Build a large Ivy Bridge HTPC / NAS

Good day.
The ATX-system has recently been dragging itself away from serious workloads, mainly limiting itself to showing films and sharing files, and winter is coming to an end - which means that the time has come for the long-awaited transition from Core 2 Duo to something cooler and more economical.
The original challenger was a Mini-ITX motherboard with integrated Intel Atom or AMD Brazos. But judging by the tests, the power of such systems is not always enough for a comfortable viewing of FullHD video. Despite the absence of such rips in my collection, common sense tells me to take something more powerful. In terms of energy consumption, systems with Sandy Bridge / Ivy Bridge processors come next - that's what you need.

In HTPC it is planned to cram 2 x 3.5 HDD for a RAID array and 2.5 SSD under OSes. A popular option in many articles to buy a case with one external 5.25 and one internal 3.5 compartment did not suit me because of concerns about poor convection of the air inside and strong heating of the hard drives. There is a lot of space for the future system engineer, but not much finance, so I chose the budget IN WIN BL641 . If you do not need an optical drive and a card reader, you can put as many as 4 full-size HDDs and 1 SSD for the system in the case. The reviews complain about short wires, in particular, power. In my case, everything is in order.

I note that the second common problem, the annoying noise of the power supply, is also absent. But the latter has only 2 SATA power connectors - you can not do without an additional adapter. In addition to the fan in the power supply, at the bottom of the case in a removable corin, there is another blow cooler, standard sizes 80x80x25. At medium speeds, it works relatively quietly, but produces a weak air flow. This is due to the petals - they are almost not curved and rather short. I replaced the cooler with a Zalman ZM-F1 plus , with the same amperage it makes more noise, but has higher speeds, "advanced" petals and blows much more.

From the motherboard I needed a decent audio codec level Realtek ALC889 / 892 and the presence of a "dying" PCI slot. My criteria were met by the capabilities of the ASRock B75 Pro3-M . Special thanks to the manufacturer for adding a controller and implementing three SATA-III connectors instead of one embedded in the budget chipset.

It was originally planned to take a Celeron G4XX with a TDP of 35 watts, but the fact of acquiring a stone with one physical core in 2013 scared me off. Pentiums 6XXT were out of stock, and where they were, the purchase was hindered by the high price. I could not downlock the popular 65-watt Celeron G530 due to the limitations of the chipset. The compromise was the Pentium G2020 on the fresh Iny Bridge (TPD 55 Watts) paired with the low-profile Cooler Master DP6-8E5SB-PL-GP.

An interesting fact is that the reduction in the process technology from 32 to 22 nm had a positive effect on the power of the integrated graphics, however, if in the i3 / i5 / i7 lines this can be seen from the name (HD Graphics 2000/3000 was replaced by HD 2500/4000), then in the case of Celeron / Pentium HD Graphics remained HD Graphics. Testing confirms that in the second case we are dealing with a more productive solution. IMHO, this is a marketing policy to attract customers to more expensive lines.

I had no special requirements for the RAM, so I bought the QUMO QUM3U-4G1600K11 bar with my hands . As the hard drives for the RAID array, it was decided to take a pair of WD20EFRX. According to the manufacturer, the Red series is specially designed for use in NAS, a 3-year warranty is given. In my opinion, the availability of a DVD writer and, in the end, a card reader with Bluetooth does not hinder HTPC, there is a good place for this. The Kingston SVP200S3 / 120G SSD , which I removed from my old computer, is located right behind the Samsung SH-224BB drive . 120 Gb in this case is redundant, so with the next scholarship I will most likely buy a smaller SSD, and put this in a laptop.

A satellite dish with one extra output on the converter is installed at home - so it’s worth adding the ability to receive channels in our HTPC. It was not by chance that I took a motherboard with PCI, the tuner is the TechnStat 2 TechniSat PCI purchased at the flea market SkyStar 2. Of course, you can buy a new smaller PCI-Express board, a cooler one with a remote control and DVB-S2 support, but I rarely watch TV and have no desire to buy it at the price of my motherboard. The low-profile strap for SkyStar2 does not exist in nature, however, judging by the thickness of the case, if you remove the strip, then the card should stand up just right. In practice, it turned out even too just right and I had to mutilate the latch a bit with pliers, otherwise it would not close.

During the assembly of the case, another miscalculation surfaced - the front panel and the card reader have only 2 USB 2.0 sockets on the motherboard. Initially, I was planning to bring USB 3.0 forward, but I did not know that there were more contacts at the connector and the case should be appropriate. I don’t intend to refuse support for memory cards, and in front of me there are enough two ports.

It looks a bit messy, but in general, such a heap does not interfere with air convection - there is a lot of free space near the radiator of the south bridge and under the hard drives.

The tuner almost rested on the side cover.
Total spent on components:
  • case - 1862 p.,
  • motherboard - 2050 p.,
  • processor - 1890 p.,
  • hard drives (2 pcs.) - 7026 p.,
  • cooling - 313 p.,
  • DVD drive and card reader - 870 p.,
  • RAM (used) - 400 p.,
  • DVB-card (used) - 350 p.,
  • SSD, SATA-wires and power adapter were already available.

Total: 14,761 rubles.
If you wish, you can save 500-600 rubles and take Celeron g1610 as a processor - it has 2 instead of 3 mb cache and the frequency is lower by 300 MHz. In my situation, I did not want to wait a few more days and therefore took the available pentium.

The long-awaited first launch and ... I notice that the HTPC is not very quiet. That's because the cooler speed is at its maximum - we are going to fix it in the UEFI BIOS .

I liked the menu - not too tricky, everything is in its place. In the settings for the 4-pin CPU Fan 1 and 3-pin CPU Fan 2, where I have the lower cooler connected, you can set 3 cooling options - to the full extent, from 1 to 9 level or conventional units from 1 to 255. If in the system More than one cooler is planned - stock up on resistors, as Power Fan Speed ​​current is not regulated at all, and Chasis Fan Speed ​​that at 1, that at level 9 produces the same speed. At the first level, the processor and additional coolers give out already 1,500 and 1,100 RPMs - generally quiet, but I would like even less. Through experiments, 64 cu were selected.

I took pictures “from the cold”, within 15 minutes the temperature of the processor and motherboard will rise to 34 and 31, and the speed to 1000 and 630, respectively. As you can see, the Target Temperature is still set from 45 to 65 degrees, but looking ahead, I’ll say that the temperature has not reached the bottom mark.

It is time to launch the operating system and take a quick look at the performance of the new hardware. There was still Windows 7 on the SSD from the previous computer, which deigned to earn money, though not without prebooting in safe mode. The previous configuration was [Core 2 Duo E8500, overclocked to 4 GHz; ATI HD6790 1 Gb DDR5; 4 x 2Gb Hynix Hyper-X 842 Mhz, 5-5-5-15, SATAII] and here is its evaluation using Windows 7:

Let's try to evaluate for the new hardware:

It is necessary to put the driver for the video card and for the chipset in the appendage, and at the same time update the UEFI. As a result, the fields “graphics” and “graphics for games” were rated at 4.4 and 6.1 points, respectively.

Of course, all estimates are very subjective, but on the basis of them we can draw general conclusions:
  1. A new generation budget processor with a lower frequency and smaller cache memory is already on par with the top solution from the old one. Here is a test where the G2020 with a good margin overtakes the E8400. The Socket 755 processor upgrade has ceased to be economically feasible in favor of buying a new kit on Socket 1155.
  2. The video core is more than suitable for FullHD video, 3D-effects of the system and undemanding games, in addition, it can be overclocked using UEFI.
  3. It makes sense to put one more bar of RAM for working in dual-channel mode, which again will raise the graphics performance.
  4. The transition from SATA-II to SATA-III has a very positive effect on the speed of SSD - the load time of the seven dropped from about 9 to 5.5 seconds (the fireflies do not have time to form a rectangle).

It's time to check how the cooling of our HTPC works. A half-hour stress test showed that the temperature of the processor and motherboard does not rise above 43 degrees for both. Of course, dusty air and heat can make an additional contribution, but it is already clearly clear that the cooler speed can be safely left at this level, or can be slightly reduced. Hard drives in idle heat up to 31 and 33 degrees, respectively. While there was no time for their tests under load, but I predict that the temperature will not rise above 40.

This is where I finish the review of the assembly process, in the next week I will install Xubuntu, mdadm, XBMC and other software on my freshly assembled HTPC / NAS and write about this one more article. Thank you for reading.

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