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[Build/Mod Log] --UPDATE 2-- The Cheap SFF Wonder-- Xeon X3320, 6GB DDR2

The Cheap SFF Wonder (alternately: How to modify a cheap SFF PC ghetto-style)

 

So, a little bit of backstory here: As a teenager, I find myself in need of cash far more than previously. Instead of begging the parents for money (or getting a job), I decided to try to buy stuff cheap off eBay, and resell it locally for a profit. One of the things purchased was a 2009 vintage Lenovo ThinkCentre M57 (6073ADU) SFF PC, for $31.

 

What I failed to realize was that not many people around here had much use for a cheap PC (iPhones do all that anyone would ever need, right?). So, I found myself in long-term possession of a system of the following specifications:

 

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6550 @ 2.33GHz

RAM: 2GB Mushkin DDR2-667

Motherboard: Proprietary Lenovo Q35

Graphics: Integrated Q35 Express

Storage: 160GB Samsung HDD (HD161GJ)

OS: Windows 7 SP1

Optical Drive: 24x DVD-ROM drive

PSU: Some custom 280W mess

(Official Lenovo specsheet here)

 

Far from a performer, but about what you expect for the price. So, I decided to try to build it up into something at least respectable, within the budget of your average high school kid.

 

So, let's get started shall we?

 

The Graphics

Being that many of you are at least casual gamers, you probably felt queasy when you read that this thing sports Q35 Express graphics -- integrated graphics from when Intel still called it GMA and "integrated graphics" itself was a bit of a naughty phrase. I can't blame you for that, and that was the first thing in need of replacement.

 

Luckily, I had just the thing laying around: an AMD Radeon HD5450. It's a half height card, so it actually fits in the case. It's still far from a gaming GPU, but it'll do. This thing will probably never see a serious video game anyway.

(Side note: The half-height bracket for this card was thrown away years ago, so the card was installed without a bracket at all. +1 ghetto point.)

tLY5NZim.jpg

 

The RAM

2GB of RAM doesn't get you too far nowadays. So, some supplementary goats were in order. Luckily, we had an old Athlon 64 x2 system gathering dust, so it's RAM was pulled and placed in this box. We now have 6GB -- still not massive, but quite high for a machine sporting DDR2!

 

The Hard Drive

160GB is not that much either. Luckily, I had a 320GB Fujitsu HDD laying around. Unfortunately, it's a 2.5" laptop drive that needs to go in a drive bay that only accommodates 3.5" drives. Luckily, I can improvise...

l4jNT8Vm.jpg

(+2 ghetto points. Total is now 3.)

 

Since I largely expected to use this system more for server-ish uses than gaming, I chose to install Ubuntu (14.04 LTS).

 

The CPU

The E6550 was a mid-range CPU.... when it was released in late 2007. It's now 5 generations old, and its Passmark score tells the tale: 1501. This puts it in the realm of modern low-power Celerons. I can not let this stand.

 

Sadly, it's not as easy as dumping a i7-5960x inside. This is an LGA775 machine, with the extremely pedestrian Q35 chipset. To state it simply, this means we have to stay in the realm of Conroe (Core 2 and friends) "uniprocessor" (meaning everything on one die) chips. Also, needs to meet the "teenager pocket change" requirement.

After, days of tediously comparing BIOS microcode compatibility, Passmark scores, TDPs, and eBay prices, I found my answer: The Xeon X3320, a quad core Yorkfield chip. This $20 purchase brings the Passmark score up to 3434, now up into the realm of modern mobile Core i5s. Still not earth shattering (and half the raw performance of my main's i5 3570), but the best I could get within my criteria.

 

As of December 8th, the Xeon has shipped but has not arrived. It should sometime this week.

On December 12th, the Xeon arrived and was installed. Read the next chapter for that adventure!

 

The system as it stands today

Wo1oAMIm.jpg

 

Updates:

12/12/15 -- How to not cool a CPU!

2/12/16 -- The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

 

Prices so far (updated as the build advances)

Prices for me:                                        Prices to buy everything: (averages from a quick google search)

Base System: $31                                 Base System: $31

GPU: Free                                             GPU: ~$30

HDD: Free                                             HDD: ~$40

RAM: Free                                             RAM: ~$15

CPU: $20                                              CPU: $40 (I got a good deal...)

_______________                                _______________

Total to date: $51                               Total to date: $151

 

Ghetto points: 4

 

I will continue this as the build goes on. Until then, hope you've enjoyed reading about my stupid idea project. :)

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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awesome, doing anything to the case itself?

Silverstone FT-05: 8 Broadwell Xeon (6900k soon), Asus X99 A, Asus GTX 1070, 1tb Samsung 850 pro, NH-D15

 

Resist!

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awesome, doing anything to the case itself?

Nothing planned at the moment, but I'm open to suggestions.

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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151USD for a life extension on a DDR2 system... nice...

Nothing planned at the moment, but I'm open to suggestions.

paint it white...

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paint it white...

That's an idea... Assuming Lenovo didn't do some weird crap to make parts hard to get out. Will probably check on that this afternoon.

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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The Xeon arrived! But now I realized I have no thermal paste laying around.... I could have sworn there was a tube of MX-5 laying around, but I can't find it. No local stores have any.

 

So the wait must continue. :(

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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Decided to screw all reasonable thinking. MUST. MAKE. XEON. WOOOOOOOOOOORK.

 

How not to cool a CPU.

Ok, The Xeon X3320 has arrived. Ain't she purdy?

 

0UGTlxOm.jpg?1

 

 

The family tube of MX-4 has disappeared, so I need a makeshift replacement. After much deliberation, I decided to pull the thermal pads from an old and dead Geforce 7950 GT card.

 

Al68cknm.jpg

 

Now to place them on the CPU carefully...

 

pM2Zcl4m.jpg

 

And put on the heatsink.... nope. The extra couple millimeters of height mean that Lenovo's weird lever-based (much like the CPU retainer itself) HS mount doesn't work.

 

Next best thing -- DX-9000 Thermal compound!

 

XYJP6Grm.jpg

 

No pictures of the rebuild here. Toothpaste looks the same as cheap thermal goop. Now to plug up power and see if it works.

 

Please let this work

Please let this work

Please let this work

Please let this work

...

 

YES!

 

RYjBxXMm.jpg XoRVoIum.jpg

 

Victory! The eBay find Xeon works, and the toothpaste works well enough to keep the chip cool-ish at near-idle. I am NOT stress testing until I get my tube of Prolimatech PK-2 paste and apply it. But for now, this will work.

 

 

+1 Ghetto Point.

Current point total: 4.

 

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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Got the new thermal paste today, and did stress tests. (I broke my promise to myself about not stress testing with the toothpaste applied).

 

Guess what?

 

NO DIFFERENCE IN TEMPERATURES.

 

Idle temperatures are within margin of error (example up above in the CPU install chapter), and full load temps are 80 degrees C across the board. Though to be fair, this probably has more to do with using the stock cooling that came with the system, than toothpaste magically being an amazing thermal paste. Still interesting though.

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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Got the new thermal paste today, and did stress tests. (I broke my promise to myself about not stress testing with the toothpaste applied).

 

Guess what?

 

NO DIFFERENCE IN TEMPERATURES.

 

Idle temperatures are within margin of error (example up above in the CPU install chapter), and full load temps are 80 degrees C across the board. Though to be fair, this probably has more to do with using the stock cooling that came with the system, than toothpaste magically being an amazing thermal paste. Still interesting though.

cool ghetto-ish build. i have used toothpaste as thermal paste in the past as well, but it dries out after a few days... but as a temporary fix it works great and it smells nice and minty 

#killedmywife #howtomakebombs #vgamasterrace

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toothpaste is best paste 
that is funny man i really like this build :) but what is it going to be used for? i would probably build a router or something with it just for the giggles 

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toothpaste is best paste

that is funny man i really like this build :) but what is it going to be used for? i would probably build a router or something with it just for the giggles

It's basically going to be my secondary everyday system. We already have an overkill networking solution. :)

Maybe some server use, but I'd like to find a cooling fan that doesn't grind as much (this thing sits in my bedroom). Any suggestions for quiet 80x37mm fans?

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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It's basically going to be my secondary everyday system. We already have an overkill networking solution. :)

Maybe some server use, but I'd like to find a cooling fan that doesn't grind as much (this thing sits in my bedroom). Any suggestions for quiet 80x37mm fans?

ah cool well yeah i didn't know but sure it can be used as a secondary cheap pc it does the job fine right? :) 

does it have to be a 37mm high fan? ghetto modding a good 80x25 fan would be just better than that anyway i bet. (not cfm probably but static pressure wise) 

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ah cool well yeah i didn't know but sure it can be used as a secondary cheap pc it does the job fine right? :)

does it have to be a 37mm high fan? ghetto modding a good 80x25 fan would be just better than that anyway i bet. (not cfm probably but static pressure wise)

The bracket basically requires 37mm, but you can tell I'm not afraid to... improvise. ;)

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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The bracket basically requires 37mm, but you can tell I'm not afraid to... improvise. ;)

that's what i thought but hey zip ties and duct tape is your friend when you like to.. improvise ^^ 

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  • 1 month later...
On Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 9:28 AM, fire219 said:

toothpaste is best paste
that is funny man i really like this build :) but what is it going to be used for? i would probably build a router or something with it just for the giggles


It's basically going to be my secondary everyday system. We already have an overkill networking solution. :)

Maybe some server use, but I'd like to find a cooling fan that doesn't grind as much (this thing sits in my bedroom). Any suggestions for quiet 80x37mm fans?

my cooling fans are always grinding each other... naughty things

LTT's Fastest 9800gt

LTT Forum Beginners Guide

 

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On 2/3/2016 at 3:16 PM, catzambia said:

my cooling fans are always grinding each other... naughty things

Fans definitely like to do that...

 

I'm probably going to get back to working on this machine soon. 

 

Potential upcoming additions:

eBay find SATA expansion card (mobo only has 2 SATA ports, which are taken by HDD and DVD drive respectively)

Swap crappy 5400RPM Fujitsu HDD for 7200RPM WD Scorpio Black

Paint job maybe? (Recommendations/requests welcome)

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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Totally following this. :P Just like I did with my old pc thats now my "storage server"

Use this guide to fix text problems in your postGo here and here for all your power supply needs

 

New Build Currently Under Construction! See here!!!! -----> 

 

Spoiler

Deathwatch:[CPU I7 4790K @ 4.5GHz][RAM TEAM VULCAN 16 GB 1600][MB ASRock Z97 Anniversary][GPU XFX Radeon RX 480 8GB][STORAGE 250GB SAMSUNG EVO SSD Samsung 2TB HDD 2TB WD External Drive][COOLER Cooler Master Hyper 212 Evo][PSU Cooler Master 650M][Case Thermaltake Core V31]

Spoiler

Cupid:[CPU Core 2 Duo E8600 3.33GHz][RAM 3 GB DDR2][750GB Samsung 2.5" HDD/HDD Seagate 80GB SATA/Samsung 80GB IDE/WD 325GB IDE][MB Acer M1641][CASE Antec][[PSU Altec 425 Watt][GPU Radeon HD 4890 1GB][TP-Link 54MBps Wireless Card]

Spoiler

Carlile: [CPU 2x Pentium 3 1.4GHz][MB ASUS TR-DLS][RAM 2x 512MB DDR ECC Registered][GPU Nvidia TNT2 Pro][PSU Enermax][HDD 1 IDE 160GB, 4 SCSI 70GB][RAID CARD Dell Perc 3]

Spoiler

Zeonnight [CPU AMD Athlon x2 4400][GPU Sapphire Radeon 4650 1GB][RAM 2GB DDR2]

Spoiler

Server [CPU 2x Xeon L5630][PSU Dell Poweredge 850w][HDD 1 SATA 160GB, 3 SAS 146GB][RAID CARD Dell Perc 6i]

Spoiler

Kero [CPU Pentium 1 133Mhz] [GPU Cirrus Logic LCD 1MB Graphics Controller] [Ram 48MB ][HDD 1.4GB Hitachi IDE]

Spoiler

Mining Rig: [CPU Athlon 64 X2 4400+][GPUS 9 RX 560s, 2 RX 570][HDD 160GB something][RAM 8GBs DDR3][PSUs 1 Thermaltake 700w, 2 Delta 900w 120v Server modded]

RAINBOWS!!!

 

 QUOTE ME SO I CAN SEE YOUR REPLYS!!!!

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Painting on the case has commenced... details soon...

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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15 hours ago, fire219 said:

Painting on the case has commenced... details soon...

nice! cant wait
+4 points to fire219-dore 

Silverstone FT-05: 8 Broadwell Xeon (6900k soon), Asus X99 A, Asus GTX 1070, 1tb Samsung 850 pro, NH-D15

 

Resist!

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Update 2: The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway

 

Alright, I had planned to have a significant update ready by now. However, the night after I started painting, I contracted a thankfully minor but unbelievably persistent upper respiratory infection. I'm mostly over it at this point, so I guess I'll show what I got done through the sickness...

 

Spoiler

oiJ0bzY.jpg

 

She's got a new drive! The old 5400RPM Fujitsu drive has been replaced with a new* 7200RPM WD Scorpio Black. Should increase speeds a bit...

 

* - pulled from my retired old HP Pavilion dv7 laptop

 

Spoiler

RAeXm7X.jpg

 

The lid of the case also has a shiny new coat of paint! It's not perfect (there's a bit of streaking for some reason, that extra coats did not fix...), but I'm happy enough with it.

 

Spoiler

tdklWjx.jpg

You will also see the front bezel is missing. The paint on that is drying as I write this. Stay tuned. :)

 

Grr... why won't the new forum software let me make pictures link to full size versions. Spoilers are not a good solution...

The Cheap SFF Wonder -- Turning a Core 2 Duo SFF machine into a useful member of computer society!

i5 3570 -- AS.Rock Z77 Pro3 -- 12GB DDR3 -- R9 380X -- 840Evo 500GB/1TB HDD 

I speak the honest truth with a bit of snark mixed in. I'm sorry if it doesn't line up with your beliefs.

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