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6 Steps to Mod Overkill: The QuadCore, 1-kW, Liquid-Cooled Desk
BY GLENN DERENE
May 19, 2009 1:00 AM
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If science is the dispassionate pursuit of objective truth, then it stands to reason that mad science is the completely irrational pursuit of a nutty project that the rest of the world will never completely understand. Popular Mechanics has a reverent journalistic respect for those who practice serious research. But on our own time, we like to dabble in the mad sciences. Mad computer science, in particular, offers plenty of opportunity to practice our technoalchemy in PM's labs. We have, in the past, created a series of "monster" PCs--laborintensive masterpieces of technological complexity that were as wickedly powerful as they were unreliable and impractical. It takes a special kind of enthusiast to prefer such a machine over a store-bought PC with a two-year warranty. I have an excuse. As PM's senior technology editor, it's part of my job to daydream Rube Goldbergian new designs for computers. My colleague, Anthony Verducci, however, is our digital imaging specialist. He is a master computer builder, but he is probably shirking his responsibilities (whatever those are), when he partners with me to help construct each new machine.
Step No. 1
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--would all be mounted beneath the surface of a transparent desk. we imagined an integrated clear trackpad that would turn part of the desktop into a pointing device. we've learned them the hard way. for instance. We e-mailed sketches back and forth to Leach for two months. Now. which made it our natural choice. until we were surrounded by a sea of boxes and electronic parts. cooling the processors. A half-gallon of glycol runs through 15 feet of 7. Synaptics' concept-prototyping crew said. so we needed to pick the parts-- Step No. Cub Cadet’s All-New Series 2000 1. but we decided that clear acrylic would be far easier to work with. Leach's shop has a computer-control laser that can cut and etch sheets of acrylic to create any shape or design imaginable. over a number of builds): First. Drive Smarter with Gumout. the real work was about to start. and new-school (transparent surfaces with components on display). At the heart of our system is XFX's 790i Ultra SLI motherboard. an Oregonbased custom case and liquid-cooling company. Our first thought was to make the desk out of tempered glass. We described a clear. A novel idea. MORE FROM POPULAR MECHANICS Confessions of a Car Salesman 11 Cars That Beat High Gas Prices Top 10 Must-Have Cars of 2011 12 New Cars That Are Worth Waiting For The 13 Most Dangerous Car Interiors in History What's Inside FROM OUR PARTNERS Purolator AutoFilers: Be Car Care Aware Use Your Motorhead. Be Smart--Shop Twice. 4. The old-school approach was classy and definitely appealing (we won't rule it out for the future). Synaptics engineered us this one-of-a-kind. So we specced out a totally visible PC. I first came to Anthony with a plan to build a computer into the structure of a desk. About a year ago. so he decided the coolant would have to flow through Tygon tubing. flush-mounted touchpad with an integrated proximity sensor and light. Buy Once There are two important rules to grasp when designing a computer from scratch (and. etc. While Danger Den was firing up its laser cutter. a massive wooden box containing our 6-foot-wide. Our desk had to be built to fit its components. Seven fans circulate air within the desk--and 13 bright-blue neon lights blind the user at the desk. 6. USB-interface touchpad with an integrated proximity sensor that would light up the area whenever a hand approached.com/technology/how-to/build-pc/4318067[09. And more deliveries kept coming. laser-cut layers of clear acrylic bolted to an aluminum frame. Two 300-GB 10. Because an optical mouse would have trouble tracking on a clear surface. About a month later." Within weeks. ventilation ducts and holes for tubes and wires. This worthless 15-inch custom PCI-E cable did not work-Tygon tubing and a radiator. so we replaced it. 8.Popular Mechanics Our ideas often start out with a simple premise. To our surprise. owner of Danger Den. hard drives. a working unit arrived at our labs. The desk surface was constructed by Danger Den of two sandwiched.popularmechanics. The components--motherboard. but the new-school approach was both less practical and more ostentatious. Liquid-Cooled Desk . outfitted with 4 GB of Kingston HyperX DDR3 RAM and a 3. We cooled our PaLit GeForce GTX 280 graphics card with Danger Den's Tieton water block. Ejecting up from the desk surface is a Sony BDU-X10S Blu-ray drive. yes. Anthony had worked on previous computer builds with Dennis Leach. "No problem. planning out the placement of components. 10. A quick bit of brainstorming determined that there were essentially two ways to accomplish this: old-school (a classic oak executive's desk with components hidden behind false backs in the drawers). 5. To support our Times Square lighting. 2. 1-kW.0-GHz Intel Core 2 Quad processor. we submitted our touchpad design to Synaptics.6 Steps to Mod Overkill: The Quad-Core.2011 18:36:57] .000-rpm VelociRaptor hard drives handle storage. Leach disabused us of some of our more fanciful design parameters--we had. 2 http://www. requested that pathways for liquid cooling be routed through the acrylic desktop. but leaks would have been hard to fix. wing-shaped acrylic desk was delivered. 9. if Leach could have pulled it off. 3. graphics card. we used an Antec TruePower Quattro kilowatt power supply. everything is dependent on everything else.08. a California company that makes trackpads in many laptops.
etc.com/technology/how-to/build-pc/4318067[09. Second. installed the Synaptics touchpad. Danger Den's Leach is a master of the acrylic arts.popularmechanics. then planned out the flow of coolant. Step No. you're on your own. allowing us to bolt the acrylic to the frame and components to the acrylic. we mounted the coolant reservoir in a position that created a decorative waterfall of glycol without compromising the electronics. and his cuts matched our specs precisely. Plus.2011 18:36:57] . 5 Connect Everything. We needed lights--lots of lights.Popular Mechanics motherboard. 4 Darn! Order New Parts With all the components bolted down. We had SATA cables that were too short and a power supply pointing the wrong way. which quickly overloaded our 850-watt power supply. That meant no second-guessing just because a cooler part came out. Step No. Anthony painstakingly mounted water blocks to both the CPU and the graphics card. We ran tubes from the right side of the desk. We used super-strong extruded aluminum rails with Tslots for affixing nuts and bolts--lots of bolts. Another rush order to a specialty parts shop fixed the problem with a new cable. our desk looked great.08. The surfaces of our desk were precut with holes for fasteners. Step No. Add Glycol and Glitz Once all the wiring was in order. 1-kW. Step No. Now We're Done We locked down the clear acrylic top. Liquid-Cooled Desk . But the desk still wasn't gaudy enough for us. Then we tried connecting everything--and nothing fit (we should have paid more attention to Step 2). we started on the liquidcooling system. Progress stopped while we placed a rush order to five online parts shops. 3 Find a Good Hex Wrench The aesthetic for our desk frame was strictly industrial. We had willed our digital creation into being. our wacky layout required a custom 15-inch flexible PCI-E cable to connect our graphics card. set up a 27-inch Dell UltraSharp monitor--and then spent a week futilely trying to install a beta version of Microsoft's Windows 7 operating system. Fortunately.--before Danger Den could cut the acrylic. At the suggestion of senior automotive editor Mike Allen.6 Steps to Mod Overkill: The Quad-Core. graphics card. We troubleshot the system until we found the problem: our fancy-pants PCI-E cable. where the radiator dissipates heat. where the chips are located. Wait--Okay. wires and ventilation. there's no manual--when something doesn't fit or doesn't work. First Name: Last Name: Address: City: State • Zip: Email: http://www. So we wired up seven glowing exhaust fans and six blue neon bars. Finally. That required an upgrade to a kilowatt beastie from Antec. to the left side. our lab was filled with the neon-blue glow of success. 6 We're Done.
HDTV: Winners and Losers in the Format War Format War Over: Blu-ray Wins.com/technology/how-to/build-pc/4318067[09. Liquid-Cooled Desk . ISS CPU Back Online and Blockbuster Backs Blu-Ray : News Briefs Blu-ray vs..2011 18:36:57] ..6 Steps to Mod Overkill: The Quad-Core.. Facebook social plugin AUTOMOTIVE Using Nitrogen in Car Tires Is Synthetic Oil Better? New Electric Cars Best Tire Brand Comparison TECHNOLOGY Best iPod FM Transmitter How to Make a Speaker Hard Drive Data Recovery Underwater Digital Cameras SCIENCE UFO Movies Survival Kit Checklist Bomb Shelters Wind Turbine Design OUTDOORS DIY Solar Panels Powerful Handguns: Smith & Wesson Barefoot Running Green Design More More More More HOME HOW TO How to Build a Smoker DIY CENTRAL Plans for Building a Pergola MOST POPULAR Tennis Serve FEATURES Apple TV Reviews http://www. Sony Banks on PS3 Blu-ray Against Cheaper Xbox 360 Airbus Takes Off.. Early Adopters Lose 25 Skills Every Man Should Know: Your Ultimate DIY Guide How to Build a Home Theater PC ADVERTISEMENT Post a comment Add a comment. Comment using.S.Popular Mechanics Trailing Wii.08. 1-kW.popularmechanics.. Smart Cars Zip to U.