Richard Jones' Log: HTPC creation begins...

Wed, 06 Apr 2005

My HTPC components arrived on Tuesday. I went out and bought a Dremel yesterday and spent last night putting all the hardware together (well, and pulling some of the hardware apart ;)

After reading many articles and forum posts on the subject, I decided to just go ahead an cut out the grille at the back of the box:

I then placed all the parts into the box (sorry, I was so caught up I forgot to take photos)... with the result being:

The last shot is of the new box next to my current midi-tower desktop. The Shuttle boxes are really quite amazing to work with. They're really well-designed inside. Every component was easy to install and there's plenty of cable clips to keep things tidy. The box comes with a split (smaller) ATA cable for the optical drive already routed and clipped to the box. My only concern was with the SATA power lead -- it seems too short and under some stress to get to the HD. Also, I managed to plug the SATA drive into channel 1 instead of channel 0, so it didn't come up (minor panic) and moving that plug without taking out the whole drive chassis was difficult.

I tried to install Knoppmyth but it only supports /dev/hda as an install target, not /dev/sda. I need to get some more writeable CDs and then I'll try FC3 using this excellent and comprehensive HOWTO.

And boy, is the box quiet. When running, I can't hear it. Admittedly, my current desktop is quite noisy, and it's right next to the new box at the moment, but still... Of course, I can't compare the sound level against what it would be with the back grille still in place, but I have read enough to know that it would be louder.

Final parts list:

  1. Shuttle SK83G Barebone PC w/VIA AMD64 Skt754 board
  2. AMD Sempron 3100+ CPU, Socket754
  3. AverTV DVB-T 771 digital terrestrial TV PCI card w/remote control
  4. Western Digital Caviar 200Gb Serial ATA drive, 8mb cache, 7200RPM
  5. PC-3200 512MB GeIL 184-pin DDR SDRAM CAS 2.5 w/blue heatspreader
  6. LG 4163BBK Black 16x DVD±R, 4x DVD+R DL, 6x DVD-RW, etc. ;)
  7. 1 tube Cooler Master "High Performance" thermal paste

Note the last entry. That was my only real surprise with the whole thing - the Shuttle, and its bundled heatpipe, didn't come with any sort of thermal paste or pre-applied thermal bonding agent (the heatsinks that came with the Sempron and my previous AthlonXP purchase, for example, both had the latter). Thermal paste kinda scares me - I hope I got the amount correct (I have nightmares now about having applied too much and it dribbling down onto the motherboard and causing a short).

Comment by Michael Twomey on Fri, 08 Apr 2005

That's a frightening demonstation of PC love :)

Comment by Andy Todd on Sun, 10 Apr 2005

Err, why did you need to cut the grill out?

Comment by Richard on Sun, 10 Apr 2005

The many forum posts I referred to all talked about the drop in noise and temperature achieved by cutting the grille out.

Comment by Christopher Clark on Wed, 03 May 2006

the fan grill removed stops any airflow reduction. thus no swooshing sound of the air bouncing back into the fan.
if the thermal paste is silver then it wont run or leak if you used a small amount. even if you used a large amount it would be fine as it is less prone to run