Minor Upgrade: Chassis and Motherboard for Quad Core Desktop PC

In July last year, I migrated from using a laptop to a desktop PC. Since then, there have been the following niggling issues:

1) My IBM Model M PS/2 Keyboard really doesn’t like being converted to USB. Despite getting the “recommended” USB converter for it, it’ll work during BIOS boot, and fail during login — I need to unplug and plug it back in again. It also doesn’t like working when my laser printer’s USB cable is plugged in — again, I need to unplug and plug the keyboard’s USB converter again.

2) the dual 60mm fans on the old “slim” and good looking casing were driving me mad. They were so loud!

3) I was prettty much impressed with the gigabyte motherboard I got for my PVR PC with it’s serial port connector (2 COM ports too!) and PS/2 connector.

Today, since someone offered to drive to low yat plaza, I went and did some shopping.

For the casing, after some research online, I bought a CoolerMaster Elite 341 (RM149 w/o power supply). This has a single 120mm case fan, and options to add two more 120mm fans. The bigger the fan, the slower it can turn to move the same amount of air. The slower it turns, the less noise it makes. So 120mm fans can be pretty quiet.

I also bought the same Gigabyte Motherboard I used in my PVR, the Gigabyte G41MT-ES2L (RM200).

Here are the specs for the Cooler Master Elite 341:

The CoolerMaster chassis is slightly wider than the Powerlogic chassis that it replaces, due to the standard horizontal positioning of the optical drive. It takes only M-ATX motherboards (which is fine, as I said before, these days we hardly need that many internal slots that the regular ATX offers). It’s pretty plain looking (the powerlogic had a mirrored front panel), except perhaps for a slight mesh pattern at the front. However, it is much more solidly built than the powerlogic one — the metal doesn’t flex as much.

There are a few user friendly features:

* thumbscrews to remove the side cover

* a folding clip to hold down I/O cards

* a sliding lock to hold down optical and floppy drives.

Here are some internal pictures:

The chassis came with the standoffs for the motherboard ready mounted, and a bag of screws for fixing the motherboard and attaching peripherals. It didn’t have a power supply, but I was going to carry over the old one I had.

I intended to migrate all the bits from my Desktop PC over, so I had to start by stripping out the stuff in the old chassis:

This is what I carried over:

I placed the CPU into it’s socket on the new motherboard, dabbed some thermal grease, and proceeded with the tedious job of getting the CPU fan secured on.

The IO panel then went on to the motherboard, and the motherboard mounted into the chassis.

This was followed by all the other peripherals.

Wait a minute — what’s this … why can’t the memory fit into the slot? Uh-oh, it seems I’ve made a mistake … the intel motherboard I previously used required DDR2 memory, whereas the newer motherboard requires DDR3. I can’t use this machine without buying more RAM! aaaargh!

Anyway, I temporarily borrowed a stick of RAM from my PVR PC, connected all the chassis cables, SATA cables, and power cables, and connected the wall power to it. Switched it on, and everything worked right the first time! With my PS/2 keyboard plugged into a proper PS/2 slot, the keyboard worked very well.

I could hear my aircond blowing air for a change! A silent PC at last!

The other amazing thing is Suspend/Resume works! Imagine that … gigabyte’s ACPI BIOS working better than Intel’s (who wrote the ACPI specification)

Anyway, tomorrow going to “koyak” more money as I have to get 2x 2GB of DDR3 RAM.

At this rate, I’ll probably resurrect the old powerlogic chassis, motherboard, and RAM at some point. But I’m going to cut a hole through the chassis side panel and attach a 120mm fan to it.

Update: Added 2 pieces of DDR-3 1333Mhz RAM, RM170 each. House now operating normally. If anyone has 1GB of DDR-2, and wants to upgrade to 2x2GB of DDR-2, I’m happy to exchange it for a price.

This post was originally published as a Facebook Note at 2010-01-20 00:26:14 +0800.

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