HTPC build log with HDPLEX H5 MK2 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews

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post #1 of 77 Old 07-05-2016, 10:16 AM - Thread Starter
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HTPC build log with HDPLEX H5 MK2

Hello guys,

I am here to make a build log of my HTPC, using a brand new HDPLEX H5 and the components which I have already in my existing HTPC.

Before I start, here is a list of components I want to put in, as well as an outline of the issues around this build:

Design goal:
- silent PC
- low power (will be ON 24/7)
- using existing components as much as possible

Existing components list:
CPU: Intel Core i5 4570T (35W TDP)
MB: Gigabyte GA-Z97MX Gaming 5
RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance LP (CML8GX3M2A1600C9)
SSD: 128GB Samsung 840EVO
HDD: 2 x WD RED 3GB (WD30EFRX)
WiFi card: Asus PCE-AC68
SoundCard: SoundBlaster ZxR
Video Card: Gigabyte GV-N730D5-2GI (rev 2)

New components:
HDPLEX H5 rev 2 case
160W AC-DC module
250W HiFi DC-ATX module
2 x HDPLEX GPU cooler
2 x HDPLEX PCI-X 3.0 X16 riser

The GPU location issue

- Looking at the case layout I want to have, one can see that the video card is in the top slot, which is against the intention of the H5 case design. However, by placing the video card in the top slot I avoid any heat generation below a potential top slot SoundCard. In this way, I can put the sound card in the low slot (no direct heat source below it) and put the DaughterBoard (DB) in the slot near the CPU (if I were to place the MainBoard in that slot, the CPU would heat the MB);

- However, this raises 2 problems:
1. The heat pipes will have to be reshaped to accommodate the different position of the GPU relative to the heatsink; - we will see if I can really do that without destroying them
2. The top fins of the GPU radiator will not clear the top plate of the case.

- Therefore I ordered 2 GPU Heatsinks: I will use the bottom plate of one GPU cooler to place on the actual GPU, and the bottom plate of the second GPU cooler as the top plate of the actual GPU cooler, thus replacing the top Al fins with a "massive" copper piece, which will clear the top plate of the case. Of course, this also allows me to fail in reshaping several heat pipes .

- This whole thing will mean some fabrication on my side:
1. the reshaping of the heat pipes
2. the drilling and screw forming of appropriate holes in the top GPU copper plate (since it was not intended to be used in this way it does not have the required holes)
3. the drilling and screw forming GPU mounting holes on the bottom copper plate (the GPU cooler does not support the mounting layout of my GPU)

The sound card issue:
- the ribbon cable connection between the MB and DB which comes with the SoundCard is not long enough; therefore I have bought a longer standard ribbon cable from a local supplier and used it; so, for anyone interested if there is anything special about the ribbon cable of this card: there's nothing special about it . any standard one will do.

Having said that, I start the build and post pictures as much as possible; please let me know what you think; what you like, don't like...

PS: I only have an iPhone to take pictures, so.... don't expect marvels... sorry.
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post #2 of 77 Old 07-05-2016, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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So, we start by some pictures of the un-packaging;

Some comments:
- the packaging was nice and tight; no boxes were running around in the big box;
- the plastic packaging of the CPU cooler was broken and the CPU bottom plate was able to get easily free out of it (but it did not get damaged - so no biggy)
- the case itself was safely packed;
- I must say I did not really like the plastic packaging of the GPU/CPU coolers and the case accessories. they seemed to be always in danger of falling out of my hand somehow because of their flexibility.
- nice manual - heavy glossy paper
- the ODD holder came with a strange "contamination" on it; don't know what it is; didn't try to clean it; not interested in cleaning it, since I will not use an ODD
- the radiators are massive;
- all components are solid built; the feeling is of high quality;

But I am nitpicking here: overall solid packaging and all parts were in good shape arrived to me, so no actual complaints ; except for one of the PCI-X ribbon cables which has some strange bends. (we will see if it is really broken when I use it, but some guys on the net gave it massive abuse in some reviews, so I am confident there is no issue.)

PS: the dog seems very interested in my project
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post #3 of 77 Old 07-05-2016, 11:11 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrei Costache View Post
So, we start by some pictures of the un-packaging;

Some comments:
- the packaging was nice and tight; no boxes were running around in the big box;
- the plastic packaging of the CPU cooler was broken and the CPU bottom plate was able to get easily free out of it (but it did not get damaged - so no biggy)
- the case itself was safely packed;
- I must say I did not really like the plastic packaging of the GPU/CPU coolers and the case accessories. they seemed to be always in danger of falling out of my hand somehow because of their flexibility.
- nice manual - heavy glossy paper
- the ODD holder came with a strange "contamination" on it; don't know what it is; didn't try to clean it; not interested in cleaning it, since I will not use an ODD
- the radiators are massive;
- all components are solid built; the feeling is of high quality;

But I am nitpicking here: overall solid packaging and all parts were in good shape arrived to me, so no actual complaints ; except for one of the PCI-X ribbon cables which has some strange bends. (we will see if it is really broken when I use it, but some guys on the net gave it massive abuse in some reviews, so I am confident there is no issue.)

PS: the dog seems very interested in my project
Oh, and before I forget: the plastic packaging: very high ESD risk; the hair on my hands was getting crazy electrified when I was touching them....

So, anybody out there: pay attention to this topic...
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post #4 of 77 Old 07-05-2016, 11:31 AM - Thread Starter
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A few words about the previous HTPC which gets disassembled:

Same components as listed above, in an ANTEC Fusion Remote Black case.

The case itself is not that bad; especially for it's time period, but:
- the remote hardly works (that means the physical remote)
- the remote drivers are rubbish
- the display feels really low quality; and the displayed data has no relation to what is really going on
- the display is always lit, even if the remote functionality is disabled in drivers; you have to disconnect a bunch of things in order to get it to stop outputting light (which I had to do when I realized the remote functionality does not really work)
- the SATA ports on modern motherboards (facing not upwards, but towards the exterior of the board) are blocked by some steel plate inside the case - I had to go medieval on the case to accommodate the Gigabyte board.
- it has USB 2.0 ports in the front which is really outdated....

You can see in the pictures that the components are connected in the PCI-X slots as they would be in the H5 case (since the PCI-X slot usage is a bit non-standard, I had to test that the computer is stable before buying an expensive case....);

You can also see in the pictures that the DB of the SoundBlaster does not have any room in the case, which is the main reason (apart from noise) that I wanted to change the case.
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post #5 of 77 Old 07-05-2016, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
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I go on now to the initial assembly and preparation for the MB and CPU cooler; so far I just had to follow some pretty simple and clear instructions in the manual

1. First I attached the rubber feet with the fancy buried screws; I must say the feet would have looked so much better if they had a silver accent somewhere... oh well, I can't have it all...

2. The I attached the MB posts (all of them, even if not all are needed ); notice that they have hex nuts on the other side of the bottom plate of the case; that means no chance the MB posts will get unscrewed and cause trouble in the future... nice touch

3. then I attached the radiator to the bottom plate; also with buried screws

4. then I attached the hinge system to the radiator.

All fits were perfect; so far the tolerances of the screwing holes are very, very good; a nice touch is the included hex screwdriver; also a nice surprise is the different circling of the mounting holes of the MB posts and the mounting holes for the SSD/HDD/ODD drives. All of this makes it really pain free to assemble this.
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post #6 of 77 Old 07-05-2016, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Next, I proceed to the CPU cooler installation:

1.
- I screw the steel pieces to the bottom block of the CPU cooler; I add the plastic pieces, and I add the screws through the plastic pieces;
- here I have to say that the manual is not very clear about which mounting pieces are used for Intel processors and which are used for AMD processors, but it is relatively easy to figure it out anyway (the AMD does not fot for intel MB and the other way around)
- also, the screws for the mounting pieces are have a very strange head; with the regular screwdrivers I had around the house it was difficult to find one which would be able to actually apply some screwing torque....
2.
- I applied the backplate of the CPU cooler to the motherboard. What was strange to me at first was that the backplate fits to the MB quite tightly; that is: I had to push it in with some force; at first glance I thought: here the tolerances are messed up and we have a first less than perfect fit.
- I later realized that the tight fit is on purpose: the backplate has to stick to the bottom of the MB when the MB is mounted on the MB holding posts, but the copper block is not yet mounted.

3.
- Then I applied the copper block by screwing it on to the CPU backplate which was being held in place by the tight fit.
- the steel pieces act as a spring; the more I tightened the screws, the more the steel pieces would bend. Eventually I stopped screwing; we will see if the screwing is OK when I turn it ON
- also the manual states that the copper block is mirror polished, so it is recommended not to add thermal paste; OK, so I did not apply thermal paste, and the polish is very nice: you can see my face mirrored in the copper block :P

4.
- first I tried to fit the heatpipes for trial, to see how they fit;
- the manual was not very clear which heatpipe goes where, but eventually I figured it out.

5.
- then I applied thermal paste to the copper block and to the heatsinks;
- I only realized when the mounting was complete that I missed the target when applying thermal paste to the longer side of the heatpipes; oh well, we will see how it works, and if it does not work very well, I might do a do-over... But for initial turning ON the system it should be fine;
- a nice touch is the included tool for spreading the thermal paste.
- I was afraid that I had used too much thermal paste, but in the end only a little thermal paste was ejected from between the CPU blocks and the heatpipes, which I think shows that eventually I had added just the right amount.
- also I was a bit stressed when screwing the plates which hold the heatpipes tight against the radiators that the screwing hole in the plate would get damaged; at some point I started getting the feeling that I had to apply too much screwing torque to advance the screw, and that it would give-in; it did not, but I still think I was at the limit... Maybe HDPlex guys should think about making thicker plates for this, so that the thread would be stronger... I know I was definitely sweating when I did this - not nice...
- I am a little frustrated here that the manual and all online sources advise against applying a lot of thermal paste; I agree that we should not overdo it, but the warnings are so many and so scary all the time, that I get stressed out about going in the other extreme: not using enough.... oh well...
- one more thing: the heatpipes are quite flexible, therefore I should not have lots of trouble remodeling the GPU heatpipes; the remaining question is: how much modelling can I do before they break?
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post #7 of 77 Old 07-06-2016, 01:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Today I continued with the power supply and SATA connections of all HDDs and SSD. Unfortunately, I am not finished because I realized that I will need some special cables which I need to order; but more on that later.

So, here we go:

1. Looking at the AC-DC power supply; one can notice that the top mounting holes from the picture are not perfect circles, and look as if the drilling tool missed the target; I have to say, I see no reason why these would be like this, therefore, I think this is so far the first occasion where the fit is NOK; I mean, you can see that it did eventually fit, but it was not the nice perfect fit I was used to until now in this build... . Otherwise the AC-DC power supply is surprisingly heavy and compact.

2. I chose to attach the ATX DC power supply with the orientation that I did because if I had attached it the other way around, the ATX supply to the CPU would not be long enough to route in a clean way; I would have had to just cross it diagonally over the whole MB; not nice... Also, I am not very happy with the routing of the 19V input to the DC ATX power supply, but I simply see no other way to do it; also here, changing the orientation of the power supply would not help; so I will have to live with it.

3. I chose to route the big bunch of ATX supply cables around the copper posts near the radiator, in order to be able to hide the cables under the HDD plate. I was able to get a clean route here, and the cables even do not touch the radiator.
- speaking of copper posts, the longest ones seem to be very flimsy when mounted in the case base plate. They stabilize once the HDD holding plates are mounted, but until then I had to be very careful not to damage them....

4. I spent about 3 hours ( LOL ) trying different combinations of orientations of the HDD/SSD and usage of the SATA power cables, until I came up with a decent solution; unfortunately I was not able to place the HDDs with the SATA connections facing each other; that would have been the most elegant way to hide the cables, but unfortunately, since the base plates of the HDDs are very close together at the middle of the case, the power cable just did not fit;

5. The SATA power cable has 3 SATA power plugs at the end and one MOLEX power plug at the beginning; in order to supply all SSD/HDDs, I will have to use of the MOLEX connector together with a MOLEX to SATA power cable. I see no other chance to supply everything and still get some decent cable routing; unfortunately I do not have that converter around the house, so I had to quit for now.

6. Also, regarding the SATA cables, since the SATA ports of the disks are pretty close to the SATA ports of the MB, I will buy the shortest SATA cables I can find, so that I can cleanly route them.

In the end I think it looks decent and it will look better once I get the right cables which fit to this build

My shopping list is:
- 1 x SATA cable; 10cm length, straight (for the SSD - the SATA port of the SSD aligns great with the intended SATA port of the MB );
- 1 x SATA cable; 10cm length, 90deg (for the HDD which has the SATA ports right near the MB SATA ports; the 90deg plug will allow me to get the cable from the HDD immediately under the HDD holding plates and achieve a very clean look);
- 1 x SATA cable; 20cm length, 90deg (for the HDD which has the SATA ports away from the SATA ports of the MB - same story here for the 90deg SATA plug and 10cm is not long enough so I have to go for 20cm);
- 1 MOLEX to SATA (90 deg) power connector, as short as possible (for the HDD which has the power port away from the SATA ports of the MB);

Tomorrow, I continue with the rest of the build, until the SATA cables arrive.
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Last edited by Andrei Costache; 07-06-2016 at 02:00 PM.
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post #8 of 77 Old 07-08-2016, 01:39 AM - Thread Starter
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So, I had another idea to manage the ATX supply bunch of cables: I twisted them. By twisting the bunch of cables, they started curling and therefore I was able to achieve a much cleaner look than previously because they curled nicely behind the AC-DC power supply. Check out the results:
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post #9 of 77 Old 07-08-2016, 01:51 AM - Thread Starter
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I also managed to find a way to put the HDDs in such a way that the SATA supply of each HDD is facing each-other. This means that I can use the 3 SATA supply plugs that came with the DC-ATX supply, without the use of the additional MOLEX to SATA converter (which I ordered anyway :P). Notice that the supply cables just barely fit between the 2 HDDs mounting plates.


The open question remaining here is whether I can also fit the SATA cables in this setup; The thing is that it gets pretty crowded in between the 2 HDDs mounting plates, and therefore I am not sure I can still find the room to fit the SATA cables.


If the SATA cables fit, then I will have to order an additional 20mm 90deg cable; so I will get a much cleaner look, with a delay
If the SATA cables do not fit, I can use the SATA cables and MOLEX to SATA adapter which I ordered anyway; I will get a less clean look, but faster and without additional shopping .


You can also see in the pictures that I used a 10mm long and straight SATA cable for the SSD; I already had the cable, so I plugged it in, so that I can later on supply the whole system, but just with the SSD fully attached, for a preliminary power on test.
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post #10 of 77 Old 07-09-2016, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Nt, I mounted the WiFi card, together with the back plate of the case.

First I exchanged the backplate of the wifi card wit a low rise one. (the card conveniently comes with one in the box )

Then, I mounted the wifi card in the PCI-X slot first, and then mounted the backplate of the case. (the manual is very explicit about this, and, in fact, there is no other way to do it.); I do have a small topic here, that the wifi card does not fit perfectly in the backplate of the case, as can be seen in the pictures. Nevertheless, the fit in the PCI-X slot is eventually quite good (after some forming of the wifi card riser pate);

One major issue I encountered was that the mounting plate of the AC plug was missing from the accessory box. I missed this detail when I unboxed the case, but the I went back to the unboxing pictures and it was indeed no there. However, I reported this to Larry at HDPLEX and he was kind enough to send me a mounting plate which I am waiting for at the moment (it is in transit....);
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Last edited by Andrei Costache; 07-09-2016 at 01:56 PM.
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post #11 of 77 Old 07-09-2016, 02:12 PM
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Good luck getting the pci express riser card to remain stable. I'm not being facetious here, I really wish you better luck than I had. I had to order riser cables from about 4 different places before I got one that even allowed my system to boot, and even then it crashes too often. I'm running off the motherboard's HDMI for now. IMO pci express x16 risers without shielding are a bad move.

I spent literally hundreds and hundreds of dollars and way too many hours trying to get my system up and running stably but thanks to the riser issue I wish I had never gone down the passive case road at all. It's a nice looking case but really, I have to wonder, why on earth did Larry put the back plate of the video card with the pci connector oriented farther away from the motherboard. It dramatically increases the length the riser cable needs to be. Instead, I think it would have been 100x better to have the video card upside down from the way it is now. You're not supposed to look at the video card, so why does its orientation matter? Maybe the heat pipes are easier to install with the GPU on the top, but I don't think so. Those copper pipes are easy enough to bend. I wanted to pick up a Polaris 10 GPU and underclock it and run the entire system passively but I'm really dubious about spending more money on this boondoggle. The riser's instability for more powerful videocards is a roadblock on an otherwise really nice case design. But you have to get the engineering down pat. Really, if you're using low powered GPUs you can just buy passive ones that are low profile and single slot and then you don't need a riser at all or a case with a horizontally aligned spot for a dual slot graphics card. But since that's part of the design, a variety of GPUs should be tested not just low TDP cards but current and popular dual slot cards like a GTX 970. Those risers I doubt are stable enough given their length and lack of shielding and not being self-powered either.

And before you criticize my PC building skills, I've worked as a PC tech for years and have built literally hundreds of computers, and since then have built every single one of my own PCs from scratch, as well as have formal education in electronics. And from what I gather on the net, PCI express riser card stability issues are a known problem. The only one that seems really stable is the 3M cable and that's a hundred bucks. Yeah, no. I'm fairly p'sd at this entire ordeal. Thing is, if the video card weren't oriented with the fans facing upward a much shorter riser ribbon could be used which would probably work far more reliably. I hope Larry redesigns this for Gen 3 of this case because the way it is now, I can't recommend it. At all. If the only way to get one of its primary features, supporting full sized dual slot GPUs, can only really be achieved realistically by spending an extra 100 dollars.

As I said, good luck.
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post #12 of 77 Old 07-09-2016, 02:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Next job is to mount the second radiator.

First I mounted the PCB with all the connectivity of the case (2xUSB2.0 ports; 2xUSB3.0 ports, Line out, reset button, ext. power connector)

The job itself was pretty straight forward. What I have to say is that I was left once again with a very good impression of the overall fit of the case. I mean, with such a case made of aluminum, you have to have some pretty good tolerances and tolerance calculation done in order to get it to close all the way correctly. When I mounted the second radiator, the fit was starting to get tighter, but it still fit quite comfortably. What I am trying to say is that being impressed with the fit of the first pieces together is one thing, but to get all the pieces to fit together in a box shape is not so easy. Yet, with this case it worked out well all the way to the end.

Nevertheless, back to the build:
- I found a pretty clever way to nicely tuck away the USB3.0 ribbon cable by fixing it in the fixing screws for the HDDs. The other cables (USB, Audio, ...) are not very well managed, but they will be anyway covered by the soundcard and video card.
- some limitations here are:
1. for now the Line out is connected to the Audio Out of the onboard sound, but I plan to disable that because of power saving and because of the separate sound card which unfortunately does not have an internal Line out connector ((((
2. The external supply plug is not connected because I have no more SATA power ports (all available 3 are connected to the SSD and the 2xHDDs ((( )
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post #13 of 77 Old 07-09-2016, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RLBURNSIDE View Post
Good luck getting the pci express riser card to remain stable. I'm not being facetious here, I really wish you better luck than I had. I had to order riser cables from about 4 different places before I got one that even allowed my system to boot, and even then it crashes too often. I'm running off the motherboard's HDMI for now. IMO pci express x16 risers without shielding are a bad move.

I spent literally hundreds and hundreds of dollars and way too many hours trying to get my system up and running stably but thanks to the riser issue I wish I had never gone down the passive case road at all. It's a nice looking case but really, I have to wonder, why on earth did Larry put the back plate of the video card with the pci connector oriented farther away from the motherboard. It dramatically increases the length the riser cable needs to be. Instead, I think it would have been 100x better to have the video card upside down from the way it is now. You're not supposed to look at the video card, so why does its orientation matter? Maybe the heat pipes are easier to install with the GPU on the top, but I don't think so. Those copper pipes are easy enough to bend. I wanted to pick up a Polaris 10 GPU and underclock it and run the entire system passively but I'm really dubious about spending more money on this boondoggle. The riser's instability for more powerful videocards is a roadblock on an otherwise really nice case design. But you have to get the engineering down pat. Really, if you're using low powered GPUs you can just buy passive ones that are low profile and single slot and then you don't need a riser at all or a case with a horizontally aligned spot for a dual slot graphics card. But since that's part of the design, a variety of GPUs should be tested not just low TDP cards but current and popular dual slot cards like a GTX 970. Those risers I doubt are stable enough given their length and lack of shielding and not being self-powered either.

And before you criticize my PC building skills, I've worked as a PC tech for years and have built literally hundreds of computers, and since then have built every single one of my own PCs from scratch, as well as have formal education in electronics. And from what I gather on the net, PCI express riser card stability issues are a known problem. The only one that seems really stable is the 3M cable and that's a hundred bucks. Yeah, no. I'm fairly p'sd at this entire ordeal. Thing is, if the video card weren't oriented with the fans facing upward a much shorter riser ribbon could be used which would probably work far more reliably. I hope Larry redesigns this for Gen 3 of this case because the way it is now, I can't recommend it. At all. If the only way to get one of its primary features, supporting full sized dual slot GPUs, can only really be achieved realistically by spending an extra 100 dollars.

As I said, good luck.
Hi RLBURNSIDE,

Thanks for taking the time to express your doubts. I have to say that some of those doubts I share as well . But for now, I am pressing on with the build, and hoping indeed to have better luck than you did.

Talking about your issues that you had:
- I already was able to boot with the video card using the worse riser of the 2 I have already from HDPLEX. It booted without issues (I have not mentioned it yet, because I have yet to post pictures of that phase of the build; I booted with the card because I had the UEFI set to disable onboard graphics so I could not see any picture form the onboard HDMI port. It worked no problem (no stress test yet because not finally installed)
- I think the orientation of the GPU is because the intention is to have the Chip facing upwards; in a passive set-up it helps with heat dissipation; I agree that it increases the length of the riser cable....
- in my opinion what could be improved in the case (V3??? ) is to just simply make it bigger: wider (so that the 2 HDD plates are not so close together and allow for some room to "move around"); deeper (to allow for more ODD/HDDs with ATX MB); and taller (to allow the video card to sit in the top slot if needed....); But that may be hard to achieve, as it needs to integrate well with audiophile gear people have in the AV racks - some are bigger some are smaller, .... there is no standard size to follow; plus it makes it more expensive (strictly from raw materials point of view); just my two cents.

Anyway, so far I am enjoying the build and have yet to encounter blocking points.
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post #14 of 77 Old 07-09-2016, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
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The second snag I encountered was the PCI-X X1 story:

I ordered 2 PCI-X X16 risers from HDPLEX in order to use one of them for the video card, and the other one for the sound card.

Well, epic fail on my side because I failed to figure it out that the PCI-X X16 riser from HDPLEX does not fit in an X1 physical slot. (((((.

That means my build is a bit stuck until I get a physical X1 riser card. However, Larry was kind enough to send me an X1 riser, in replacement of the X16 riser I had already.

So thanks Larry. Your support is great.
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post #15 of 77 Old 07-09-2016, 03:03 PM - Thread Starter
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Next, the faceplate:

First I mounted the PCB behind the button, then the button itself, then connected it to the MB then mounted the Faceplate. Sounds easy, it's not. Here's why:

1. First of all , if you do it like I did, to try to install the faceplate after installing the HDDs, then you will have a very uncomfortable screwing position to screw the faceplate hinge together.
2. You will have a better screwing position if you lift up the HDD which is near to the hinge. However, in that case you will have a hard time to screw back the HDD screw right next to the hinge (see the pictures...);

Only later on I figured it out that if you screw the hinge together with the faceplate in a completely closed position, then you get a relatively good screwing position and you don't even need to remove the HDD. So, if anybody is reading this, here's a nice tip for you.

3. I got a bit scared with the power button. first I tightened the hex nuts all the way and the button was in a completely tight condition with no chance to press it. Then I released the hex nuts and the button was too wobbly, and making a terrible grinding noise. However, after some fine tuning of the hex nuts tightness (the manual mentions that some tuning is needed), I was able to get the function and feeling that I was looking for.

4. The faceplate does not open much; the specs say that you can also fit a full size ODD in the case. If the specs say that then I guess that there is enough clearance to get the full size ODD fully open but I think it's a close call.

5. I find that the hinge of the faceplate is a bit wobbly; I was expecting it to be a bit tighter; well, not really an issue for me as I have no ODD or removable drives in there, so I will screw the faceplate shut anyway :P
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post #16 of 77 Old 07-09-2016, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Now comes the funny part, because I have now a computer which can be turned ON
- it has the SSD connected and a power button.

The first problem that I encountered was that I had set the UEFI to disable onboard graphics, and so I could not use the onboard graphics to get some picture over VGA connector to a test monitor I have in the home. Also, I could not get picture if I connected the computer via the regular video card (HDMI) to my receiver and then TV. It just would not show a picture. I am positive the computer was booting because I was seeing it become available to other computers on the network. Anyway, maybe the UEFI was messed up somehow from the changes I had made, but it was eventually solved by a Clear CMOS action

Next, I turn on the computer, and I get picture, Windows boots, all is fine. HW info shows the processor idling at about 35-40 deg which is not half bad. But: I touch the copper plate of the CPU cooler and it is COLD. So I say to myself: something is not right. I try anyway to start a Prime 95 stress test. I will not post pictures of that test because it was not pretty :P: the temp would rise to approx. 80 deg in a matter of seconds and thermal throttling would occur in approx. 30 sec. What was strange was that the copper plate of the CPU cooler would only heat up very slow, and the rest of the cooler (radiator) even slower.

The only root cause I could think of was that I had not applied thermal paste between the CPU and copper block, as instructed by the manual (remember my face in the mirror polished copper plate?). I have to say that, in retrospect, I remember thinking that even if the bottom plate is mirror polished the CPU is not, so I could not understand why no thermal paste was required.

So, I went on to dismantle the CPU cooler and add some thermal paste. Pictures you can see attached:
- I was able to remove the copper piece without removing the WiFi card, but I was not able to put it back in; therefore I had to remove the Wifi card and the back plate of the case with it.
- you can also see some validation that I had applied the correct amount of thermal paste to the grooves in the copper plate - the heat-pipes are nicely covered in thermal paste .

At the second try with Prime 95 things improved dramatically:
- after 40 minutes the temp had stabilized at approx. 78-80 deg, with a max of 82 deg.
- the copper block and the radiator had heated up much faster
- no thermal throttling

I think the temp behavior could be further improved by applying some other fancy thermal paste, or by making a better match when applying the thermal paste to the location of the heat-pipes on the radiator, but for now, seeing how this is a HTPC that will play movies, and that Prime 95 is not a normal use case for this computer, I will call it good enough and stop messing with the CPU cooler.

Overall I have to say that based on my experience during this build I DISAGREE with the statement from the manual that thermal paste is not recommended between the CPU and copper plate; it is very recommended and means the difference between thermal throttling in less that 30 seconds and relatively decent thermal behavior even in high load situation with a passive cooler.
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post #17 of 77 Old 07-09-2016, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
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Bottom line to my experience with the CPU cooler (I put this in a separate post, so that HDPLEX guys don't miss it ):

What could definitely be improved is:
- stop recommending to skip the thermal paste between the CPU and the copper piece.
- somehow add some screws to the middle of the 2 sides of the square that have no screws; I am positive I can see a gap in the middle of the cooler which means that the middle heat pipes have worse thermal contact with the cooler that the side heat pipes. And the middle heat pipes are the most important because they sit right on top pf the CPU area.
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post #18 of 77 Old 07-09-2016, 03:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Since the SATA cables I ordered arrived, tomorrow I press on with adding the last 2 HDDs.
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post #19 of 77 Old 07-10-2016, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I did not start on the SATA cables (too much thinking for the weekend ), but I did start with the GPU cooler.

Situation is like this:
- the mounting patterns already available are: 61x61, 58x58, 53x53, 43x43.
- the mounting pattern on the PCB is 47.5x64 (measured with a ruler);
- the overall size of the copper plate is: 74x72.
- a nice surprise is that the holes for fixing the top radiator (Al) to the copper base a drilled through, so I will not have to drill through the holes on the second copper plate - they are already done.

Conclusion is:
- I will have to drill my own mounting pattern as expected.
- the copper base is big enough to accommodate the mounting pattern as expected.

What I will need to do at work (much more tools than my home) is:
- set-up a drawing template of the holes.
- using the template puncture the spots where I have to drill
- drill the holes with a 2mm drill head (using a column drill machine);
- form the screwing patterns using a special tool (I do not know the name )

Some things I need to mention:
- one of the heat pipes is pretty badly bent (I guess during transportation); if you remember I also found the plastic around the CPU cooler copper plate to be broken when I unboxed the case. It seems that between the damages and the static this kind of packaging is really not so nice.
- while trying to imagine how the copper piece might fit on the GPU, I noticed that the quartz might get in the way... It seems to clear the quartz, but it is a close call. We will see....
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post #20 of 77 Old 07-10-2016, 12:33 PM - Thread Starter
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I wonder if I will need some radiators for the memory.

The memory on the top of the PCB is actively cooled by the fan; the memory on the bottom of the PCB is cooled by natural convection when the board sits in a regular computer case.

So, does anyone have some hints whether I really need to think about radiators?
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post #21 of 77 Old 07-11-2016, 12:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Here is the template I made for marking the spots where I need to drill the holes in the copper base plate. It has the exact dimensions as measured.


I just need to put this template on top of the copper plate and punch the spots. LOL
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post #22 of 77 Old 07-11-2016, 12:21 AM - Thread Starter
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Coming back to the Quartz story, I think I have a problem. I measured the location of the Quartz and it sits 1cm away from the left mounting pattern edge and 2.1cm away from the bottom mounting pattern edge.


So, for a copper plate width of 74 and a mounting pattern width of 47.5, I get a required clearance of the Quarz of: (74-47.5)/2 = 13.25mm. Problem is that the actual clearance (as measured) is 10mm. So it seems I will have to apply an offset from the center position in order to clear the Quartz. This is far from optimal, as I fear uneven pressure distribution over the GPU chip.
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post #23 of 77 Old 07-11-2016, 12:32 AM - Thread Starter
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So, here is the new template: I moved the mounting pattern edge to 7.5mm of the copper plate edge. now I the copper plate should line up 2.5mm away from the Quartz.


Looking at the template, I really fear not to damage the silicon by uneven pressure. Also, the risk here is that the copper plate will not be fully in contact with the chip, and therefore cooling efficiency will be lower.


Anyone have ideas about how to prevent these problems?
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post #24 of 77 Old 07-11-2016, 04:42 AM - Thread Starter
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I gave some thought to my concerns about uneven pressure of the GPU cooler on the GPU chip. I think they are not justified, for two reasons:


1. The chip is still right in the middle of the mounting pattern, uneven pressure from the mounting itself is just as likely as it would be in a fully centered set-up
2. the center of gravity of the copper plate is still well within the bounds of the mounting pattern, so it will not be gravity dictating the pressure distribution but the mounting screws themselves.


However, now I have to think about another topic:
- remember I was mentioning that the 2 copper plates have through holes for securing them to the Al plates? Well, that raises the next problem: the threads of each copper plate will be reversed relative to each-other when I put them on top of each-other in opposing fashion. Most likely I will not be able to tighten them together and get a good hold of the heatpipes.


This should be easily solved by destroying the threads on the top copper plate. I have to think about it to make sure I am not completely wrong in this....
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post #25 of 77 Old 07-11-2016, 05:52 AM
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When you flip a threaded item the direction stays the same. When you put a nut on a bolt you don't have to figure out which is the top and bottom of the nut.

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post #26 of 77 Old 07-12-2016, 12:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Hi Briansj,


You are correct. However, that is not my problem. My problem is that the 2 copper plates will have to get tightened together. Since they will be on the same screw, and they cannot rotate relative to each-other, I will have limited ability to tighten them together and achieve a tight grip on the heatpipes.
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post #27 of 77 Old 07-12-2016, 12:42 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrei Costache View Post
2. the center of gravity of the copper plate is still well within the bounds of the mounting pattern, so it will not be gravity dictating the pressure distribution but the mounting screws themselves.


I think this statement is not correct. the center of gravity of the copper plate should fall within the GPU chip bounds, since the GPU is the "base" of the copper plate. The GPU chip is 1cm/1cm, so if I move the copper plate more that 0.5cm, then the copper base center of gravity is out of the chip bounds. I am moving it by 13.25mm-8.5mm = 4.75mm. So I still not to be worried.


PS: I have decided to change the distance from the mounting pattern edge to the copper plate edge from 7.5mm to 8.5mm. That is because I used the template with 7.5mm and one of the holes comes dangerously close to one of the pre-drilled holes. So I will move it 1mm away to 8.5mm, in order to clear that troublesome pre-drilled hole. Pictures on that later.
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post #28 of 77 Old 07-13-2016, 04:19 AM - Thread Starter
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So, here is that status of today:
I ordered the tools I need for the copper plate job:
- 2mm tarrod
- 1.8mm drill bit to predrill the hole for the tarrod
- copper pipe bending tool for low diameter copper pipes (specs say it works from 1.9mm to 7mm diameter, which is exactly what I need).
- all of these so cheap that the transportation from the local supplier to my home was more expensive.


The parcel with the mounting plate of the AC plug and (hopefully) the PCI-X X1 riser are still in transit.


Overall, I am getting close to making the final push to complete the system. But I still have to wait a bit before I can start full power to work on things.
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post #29 of 77 Old 07-13-2016, 08:28 AM
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I had to go back and read the first post because I'd forgotten the point of this build. For all the hardware it seems like the 160W power supply will be cutting it close.

Makes me glad I have a basement rack so I don't have to consider noise.

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post #30 of 77 Old 07-13-2016, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
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We have:

CPU - 35W
GPU - 25W (it's the 2G GDDR5 version)
HDDs - 2 x 9W + 3W = ~25W
WiFi + Sound + Mem + Chipset = ~25W (???)

Grand total: 110W (full steam usage);

The power supply is rated at 160W continuous output. Considering also that the computer is a HTPC which makes video decoding mostly (accelerated by the GPU); I'd say it's safe.

I wonder though what is the efficiency of the AC-DC power supply....

PS: the basement rack is nice. Too bad I have no basement in an apartment

Last edited by Andrei Costache; 07-13-2016 at 01:44 PM.
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