Scratch Build: The Ultimate Computer Desk

Discussion in 'Computer Cases, Power Supplies and Cooling' started by ultimatedesk, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. FXB

    FXB New Member

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    848
    Why did you decide to get a server mobo more expansion possibilities? This ended so quickly :(
     
  2. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    Server Setup

    You'll see below that it was just by chance that I ended up with a dual proc server, so I said to myself "Hey! Free? Why the heck not!". Don't you worry, there's still lots more to come before it's absolutely done!

    I was in an extremely fortunate position recently. A friend of mine's work was moving from a large location to a much smaller location, and he had asked me if I wanted to come scope out the old office for any old bits of computer stuff that might be useful to me. To my shock and amazement, I was indeed able to pick up some pretty fancy hardware that I would have never dreamed of owning. They must have done some pretty big upgrades to leave stuff like this behind!

    I was able to get a hold of a handful of Socket 775 motherboards with Core 2 Duo processors, a bunch of DDR RAM, a box full of Hard Drives, and some relatively decent (lower powered) power supplies. The real treasure though, was a pair of servers. You can see that I had already disassembled one of them:

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    2 Full 4U Antec Rackmount cases, each of them containing a Dual-Xeon motherboard + Processors. Both with FB-DIMM RAM sticks as well.

    This particular one contained a pair of Xeon E5410's, with 16GB of DDR2 FB-DIMM's, 4 1TB Western Digital Blacks (SATA), and the motherboard is an Asus DSBF-DE.

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    The other one contained a pair of Xeon E5335's, with 4GB of DDR2 FB-DIMM's, 5 1TB Hitachi Deskstas (SATA), and the motherboard is an Asus DSGC-DW.

    Now - before we go on - someone had queried earlier about the PCI Express slot on the board pictured, and I had said something along the lines of "Ya ya, it's there, don't worry about it". I of course, actually looked at the pictures, and no, it's not. It is indeed a PCI Express 16x slot, but on this particular motherboard, it only runs at PCI8. Now, the other motherboard, the Asus DSGC-DW DOES have a PCIX16 slot. When it was released, it did not support the 54xx series of Xeon processors, but I checked the website and there is a BIOS update to add this functionality. I will have to do a test setup with that board to update the BIOS, and then it will be swapped into the desk with a full video card, both the E5410's, as well as the 16GB of RAM, so keep that in mind when looking at the rest of this update. No, unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures of the other motherboard.

    Cool stuff either way. Never, ever thought I'd have a dual processor motherboard. What an amazing find!

    These dual Xeon heatsinks mount directly into the motherboard tray, so unfortunately, I couldn't use those spiffy motherboard trays from Danger Den. Also, since they are of size "SSI", there's no way it would mount on a regular ATX motherboard tray anyways. Time to drill out a tray!

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    It actually came out pretty nice and clean

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    This is a bit of a shame, since I took the time to clean the processors, put new thermal compound and remount everything. I'm just going to have to disassemble it again anyways when I put in the different motherboard. Ah well.

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    This is a bit of a hack job getting the tray mounted... Since the processors are mounted to the tray, I had mounted it outside of the desk, so when I went to fasten the tray to the desk, I was *gasp* actually lazy and didn't want to dismount the motherboard again... so umm.. I'm going to replace those odd-angled screws when I switch motherboards..

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    The power supply looks pretty good there. It's an Antec 650W - an Earthwatts maybe? I forget. I may consider replacing it with a unit that has a 120-140mm fan just to exhaust the air a bit better. The board has a requirement for a 24pin, an 8pin, as well as a 4pin, so I can't just use any power supply unfortunately.

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    The cables, of course, are not nearly long enough to reach the connectors on the board. I've already ordered the extensions and hopefully I'll get them at the beginning of next week. Oh, you'll see that I've straightened out the fans as well.

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    The cooling solution looks good. There will be two fans directly in front of the CPU's. I may consider putting an additional hole in the door to allow the CPU's and RAM to exhaust directly.

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    There is one major issue with the right-hand cabinet setup. The original specifications called for an ATX board, which is significantly smaller, so umm.. I have no idea where the hard-drives are going to fit. lol! Fun times.

    Hope you're enjoying this flurry of updates. I may or may not be able to post an update tomorrow, as I'm going camping for the weekend! At the latest, I'll be posting again early next week!
     
  3. Perkomate

    Perkomate Active Member

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    1,751
    completely and utterly jealous of that find. and the desk looks really really good. always nice to see a project completed!
     
  4. bomberboysk

    bomberboysk Active Member

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    13,257
    UK's are Scythe as well:p

    I'm still slightly sad myself that i had to ditch my deltas for college..
     
  5. CrazyMike

    CrazyMike New Member

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    1,021
    I will have to say, "well done". Number one is that i am in love with the color of wood. It is very nice. Number two, the design is pretty good, lots of thought and innovation went into building this. Number three, thinking you have inspired me to concider (fool around with prints) to try and accomplish the same task.

    Please post more pictures, esspecially of the finish product. I would love to see the details of every square inch.

    Bravo!!!
     
  6. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    62
    Gigabyte Board

    Thanks Perkomate!

    Hehe, Deltas... that would have been a nice option!

    Thanks a lot CrazyMike, that means a lot to me. Don't you worry - there will be plenty of photos between now and then and even after!

    A huge thanks goes out to Gigabyte for supplying me with this amazing motherboard - a GA-Z68XUD4-B3.

    Without a doubt, the coolest motherboard I have ever owned!

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    I could barely wait to open this up when I got it in the mail!

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    And this poor motherboard tray that had been sitting for months and months covered in brown paper - finally had it removed. It looks even better than I could have hoped!

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    Here is the test fit in the actual desk

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    And with the fans in place

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    I'm going to trim off the plastic tabs from the motherboard tray to make it a bit easier to build the tunnels for cable management. Also, I'm considering putting a pair of holes beneath the motherboard to pass cables through underneath. Lots of stuff happening in the next few weeks!

    I attempted to boot up the Asus DSGC-DW board (The one with the PCIx16 slot) but it would not boot. I'm afraid that that particular motherboard has gone bad, so I will continue to use the board with the PCIx8 slot. Anyone have any suggestions with regards to determining the best video card I can put in a PCIx16 slot with only x8 bandwidth? I was thinking I could look at the theoretical bandwith of an 8x slot and match it with that of the video card to maximize performance (ie. no point in installing a 5970x2 in an x8 slot).

    Anyways, hopefully will have a handful of updates this week!
     
  7. linkin

    linkin VIP Member

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    13,521
    Even top-end cards aren't really affected by PCI-E bandwidth, though if you're using a workstation card that may be different story! I've seen people testing this, going from an x16 to x4 slot was about a 5% performance loss. So with an x8 you should only lose 2.5% which isn't a whole lot, really.

    That gigabyte board looks nice too! Though they STILL cannot figure out how to put an x1 slot before the main x16 slot, for some of us run sound cards, and if you have SLI or CF as well, you get a sound card sandwiched between two hot GPU's and restricting airflow to the top card :(
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2011
  8. FXB

    FXB New Member

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    848
    Why do you have a second motherboard in this build?

    Sorry just read the first post saying you have 2 computers in one desk.
     
  9. PhotonCrasher

    PhotonCrasher New Member

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    Wow, looks so cool, can't wait to see the finished product. :D
     
  10. kswindell

    kswindell New Member

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    Was wondering where you got the motherboard tray an what they cost. I'm currently working on a project very similar to yours an need a stand alone MOBO tray.
     
  11. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    Testing and Cable Management

    Thanks, that's pretty much the same conclusion I came to as well, after doing a bit of searching. Interesting about the x1 slot - I haven't had to use one yet. I'll keep that in mind though

    Two computers! Two motherboards!

    Thanks PhotonCrasher!

    I got the motherboard trays from Danger Den, kswindell - they were sponsored, so I'm not sure how much they would normally cost

    So - it's been another few busy weeks, so apologies for the no updates. Have been enjoying those last rays of sunshine before the summer ends!

    I think I mentioned last update that I tried to boot up the Asus DSFC-DW board but had issues - here was the attempt:

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    I got a green LED to light up (Standby power on the motherboard) but jumping the Power ON pins had no reaction whatsoever. Tried it with a different videocard, re-seated the RAM and CPU's, but still no luck.

    Moving onwards - since I un-mounted almost everything, I decided to keep the copper heatinks instead of the aluminum ones for the other motherboard. I also picked up a pair of these units from Rosewill via Newegg:

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    They should do nicely for my hard-drive racks. I would like to mount them like so, except higher up:

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    Unfortunately, they are deeper than the cabinet I built. At the time, I was thinking maybe they would stick out of my air intake window, and I would just build-out the section of the door with the air filter... Not exactly what I had in mind initially though.

    With most of the major components in place, I decided to start tackling the cable management with some cardboard templates, and then some 1/8" plywood:

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    At this point I was a little frustrated with how slowly this portion of the project was going. Things weren't quite fitting the way I had planned, and they were not looking as nice as I would have liked them to...

    Maybe it's time for some thinking instead of doing.

    I decided (In hindsight, unfortunately) to go ahead and mount the hard-drive racks so I could get some better measurements and ideas of how to manage the cables nicely.

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    Installed the fans and started to route some of the cables

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    Took out a handful of old SATA cables... (Yes, let's not forget, that I'm a computer tech first, and a carpenter second, or maybe even fifth or tenth...)

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    And had fun connecting all the bits and trying to get them in a reasonable state of organization

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    Ugh... this will not do, this will not do at all. Might as well boot it up and see if everything works though (I had mounted and un-mounted the board several times, banged around a few things, etc, so might as well see if it's all still working!)

    This would be the first time I see if all the fans work as well. Keep in mind that this is with the door removed.

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    Until next time.. still not quite sure what I'll be doing next.
     
  12. kennebell347

    kennebell347 Member

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    797
    This is an awesome thread! I cant wait to see it all come together in the end! Great job.
     
  13. linkin

    linkin VIP Member

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    13,521
    Mucking around with hardware and BIOS - always a PITA, except when it all works :D
     
  14. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    Seasonic and a new Layout

    Thanks kennebell347, it's been a long wait, but it's coming together!

    Heh, you're right, especially with the older stuff. I don't find the newer BIOS's too bad to mess around with though

    First off I want to give out a huge thank you to Seasonic, who has decided to sponsor The Ultimate Computer Desk by sending a ~really~ sweet Power Supply my way. An 850 Watt Seasonic Gold.

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    Thanks Seasonic! We'll take a closer look at that PSU a bit later..

    I had been a little frustrated with the layout of the Dual CPU Xeon board for quite some time, so I finally made the decision to ditch it and setup the right-hand cabinet with an ATX sized board. This is more in spec with my initial design - the extra couple inches makes a big difference, and it will make it easier to upgrade in the future as well.

    On one hand, I'm a little disappointed that I won't be using that super geeked out board, but rest assured, I'll find something else neat to do with it.

    So I went ahead and removed everything and started from scratch. Looks way better already:

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    I then decided that, unfortunately, through the miracle of cable limitations, it would make a lot more sense if I put the optical drive in the front of the case, as opposed to up above the desk, where I had originally wanted to put it. So, time to do some more cutting.

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    The masking tape managed to pull off some of the polyurethane, but have no fear, I will be making a faceplate that will contain the power button, LED's, and USB ports that will cover that spot up quite nicely.

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    And, we've gone so far, yet, gained so little, eh? It'll get done, I swear!
     
  15. Aastii

    Aastii VIP Member

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    13,291
    You are such a lucky bugger!! If you tot up the cost of your lumber and materials, then the cost of the stuff sponsors have given you, you have probably more than made up the cost!!
     
  16. Machin3

    Machin3 New Member

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    1,961
    Oh man saw this on another forum, it looks pretty sweet man.
     
  17. Perkomate

    Perkomate Active Member

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    1,751
    what are you going to do with the dual socket board now?
     
  18. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    62
    New Layout Work

    Thank you Aastii - some of my friends have been saying things like "Oh man! How much have you spent on that thing so far! Why is it taking you so long, why don't you just get it done! Why spend so much time taking pictures and posting etc.. etc.." and that is exactly, always my response. It has been totally, absolutely worthwhile. The fact is, there would be almost no way for me to have been able to afford all that cool hardware in the same timeline, so thanks to you, and thanks to my sponsors - all the work has been hard, but totally worth it!

    Thanks Midnight_fox!!

    I think I'm going to use that for my next project - believe it or not, probably a little wacky, but I'm going to try and make a homebrew laptop with that dual-cpu board lol

    Feeling a bit more motivated about the right-hand cabinet, I decided that the foam fan-holder had to go. It was too large, was akward, and was difficult to keep straight and in the proper position.

    I decided to put together a nice and clean fan holder:

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    After doing some measuring, I took it to the drill press for the initial holes (I didn't have a hole saw for 120mm fans unfortunately... that would be pretty huge!)

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    I then took out the spindle sander to sand right to the line. Just an fyi, I swapped out the spindle for a much larger one. This was my first time using this type of sander, and I was very impressed - the degree of accuracy and control is extremely high - perfect for sneaking up on the pre-drawn lines.

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    Time to drill some holes for the fan screws

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    And a test fit. The product came out quite nicely - accurate cuts, all 4 of the positions are secure with screws, and this piece should be much easier to align in the proper location in the case.

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    I had cut a few other new pieces for cable management, but they were rough cuts, as I will not know their exact dimensions until I install hardware. I can't install hardware until I finish cutting and drilling in the right-hand cabinet, and since there is still the issue of the power button, LED's, etc...

    Time to get started on that, I suppose!

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    Kinda looks like a bull head eh?
     
  19. ultimatedesk

    ultimatedesk New Member

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    62
    I guess it's been a while eh!

    Well, you'll be glad to know, that I'm actually almost done. There've been a few changes to the original plan, etc, etc, but I've still been goign full steam ahead, just not a lot of time to post updates lately.

    Here you go, some photo bombardment!

    First off, my awful cutting job. Notice how the masking tape ripped off some of the polyurethane? Looks pretty great eh.. (NOT!)

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    Fitting my original faceplate design

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    I thought it didn't look too bad, but the USB ports were difficult to secure, and there were no audio jacks, so I went about and redesigned a new face plate

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    Did some work with the band saw, scroll saw, and some sanding, and voila!

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    Looks not terrible eh? That's a nice unit from Silverstone that I picked up from my local computer store. Everything fits real nice and tight

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    Holes for the power switch and LEDs look good

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    And a quick test fit

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    Wonderful! I cut the hole for the card reader / usb with a jigsaw, but neglected to take photos...

    Anyways - after a couple coats of black spray paint, I think it looks pretty cool.

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    With the faceplate out of the way, and hopefully, the last of the drilling / sawing / making sawdust portion over, for the right-hand cabinet, it meant I had the all clear to install more hardware.

    Here are the two hard-drive trays with the actual HDD trays removed.

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    Gave them a nice coat of black spray paint and they mounted them inside the cabinet. I think they look pretty groovy.

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    Even groovier loaded up with hard drives.. (Two missing in this pic, 7TB total, however!)

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    Now, before we get to the next pic... another boon happened recently - traded some of those Core 2 Duo systems + some cash and picked up a really cool previous generation Core i5!

    Here's the power supply - a Corsair 650TX, a very quality unit. All that could be better is some modular action. Ah well!

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    And another beautiful Gigabyte motherboard - a GA-P55-USB3 with 4 GB of G.Skill RAM

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    Here's the sweet mother. A quad core 2.8Ghz. Wow, talk about moving on up the CPU chain!

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    I picked up an older version of the Coolermaster Hyper 212 (Not the Plus version) and mounted a pair of Scythe fans to it

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    Oooh, it's getting so close to boot time!

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  20. voyagerfan99

    voyagerfan99 Master of Turning Things Off and Back On Again Staff Member

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    22,992
    Wow! You're almost done!
     

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