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My ultimate HTPC with an i7-2670QM

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#1
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. :D

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.
 

Huddo93

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Video Card(s) EVGA GTX670 SC @ 1300MHz core
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#2
Lovin' the ghetto style CPU bracket, actually looks really nice and I'm interested to see the temps you get, and to see how well it goes!
 
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Video Card(s) Sapphire HD 5830 800/1000 @ 885/1225
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Display(s) Hannspree HF259
Case CM 690
Power Supply OCZ 850W
Benchmark Scores 3Dmark06: 18545/5219 CPU Mark 7.0: 3911.2 Cinebench R10: 11826/3359 x264 HD 2.0: 75.6/23.9
#3
Getting the drivers installed was a bit trickier than I was expecting. One of the two LAN drivers claimed to be installed but the NIC wasn't responsive. Once I installed all the drivers from supermicro's site there were still two unknown devices in device manager, but fortunately they were both part of the QM67 chipset drivers from Intel. I guess I probably should've known that :eek:

Some temperature stats from my ghetto heatsink :D
Ambient: ~22C
CPU Idle: 26C
CPU Full Load: 62C

The contents of windows look a bit blurred; perhaps because I have DPI maxed, or perhaps because Intel HD 3000 aint so great. Anyway, pics:


Some time on Prime95


Also some pics of my not-so-factory H101 :pimp:


A little bit of the liquid tape peeled off but not enough to bother me


Perfect fit if you ask me


I'm really happy with how unbelievably fast and quiet this thing is. For my next update I'll take some power readings.

Next on deck is GPU. Anyone got a suggestion for a powerful, low power, dead silent, not too big graphics card?
 

Huddo93

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Video Card(s) EVGA GTX670 SC @ 1300MHz core
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#4
Wow, must be seated pretty well, those temps are fairly decent :D great work so far. Whats your budget on a GPU? Also, how powerful? light gaming or just HD movies / browsing?
 

Yo_Wattup

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#5
Case is too big! Why go with a mobile setup with such a case?
 
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#6
Wow, must be seated pretty well, those temps are fairly decent great work so far. Whats your budget on a GPU? Also, how powerful? light gaming or just HD movies / browsing?
I know it looks a bit flimsy but that thing isn't moving. The board would shatter into pieces before the heatsink would budge a fraction of a millimeter.

My budget on GPU is pretty much unlimited, but it has to fit into my case (and meet my other requirements). Afterall, this is my "ultimate" HTPC :D

I've been looking at the HD 7850 because it isn't super long and has a good idle power and a super idle mode (aka ZeroCore). Idle noise isn't perfect though but I might be able to solve that with an aftermarket heatsink :p . . .

When the HTPC isn't being used, it will be working double duty as a dedicated encoder and gateway.

Case is too big! Why go with a mobile setup with such a case?
Mobile my arse. Once it is all set up that thing will only be moving via continental drift.

I went with a mobile CPU because of the low power. Lower power is easier to cool. Easier to cool is quieter.

I have been eyeballing stuff like the E-350 for months, but it is all garbage (IMO). A mobile i7 may cost twice as much, but it provides more than double the capability.

The case matches my receiver (Onkyo TX-SR507) perfectly; that and I already had the case from my previous mATX-based HTPC. :cool:
 

brandonwh64

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#7
HMM I would like to build one of those as a fourth cruncher! does that board OC?
 
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#8
HMM I would like to build one of those as a fourth cruncher! does that board OC?
I doubt it; what with being a server mobo and all.

EDIT: Doesn't look like there are any overclocking options except perhaps some configurable turbo mode and speedstep stuff. Hardly the same though :(
 
Last edited:

Huddo93

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#9
My budget on GPU is pretty much unlimited, but it has to fit into my case (and meet my other requirements). Afterall, this is my "ultimate" HTPC

I've been looking at the HD 7850 because it isn't super long and has a good idle power and a super idle mode (aka ZeroCore). Idle noise isn't perfect though but I might be able to solve that with an aftermarket heatsink . . .
Well in that case I strongly agree, the HD7850 is sounding like a great card for the reasons above, and if you don't overclock you should be able to find a really low noise aftermarket cooler since it barely creates any substantial heat.
 
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#10
The case matches my receiver (Onkyo TX-SR507) perfectly; that and I already had the case from my previous mATX-based HTPC. :cool:
What case is it? I'm in need of a receiver-looking case that's not extremely expensive.
 

Yo_Wattup

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#11
I went with a mobile CPU because of the low power. Lower power is easier to cool. Easier to cool is quieter.
No offense but you mustnt know much about current, modern coolers... how is making your own cooler easier than going with desktop system and buying an already silent one? :roll: Gotcha there didnt I? :cool:
 
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Benchmark Scores 3Dmark06: 18545/5219 CPU Mark 7.0: 3911.2 Cinebench R10: 11826/3359 x264 HD 2.0: 75.6/23.9
#12
Well in that case I strongly agree, the HD7850 is sounding like a great card for the reasons above, and if you don't overclock you should be able to find a really low noise aftermarket cooler since it barely creates any substantial heat.
I'm checking out frozencpu now. Worst comes to worst, I can always build one :D

Too bad I'll have to wait till the HD 7850 stock normalizes. Get off my lawn! :mad: *shakes fist*
No offense but you mustnt know much about current, modern coolers... how is making your own cooler easier than going with desktop system and buying an already silent one? Gotcha there didnt I?
Errr-- not quite... ;)

The low power part was also part of my design for an ultimate HTPC. This thing is going to be running 24/7 as a gateway, test host and probably doing lots of gaming/encoding/movies on the weekend. Originally I was pretty dead set on building an i5 2500K based system with a Samuel 17, but that hurts my green objectives and the price difference is peanuts.
What case is it? I'm in need of a receiver-looking case that's not extremely expensive.
Case: nMEDIAPC 5000B [$60]
The front flap that covers the USB and what not is pure rubbish. Also this case is a good bit deeper than a receiver so I had to cut a hole in the back of my media console to fit it.