Wednesday, May 23, 2012

HD Audio Upgrade Project Part2–Ivy Bridge Desktop Build


2012 htpc-3

It’s been two years and 8 months since my last desktop build. This build is primarily to get the HD audio bitstreaming capability. I’m also trying to solve the lack of hard drive mounting space. The desktop has to be relatively quite. Internal space has to be relatively large and the system stays cool. I originally planned to use some old parts, but along the way I found that old stuff has either lacking of function or compatibility issue. So at the end this build is pretty much 100% new except all the HDDs.

So the components I picked up are (Prices rounded, tax included where applicable):

Intel Ivy Bridge Gen 3 i5 3570K CPU ($200)
P8Z77-V PRO Full ATX Motherboard ($200)
Samsung 830 SSD 128GB ($125)
Kingston HyperX 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 ($10)

Fractal Design Define XL Full Tower Computer Case ($108)
Corsair TX750 V2 750W PSU ($78 After $20 Rebate)

CF-V14HB Vortex Hydro-Dynamic-Bearing (Fluid) 14CM Silent Cooling Fan (x2) ($30)
SilverStone FP57B Stackable 5.25" to 3.5" Hot-swap Drive Bay Adapter – Black (x3) ($56)

Supermicro AOC-SAS2LP-MV8 8-channel SAS/SATA PCI-E 8x Card ($130)
HighPoint Internal Mini-SAS to 4SATA(SFF8087 to SATA), 1M (3 feet) ($17)

Old components:

A bunch of hard drives.
Hauppauge WinTV-HVR 1600 Internal PCI Dual TV Tuner/Video Recorder
Monitor, Mouse, Keyboard, USB Hubs etc…

So the total cost is about $950, and it took me almost a month from ordering and waiting all parts and have them build together.

My last build was from the days when Frys still had those cheap CPU+MB combos. But since they no longer sell those, I have to pick up the components somewhere else. In this case, I got them from Microcenter for delivery since the local store is way too far. I picked up the new ivy bridge i5 3570K on the release day. I originally want the i7s but since Microcenter was running a promo of $50 off of buying 3570K with selected motherboard. I’m being cheap here… I also originally wanted the GIGABYTE GA-Z77X-UD5H which is cheaper than the ASUS board, but Microcenter doesn’t carry it. In the end, the $50 savings goes to the more expensive motherboard (due to the WIFI card which I don’t have any use of), which I end up not saving much. Function wise these two boards appear to be about the same on the paper. GIGABYTE has one more SATA port and Hackintosh compatible, and has Creative EAX sound effects. ASUS has USB 3.0 boost and DTS connect. Both have the HDMI/DVI/DisplayPort/SPDIF connections, enough USB 2.0/3.0 ports, UEFI BIOS, and old PCI slots for my specific needs. So it’s a tough call. I’ve only used GIGABYTE and ECS boards, so it doesn’t hurt to try something new.

Some comments for specific components:

For the Fractal Design case, I’ve only seen reviews saying it’s possible to rotate the cage to make the HDDs facing towards the MB, but there’s no instructions for it. So I spent a few minutes and figured this one out.

First DO notice there are differences between the HDD holders from the cage and the 6 bottom bay. The main difference is that there are more holes on the cage ones. You can use them interchangeably. But if you want to rotate the cage by 90 degrees, you HAVE to use the holders for the cage. To use the holder, the rubber feet has to be repositioned as shown below to accommodate the length of the HDDs.

Fractal Design XL HDD(1)

Below is how the HDDs look like in a 90 degree rotated cage. It leaves very little gap between the HDDs and the front intake fan.

Fractal Design XL HDD(2)


2012 htpc-1

I did remove the plate that separates the PSU and the upper MB for two reasons. One is for better air flow, two is for the short 24pin power cable that goes into the MB. I’m too cheap to buy yet another extension cable.

2012 htpc-2

With all the cable management, it still looks a bit messy here since I have installed 11 internal HDD/SDD…

2012 htpc silverstone1

One of the options I was considering when I started this build is to have some capability for swapping HDDs without opening the case. I did some researches and came across these Silverstone bays. I bought three of these and put a 120mm fan at the back.

2012 htpc-4

The price was a bit high for $20 a piece. Plus they take up more space than those 3 to 4 or 3 to 5 bays. But heat dissipation would be a concern for those configuration. Swapping the HDDs was pretty easy process now.

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