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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    MD right now - hopefully someday, sunny FL!

    Ambassador's New Computer (W.I.P. Project)

    Ok... I want to let folks know that I'm making my first computer, and I want to document some things step by step.
    First thing is the outline.

    0.... background info on this project
    1.... preparations and parts list
    2.... test the new computer case for different configurations, pressurization, airflow, temperatures, and smoke tests
    3.... run some games and show fps!
    4.... things to do / not to do next time
    5.... final impressions and conclusion

    Ok, let me begin with part 0

    Part 0... Background

    I will be attending college this year and wanted to upgrade my existing computer. Unfortunately, it would be pretty costly, so since me and my wife both needed a computer, I decided I would try building one so that we can keep the older one as a spare.

    My current rig (older computer) is the following...

    AMD 1.1GHz
    512 MB SDRAM
    120 GB HD (7200rpm, 8mb cache)
    Windows XP
    3.5" Floppy drive
    10/100 Lan card
    SB Live! Audio
    GeForce 3 Ti200

    It's a pretty decent rig for what I do. Unfortunately I'm so tired of playing video games on medium to low settings, that I don't want to compromise anymore! Besides, I want my next computer to handle anything college throws at it! At least until it's next upgrade of course...

    I've never had a decent medium-high end computer before, so its a really cool thing that I'll be building it myself! That is also a first... building my own computer. Luckily I felt pretty comfortable upgrading the cd-rom to a dvd-rom, 20GB HD to a 120GB HD, putting WinXP on there instead of ME, and adding a few fans to the case. I know it's gonna be a little tougher this time around, but I'm all for it! Luckily we have very kind folks here in the forum that I can ask a n00b question or two to!

    Part 1... Preparation and Parts list

    - I have ordered a anti-static wrist band from ESD systems. Last mobo I "upgraded" was toast because I didn't wear one of those puppies. This was about $15 with shipping and everything (5' cord).

    - I cleaned out my back bedroom. I had an old bed in there, a dinner table, a smaller dinner table, portable closet rack, junk, trash, junk, trash, and a very messy workstation. I threw out the trash and some junk that I didn't need, moved the portable clothes rack to a better area (cubby hole area in my room), threw the bed in the shed (I need to trash it), set the dinner table up as the old computer desk, and used my regular computer desk for my newer upcoming computer. I also set up the tv with the new Mini Playstation 2 I bought w/ DDRMAX. It's so little!

    Parts List:

    SOFTWARE: Adobe Illustrator CS, Adobe Photoshop CS, Adobe GoLive!, Adobe Acrobat Professional 7.0
    (all inside the Creative Suite Premium 1.1 windows version)
    ($430 w/ student discount)
    Windows XP (Qty=1, Price=$89.00)

    MSI | NX6600GT Video Card ($190.00)
    Asus SLI socket 939 Nforce 4 motherboard ($200.00)
    AMD Athlon 64 3500+ ($272.00)
    ThermalTake|XASER III Red-Silver-Black Keyboard & Mouse ($25.99)
    Zalman 7000a AMD 64 Heatsink ($39.99)
    TWINMOS DUAL 512MBX2 DDR PC-3200 (Qty=1,Price=$140.50) BAD!!!!!
    Comment: It sucks that it had to come to this, but oh well! I jipped myself on RAM and that is what I get. I'm now getting the Patriot Dual Channel Kit 184-Pin 1GB(512MB x 2) DDR PC-3200 w/ XBL Technology ($220)
    HD 160GB|HITC SATA 8MB 13G0254 (Qty=1,Price=$97.00)
    Comment: It works pretty well so far. Good speed too. I might think about getting a second one to do a RAID configuration someday.
    DVD|LITE ON 16X SOHD-167T BLCK RTL (Qty=1,Price=$25.99)
    Comment: Nice & Generic! Works and looks real nice.
    CPU Arctic Silver (Qty=1,Price=$4.49)
    WACOM Graphire 4"x5" Tablet (Qty=1,Price=$80.45)
    Comment: Pretty cool device! I don't like the wireless mouse it comes with, but it's ok. Also, they have a pretty cool software bundle. They include Adobe Elements, and some extensions. Also some other program, but I forgot which one it was.
    I've been going crazy with this thing! Check this out! And this one!
    PSU OCZ|OCZ45012U 450W RT (Qty=1,Price=$90.00)
    Comment: This thing is cool though... it looks mirror-ish.

    Anti-Static wristband (From USD Systems - $15.00)
    Dell 2001FP 20.1" LCD Monitor (From Legend Micro - $714.00)
    Comment: Holy Moly! LOOK AT THIS MONITOR!!!! I love it... I met the Fedex guy halfway to my porch! That's how excited I was!!! It's really awesome. Thanks for recommending it DavidAleon!
    Here are some more pics:
    Pic 1
    Pic 2
    Pic 3
    Pic 4
    Pic 5
    Pic 6
    CASE TT|VA4000BWS RT SVIKING (Qty=1,Price=$70.00)
    Comment: This case looks better than I anticipated. Looks like real quality workmanship. The latter impression stayed the same, and I also realized "holy crap! this thing has a LOT of wires!" It has the (for the top part of the case) USB port wires, power button wires, firewire wire, LCD screen wire (for fan control), fan control wires, thermometer wire... And inside where the fans were, power wires for them, and the control ports for the control wires.
    One thing that really disapointed me though is that I cannot re-configure the back fan. It has to stay as exhaust. This is really disapointing. The reason it has to stay that way is because the fan housing is meant for the case. It's not the generic kind. This one has plastic tabs that go in certain places on the case.
    I also REALLY don't like the pci card locking mechanism. It's cheap and STUPID. But at least it works.
    (Case lights) ACCES LOGISYS|LNSRD LED LIGHT RT (Qty=1,Price=$10.49)
    (Case lights) ACCES LOGISYS|MDLED1UV UV LED RT (Qty=1,Price=$4.99)
    Comment: These thing are waaaay smaller than I anticipated. I might need to purchase another one, but I have to see how it looks first.
    Both sets of case lights...

    Total Money Spent on Parts: Approximately $2200
    *Note I did not include a sound card because sound is already available on the motherboard.
    **Note I did not include speakers or headset because I already have one I can use to save some dough.
    ***Note I am not including the costs of the equipment for airflow-related measuring.
    ****Note I did not include the cost of my cable modem

    Test the new computer case for different configurations, pressurization, airflow, temperatures, and smoke tests

    Well, we now know we cannot change the configurations of the fans (to be intake or exhaust) due to it being made specifically for that case.

    Smoke Tester
    Shortridge ThermalAnemometer 860C. With extensions such as 18" Airfoil, Temperature probe, and a set of plastic hoses (not shown).
    Total cost of equipment - Approximately $1500 USD

    Airflow and temperature efficiency testing of the ThermalTake Sviking VA4000BWS case


    Condition 1:
    Both fans on lowest setting
    Condition 2: Back fan on high, front fan on low setting
    Condition 3: Front fan on high, back fan on low setting
    Condition 4: Both fans on highest setting.

    References and Notes:
    Note 1: There is no real accurate way to test airflow for these fans. In order to do this, I have to disconnect each fan, place it outside the case, put it in a controlled environment, and then test it. However, the goal was really to find out case efficiency, not just the fan power. In order to do this completely accurately, I would have to take the power supply out and measure its airflow capacity as well, and that just is not going to happen. However, I am confident that this test phase is as accurate as real-life circumstances and conditions would permit - and can be correlated efficiently to different computer specifications.

    Note 2: The PSU for this computer is a OCZ Modstream 450W PSU.

    Note 3: Component door is open; this makes a big difference in load, since it is less load because it does not have to go through the component door grille area. However, our mock duct should compensate somewhat accurately for the lack of pressure. What I consider the “component door” is the door that reveals the media drives (floppy, dvd, etc), and contains the knobs for fan power control.

    Note 4: The “crazy mode” described below, is not very accurate in CPU load, because sometimes frame rates go up or down, according with processing power and in-game action. However, I tried to maintain a consistant level of activity in the game and keeping my character moving about and shooting weapons in crazy manner as to represent chaotic gameplay. “Crazy mode” is used utilizing Unreal Tournament 2004, with all graphics settings on the “Holy S***” level, with 31 bots, and one human player (myself), on the level “Arctic Stronghold”, on Onslaught mode.

    Note 5: “Holy S***” level on the “crazy mode” described above is with all graphics settings on the highest, with the highest resolution at 1680x1050. It is called this, because when you put all the graphics on the highest settings, the computer voice in the game says “Holy S***!”

    Note 6: The mock ducts were fastened with the least amount of leakage possible under the circumstances with duct tape.

    Note 7: The front fan mock duct was 5.9"x6.9", and the back mock duct was 3.85"x4".

    Note 8: Mock duct traverse in the front was 9 readings every test, and the traverse for the back was 6 readings every test.

    Note 9: I have three (3) lighting systems in my case. Only two were operating. One was a 3-LED UV light (very small), and the second one was the LED light that is inside the PSU and is on automatically.

    Note 10: All temperatures were measured in Fahrenheit for finer accuracy. Celsius conversion is represented respectively.

    Note 11: This symbol represents Delta “^”. Delta in my industry of airflow and general heat transfer refers to “differential” or, “the difference” between one number and another. “^T” refers to differential in temperature. For instance, the ^T of 80̊ F, and 70̊ F is 10, because that is the difference (in numerical value) between 80 and 70.

    Note 12: CFM refers to Cubic Feet per Minute. Please check online to know the full depths of what this means if you are interested. If you want the lay definition, it is the type of measurement mostly used for airflow quantity. This number is attained by doing some mathematical techniques along with feet per minute readings (the velocity of air, not quantity), and the area of the duct being tested.

    Note 13: EAT & LAT are industry standard abbreviations for Entering Air Temperature, and Leaving Air Temperature. In this case, EAT is representing EAT at the front fan, and LAT at the rear fan.

    Note 14: Ambient Temperature (room temperature) resembled EAT so much that it was not worth risking the accuracy of the EAT & LAT tests by taking away precious minutes we had to test room temperature. Also, the ambient temperature is not really a factor for case efficiency as long as it is not too hot or too cold. Furthermore, the efficiency of the case to transfer heat is best indicated by ^T rather than an ambient temperature correlation.

    Front Case Fan:

    Condition 1:
    CFM: 18.1 cfm
    EAT: 69.1 ºF / 20.6 ºC
    LAT: 79.5 ºF / 26.4 ºC

    Condition 2:
    CFM: 25.7 cfm
    EAT: 69.1 ºF / 20.6 ºC
    LAT: 78.5 ºF / 25.8 ºC

    Condition 3:
    CFM: 28.3 cfm
    EAT: 69.2 ºF / 20.7 ºC
    LAT: 78.1 ºF / 25.6 ºC

    Condition 4:
    CFM: 35.6 cfm
    EAT: 68.2 ºF / 20.1 ºC
    LAT: 75.9 ºF / 24.4 ºC

    Rear Case Fan *:
    Condition 1: 19.9 cfm
    Condition 2: 24 cfm
    Condition 3: 46.8 cfm
    Condition 4: 54.9 cfm
    * Refer to Front Case Fan readings for EAT and LAT.

    Total cfm moving through case @ the fans (including PSU airflow and case leakage):

    Condition 1: 38 cfm
    Condition 2: 49.7 cfm
    Condition 3: 75.1 cfm
    Condition 4: 90.5 cfm

    ”Crazy Mode”:

    Condition 1:
    EAT: 71.4 ºF / 21.9 ºC
    LAT: 83.7 ºF / 28.7 ºC
    ^T: 12.3 ºF / 6.8 ºC

    Condition 2:
    EAT: 70.2 ºF / 21.2 ºC
    LAT: 80.6 ºF / 27 ºC
    ^T: 10.4 ºF / 5.8 ºC

    Condition 3:
    EAT: 69.6 ºF / 20.9 ºC
    LAT: 81.5 ºF / 27.5 ºC
    ^T: 11.9 ºF / 6.6 ºC

    Condition 4:
    EAT: 69.2 ºF / 20.7 ºC
    LAT: 78.2 ºF / 25.7 ºC
    ^T: 9 ºF / 5 ºC

    Airflow Test Conclusion:

    Well, while I was pretty disappointed with the cfm results, there may be nothing to worry about. Total CFM moving through the case with both fans on highest, is 90.5 cfm, and the fans on lowest setting is only 38 cfm moving through the case. For the ^T in the different conditions on “crazy mode”, the result was most impressive.

    With both fans on highest setting, the ^T was 9 ºF / 5 ºC. So basically, the case only heats up 9 ºF / 5 ºC with both fans on highest setting. The lowest setting wasn’t too disappointing either, as it was only 12.3 ºF / 6.8 ºC. It is also bad news because that means that the highest setting really doesn’t do too much and is loud for virtually no rewarding results.

    In fact, it is great news that the difference between Condition 1 and Condition 4 is only 3.3 ºF / 1.8 ºC. You have the ability to run this thing super quiet (in Condition 1 - both fans on lowest setting), and get almost the same results temperature-wise as with the both fans on Condition 4. Along with the fact that it means that the case must be pretty efficient at transferring heat if there is hardly any difference in temperatures from both of those conditions of airflow quantity.

    Although I’m not sure if it is worth the extra 3.3 ºF / 1.8 (I don’t know, I don’t know what the difference does as far as capability of the computer is concerned). But that is what it is, and I’m just trying to do my little part in the computer world by showing these test results.

    There are a couple of things I would like to note however... I have a Zalman 7000a heatsink, and I don’t know if that helps the overall temperature of the case (I’m guessing it does). I also need to let folks know that the OCZ Modstream PSU is blowing INTO the case, not exhausting air OUT. Since the outlet (inside) is right above the heatsink, I believe it is helping cool down the heatsink while the heatsink exhausts heat at the same time. Then there’s the rear fan that’s right next to the heatsink as well, which probably doesn’t give the case a chance to heat up too much. I think with the OCZ Modstream 450W PSU, the Zalman heatsink and this wonderful ThermalTake case, make a truly paradigm combination in heat transfer efficiency.

    I cannot do a smoke test today, and I’ve decided to NOT do the pressurization test due to difficulty in inserting a probe capable of fitting through small enough cracks. I just don’t have one. Smoke test to be continued...

    To be continued...

    Last edited by Ambassador; 01-27-2005 at 12:44 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2004
    those anti static stuff really work?
    i never had to use one and i handle my pc parts all the time...without them.

    good luck and have fun

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Van Nuys California
    I've never used the wrist band. It depends on your atmospheric conditions. If you're in an environment with a lot of dry air and dry carpets I guess static electrincity could be a problem. You might want one then.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    MD right now - hopefully someday, sunny FL!
    Well I constantly am getting shocked. I'm literally traumatized. I do not touch doorknobs first. I touch the door first, and then the door knob with the other hand. I tap metal objects before fully touching them. I also hate putting on / off my work coat because its too staticy.

    So I guess it's a good thing to have for me...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Van Nuys California
    If that's the case it was a wise decision to get the wrist strap. I remember the days when guys were warning me to avoid touching sticks of ram because 1 jolt of static electricity could destroy a stick.

    It's good to see your system coming together like that. Let me know how it benchmarks. There are a bunch of benchmarks that are free for a download. You should download these

    (1) 3d Mark 2001 {the granddaddy of game benchmarks}
    (2) 3d Mark 2003 {the most trusted predictor of today's game performance}
    (3) 3d Mark 2005 {your guide to future game performance}
    (4) Aquamark {the best all-around test of DX9}
    (5) Spec 8.01 {The best guide to workstation graphics}
    (6) SISoft Sandra {A collection of classic hardware stress tests}
    (7) HotCPU tester {A collection of classic algorithm benchmarks}
    (8) Cinebench 2003 {A collection of 3d app benchmarks based on Cinema 4d}

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    MD right now - hopefully someday, sunny FL!
    Thanks as always David...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    I'll be keeping my eye on this thread. Thanks for being thoughtful enough to post it Ambassador.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    May 2004
    good luck again, and after you build it you'll see how easy it really is.
    i remember the days when i was afraid of upgrading my video card and optical drives and such. i used to always think my friends were so damn smart and brave to hook up their pcs themselves haha. but after going through a couple upgrades here and there i finally put together a complete pc myself(for a friend) . it's much easier than you first think cuz you see how everything really is plug and play for the most part. modding my xbox kinda helped me out with this as well.
    anyway man,
    have a good one

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    In the DRIFT!
    3D Mark 01 is very very good due to the reason that it tests your CPU AND GPU. While 03 and 05 are more GPU intensive. Good project though. I'm going to be starting on mine soon. I hope
    3Ds Max freak in the making all thanks to 3D Buzz!

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    MD right now - hopefully someday, sunny FL!
    Updated above! Got the case and it's lights.

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