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Back in 2004, I was going to build a new box but circumstances ended up ensuring that I had to place the project on the back burner. It was going to be water cooled and I was going to build it in a Lian Li PC65 case that I'd modified a bit. Unfortunately, that's about as far as I ever got.

 

Thankfully, I've finally been able to create something in that case. It isn't water cooled, but my priorities have sort of changed with age. This build's goal was to be low maintenance, low noise, powerful, and good looking in an understated way.

 

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This was how I had originally mounted the radiator/shroud assembly in the top of the case.

 

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This is a pic of the case all cleaned up and taken apart.

 

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This shows my case mods, nothing extravagant but I did cut that 120mm hole in the top as well as that part where the front of the radiator used to sit. I just used a dremmel.

 

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Scythe SCMG-2100 Sleeve CPU Cooler. This is one big butt heatsink. I knew it was big but wasn't quite expecting this.

 

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This is how it mounts to the back of the motherboard if you are curious. The motherboard is a Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5, the processor is a 1090T

 

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Here it is with the Scythe fan mounted to the heatsink and the Mushkin Silverline RAM installed. Notice the VERY low clearance from the heatsink, I chose this ram specifically because it didn't have some outlandish heat spreader.

 

What's sort of funny is that the pic shows the entire assembly attached to the motherboard tray. Well, I went to slide the tray into the case and the freakin' heatsink didn't clear the frame so I got to remove the motherboard and reinstall inside of the case. One of these days I'll learn to measure things before hand.

 

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Revodrive X2 100GB. Doesn't play nice with my motherboard, returned it. It's fast, but too new to be usable by anyone who values reliability. Specifically, the Gigabyte MB cuts power to the PCI-X slots before it cuts power to the IDE/SATA HDDs resulting in the OS never being able to shut down on COLD boots which would result in massive data corruption. It's a known issue that is making people CRAZY on the OCZ forums (similar to the microstutter issue that certain nvidia fermi cards seem to have, but more on that later). Returned to newegg.

 

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Replaced the RevoDrive with this Corsair Nova Series 128 GB SSD. May get another one, but just the one is significantly faster than my 2 first gen 36gb Raptors (RAID0) that sounded like they were chewing on gravel most of the time (that said, they did run 24/7/365 since november of 2003).

 

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SeaSonic 560W PSU 80+Gold. The thing came in a velvet bag like as if it were a bottle of Crown Royal! It was completely unnecessary, but a very nice touch. Skimping on PSUs is a big mistake that many people make early on, so I don't. Another common mistake is overestimating the needed wattage.

 

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560 Watts is more than enough for my box even with its near top of the line processor and video card. This PSU runs SILENT when running under 20%, the fan doesn't spin at all. It's awesome. However, it wasn't awesome the first time around. The first one had a high pitched electrical whine (capacitor whine?) that I could NOT cope with. RMAd and this one works just fine.

 

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Just a shot of the front. Two ENERMAX UC-8EB 80MM intake fans and the Lian Li filter assembly and fan speed control switch.

 

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2x2TB Samsung Spinpoint hard drives have been suspended on 1.5mm diameter Magic Stretch (like kids used to make beaded jewelry, you can get it at hobby stores cheap). This decouples them from the frame and reduces noise. Can't hear em at all.

 

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I also used these little blue bushing/grommet/whatever things to decouple the fans from the frame to further reduce noise.

 

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I also cut a hole in the case so that wires could be routed behind the motherboard tray, the new PSU was bigger than the one I'd originally had in mind back in 2004, It measures 6" from back to front! Still left JUST enough room for me to squeeze the wiring through the hole.

 

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Here is the preliminary wire management. It isn't too much different now. It's neat, no unnecessary wires showing, good airflow.

 

The EVGA GTX 460 had this... micro stuttering issue with videos and anything that panned or scrolled being ... choppy. It's hard to explain. After visiting nvidia forums, found that this was not in my head and was driving numerous people equally crazy. I returned it to NewEgg and upgraded to this:

 

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It's an MSI TwinFrozrII (frozr is not a real word... this pisses off my OCD a little bit) Radeon HD 6870.

 

The damned thing is huge. The benchmark scores are slightly higher. It gets a 7.8 in Windows Experience Index (not that that's a good benchmark). It came surprise-overclocked from new egg with core clock @920 Mhz instead of 900, a modest overclock, but still overclocked. I didn't notice a huge jump in performance from the GTX 460, but the microstutter is gone. Things scroll nicely and I know people give like to piss and moan about ATIs software, but I prefer CCC to nvidias Control Panel . . .

 

The thing was supposed to run 19*C cooler than the reference cards, but mine didnt, so I took it apart.

 

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Holy crap, look at that rough finish on the heat sink? The picture doesn't even do it justice. It was ROUGH.

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So, time to void yet another warranty I guess. It was 3 AM and I didn't have any really fine sand paper so I just used a rough kitchen sponge and then blue jean with Comet, then just blue jean material and then just t-shirt material to try and smooth it down a bit. I had some success and it did lower the temp a bit (I also applied Arctic Silver), but I really should have just been patient and bought some proper lapping paper.

 

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See? You can STILL see some of the horizontal grooves that I didn't get buffed out. It's okay though, I guess. I mean, it runs extremely quiet and it's temps never get dangerous or even close.

 

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The thing is so huge that the hard drives barely have 3mm clearance from the edge of the card. I'll likely remount them a little bit lower later on.

 

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Here's what the innards look like currently.

 

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Old sub, meet new sub. It'd been since 2001 since I had bought new speakers so this was long overdue. Bought a Logitech Z-5500 505 Watts 5.1 Sound kit from NewEgg (and it was here the next day, but I live in Little Rock, just down the road from Memphis so that's not uncommon... when stuff ships from california however... that sucks). The sound is sooo nice.

 

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I also sprung for two 25" Hanns G 2ms flat panels to replace the two old Samsung 25ms 19" monitors I had. Got em for $169 each on black friday! I never thought dual 19"s would look small, but now I look at my old box and it just looks tiny.

 

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And here is a view from the side. Only other thing thats been added since this pic is an HD TV Tuner USB Stick that I got from NewEgg for 23 dollars(!!). It had TERRIBLE reviews so I was very surprised when it worked just as advertised. Really nice picture, no sound lag.

 

But that's it really, that's the new build, no tacky LEDs, cheap gimmicky parts, or excessive noise. Hopefully will last a while. It runs so quietly that the hiss of my gas stove makes more noise. I never even realized the gas stove made noise!

 

If any of you have questions about the hardware, it's dimensions, or anything really, feel free to reply or drop me a PM. I'd also love to hear some feed back. Also, thanks for the guidance when I was seeking advice early on about which parts to use.

 

Bruce

 

Specs:

 

AMD Phenom II X6 1090T

MSI TwinFrozrII Radeon HD 6870

Gigabyte 890FXA-UD5 MB

Corsair Nova Series 128 GB SSD

2x2TB Samsung SpinPoint HDDs

4x4GB Mushkin Silverline DDR3 1333 RAM

SeaSonic 560W PSU 80+Gold

Scythe SCMG-2100 Sleeve CPU Cooler

Modified LianLi PC-65 Case

Dual HannsG 25" 2ms Flat Panels

Logitech Z-5500 505 Watts 5.1 Sound

Scythe S-FLEX SFF21D 120mm Exhaust (Top)

2xEnermax UC-8EB 80mm Intake (Front)

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Nice Build. I love that case but its kinda small for me.

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That's a really great build caxis0, love the hardware.

 

I think I'll have to use that idea of the stretchy string for my hard-drive mounts in the desk that I'm building. Are the strings actually attached to the hard-drives, or can you just slide them in and out (String attached to the frame only).

 

Also, how are you liking the Hanns-G monitors? Hardware I find is a funny thing - Hanns-G I know has been around for a little while, and ALL THEY DO is LCD's, so they must be on to something, but they are almost always 20-40 dollars cheaper than more well known brands like Asus, Acer, and Samsung.

 

Picture-wise - brightness and contrast, are they nicer than your old Samsungs?

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I just came.

 

Seriously, I love your understated style with this build. Too many lights and such is an eyesore, so I love the clean design of your build. How is that vid card treating you? I have been considering one myself since I saw the ginormous heatsink they come with haha

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The elastic string is called Magic Stretch or Stretch Magic (1.5mm diameter), I got it at Hobby Lobby, some people just use elastic. It's not my idea, it's something I read on silentpcreview.com back in 2003 or 2004 and used for my dual 36GB raptors since they were so loud. It makes a HUGE difference acoustically, So the short answer is: Yes, it does touch the drives but it isn't attached really--you can slide the drives in and out just like you could if it were mounted on a big rubber band (which is essentially what it is). It's a little bouncy, I make sure to pull it really tight originally. From my experience, after about 4 years, they will stretch out and need to be replaced or retightened). I'll never attach a mechanical drive to a frame with screws again.

 

The video card is disappointing temperature wise. It's at 57*C right now (fans at 33% or ~1200 rpm) 2 monitors at 1920x1080 and HD TV running in a window [[i bought this USB tv-tuner stick off of newegg for 23 bucks thinking it'd be a POS, but I took the chance cause--hey, only 23 bucks right? Best money I've spent in years. The thing is awesome, picture is beautiful]]). and I've removed the heatsink and fan assembly twice now thinking it wasn't set right or the thermal compound was on incorrectly or something. I'd have RMAd the thing except that I peeled off the stupid serial number sticker because I didn't like the way it looked and my brain apparently just stopped working completely, so I'm stuck with the thing. That said, acoustically, I'm very satisfied. I can't hear the fans, although we'll see what happens this summer when this room tends to stay hotter than hell.

 

Finally, the HannsG monitors are alright. The viewing angle is not nearly wide enough, it's especially bad if your monitors are situated above eye level. There is also a tiny bit of backlight bleed on the edges that is only noticable when the screen is all "black." I put "black" in quotes because it doesn't get as dark as I'd like--but this isn't anything unusual for LCDs. Also, the controls are rubbish and the user defined color mode has a blue tint that is VERY difficult to compensate for. BUT, after tinkering with the settings a bit, I am quite satisfied--the picture is really nice, quite vivid, the monitors are terribly bright, and for 169 bucks each--I'd definitely buy them again if I had it to do over.

 

EDIT: Are they better than my old Samsungs? I dunno, those were QUALITY monitors when I bought them in 2003 (and they still work!)... however, these new ones are brighter and they do have a greater contrast and more vivid colors--but it's apples an oranges really. I mean, those old Samsungs were 25ms and ran 630 bucks each--LCD tech was just really starting to get practical, most people still had CRTs. I still trust Samsung as a brand a hell of a lot more than Hanns G--and if I had the choice of 169 each for these or 199 each for similar sized Samsungs, I'd take the Samsungs just because everything I've ever had that they've made has LASTED.

 

Thanks for the feedback guys :D

 

Bruce

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I put "black" in quotes because it doesn't get as dark as I'd like--but this isn't anything unusual for LCDs.

Yeah that's the way LCDs work. The liquid crystals block out the backlight when a voltage is applied to them. The backlight is always on - that's why a LCD can't really be "black" even when the screen appears to be dark.

 

Nice build btw mate! Hope you love it :)

Edited by Alexandre

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Yeah that's the way LCDs work. The liquid crystals block out the backlight when a voltage is applied to them. The backlight is always on - that's why a LCD can't really be "black" even when the screen appears to be dark.

 

Nice build btw mate! Hope you love it :)

Oh man, I doooo love it. It's soooo quiet, I walk in after school and it's dead quiet and then I turn on the monitors and everything is there and even though it's been a couple of months now, it still surprises me because I notice the absense of sound and sometimes assume that I must have had a power outage or something. Even better is that it is fantastically FAST and it has that crisp responsiveness that I really value above just about anything else. It does everything I want and does it well. (and I love the Logitech Z-5500 sound, upgrading the speakers was sooo long overdue).

 

And I hate to admit it, but I'm quite liking Windows 7.

 

Bruce

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Nice build and good ingenuity with your lap job. I really like it, I give you an A+ and +10 internet points.

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