Description

I set out to make a new HTPC that could do double duty as a light gaming rig, all wrapped inside an old NES case I ahd lying around. I had high hopes for the A10 APU, but heating issues keep it hamstrung: I'm forced to run it at the 45W configuration instead of the 65W. I could improve ventilation by cutting up the top of the case for better airflow, but that defeats the point of putting the whole thing in an NES.

I did add 40mm fans to each side of the case, and I rewired the power switch from the NES to work with the mobo power. I wish I could have set the mobo lower in the NES, but the power switch is in the way and difficult to move. I also ended up having to use some lego bricks wedged up against the mobo to keep it stable. If I could do it again, I'd mount the board upside down and cut better venting on the underside.

As an HTPC, I'd rate my satisfaction a 9/10 due to some minor volume issues over the HDMI. As a steam machine, it can run casual titles like Bastion and older games like L4D2 just fine, and Steam In-Home Streaming is great. Sadly, it's little 45W heart can't run Bioshock Infinite for more then a few minutes, even on lowest settings. I'm debating swapping out the Noctua NH-L9a and replacing it with an all-in-one liquid CPU cooler and hanging the radiator out the back. Besides the NES case holding back it's gaming potential, I'm satisfied with the build.

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Comments

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I'd go with AIO idea, and please picture with NES case fully on ??

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I uploaded more photos. I haven't installed liquid coolers on any of my other PCs, so no real experience with them. My only real concearn though is noise levels, especially with the radiator outside of the case.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

How well does that Noctua CPU cooler work? I was thinking about putting one in my itx build but I don't know if it's an improvement over the stock intel cooler.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I like it; definitely as quiet as advertised, although larger then I had anticipated. If I made the same rig again, I'd buy an even lower profile one with less regard for the silence factor.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Mod the case to become a cpu heatsink. This would be more efficient at removing heat. Right now your case is enclosed. The cpu fan removes heat from cpu and puts it in the air inside the case which then transfers the heat to the case then outside air. Modify the case to become the heatsink to transfer heat from cpu to case then outside air. Just quick advise. Hopefully someone can give you info on the methods for applying this technique.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

maybe try cutting multiple small holes on top? help get the air from the cooler out a bit better

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Thats the reason. I solved the NES heat problem with holes on the top and side.....

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Beside the heat issue, I think you'd get better gaming performance with dual channel memory config. At the price of more heat.

I was going to use the AMD 5350 to make my NESpc but it's now in use in another ITX build (not posted here yet). My other ultra low budget option would be integrated celeron J, maybe A4-5000 from amd again. To reach the HTPC level is easy but getting to the gaming level is quite a challenge. I have to say your choice of A10 is bold, considering the NES doesn't have proper vent.

I'm not decided yet as to which cpu/mobo I will use, but I'm very interested in suggestion for ultra low profile heatsink/fan this will greatly influence my hardware choices. I have 2 NES shells ready for some fun projects!

  • 57 months ago
  • 2 points

Dual channel memory would help for sure, but at the time of the build I started hitting my budget cap and decided to hold off on another memory stick for a later upgrade.

My next NES build is just going to be a straight up HTPC and I'm going with the AM1 5150, so cooling shouldn't be too much of a problem. The celeron J's are probably the best choice cooling-wise, but I'm feel the performance doesn't justify the price. For cooling the 5150 I'm looking at the GELID CC-Ssilence-AM1; it's insanely low profile and more then enough cooling for an AM1. I don't think they have one for FM2 fittings, but A4-5000 shouldn't require anything more powerful. When looking for a heatsink/fan, because the fan doesn't need to be super powerful, I'd prioritize a lower profile over quietness.

Fitting any ITX mobo in the NES case is going to be a struggle - the shape of the bottom shell is uneven and blocky, while the power buttons are obstructive. It leaves convenient spaceto stick an SSD, but I have a solid inch of room under the mobo that I would rather have above it. I'm seriously considering mounting the mobo upside down on the next one, just so there is more headroom for airflow for the heatsink.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

thanks a lot! finding an aftermarket cooler for AM1 isn't easy. Or else you find the cooler you want and screw it from underneth the mobo.

Newegg offer the BIOSTAR A68N-5000 which has a massive heatsink for passive cooling but the ram is not cooled at all unless the case has good airflow, unlike a NES.

I think I'll just finish cleaning the cases and then I'll start to worry about the cpu/mobo final choice.

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, clean the case entirely first so you have a better idea how much room you have to play with. I made the mistake of buying parts too early. I'm eager to see your build posted when it's done :)

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

Hallo! Nice build man. I also had heat problems at the beginning. I'm sure your cpu cooler is near the top of the nes case so he coudnt exchange enough air. I decided to get some small holes on the top and side and masked them with some classic NES figures. This APU has much power so you have to get compromises. After that I also can play games with 65W TDP without problems. For streaming and other multimedia I set my NES to 45W, thats much enough and the temps don't get over about 45°C under full load. It works great since a while and all kind of NES, SNES, SEGA and Sony Emulators run great. The case fans are also necessary but the most cooling effect you get with optimizing the cpu coolers air flow. Maybe this helps solving the problem...

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

I really like the look of your NES with the holes where Mario's eyes and mouth are! I saw some other NES pc cases online that use small holes on the top and I think that's the way I have to go to get the full 65W running. Thinking of doing bowser or a triforce. I'm looking to make another NES, but strictly as an htpc - no gaming at all - but with a slim blu ray player in the top cartridge slot. Won't be able to cut holes there but procrssor will likely be AM1 or atom, so thinking I can get away with either some laptop heatpipes or the mobo mounted upside down so fan has headroom. Thanks for the suggestions - I'm glad to see someone else running an A10 at 65W and that the small holes work :)

  • 51 months ago
  • 1 point

Did this cpu cooler block the pci slot?

  • 45 months ago
  • 1 point

Yeah, but there are flex PCI extenders for that :)

  • 57 months ago
  • 0 points

So how is the motherboard held down inside that thing? you drill your own holes? (heh)

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

probably home made standoffs or he somehow got actual standoffs into the NES case

  • 57 months ago
  • 1 point

maggotshero got it right: you can use longer standoffs (metal, nylon, wood, long bolts with nuts to hold the mobo). I've seen pics of such installation but I haven't read about the results, I don't know if the temps were better or not.

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