Guides - Published on Tuesday, 29 November 2005 21:40 Written by Mårten Johansson
Most parts used in this computer are standard components, which is to say they have not been specially manufactured in any way. That said, I can tell you that almost every part will in some way be modified to fit in with the concept.
I have some requirements for my computers, first and foremost that they work satisfyingly without crashing or such. A computer that crashes in my house will thrown out through the window very quickly, I can tell you that. The second requirement is that it has to be quiet, or at least quiet enough not to disturb. This is definitely a must for a computer that is going to stand in the living room and be used to watch movies.
Almost every component will be more or less modified to fit in aesthetically.
The first component I started looking for was the power supply. This is a critical component, partly because it has to perform well and partly because it has to be quiet.Even if you exchange other components and fans, and try to get a silent computer, chances are the PSU will still have fans in it. These days there are power supply units with water cooling, but they are still very expensive. There are also completely passive PSUs, but these are in general larger than the one I picked, they require certain ventilation and produce a lot more heat. They also cost a small fortune.
I chose a PSU for a HTPC case, which is a case specially designed to be used for a computer in the living room. The product ah advanced controlling of the fans depending on load and temperature, and hopefully it will be quiet enough for me.
The PSU itself was quite boring, however, so I bought replacement connectors that react to UV light to make it a bit cooler.
Apart from the connectors, I had decided to put heat-shrink tubing on the power cables in order for them to look better and be easier to handle.
Most connectors and cables attached to the PSU were modded with ease. These include the regular connections for supplying power to drives, with the exception of the new connectors for hard drives with serial-ATA. The connector itself was molded, and could not be removed from the cable. I had to simply cut the cables, solder them together again and isolate with heat-shrink tubing.
If you attempt this yourself, make sure to solder the right cables together.
The ATX connector that connects to the mainboard was very difficult to replace. It has a lot of cables and the small pins are very firmly attached. The only way to remove them is with a small needle, unless you have the appropriate tool. When it all was done I finished the ends with some vulcanizing rubber tape.
This is a good method if you do not like to use regular tape which comes loose and leaves sticky glue when it heats up. The vulcanizing tape turns into a single piece of rubber when tempered.
Since I want the computer to be as quiet as possible, it needs good cooling on all components without affecting the noise level. This is solved by installing passive cooling devices on the components in the computer where it is possible.
I chose to attach heat sinks to the memory modules in order to better spread the heat and remove it from the circuits. The heat sinks consist of two aluminum sides (there are heat sinks made out of copper as well) that are mounted on the memory module with double-sided adhesives. They are then secured by two metal clips.
I also think that they enhance the looks of the memory modules, as well as keeping the memory more stable, especially in a case where there will be very few fans.
If you want to, you can connect the water cooling system to the video card as well, but I have chosen not to do that in this computer. The main reason is that it is not necessary, since I will not be playing any games or performing any other demanding tasks. Another reason is that the video card can manage with passive cooling and I do not want to burden the water cooling system more than necessary, so that I can keep the radiator fan spinning as slowly as possible.
Zalman makes a passive heat sink for video card, which is the one you can see in the pictures above. The heat sink is very large and heavy, so it is important to be careful when using it, especially if the card is to be mounted in a home made case such as this one. You will see further on that I had to secure the card to keep it from breaking.
In the package are included two large heat sinks that are mounted on the front and back side of the card together with two heat pipes spreading the heat between them. There are also heat sinks for the memory circuits which are mounted with double sided tape (included). Remember to check whether your particular video card is compatible with this heat sink, regarding both how powerful it is and if it will fit in your computer case at all.
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