Description

My old MSI laptop, purchased ca. 2006, finally died and I was determined to reuse the parts. I would have been better off just starting from scratch... but where's the fun in that? This ended up being as impractical and expensive as building a car around the leftover lug nuts from your old car, rather than just buying a new car!

Edit: I forgot to mention that according to my Kill-A-Watt meter, this build pulls around 32 watts at the AC plug!

Motherboard

Turns out it's really hard to find a desktop board of any kind for a Turion socket S1 chip. It was a mobile-only processor. I eventually found this IEI KINO-690S1 board, and it's actually pretty nice! (For obsolete hardware, anyway.) Four SATA (3Gb/s) ports, PATA port, onboard graphics (RS690/Radeon X1200) with DVI-D and VGA output, two RS-232 connectors, dual gig-E, all in a mini-ITX form factor. As I type this it's driving my new 2560x1440 27" monitor over dual-link DVI.

Memory

After I got it together, Memtest told me that the RAM I was reusing from my laptop was bad. So I replaced it with 4 gigs, up from the 2 that were in my laptop.

CPU/Northbridge Cooler

The slim CPU cooler I had on it with a tiny fan had a very loud and very annoying whine--you could hear it through the whole house! The Turion is only 35W TDP and I really wanted to passively cool it. Because there is no such thing as a Turion CPU cooler for the desktop, the IEI board uses a socket 478/479 Pentium-M/Celeron-M cooler. The only passive one I could find was a $30 skivved copper one. Looks like today as I type this there's an aluminum one on eBay for three bucks... go figure. Anyway, I threw that on the CPU and some generic "universal" cooler on the northbridge, as the board came without one.

Turned out to still run too hot, so I ended up getting out the Dremel and making a new case lid out of my old laptop's lid. It has a hole for the 120mm fan to blow directly on the CPU/northbridge coolers. It still gets a little hot in the summer. :(

Case/PSU

One of the Newegg reviewers of this case said they'd use it as a jackstand for their car, it's so sturdy. They were right; it is really well-built! Heavy-gauge aluminium. The "120w" power supply that came with it only had a 60w AC-DC brick, and the connector was dodgy, the PCB was big, the 20-wire connector was ugly... I didn't like it.

So I picked up a PicoPSU (more $$$! I think I had given up by this point). I always thought they were cool and they really are. I highly recommend one if you're doing a Mini-ITX or other small, lower-power build. It cleans up your case a lot. Too bad I don't have any pics of the inside, I know how much the PCPartPicker peanut gallery loves its cable management! You would approve.

I could cram an SSD or two in the leftover space where the included PSU board was, but never upgraded to one.

Hard Drive

The old 100GB PATA Toshiba from my laptop kept chugging along, but I decided to upgrade to 10x the storage. People on this site rag on Seagate sometimes, and maybe their bigger drives deserve it. But this one had like a 5-year warranty or something silly and seemed to be the more "enterprise" type drive. So far it's been great.

Side note; back in the day (2001 or '02) I was all about the Seagate Barracuda. I still have two 120G ones from that era. The third one I killed doing this build when I jammed my 19v laptop AC-DC power supply into the 12v one that came with my case. Yeah, the 12v from the AC-DC supply is the 12v rail! "Pop" went the circuit board on that hard drive. Oddly enough, nothing else was damaged!

The hard drive doesn't fit in the case, so I rigged up this suspension system. It's different.

OS, etc.

I run Slackware Linux and it works great. It's powerful enough to run a few VM's (as RAM allows) and works fine for programming and stuff. Video performance is pretty mediocre, at best.

Did you really read this far?

Wow! Thanks for reading! Typing this out is cathartic after going around and around with this system for a few months of building it. It might have been a waste of money, but it was fun! Don't be afraid to break out the Dremel and get creative.

Comments

  • 60 months ago
  • 9 points

I am thoroughly tickled by this.

  • 60 months ago
  • 4 points

Thanks for looking! I added a picture of the heatsink; sorry, it's not a great photo.

This build also features such high-tech materials as door/window weatherstripping on the fan housing to dampen vibration where it touches the case.

  • 60 months ago
  • 4 points

This post was full of win. OP is my new hero.

EDIT: As someone who just recently upgraded his Turion laptop from a dual core to a triple core Phenom, I understand a little of how difficult this build must have been!

  • 60 months ago
  • 2 points

Thanks! How did you manage that laptop upgrade? Did you find a new BIOS? Nice going, don't fear doing the unusual.

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

No, I found out that my laptop's S1 socket had a particular build model that allowed the upgrade - scored the phenom on ebay for 14 bucks, and that was that - took a 2.4ghz dual core to a 2.3ghz triple core with some extra cache! Runs a little hot for the machine's liking, so I have to prop the laptop up when using it to give the bottom vent extra airflow, but it's definitely worth it to me since the most intensive thing I do with that machine is compile and browse.

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

Cool. Nice to hear that you breathed new life into an old computer! One less in the scrap heap.

  • 60 months ago
  • 2 points

Woah, highly unique build, I like it! +1

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! It was fun.

  • 60 months ago
  • 2 points

The riggery is strong with this one, its nice to see a good custom build. As far as I'm concerned this is custom.

  • 60 months ago
  • 2 points

I'd agree with that; there was a Dremel tool and a hacksaw involved.

  • 60 months ago
  • 2 points

nice idea for HDD cooling +1

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

interesting m8 i love it +1

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

Such a nice and useful mod, +1!

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

Lel

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

cool little build +1

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

This is cool!! Is it made out of printer? That's what it looks like to me lol

  • 60 months ago
  • 1 point

Haha, no, it's smaller than you're picturing it. That's a 3.5" drive on top--so the entire case is only maybe 7" wide. It's just wide enough for a mini-ITX board, which is 6.7" wide. Thanks for checking it out!