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Chuck(G)
November 28th, 2012, 05:39 PM
I just picked up a AMD Athlon X4 640 system with an ASUS mATX motherboard and MSI PCIE graphics cards. It came in a full-sized tower that, quite frankly, appears to be a waste of space. I'm considering downsizing the case to a small desktop (horizontal) model.

Will this be a mistake? I note that the PSUs on such things are pretty weak (275W-300W) and I'm wondering about heat issues--and the ability to upgrade the PSU if I need to.

Anyone have some sage advice?

Agent Orange
November 28th, 2012, 06:09 PM
Chuck:
I would opt for the larger full tower. By the time you cable up that mid-tower and add a drive or two, there won't be much room left to get your finger in there, if and when something goes awry. I went out of my way on my last build and bought a Sentey Aptiva, which is big, blappy, and really heavy. Since I don't carry it around and it just sits in a corner, I'm very glad that I went that way. I was able to install the Corsair H100 cooling system with room to spare. Of course this is primarily a gaming rig but I do most everything else on it too, including email, browsing, and all things computing. You just never know when you're going to get the urge to expand and then you are going to hate yourself for not keeping the larger one. Your chip only pulls about (45) 95 watts so that gives you a small edge with respect to your power supply. You can't ever have too much room in a case these days.

Late edit 95 watts

Old Thrashbarg
November 28th, 2012, 06:45 PM
There should be no heat issues whatsoever with a system like that in a small case. If your video card happens to be low profile, you could even use a slimline case without any issues. As for the power supply, wattage is hardly a consideration... that sort of system is unlikely to even hit 150W under full load.

The trouble is going to be finding a good desktop case. A lot of the so-called 'desktop' cases these days aren't actually designed to have anything on top of 'em, unlike the traditional desktop cases of old.

Chuck(G)
November 28th, 2012, 07:39 PM
The last "desktop" case that I purchased new was really an HTPC case. I may go that way again. My wife uses an old IBM NetVista box which is a very nice low-profile model, but I don't see anything like that being offered new.

The power thing has me confused. AMD assigns a power dissipation of 95W to the CPU; MSI recommends a 400W or better PSU for the video card.

And yes, I noticed that cases have gotten much flimsier in the last few years. The sides of the new one could have been made from beer cans. And the Chinese still haven't learned to blunt the edges on their sheet metal.

commodorejohn
November 28th, 2012, 08:00 PM
I'd go with a larger case just because it gives you more room to work. A good smaller case is still going to be leaps and bounds better than some of the ridiculously cramped little consumer minitowers I've had to work in over the years, but the less cramped your PC is, the less you'll hate yourself any time you have to work in it.

Agent Orange
November 28th, 2012, 08:21 PM
The last "desktop" case that I purchased new was really an HTPC case. I may go that way again. My wife uses an old IBM NetVista box which is a very nice low-profile model, but I don't see anything like that being offered new.

The power thing has me confused. AMD assigns a power dissipation of 95W to the CPU; MSI recommends a 400W or better PSU for the video card.

And yes, I noticed that cases have gotten much flimsier in the last few years. The sides of the new one could have been made from beer cans. And the Chinese still haven't learned to blunt the edges on their sheet metal.

It is 95 watts, I was looking at the 45 nm process.

MikeS
November 28th, 2012, 09:09 PM
..My wife uses an old IBM NetVista box which is a very nice low-profile model, but I don't see anything like that being offered new.I've got a few dozen different NetVista and ThinkCentre desktop boxes; well built but not many bays and not the easiest to upgrade/modify...

VileR
November 28th, 2012, 09:43 PM
The trouble is going to be finding a good desktop case. A lot of the so-called 'desktop' cases these days aren't actually designed to have anything on top of 'em, unlike the traditional desktop cases of old.

Wouldn't trust them with an old school CRT... but surely they can support a modern featherweight flat-screen?

Unknown_K
November 28th, 2012, 10:33 PM
Can't you just stick the tower under the desk?

Ole Juul
November 28th, 2012, 11:12 PM
Can't you just stick the tower under the desk?

Exactly! Or better still - use it as a desk. lol

Seriously, the nice thing about older boxes is that they're square. You can pile them three high without taking up more floor/desk space.

lucasdaytona
November 29th, 2012, 03:06 AM
The power thing has me confused. AMD assigns a power dissipation of 95W to the CPU; MSI recommends a 400W or better PSU for the video card.


Simple, use a PSU calculator, like this (http://www.extreme.outervision.com/psucalculatorlite.jsp), works like a charm! Be sure to use a reliable power supply (I would stay away from that cheap and cute 800w power supply).

I personally love HTPCs, I'm building a very special one, the heat still isn't a problem.

njroadfan
November 29th, 2012, 05:20 AM
Anyone have some sage advice?

I have one of those nifty cases sitting in the basement empty, mostly because of heat problems. It wasn't the CPU that I was concerned about, but the hard drive. It didn't receive any airflow where it was mounted and the drive later failed. The other problem with the case was the obnoxiously loud fan in the power supply which people seemed to fix by swapping out the unit.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811190094

The only nice thing about the case was that it took full height expansion cards and had a 5.25" drive bay for an optical drive. It was awkwardly proportioned as a desktop case, but it worked.

Old Thrashbarg
November 29th, 2012, 05:39 AM
The power thing has me confused. AMD assigns a power dissipation of 95W to the CPU; MSI recommends a 400W or better PSU for the video card.

What video card is it, exactly? The power consumption is usually quite overstated on graphics cards... I think the recommended PSU ratings are probably based on the assumption of people using cheap PSUs that can't actually put out the wattage on the label. Hell, I've seen 8400GS cards that recommend 400W PSUs, and those cards only draw <20W in reality.

The PSU calculators all tend to use the manufacturer TDP rating too, so they also often overshoot what's actually needed.

Compgeke
November 29th, 2012, 06:02 AM
I would just keep the larger case as is, not only did some individuals use larger cases than needed I've seen Compaq do it with some of their business computers. If you do want to swap it, keep the larger case around as you'll probably want it should you upgrade sometime to something with a full ATX board.

Chuck(G)
November 29th, 2012, 07:47 AM
What video card is it, exactly?

Nothing special--an MSI R5450 (http://www.msi.com/product/vga/R5450-MD1GD3H-LP.html). I'm not a gamer. If push came to shove, I could probably drop the card and using the motherboard video just fine.

What I don't know is how modern PSU manufacturers play with the power ratings. If I have a PSU rated at 450 watts, does that mean 450 watts only if I manage to find an assortment of peripherals that pulls each rail at its rated maximum current? Or does it mean that I can any combination of voltages (not exceeding the maximum current for any rail) that totals 450W. What kind of duty cycle--is it 450W continuous? I'm aware of the games that have been played in other consumer product ratings and don't usually trust them as far as I can spit.

carlsson
November 29th, 2012, 08:14 AM
As you might have seen before, I built my own PC inside a Commodore 8050 case (http://anders.sfks.se/bilder.php?album=25). For that build, I found a MS-Tech MPS-400 with decent dimensions (a regular ATX size PSU would have been a bit too large). Generally this system works OK, but I noticed it is a bit noisy. I haven't deducted exactly from where the sound comes, but all the ventilation holes in the chassis will give me plenty of places for the noise to emerge. With this said, when you migrate from the full-size tower to a smaller desktop case, look at its acoustic properties, if the design is sensitive to resonance, if your components operate silently etc. I don't know if your current tower does well on the noise front, and to which extent you get disturbed from fan and drive noises.

Agent Orange
November 29th, 2012, 08:25 AM
Nothing special--an MSI R5450 (http://www.msi.com/product/vga/R5450-MD1GD3H-LP.html). I'm not a gamer. If push came to shove, I could probably drop the card and using the motherboard video just fine.

What I don't know is how modern PSU manufacturers play with the power ratings. If I have a PSU rated at 450 watts, does that mean 450 watts only if I manage to find an assortment of peripherals that pulls each rail at its rated maximum current? Or does it mean that I can any combination of voltages (not exceeding the maximum current for any rail) that totals 450W. What kind of duty cycle--is it 450W continuous? I'm aware of the games that have been played in other consumer product ratings and don't usually trust them as far as I can spit.

The power consumption of the CPU is pretty much a standard, as well as memory - no need to worry about it. Where you're going to get into difficulties with a lesser P/S is with the video card(s). The high-end video cards these days suck up the power and generate a lot of heat. Almost all of the big video cards demand a rail or two if their own. You are not a gamer and most probably will not be stressing your system. Use the full tower with a few fans and you'll be good to go. As a rule of thumb, if you have a Nvidia 500/600 series video card or a ATI HD 5000/6000/7000 unit, for example, you will most assuredly need a a P/S rated above 550 watts. Until you start gaming or get into big time video processing, you don't have thing to worry about with your new build. The only caveat on the P/S's that come with the bargain cases is that the quality is really not there, you get what you pay for in that respect. Antec or Thermaltake is not a bad investment.

krebizfan
November 29th, 2012, 09:04 AM
Power supplies are an issue. Far too many power supplies can't handle their rated power load; some can't even handle 1/4 the rated load. The classic scam: the label on the outside may not match the sealed components on the inside. I tend to go for 6 month old models from decent "manufacturers" as that is long enough for any frequent fire hazards to be identified.

Old Thrashbarg
November 29th, 2012, 10:22 AM
A Radeon 5450 uses very little power. About 25W under full load, and less than 10 at idle, give or take a watt or two depending on the particular manufacturer's board design and such. That also means it makes very little heat, and will have no problem whatsoever in a small case.

About power supplies, they're rated at maximum total power consumption, and will have additional sub-ratings for the various rails, often 5V+3.3V together will have a set maximum, 12V will have its own, and so forth, and each of those ratings will of course be less than the total rating (though if you add them all together, they'll often be more than the total rating). Some PSUs do also list a maximum continuous rating, but it's not usually the big number you see on the box.

And yes, on the cheap junk PSUs, the ratings are usually all blatant lies. Some of the worst ones even have fake UL certifications and such.

Agent Orange
November 29th, 2012, 10:52 AM
Thrash:

The HD 5450 is on the low end and I was referring to the higher performance video cards. The two HD 5850's in my box (and this is old stuff by today's standards) hog a rail a piece. In a gaming situation the fans are screaming and it's not unusual to see the temps jump up to 45-50c, even higher at times.

Old Thrashbarg
November 29th, 2012, 01:11 PM
I was referring mainly to this:


As a rule of thumb, if you have a Nvidia 500/600 series video card or a ATI HD 5000/6000/7000 unit, for example, you will most assuredly need a a P/S rated above 550 watts.

And though you may have been referring to the higher-end cards (and what you're saying is certainly true for those), the statement was nevertheless a bit ambiguous since just saying 'ATi HD 5000 unit' could mean anything from a 5450 up to a 5970 monster.

Ole Juul
November 29th, 2012, 09:29 PM
I'm just adding weight to what others have said here, but this all reminds me that that there is a difference between electrical watts and marketing watts. Electrical motors for the popular market is another place where numbers are sometimes three times what is logically possible, and even more times what is likely. I understand that there are indeed graphics cards which eat electricity. Chuck doesn't strike me as someone who is likely to be rendering cartoons, breaking passwords, or even playing video games. ... I could be wrong though. :)

Chuck(G)
November 29th, 2012, 09:42 PM
Nope, none of that, although I'll occasionally view a YouTube clip.

I'll keep the tower for now (although it does have one annoying feautre--a power button on TOP of the machine that's easy to bump), but I may construct my own this winter as a shop project. Oak and brass?

I mention flim-flam ratings on PSUs in the same vein that "horsepower" ratings have gotten out of hand on appliances or audio wattage ratings. I've got a Shop-Vac that's labeled "3.5 HP" that plugs into a standard 120V outlet. Or that "1000 watt" audio system for your car.

Ole Juul
November 29th, 2012, 10:24 PM
Oak and brass?
. . .
I've got a Shop-Vac that's labeled "3.5 HP" that plugs into a standard 120V outlet.

I like 1/16" aluminum sheet, but suit yourself.

Yep, my cheap 5 HP compressor comes to mind. Plugs right into the 120. 3700 watts? I don't think so! I believe that for consumer goods it's the draw at stall, which is not really a useful figure unless you don't believe in using breakers in your house wiring. It's actually fine, but I wasn't fooled when I bought it.

Krille
November 30th, 2012, 01:36 AM
Antec or Thermaltake is not a bad investment.

I respectfully disagree. I don't have any opinion on Thermaltake but Antec is a brand that is permanently engraved in my mental sh*tlist of companies that I never buy anything from again. The reason is spelled "Fuhjyyu".

Old Thrashbarg
November 30th, 2012, 06:12 AM
Antec makes good cases, but yeah, their power supplies should be viewed with great suspicion. It's not just that they had a couple bad series, either... their general modus operandi seems to be to make units with decent quality components at first, but then after they've been on the market for awhile they'll go back and start quietly 'cost-engineering' them. So even the models that have good reviews can't really be trusted, because the unit you get may or may not be anything like the one that was tested.

Agent Orange
November 30th, 2012, 07:18 AM
I've been running an Antec High Current 900 watt P/S for over a year with absolutely no problems. I've had several Antec's in the past with no difficulties. I also have several Thermaltake's which are okay. There's good and bad with everything.

Chuck(G)
November 30th, 2012, 09:36 AM
The last power supply that I purchased (i.e. didn't come with a case) was a Seasonic. No complaints.

Ole Juul
November 30th, 2012, 03:52 PM
The last power supply that I purchased (i.e. didn't come with a case) was a Seasonic. No complaints.

I purchased a Zalman ZM400B-APS 400W PSU about 6 years ago and it's still running silently without complaints in my main machine. I just checked and I see they are still being sold (http://ncix.com/products/?sku=11365).

I think one thing to keep in mind with power supplies is that one rated for, say 800W, may well put out good and clean power at 600 Watts, but could easily (perhaps likely) be inefficient and electrically noisy at 150 Watts where it may actually spend most of it's time. In that regard, I notice that a lot of PS reviews seem to be by nerds with a penchant for lots of numbers and charts, but little regard for relevant information.

Chuck(G)
November 30th, 2012, 04:05 PM
I've seen it opined that the best way to select a PSU is by weight. If so, I have a 450W PSU from an HP dual-Xeon workstation that's a beast. Unfortunately, the dimensions are outsize for an ATX supply; closer to a WTX size, but the pinout's not ATX or WTX, but proprietary. The thing is jammed full of PCBs and heatsinks.

Old Thrashbarg
November 30th, 2012, 04:30 PM
Well, weight is certainly a factor... though using that as a primary decision maker isn't such a good idea, since some Chinese companies are starting to figure out various ways around that (http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/blog/Hantol-PSU-Fake-PFC-Made-of-Cement/220).

Chuck(G)
November 30th, 2012, 04:52 PM
Well, weight is certainly a factor... though using that as a primary decision maker isn't such a good idea, since some Chinese companies are starting to figure out various ways around that (http://www.hardwaresecrets.com/blog/Hantol-PSU-Fake-PFC-Made-of-Cement/220).

Shades of Miniscribe! :shocked:

Unknown_K
November 30th, 2012, 04:54 PM
The last PS I purchased I think was this one:

http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=CP-P600&cat=PWR

Generally I just get cheap supplies and make sure the rating on them is quite a bit more then what I need, in this case for a Athlon 64 system with an 8800GS video card (needed the PCIE power plug as well). I look for the normal agency ratings (the realy cheap ones don't have any) but who knows if they are fudged. I guess if I was goiung to put a $1000+ rig together I would look for the best rated supply ($100+).

For cases I still like the older full tower Inwin or older Enlight cases with solid thick steel with no sharp edges. Some old OEM cases as also good to reuse. The newer gamer cases are ok if you like wind tunnels with fans every which way. Aluminun cases are very thin and flimsy, plus they come with realy crappy power supplies that need changed out (or empty). Inwin uses (or did a while ago when I got mine) powermon supplies that while not super wattage rated seem to be built fairly well.

Mad-Mike
December 1st, 2012, 12:10 PM
Man, if I had my way, some company would make a modern equivalent of an 80's AT desktop chassis that fits full ATX/BTX Components and has a front panel speaker/I/O setup like an old IBM PS/2 "Ultimedia" Machine. I once wanted to create my own line of "retro-cases" for this reason. My favorite has always been the XT/AT chassis style.

Currently I'm using a Corsair 700 Watt PSU with an Antec 300 series case on my main box. I've been through 3 cases and 4 PSU on that computer.

First I bought a new-old-stock Antec 2000 which was pretty close to what I listed first case-wise...except 2 major problems - this case was made for a Pentium 4 desktop that does not generate the heat of a Pentium D Dual core CPU (no rear vent aside from the fan), so my box overheated all the time. I changed from the stock 250 Watt ATX PSU to a Logisys that was so flaky Windows would refuse to finish booting most of the time unless booted cold. Then I upgraded the fan and it would not fit as the fan was too thick. I then pulled that PSU out and started using a Rocketfish modular PSU, that survived until the Antec, then it died.

So then I put everything in cheap Logisys Case that I stuck an Atari sticker on. All was well for about 4 months until the power button broke off and fell INSIDE the case where I had to take the whole darned thing apart to power up the computer, I junked that. Stay AWAY From Logisys - total crap!

So then I put down $80 on the Antec, and it survived with the Modular PSU for a year, then one day it died, my fiancee needed to use my computer, and could not because it would not power up. So I threw down another $80 on the Corsair PSU, and then it's worked fine since then.

The best case I ever actually had was that old GEM 386 case, I swear that computer lived the lives of 4 or 5 computers before I finally junked it as it was so used up and modified it was falling apart.