I've had it in my mind for a while to build a really awesome, low power, ultra quiet, supremely powerful, gamer HTPC, but I just now got around to doing it.
I decided to take the road less (maybe never) traveled, and buy a laptop chip. Here's what I have thus far (prices include shipping):
CPU: i7-2670QM [$250]
Heatsink: Cooler Master H101 [$12]
RAM: 2x4GB DDR3 1333 Patriot Signature [$35]
MOBO: SUPERMICRO X9SCV-Q [$195]
GPU: TBD (for now using onboard)
PSU: Rosewill 430W Green Series (80 Plus; may upgrade to gold) [$40]
Case: nMEDIAPC 5000B [$60]
Tuner: SiliconDust HDHR3-CC [TBD]
This is an upgrade from my previous HTPC which had a micro ATX board and an Athlon II X2 4200+ with a broken core, so the case and the PSU are being reused.
Here's the mobo shot from the manual:
Unfortunately for me the i7-2670QM is a socket G2 chip and there are very few aftermarket heatsinks for it. I had a look around and there is an official version
and also several variants on frozencpu.com. None of the heatsinks for sale are quiet (or huge) so I decided to go DIY.
I bought an open box CM H101
from micro center for $12 and then fabricated a mounting bracket that would fit the supermicro board. The heatsink is about an 1/8" too tall for my case but I'm planning to cut a small hole to allow it to fit better.
After measuring and cutting mounting hardware I coated them in liquid tape:
I then coated one side of the backplate in blu-tack
so it would hold the screws, stick to the back of the mobo, and provide a little give when I tighten the screws:
This is all the pieces together ready for assembly:
CPU socketed and backplate attached:
To make it harder to crush the CPU I used wing nuts. I added three washers on each screw to prevent the wing nuts from whacking the side of the heatsink. I used Tuniq TX-2 thermalpaste and filled in the grooves on the bottom of the heatsink (because it is HDT) prior to spreading paste directly on the CPU core. I was very careful not to overtighten the wing nuts.
The fit was perfect, which is astonishing because I'm pretty lazy about measuring things.
I forgot to take pictures once I had the whole thing together, so this is the only one I have (for the moment) of the completed install:
The drive rack is removed in that last shot so there is a lot more room than there will be once the whole thing is back together.
First boot looks good, but what the hell is "CPU Temperature: Low"?:
I couldn't get it to boot my USB drive so I haven't installed Windows yet. When I get Windows installed I'll update this thread.