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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I guess this thread serves as both an introduction and my HTPC's transformation. My obsession started over at avsforums.com, which led me to my budget HTPC (and first time computer) build. I had always wanted to build one, but being a college student proved difficult to raise the funds. I graduated from college and started work as an Electrical Engineer. My company generiously offered a starting bonus, which funded this HTPC. I've had it for almost 9 months now, and the tickle to tinker has finally gotten the best of me.

Current Setup

-ASUS M3N78-EM Mobo, with on-board NVIDIA GeForce 8300 and HDMI, optical audio.

-AMD Athlon 64 X2 7750 Kuma BE, currently at stock clock of 2.7ghz.

-2 Gig G.SKILL DDR2 1066 Ram

-LG Blu-ray/HD DVD optical drive

-re-used 250 GB Hard Drive from previous desktop (OS)

-3x 1TB WD Caviar Green for storage

-Corsair 550vx PSU

All this is in the old, TINY desktop case. Its crammed.

Instead of buying an HTPC style case when I bought everything, I decided to re-use an old desktop case I had laying around and spend more on the blu-ray drive and extra storage. I couldn't find an HTPC case that really impressed me. Being an Electrical Engineer, I'm much more fascinated with circuit boards, big heat sinks, fancy sleeving, and pretty lighting than I am with a case that looks like all of my other A/V gear.

The Plan
I've purchased a refurb'd HAF 932 from cooler masters website, which is on the way. I'll be painting the case flat black with some aqua accents. All cabling will be sleeved black and aqua. I still have to decide on the lighting as well. The case will get an enormous acrylic window to show off the goods.

I'll be using THIS fan controller to control all of my case fans. This will allow me to slow the fans to quiet them when watching a movie, but speed them up when I go to bed at night and leave the computer running to rip/encode my movies.

The CPU will get a new heat sink (let's hear some suggestions!) and a little OC. There is a good chance I'll be upgrading to the Phenom II X4 940 in the near future, as this machine handles all of my media encoding as well. This isn't a huge concern ATM, because I setup the encoding before I go to bed, so time isn't a huge factor, and no gaming what-so-ever is done on this machine.

So stay tuned for more updates when the case finally gets here. For now, I'll leave you with some pics of this dirty cramped case.







 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes, it'll be huge. This HTPC also serves as our home storage server, so it may need to be modded to hold more HDD's as well. Also, when we move into our new home (currently in an apartment), the office will share a wall with the rec room in the basement. So, the HTPC/server will sit in the office and be connected to the display in the rec room, so size isn't really a concern here.

When in doubt, bigger is better, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Well, the delivery date for the case has been delayed until Monday, so I started some dissassembly and sleeving in preparation of the move to the new case.

Of course, noone actually reads the text on build logs, so here are pics for you:




I HIGHLY recommend a set of the craftsman precision tools for this kind of work, they are awesome. Small enough to work with small pieces, stong enough to handle moderate tugging and squeezing.


I hadn't seen sata power connectors quite like these in sleeving how-to articles, so after tearing up the first one before I figured out how they are assembled, I thought I'd post a quick how-to on taking them apart.

Here is one next to a disassembled one.


Grab the connector with your pliers like so:


Grab the cables:


And give a gentle tug:


Spent my Friday night working on the 24 pin motherboard cable. Here is the techflex cleancut compared to the sleeving supplied with the corsair psu. The techflex looks much better and hides the cable color perfectly.


More to come when the case gets here, now I have to get back to some more sleeving!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well its been a little while, Got the case in and did some painting and started the window mod. I'm currently mocking up the hard drives/mobo/psu to finish the sleeving. Here's just a quick update:



I placed four orders last night:
-blue sleeving (1/8" and 3/8")
-C-channel to finish up the window mod
-Blue dual 12" cold cathodes
-Corsair H50

Yeah, after a ton of debate on a cpu cooler, I landed on the H50. I don't plan on doing any sort of crazy OC, don't really need to. The only advantage it offers me (at the moment) is quicker encoding times. The on-board video handles HD content just fine, with DXVA my processor sees 15-20% load. The most important thing for me is noise level, longevity and low maintenance. From my reading the H50 has lower noise levels than traditional air coolers and is the lowest maintenance liquid cooling solution out there. Also, the improved cooling capacity over stock will keep the cpu temps down, hopefully adding some longevity to this system.

I know the H50 is pretty overkill for this processor, but once the thubans are released, and used 955/965's start popping up, I'll be all setup to purchase one....
 

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The 7750 is a very weak chip for this application.. I know that for a fact. I have my own HTPC. The 555 would be a better chip. Alot better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Quote:


Originally Posted by Enigma8750
View Post

The 7750 is a very weak chip for this application.. I know that for a fact. I have my own HTPC. The 555 would be a better chip. Alot better.

I already own this chip, and it hasn't let me down yet. I bought it about 10 months ago, I think the 555 was just released this year?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
FINISHED

Yup, finally finished. I lapped my 7750 and H50, but haven't oc'd at all (yet, might here soon)

Before:


After: (sorry, no finished pics of the H50)




And the finished pics:





A little cable management voodoo, I will never buy a non-modular psu again...



With the cover off:













My temporary setup at the apartment until we get a house in a few months. Then, the computer will be tucked away in an office and controlled remotely from the rec room.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You bring up a good point, I basically reversed the airflow patterns in this case due to the H50. The large 200mm fans operate as push/pull intake on the hard drives. The push/pull on the H50 operate as intake as well. Exhaust is made up of 200mm up top, 120mm up top, and 140mm in the drive bays above the blu ray player. So, air is basically pulled through the hard disk bay and the h50's rad and exhausted out the top/front. It seems to be working pretty well.
 

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Wow nice cable management. And holy crap thats a huge window
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Quote:

Originally Posted by jmcmtank View Post
Very nice. Did you revise your estimate that it would have to be modded for more HDDs?
Well, the current plan is that WHEN it comes time to add HDD's, I'll add (2) 2tb drives, replacing the os drive with ssd and mounting it in the drive bays up top.

When I need even more storage, There's plenty of room in this case to add drive bays and sata controller cards, but I don't think that'll happen for a while.
 
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