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Carnal Self-Knowledge, A DIY Multimedia PC

Page 5

As I write this in downtown Boston the outside temperature is close to 90 degrees. If this is a harbinger of Global Warming, then a city-sized iceberg is probably en-route from the Arctic and will be colliding soon with my high-rise building. Oh well, at least my DIY PC will be running cool as my building careens over in a frosty panic.

Heat is the great murderer of electronics, and PCs are right up there on the top ten list of most likely victims. PCs are as hot, cramped, and overcrowded as a Calcutta tenement in August. It’s not a place you want to hang out.  When building your own PC, taming the heat should be the number one priority from the get go. This means choosing a case design that’s not only silent, but also will help things keep running cool. Fans, lots of fans, are also needed, especially if high performance and overclocking are on the DIY agenda. But fans can be noisy, really noisy, and the last thing you want to hear during a sotto voce movie scene is what sounds like an out of control 747 zooming around your AV room.

Fortunately, we have a set of easy to follow solutions that will keep things cool AND quiet.  First up, the PC case, and one of my favorite case manufacturers is Antec. For this DIY project I am using an Antec P182 mid-sized tower case, which comes in a cool gunmetal black finish ($129, on-line).

Dual chambers isolate the power supply and CPU into separate cooling zones. The power supply, which must be purchased separately, resides in a separate lower chamber in the bottom of the case to isolate heat from the system and to lower system noise. The power supply chamber comes with its own fan.

The case allows you to install up to 5 configurable 120mm fans. Naturally, I filled them all up using very quiet Antec fans. In addition to the rear system and front mounted power chamber fans, you also get a top mounted fan, and there are options for mounting an additional front fan and a middle fan to cool graphics cards. There is also an external fan control for the top and rear fans.

Altogether, this is a lot of huffing and puffing.  But you rarely hear all that churning hot air with this setup.

I also used an Antec power supply, its 850W TruePower Quattro ($165, on-line). This big watt guy is also eco-friendly and consumes about 33% less energy than equivalent power supplies. This is also a future proof power supply. The TruePower Quattro™ comes with four PCI-E connectors for powering up to two of the newest generation video cards. All modular cables are sleeved and labeled. Its 80mm fan also runs quiet. Better yet, its heavy-duty protection circuitry prevents damage resulting from short circuits, over voltages, under voltages, and over current. It even comes with a yellow racing stripe. Zoom-zoom.

Best of all, the P182’s three-layer (aluminum, plastic, aluminum) sound-deadening panels solidly dampen all this air swirling mayhem. That also includes all the air being cycloned around by the, oh, boy, CPU fan from Zalman, which we meet in the next page.

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