Wireless Network Adapter
+ Total (Deutschland):
After twenty years of using computers, this is the first one I've assembled myself.
Here's a time-lapse video I made of the build:
This project was part salvage operation, part practise for a much more powerful machine I plan to build early next year.
So I bought some new components and combined them with the old ones.
This machine now works well for some vintage gaming, such as GTA III (60fps highest settings at 1600x1200) and Resident Evil 4 (30fps lowest settings at 800x600).
Here are my thoughts on the components themselves:
CPU: AMD A8-3870K 3.0GHz Quad-Core. This was one of three components from the original machine that I kept. It's a power-hungry APU at 100W TDP and I had difficulty keeping it cool until I used a 136W TDP cooler. This was a good way to learn that I'll need to use a much lower wattage CPU in my future machine.
CPU COOLER: Gelid Solutions Slimhero. I first tried using a 100W TDP ARCTIC Alpine 64 PLUS but it wasn't enough, the APU would shoot up to 91ºC and then the machine would shut itself down. The Gelid Slimhero is less than 6cm tall, which increases the clearance between it and the power supply, temperatures go no higher than 75ºC. The fan is very quiet and the machine stays alive even when running Prime95.
MOTHERBOARD: Gigabyte GA-A75M-DS2 Micro ATX. The original motherboard was an ASUS F1A55-M LK R2.0 and it seemed fine other than the fact it didn't work. The Gigabyte model does have some advantages however, specifically support for USB 3.0 and HD Audio. Since the case I'd already purchased only had those two connectors, this was very handy. Additionally, though I'm currently using a spinning hard drive, if I were to install an SSD then 6Gb/s SATA III would be a big improvement over the Asus motherboard's 3Gb/s SATA II. Finally, the Gigabyte motherboard is only 17.4cm wide, so the hard drive sled that comes with the case can be used, even though the user manual says it's only for use with Mini-ITX motherboards.
MEMORY: A-Data 8GB (1 x 8GB) DDR3-1333. The RAM in the parts list is from Crucial because the 8GB A-Data 1333MHz stick doesn't exist on PCPartPicker. It's slower than I'd like, and dual-channel isn't possible due to it being a solo stick. However, my next machine will have DDR4 RAM, so I didn't want to buy anything better. This is the second component from the original machine.
CASE: Cooltek Jonsbo C2 (Silver). This is what determined my motherboard and CPU cooler selections. I wanted a Micro ATX case with the smallest possible volume (12.1 Litres) and what looks to be a very good method of cooling a future graphics card; a 140mm fan blowing air straight up into its cooler.
STORAGE: Hitachi Travelstar 5K500.B 250GB 2.5" 5400RPM. This is what came installed in my 2010 MacBook Pro, I replaced it with an SSD in 2011. It's been gathering dust ever since, so I put it back into service with this machine.
POWER SUPPLY: HM K-23/400W 3*SATA. Again, the Sparkle power supply listed in the parts list is a stand-in for an even more generic looking model, this is the third and final component from the original machine. It's not modular and the cables are gloriously colourful, but I was able to tame them reasonably well, tucking the Molex and excess SATA cables behind the hard drive bracket.
WIRELESS NETWORK ADAPTER: TP-Link TL-WN851ND 802.11b/g/n PCI. I was about to buy a PCIe card when I noticed that both PCIe slots would most likely be blocked if I add a discrete graphics card in the future. So I got this PCI card instead and it works well.
CASE FAN: Noctua NF-P14s redux-1200 PWM. Comparable in quietness to the Gelid cooler's fan, this and the case are what I plan to use in my future build. It reduces the CPU's temperature by ~5ºC.
This was an enjoyable computer to practise with, I look forward to building my more powerful machine next year.
Challenging to keep cool in a small form factor machine, I had to use a 136W TDP cooler even though this APU is rated at only 100W. Able to play GTA III nice and smooth.
Less than 6cm tall, this prevents my 100W CPU from getting hotter than 75ºC. The fan is quiet at idle and remains low-pitched when under load. If used with a Mini-ITX or smaller Micro ATX motherboard, you need to remove the entire cooler in order to access the RAM slot closest to the CPU. You most definitely need to use low-profile RAM sticks.
An almost-Mini-ITX motherboard (174mm x 225mm) that's both cheap and full-featured. Assuming the two PCIe slots are taken up by a graphics card, the "extra" PCI slot is most useful for adding a wireless internet connection. Includes USB 3.0, HD Audio and four 6Gb/s SATA ports.
A reasonably quiet drive that works as well as you'd expect. The only downside is a very loud click when the heads park upon sudden movement. Now that it's in a desktop computer rather than a laptop, this is no longer an issue.
A cheap and simple way to add wireless internet to a computer, it being PCI means any PCIe slots are left free.
Nicely built and very quiet, this reduces the temperature of the CPU in my small form factor computer by 5ºC. When Smart Fan Control is active on the motherboard, this only runs at 800 RPM under load, the full 1200 RPM is reached when Smart Fan Control is disabled.