Time for an update!
Been pretty busy since the last time I did any work on this box, and with a little spare cash in the paypal account I picked up a few things. First, I happened upon a Xigmatek Praeton, the heatsink I was originally trying to find, at NCIX' US store, of all places. Dunno why I didn't think to look there when I was shopping before. Even better: it was all of $15
. Even better (ish?), I was looking for the Janus, it's big brother, for the other system I was putting together, and they have it for $25
right now. It is easily the best heatsink you can buy for $25, outperforming several other models that cost twice as much (the Praeton is equally awesome at $15). Annoyingly I had already bought one for $45, but I thought I'd point it out in case anyone else was looking.
I had a scary moment when I installed it. It uses the same method as the Janus for retention - these screws are threaded through the mounting holes on the motherboard, and then you use little plastic washers (which were pre-applied with the sticky ends in place on the Praeton; they weren't on the Janus), and then you have a nut on the back end of the motherboard that needs to be tightened to secure the thing. So as I'm tightening these, using the conveniently supplied, super cute tiny wrench, my hand slips and I hear the grinding noise of the PCB getting gashed. Panic! I'd scored it right along one of the traces going to a DIMM slot (ack!) and figured I'd just ruined the board. (I tried to get a picture of this, but I just couldn't get it without so much glare that you couldn't make out the scratch - I really need to clear a small area on my desk I can use for better lighting for photos).
Thankfully the system passed memtest about a dozen times (I had to test some other DIMMs anyhow, so it worked out I needed to test a motherboard too), and I used some clear nail polish to seal it up - I didn't want to leave the trace exposed to the elements. If you happen to do this and don't have nail polish available, an overcoat pen
could be a handy tool to keep in the parts drawer. Possibly a conductive ink pen
, too, but I don't know if that would work to fix a damaged trace.
Anyhow! The fan is nearly a perfect match for the motherboard:
It also doesn't seem to have the warbling PWM noise that the Apache did, which is great! And, bonus, with this heatsink design, the thing can be oriented so the fins are directing airflow straight into the 80mm exhaust fans on the side (more on that in a minute). I also picked up the orange G.Skill Ares RAM:
While it isn't quite the right shade, the black PCB and rust orange heatspreaders work better here than the gold-orange on the Ballistix. And yes, the voltage is 1.5v instead of 1.35v, that bugs me a little, but the alternative was trying to peel the heatspreaders off the Ballistix, and I did not relish the idea of trying that. Plus, how often do you see RAM with orange heatspreaders?
It's not low profile, but still fits in the ISK 300 easily. It is kind of a close fit with the Pico PSU if you've got the second peripheral power cable:
But it all still fits.
While doing a little shopping with some friends at Microcenter (you know where this is going) I picked up some parts on sale, one of which happened to be an i3-4370. I know, I know, I had the lower power proc in there and it was fine, but I couldn't pass up the price ($100). It's rated at 54W, has the HD 4600 graphics (which, depending on the source, has 4 more EUs than the HD 4400 and a higher clock speed), and is nearly a full 1GHz faster: 3.8GHz vs. the 2.9GHz of the i3-4130T. With the Praeton I'm still able to run the system eerily quiet.
And speaking of quiet, along with the new heatsink, I switched around the side fan config:
I bought a pair of the clear Antec TriCool fans to replace the Stealths, figuring it would save me a lot of excess cabling inside the system (and it did, all of the extra peripheral cables and splitters are gone now, much tidier on the inside). I've only got the one installed right now and temps are great. I could have just gone with the black one that came with the system, but the clear one lets much more light through, and since I'm only using one, I was able to move the lambda cutout into the vacant 80mm fan spot, where it's more secure and gets a better glow behind it. I'll get a few more pictures of it once I'm done tidying the box back up.
A few other notes:
- Both fan speed controls are set to "normal" in the BIOS and the TriCool is at the middle setting (at the low setting it wouldn't always start up). The TriCool hovers around 1200rpm at this setting, and the Praeton's fan seems to sit around the same. Temps idle around 34C, although if I'm in the BIOS it rolls up to 40C ish.
- Linux note! I mentioned that you can switch on the proprietary wifi driver in the LiveCD environment, but for some reason, after installing, you can't. It turns out that it won't install a required package (not really sure why) so you're stuck without working wifi and, if wifi is your only connection to the internet, no way to download the package and enable it. Worry not! The files you need are on the install disc, in /pool/restricted/b/bcmwl and /pool/main/d/dkms. You'll have to install the dkms one first (just double-click it) and then the bcmwl one.
- Been watching the add-in card market
for low profile, single slot cards, and while the R7 250 is quick enough, I don't think it's worth the cost for the performance increase over the HD 4600. It might have been worth it over the 4400 (which, depending on where you read, has only 16 EUs, not the 20 that Intel claims), but I'm still waiting to see what the GeForce 900 and Rx 300 series brings to the single-slot low-profile form factor.
- Haven't remembered to check temps after heavy gaming, however I'm happy to report that the HD 4600 can handle left 4 dead 2 at 1280x720 pretty competently. So that wait for the new generation video cards isn't going to be too bad.