vents on the side panel conveniently placed so even very long graphics cards could get some air from the side.
It even has a good amount of venting on the front of the case but no proper fan mounting holes drilled. No worries, I found I could zip tie a full sized 120mm fan to the inside front very easily! Trouble is then the biggest GPU I could fit in would have to be 26.5cm or less if I installed a full 25mm thick fan.

I did some little mods to this case too which will be explained in detail in the next post.

So I ended up buying a 12mm thick fan as seen here: http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9_509&products_id=8060
That allows roughly 1cm more space for a long CPU.
I also bought an 80mm fan for the rear as seen here: http://www.pccasegear.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=9_508&products_id=6248
Both of those fans cost me $15 plus $6 post from silvercloak from the WTS section. They will hopefully arrive very soon smile.gif

The next thing I got was the mobo, I decided on going with an AMD AM3 platform as it would be cheaper and 775 is pretty outdated now. 1155/6 was too expensive to fit in the $250 budget frown.gif
So I got a Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 from Lujan for $20 plus $10 post. This board was awesome value having an AM3 socket, two DDR3 1333MHz slots, a single PCI-e x16, heaps of rear USB ports and a very decent BIOS for a board of this price. USB ports were a concern as the case had no front ports so I wanted a good amount on the back at least. This GB mobo has 8 which is plenty! I updated the BIOS to ensure all AM3 CPU's were supported and it was ready to go into the rig.

I got some RAM at about the same time, 8GB of 1600mhz ripjaws (4x2GB) from RonDMC for $60 plus $5 post. The mobo only has two slots so two of the sticks will be used elsewhere. The RAM only just fit under the 3.5" HDD bays so I'm happy with that cool.gif

Now I had to decide on the GPU, and I remember seeing a super budget gaming rig on OCAU not long ago with a 3870x2. So when I saw one of those for a reserve of $45pp I jumped on it. I ended up getting it for $45 plus $15 post from tacoflavour. It is still in the mail but should come Monday. The 3870x2 is 10.5" long so will just fit with the slim front fan installed along side of it. Looking at reviews it runs nice and cool/quiet and should be roughly equivalent to mid range cards of today such as GTS 450's but I won't hold my breath too much just yet! As long as it handles games played frequently at LANs (CoD4, CSS, basic RTS games etc).

With that GPU choice came the PSU choice. I needed a PSU that could handle an almost 200w GPU TDP. And modular because the case has little space smile.gif
I found an Antec NeoHE 550W modular PSU from darren42 for $50 plus $20 express post. Should come on Monday as well I hope. It has an 80mm fan which goes in nicely with the case as you will see in the second post with pictures. A standard 120mm fan'd PSU would not have gone very well wink.gif
Reading reviews the NeoHE is quiet, stable, efficient and high quality. Everything I needed.

I then hunted down an AM3 CPU, and bought one off Uncle-Fester for $35 inc post. It's an Athlon II x2 255 I believe but he was not 100% clear on that so it may be something better. So long as it's AM3 and at least dual core. Still waiting on it but will hopefully get it next week before the first LAN this box will go to. If not I have an Athon II x2 240 I can borrow from another box temporarily.

To cool the CPU I wanted a decent tower cooler that was again fairly quiet. I was probably not going to be OC'ing but it needed to run the CPU cool for extended periods of stress. I had an almost brand new Coolermaster TX3 sitting around with AMD mounts and the standard 92mm fan so it should do the trick. It just fit in with the 3.5" HDD bay in place as you will soon see. It will get cool airflow from the front fan and the hole the floppy drive which was left when I took it out.

For storage I needed something SATA, and it didn't need to be big as I only need to install a few games that are commonly played at LANs. I had an 80GB WD drive lying around so that was perfect. I will be installing an E-SATA PCI bracket in this system so I can use external HDD's at good speeds for file sharing at LANs.

I have also done a few things to ensure the 3.5" bay fits in with the CPU cooler/RAM, it will be a tight fit but that's how I like it with small builds :lol:

The keyboard I will be using is shown below and I have a 1600x1200 CRT monitor to complete it's genuine appearance.

TOTAL COST:

CPU: Athlon II x2 255 3.1GHz $35 inc post

RAM: 2x2GB Gskill Ripjaws 1600MHz $32.50 inc post (half the total 8GB)

MOBO: Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 $20+$10 post

HDD: 80GB Western Digital SATA Already had

GPU: Sapphire 3870x2 1GB $45+$15 post

PSU: Antec NeoHE 550w Modular $50+$20 post

Cooler: Coolermaster TX3 Already had

Fans: Noctua 80mm and Scythe 100mm Slim Fan $15+$6 post

Case: Old IBM mATX Already had

Keyboard/Monitor: Already had (mouse is undecided)

Extras (e-sata bracket, PCI vent, sata to molex converter, sata cables, tools to cut holes): Already had

$195+$53.50 post ($248.50 including all postage cost)
Edited by Zenskas - 5/4/11 at 5:00am
Sleeper
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Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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Sleeper
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Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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IBM KB-9930 Antec Neo HE 550W IBM Aptiva mATX *Modded* Logitech G5 
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post #2 of 52
Thread Starter 
PICS!!!

imgp0336s.jpg

In it's full glory.

imgp0337h.jpg

Front. Some air will come in via the hole where the floppy used to be. The air for the PSU will come in the empty 5.25" bay hole.

imgp0338l.jpg

Stickers...lol.

imgp0339v.jpg

As you can see the side vent is very well placed and is right over the top of where the 3870x2 will be.

imgp0340u.jpg

Front door open.

imgp0341.jpg

Other side.

imgp0342m.jpg

Back, you can now see why a PSU with an 80mm fan is a better idea. Also for PSU's with 120mm fans you have to mount them with the fan facing right up next to the top of the case otherwise the screw holes won't line up. This means they would probably run very hot.

imgp0343o.jpg

Serial numbers etc.

imgp0346.jpg

Side panels and top is all one solid but flexible piece. Slides over the top and in very easily.

imgp0348.jpg

Behind mobo tray. No room at all for cables here.

imgp0349i.jpg

Inside! It's also worth mentioning that all metal edges have been rounded. Amazing detail for a super old looking case.

imgp0350c.jpg

Location for the front slim fan. Heaps of mesh here and the front cover also has large unseen holes to allow air in.

imgp0351v.jpg

Closeup of one of the tabs I cut off so the fan will not be hitting it. The tabs used to hold the inbuilt speaker.

imgp0352r.jpg

Rear fan. The grille is fairly nonrestrictive but I think later I will cut it out and replace it with a removable wire frame grille.

imgp0353.jpg

Top, a standard 160mm long PSU only just comes to the end of the big hole seen here. I cut the rectangular hole so the 24 pin, 4 pin and 6 pins etc can all fit through. Any extra slack on the cables will be bundled up at the top here where they don't effect airflow and looks so much.

imgp0354.jpg

Front with bezel off.

imgp0355.jpg

Closeup of the cut. A 24 pin fits through smoothly and the edges are not sharp as I filed them down a bit.

imgp0356u.jpg

Looking through the front 5.25" bays.

imgp0357.jpg

Underneath the cable management hole.

imgp0358v.jpg

The removable 3.5" HDD cage.

imgp0322.jpg

A side view of a hole in the HDD cage that I thought would fit a sata cable through if cut.

imgp0323w.jpg

A sata cable fit PERFECTLY! This means I can take a right angled sata cable that goes into the drive cage and comes out of the side. This is because a tower CPU cooler gets too close to the edge of the HDD so I needed to use a right angled cable.

imgp0359a.jpg

Inserting HDD cage. Hole is on the other side.

imgp0360.jpg

Cage in place. Clicks in very strongly. Is NOT going to fall back out.

imgp0361w.jpg

Inside view with HDD cage in place.

imgp0362y.jpg

The top cable management hole is right behind the cage so will look nice and neat.

imgp0363.jpg

HDD. A left angled SATA to molex adapter so once the HDD is in the cable can go straight up through the top hole to connect to the PSU.

imgp0364f.jpg

PCI vent for more airflow. There are four slots, two for the GPU, one for the e-sata bracket and one for this vent, either below or above the two GPU slots.

imgp0365b.jpg

Mobo with RAM installed. Long two slot card will cover two of the four sata ports but I only need to use two anyway.

imgp0366.jpg

Closeup of the RAM.

imgp0368p.jpg

Rear I/O ports. Won't be using integrated video but will be using USB posts, gigabit ethernet and realtek HD audio.

imgp0369a.jpg

My "new" gaming keyboard :tongue:

imgp0370.jpg

Old mobo/CPU/RAM.

Took me a while to take all those photo's, re-size them, upload them then get them all typed up in this post so go easy wink.gif
Sleeper
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Athlon II X2 245 Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 EVGA GTX 460 SuperClocked G.Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz 2x2GB 
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Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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Sleeper
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Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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IBM KB-9930 Antec Neo HE 550W IBM Aptiva mATX *Modded* Logitech G5 
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post #3 of 52
Hey nice work!

Good documentation.

A lot of us think about modding an old computer lying around, but not many actually do something with it.

You not only are putting in work, but you did a good job documenting it.

Great work mate.
Avenger
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post #4 of 52
Subbed, i want to see this badboy take shape.
Bleeding Edge
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Bleeding Edge
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500GB WD Caviar Black, 2x 1TB Seagate Barracuda DVD-RW Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit BenQ G2220HD, BenQ G2222HDH 
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post #5 of 52
Thread Starter 
@ Ktulu
Cheers mate, I posted this up on OCAU a few days ago and then thought to myself that I remember seeing a similar thing done to an old case right here on overclock.net so decided to post it here too with a few small edits. More people would probably appreciate sleeper PC's here as case modding seems a little more in depth on this site.

I find it amazing that using second hand parts I could build such a decent PC for $200! If I had to go buy a case separately that would add another $40 on top but would be a crappy weak case which is nothing special. The beauty of this old case is it is the strongest case I have worked on to the point my expensive dremel took longer than normal to cut through to make one smallish hole.

Thanks for the documentation comment, I made sure to write down all the parts and prices I used as well as take a heap of photos before the build is finished which you can see here.

@ Ren-dog
I am getting the rest of the parts in the mail tomorrow so there will be more pics to enjoy very soon cool.gif
It needs to be done by Saturday as I am going to a large LAN party then and would love to take it along.
Sleeper
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Athlon II X2 245 Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 EVGA GTX 460 SuperClocked G.Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz 2x2GB 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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IBM KB-9930 Antec Neo HE 550W IBM Aptiva mATX *Modded* Logitech G5 
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Sleeper
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Athlon II X2 245 Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 EVGA GTX 460 SuperClocked G.Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz 2x2GB 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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IBM KB-9930 Antec Neo HE 550W IBM Aptiva mATX *Modded* Logitech G5 
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post #6 of 52
when this is finished get a red led in there. Awesome choice of case
cant wait to see it all finished, talk about a sleeper wink.gif
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Daedalus
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post #7 of 52
Thread Starter 
Oh yes I don't think I talked about software yet.

I will be running Windows 7 x64 but with a few changes:

*Windows 98SE wallpaper
*No bootup logo, text only
*Hopefully no login screen or an old style
*Windows classic theme
*Windows 98 icons on the desktop
*For game shortcuts I will be replacing the icons and renaming them. So for COD4 I will put a COD1 icon and call is "Call of Duty". For CSS it will be a 1.6 icon and calling it "Counter-Strike", etc, etc.

I will get a photo of the super old monitor soon too, it's a beast. Needs two people to carry it!!! Keyboard is in a photo above, pretty good keyboard really. Not as good as a model M but better than most $15-$20 USB keyboards these days plus it means I can turn the PC on via the keyboard as it's PS/2 band.gif
The old front panel header cables are wacked up so I won't be using a power LED or power button etc, don't need to. Keyboard password to power on and I'm good to go.

@ Blaze051806
Like a red cathode or something? Want to keep it as old looking as possible so will probably skip that wink.gif
The case wasn't really choice, it was sitting here and when I looked at it plans started forming in my head to use it in my uber budget LAN-box. It is literally the first case I looked at and even if I had $100 to spend on a case I would still keep the old one as nothing made today compares in build quality and small size yet ability to fit massive GPUs/PSU's and standard parts. Heck even most mATX cases today only have a single 120mm front fan like this can take and something small on the back.
Edited by Zenskas - 1/30/11 at 1:17am
Sleeper
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Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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IBM KB-9930 Antec Neo HE 550W IBM Aptiva mATX *Modded* Logitech G5 
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Sleeper
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Athlon II X2 245 Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 EVGA GTX 460 SuperClocked G.Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz 2x2GB 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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IBM KB-9930 Antec Neo HE 550W IBM Aptiva mATX *Modded* Logitech G5 
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post #8 of 52
Its sort of like putting an RB26 dett in a HQ holden, love it.
Aces and Eights
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Aces and Eights
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post #9 of 52
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Doom;12195340 
Its sort of like putting an RB26 dett in a HQ holden, love it.
biggrin.gif
Thanks! Glad I decided to go through with my initial ideas, if I used a modern case/keyboard/monitor/windows aero theme etc it would be just another mATX gaming build that anybody could own. Not many people want to own something that looks this old, until they find out the total price and what's really inside of it wink.gif
Sleeper
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Athlon II X2 245 Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 EVGA GTX 460 SuperClocked G.Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz 2x2GB 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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IBM KB-9930 Antec Neo HE 550W IBM Aptiva mATX *Modded* Logitech G5 
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Sleeper
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Athlon II X2 245 Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 EVGA GTX 460 SuperClocked G.Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz 2x2GB 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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IBM KB-9930 Antec Neo HE 550W IBM Aptiva mATX *Modded* Logitech G5 
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post #10 of 52
Thread Starter 
I renamed the thread title, removing "gaming box" to replace with "sleeper PC". Seems a bit more appropriate smile.gif
Sleeper
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Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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Sleeper
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Athlon II X2 245 Gigabyte GA-MA74GMT-S2 EVGA GTX 460 SuperClocked G.Skill Ripjaws 1600MHz 2x2GB 
Hard DriveOptical DriveOSMonitor
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB External USB DVD-ROM Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 x64 Samsung SyncMaster 940BW+ 
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IBM KB-9930 Antec Neo HE 550W IBM Aptiva mATX *Modded* Logitech G5 
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