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TimT

[BUILD LOG] G5 Case Budget Workstation

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Hey all,

If your looking for a quick fix of glorious computer beauty shots you may want to come back at Christmas... This one is going to be a while!

 

So the story begins last year when I was given a stripped out G5 Mac case by a friend, it had all the metal hardware inside still and the original fans (not none of the actual PC hardware) and ever since I have been itching to build something inside of it!

 

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A few months ago I stripped out all the old mounting brackets to try and get a feel for what could be done. The last photo shows the PSU case in the bottom which having looked at different G5 builds is too small for a normal ATX which means either the case or the PSU have to be modded, I wasn't a big fan of either solution (but more on that later...)

 

While the obvious next step may have been to go to laserhive and buy their ATX adapter plate, I wanted to know what hardware I was going to have so that I knew which version I was going to buy. So I did the next thing any respectable builder with a very tight budget did - I started Ebay shopping! 

 

So without further ado, the current hardware that will go into this beast:

CPU: Intel Xeon E3-1270 V2    (£50)

GPU: NVidia GTX Titan Black 6GB    (£85)

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-Z77X-D3H Rev1.0    (£59 + £14 Import fees)

RAM: 8Gb (2x4Gb) Corsair Vengence 1600MHz DDR3    (£18)

PSU: Intel (Delta) Intel E98791-009 750W Hotswap + INTEL DA0S6CTB4D0 P4304 Power Backplane (£25 + £15)

CPU Cooler: Chinese RGB tower Cooler (£20)

 

Total so far: £286 (AKA a bargain!)

Now I seem to have been mostly lucky with the parts as this last weekend I put them all together and after a few days of bios swapping and debugging it all works! I'm currently using an SSD from my main system with windows on for testing but I actually have another 128Gb SSD (cheap PNY that I got form Amazon for ~£20) that I have Kubuntu installed on that I intend to be the main disk and OS for this system.

The actual idea for this system was to have a workstation that I could play with some tensor flow/Cuda stuff on, I've done some machine learning stuff in the past with CPU clusters (Condor) but never actually had a NVidia card at home that I could use! So I knew setting out I wanted PCIe 3 and a decent NVidia card with CUDA cores to play with! The CPU I just found for buy-it-now at that price by luck and knew I have to have it at that price.

 

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As you can see the test looks pretty janky, but it boots (and in fact I'm currently writing this on it!) 

 

Some quirks:

 

GPU: The eagle eyed among you may also notice there is no fan or shroud on the Titan Black - it was a company selling off old ones that had been used in a server so had all the fans removed, but it still has the heatsink on so i've currently just butted a fan up against the heatsink plugged into one of the mobo fan headers, which wont do for gaming but seems to be fine for normal desktop usage/testing at the moment.

 

PSU: The power supply I originally thought was a stroke of genius as it would fit perfectly in the G5 PSU case, when I first got it I thought I would buy a Pico-Psu and wire the 12 v directly onto the rails. But after about 2-months of searching I finally found what I was looking for an actual power distribution plate from an intel server (and it was only £15!) By the way that 2 months of fruitless searching was mainly because I didn't know what to call the bloody thing! So on paper a 750w platinum rated PSU for £40 all in seems really good, but I've already run into issues, for a start there are no pcie connectors so at the moment I have two different Molex to PCIe adapters for powering the GPU (which is not going to work long term, and in fact I crashed out when I tried to run the heaven benchmark with a hard reset, and I'm pretty sure that was the reason!) So if anyone knows if there were optional PCIe adapters for these things please let me know! Alternatively I have two unused 8pin Atx adapters that I'm considering if I can re-wire to PCIe? 

 

MOBO: I don't even know where to start with this... It originally would not Boot at all with the Xeon in, after a lot of searching I found my problem happened to quite a lot of people with this era of gigabyte board (old white bios boot screen which is unresponsive) and at least two people had said the solution lied with updating the bios using integrated graphics with the GPU unplugged and then later installing the GPU. This obviously wasn't happening with the Xeon (no iGPU :( ) so I borrowed an I5 from a friend and after going through 6 different BIOS versions with no luck it turned out that booting with no USB devices plugged in was the solution. Anyway I'm now running it on a modded Bios from the tweaktown forum and it seems to be great!

 

WORK STILL TO DO - 

 

CASE MOD TO ATX: Before I can install anything I need to get the conversion kit from laser hive - they make a few but I'm probably going with their Full ATX High kit which gives extra PCI expansion slots in place of where the G5 drive mounts used to be. I'm also considering whether to get the front panel mod for USB 3 but I may cut corners to fund other bits...

 

PAINTING: While I am a huge fan of the aesthetics of the G5, this isn't going to be a hackintosh and seeing as I'm already getting in to case modding I want to customize as much as possible! Also painting is a good way to cover up the bodge job I will most likely do on Modding the case! I have seem some beautiful G5 paint jobs looking around and I'm currently inspired by this one from Bradamante on the tonymacx86 forums:

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I'm thinking of two tone grey with a lighter and darker grey, possibly with an even lighter colour again for the interior of the case for getting some lighting in there.

 

COOLING: Obviously an 80mm fan zip tied to the heatsink of the Titan probably wont cut it, so I either need to find a replacement or my other line of thinking is getting one of the cheap Aliexpress water cooling kits with a GPU and CPU block in, there is more than enough space for a 240mm plus another 120mm radiator in the case without further modification, but potentially room for more with some ingenuity. This would basically just come down to whether I can justify the cost as the Xeon can't exactly be easily overclocked so it would mainly be for the GPU, and the cheap universal blocks would need active VRM air cooling as well anyway. I'd also like to see if it's worth getting the old Mac fans working - I tried one that seemed to have a normal 4 pin adapter (but being mac who the hell knows) but plugging into a fan header on the mobo yielded no results, the two other dual fan setups that where with the G5 case have much funkier adapters that I'll have to find pin-out diagrams for before I can even try to test them. Alternatively the inside may get painted white and RGB all the stuff...

 

CABLE SLEEVING: I've got a ton of grey and cream paracord that I plan on using to sleeve the PSU cables with once I work out what lengths they need to be etc (and once I work out what the hell I'm going to do for the PCIe power connectors.) 

 

SIDE WINDOW?: This is a bit of a long shot idea for now, but the mac side panel is held on by a bracket that just screws into the aluminum panel, as the panel itself is perfectly rectangular I was thinking I could get a smoked perspex sheet cut perfect to size and then just attach the mounting bracket (I've already checked and it does just screw off without glue!) So I think there's potential here but it's pretty low down the list of priorities.

 

THATS ALL FOR NOW...

Thanks for looking guys, I'll keep this updated as I get new bits and get more done - I'm currently trying to budget getting at least one part a month (though I went a bit crazy last month when I bought the bulk of the final electronic parts!) If you have any ideas for other mods I could do etc. let me know! This is definitely a perrmanent 'project' pc that I can play with rather than needing to have 100% up-time so crazy ideas are welcome :)

 

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18 minutes ago, TimT said:

they make a few but I'm probably going with their Full ATX High kit which gives extra PCI expansion slots in place of where the G5 drive mounts used to be. I'm also considering whether to get the front panel mod for USB 3 but I may cut corners to fund other bits...

Personally I would recommend against a Full ATX build. The mATX kit is much more user friendly and requires a lot less butchering of the back of the case. 

 

As for the front panel, I would buy a compatible front panel for the G5 and a G5 cable. Going this route you will have a fully functioning original power button and LED, USB 2.0, possibly front panel audio, and optional FireWire. All without having to cut the original front panel out. I went this route and I love having the original aesthetic. 

Spoiler

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I have a build log of how I made my G5: 

 


Laptop: 2016 13" nTB MacBook Pro Core i5 | Phone: iPhone 8 Plus 64GB | Wearables: Apple Watch Sport Series 2 | CPU: R5 2600 | Mobo: ASRock B450M Pro4 | RAM: 16GB 2666 | GPU: ASRock RX 5700 8GB | Case: Apple PowerMac G5 | OS: Win 10 | Storage: 480GB PNY SSD & 2TB WD Green HDD | PSU: Corsair CX600M | Display: Dell 27 Gaming Monitor S2719DGF 1440p @155Hz, Dell UZ2215H 21.5" 1080p, ViewSonic VX2450wm-LED 23.6" 1080p | Cooling: Wraith Prism | Keyboard: G610 Orion Cherry MX Brown | Mouse: G303 | Audio: Audio Technica ATH-M50X & Blue Snowball
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Posted · Original PosterOP

 

13 minutes ago, DrMacintosh said:

 

I have a build log of how I made my G5: 

 

Nice build!

 

Unfortunately I pretty much went with what I could find in terms of hardware so I already have the full ATX board and I'd rather risk doing the full conversion than replace the board now I have it working! I've book marked the front panel replacement though, that looks great and while I will almost definitely never need firewire, keeping the original aesthetic for the front IO is a massive bonus! 

 

Did you ever work out anything for cable management? As I was considering painting the inside of the case I was thinking of getting some pipe insulation like this:

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And cutting it in half, sticking it to the back next to the motherboard and painting it with everything else then routing wires through that. I don't know if thats a bit too janky or not but its cheap so I may test it and see how I feel.

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1 minute ago, TimT said:

Did you ever work out anything for cable management?

Lol nope! I just hid it behind stuff. 

Spoiler

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Laptop: 2016 13" nTB MacBook Pro Core i5 | Phone: iPhone 8 Plus 64GB | Wearables: Apple Watch Sport Series 2 | CPU: R5 2600 | Mobo: ASRock B450M Pro4 | RAM: 16GB 2666 | GPU: ASRock RX 5700 8GB | Case: Apple PowerMac G5 | OS: Win 10 | Storage: 480GB PNY SSD & 2TB WD Green HDD | PSU: Corsair CX600M | Display: Dell 27 Gaming Monitor S2719DGF 1440p @155Hz, Dell UZ2215H 21.5" 1080p, ViewSonic VX2450wm-LED 23.6" 1080p | Cooling: Wraith Prism | Keyboard: G610 Orion Cherry MX Brown | Mouse: G303 | Audio: Audio Technica ATH-M50X & Blue Snowball
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Posted · Original PosterOP

Well 8 months later and this project obviously hit a few roadblocks...

 

The motherboard decided to no longer boot with the xeon processor in (for some reason it would boot with a i5 2400 that a fried kindly gave me) and then in trying ot diagnose the problem switching out cpus to play with the bios I managed to kill the socket (one pin completely broken off a few others bent.) So I am currently in the market for some different hardware, as the prices for second hand hardware in the UK is crazy (3770k over 100 punds is ludacris at this point!) I'm potentially looking at slightly newer but still second hand hardware - depending on what I can find.

 

In the mean time over Christmas with some actual decent time off from work I managed to actually convert the case and give it a paint job, I also ordered a piece of smoked acrylic to use as a side panel. And while the side panel isn't perfect I think it looks pretty good - now just to actually get the hardware in there!

 

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I can't wait too see it done! 


Its OK to tell people they're wrong but do it Nicely!

CPU 

AMD Ryzen 5 2600x 

CPU Cooler 

DeepCool CAPTAIN 240 RGB V2 

Motherboard

Gigabyte B450 AORUS M Micro

Ram

Corsair Vengeance LPX 16gb 2*8 3200mhz (black)

Storage

Crucial MX500

GPU

Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1660 6gb Gaming OC (3 fan edition)

Case

Thermaltake Versa H18 MicroATX

Power supply

Corsair VS 550 

OS 

Windows 10

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

With a bit of progress made I was eager to get more done so rather than continue playing roulette with second hand hardware I instead decided to shop around and ended up on a Ryzen R5 3600 and a MSI B450 board. I had also picked up some cheap Bykski water cooling stuff a while back as I managed to pick up a 780ti water block which fit the titan black for a tenner, but obviously hadn't done anything with it while I didn't have the rest of the system together.

 

Well today the CPU and motherboard showed up as well as a water block for AM4 (got it at 60% off as an open box.) I booted it up and everything seemed to be good, so I started in on putting together the system!

 

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Also featured are the cables from the server PSU partially re-sleeved I've done the 24pin, 8pin, 4pin motherboard power connectors but I need to completely rewire part of the harness as it currently doesn't have  6pin or 8pin PCIe power connectors (I have some connectors available but need to work out exactly what I want to lose for them.)  

 

I'm currently missing one G1/4 fitting for the GPU which I have ordered but I can't finish off without it, I'm also waiting on some additional screws which will help hold the radiator in place at the front. When I get the last parts I need to pull everything out again and flush the radiator, and I will probably route the 24pin behind the motherboard so it isn't such a mess (although some cable combs are also definitely on the shopping list.) The rats nest of cables will be hidden (I have the original cover for the power supply box that was in the case) but I need to cut some holes in the cover to route cables through. The last thing on the list is then sort out rewiring the power supply button.

 

I'm getting so close to the end just lots of little bits left to be done!

 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

This weekend I managed to spend some time to get it up and running at least, the cables are still an absolute mess, but that will probably be at least a month before I can properly sort that out with the way work is at the moment! I did manage to get the side panel attached to the old mounting hardware so it is now properly attached (in the pictures before it was precariously balanced on a lip at the side!)

 

However getting it up and running has thrown up some new issues, first is that I bought the wrong type of fan for the back of the case so I currently have one fan with no rgb which will be no big deal to swap out with the correct one which i have already ordered, secondly the open box water block I got from overclockers uk appears to have broken rgb. I'm going to give their support an email and see if they will replace it but because it was open block i suspect they wont, so I may just have to live without rgb on the waterblock.

 

As I said this may be the last update for a month or so, then hopefully I'll get some glamour shots of it in all it's glory before properly putting it to work as my weirdly spec'ed, overkill cooled workstation. 

 

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Posted · Original PosterOP

Well one benefit of the Coronavirus epidemic is that I found some time... Silver linings I guess.

 

The G5 conversion is now complete! (Only about 2 years since I originally got the case.)

 

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Some more images under the spoiler tag:

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Final Specs:

CPU: Ryzen 5 3600

GPU: GTX Titan Black 6GB

MoBo: MSI B450 Gaming Pro Carbon AC

Ram: 16GB Corsair Vengence Pro 3200MHz DDR4

SSD: Slicon Power 256GB M.2 NVME ssd

PSU: Intel (Delta) E98791-009 750W Hotswap + INTEL DA0S6CTB4D0 P4304 Power Backplane

Cooling:

Bykski 360mm Radiator

4 x Bykski Aperture Symphony 120mm Fans

Corsair XC7 CPU Waterblock

XPSC Razor 780ti Waterblock

Unknown Chinese Pump Resevoir combo

 

 

So almost everything changed since my initial incarnation of the hardware! But the old titan and the server power supply remain, The titan will get upgraded eventually (eyeing up 2070 supers and water blocks, but will have to wait and see if I still have a job in a few months let alone GPU money!) and I definitely need more storage sooner rather than later. I'm actually pretty impressed by the bykski gear and will definitely consider more of their cooling stuff in future, though I'm slightly dissapointed that the fans aren't PWM Controlled (at least there seems to be no way to connect the controller up to a fan header for control?) Which means the system is actually relatively loud with the fans running at full speed constantly!

 

Overall I'm really pleased with how it's come out, I think considering the G5 is a big open case it looks pretty clean, the side panel attaches with the bracket that I harvested from the original side panel (so the lever locking mechanism works!) and being able to reuse the power connector that fits in perfectly was a big plus for external aesthetics. 

 

The server power supply did work out really well for the build, I've seen other conversions that use ATX and it always leaves the case more open and gives you less space to hide cables etc. By reusing the old power supply case from the G5 and cutting out the extra bit at the back for running cables I think I've managed to keep it pretty tidy. The cables themselves could be better, they were meant to match the case colours on the outside but in real life they look more olive and tan, than dark grey and cream - and I sould have just bit the bullet and completely rewired with fresh wire to get the finish neater, maybe next time! Also while I left one of the cables that has sata power connectors I sacrificed two molex cables and an 8pin psu connector, to make the 8pin and 6pin PCIe power connectors for the GPU, I haven't actually tested under full load yet so we'll see if that holds out (It at least boots so thats a start!)

 

My original plan had been to have this machine as a cheap workstation so that I could then use my other machine as a pure gaming rig, but now that I have put so much blood, sweat, and tears into adapting this case (and so much more money than was originally intended...) I think I am now going to focus on upgrading this and have it as my main PC for everything.

 

In the future I'd still like to make a few small changes -

1. Remove the double bends coming out of the CPU block, if I can find a way to move the resevoir up 3cm that will get rid of the one going to the pump, and then swapping over the input and output ports on the GPU so that it just has a single upward bend on that one.

2. Front panel - I managed to wire up the power button/light (after destorying the first one with shoddy soldering and having to order a replacement) but I currently do not have functional front IO. I left in the mechanism for lowering/raising the dvd drive cover so I'm currently thinking that if I can find a usb hub that will fit I can put it in there (though it is pretty cramped with the back of the radiator pushing right up against it.) Or do the sensible thing and just order some of the adapter cables for the existing board, which will get me a usb port and 3.5mm audio jack (which is all I really need to be honest.)

 

As a tip on painting, anyone thinking of doing there own paint jobs on their PC - I would heavily recommend using a protective clear coat of some sort. I have already chipped and dinged the paint job in places that if I hadn't run out of steam on this particular project I would be pulling it apart and respraying!

 

Sorry for the wall of text! Hope it was interesting at least!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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