Description

I've always had a soft spot for AMD chips. Back when I was 11, I remember buying the Phenom II x4 965 Black Edition and putting it into my first true computer build. My twin and I loved playing little web flash games on that computer. While I took in apart, I still kept the chip and motherboard, even after all these years. There were so many knobs to turn and twist on the old AMD processors, I had to reset the BIOS more that once. Good times.

I wanted to put it as the center of this build, but the Antec ISK 110-VESA I wanted to use limited me to 65w CPUs and below. It sits on the shelf, lovingly collecting dust.

It was about Halloween when I noticed someone had thrown out an old HP AiO computer, the model number of which I was too lazy to look up. Instead, I noticed that most of the removable components had been ransacked. The DDR2 SODIMM modules and the hard drive were gone, as well as the back casing. It did have a 5.25 Slim DVD drive I could use for my other Dual Graphics build, however, so I took it home with me.

Upon undoing the back panel, I cracked the DVD drive out and was plesantly surprised that it wasn't held in place or otherwise locked down with anything proprietary. It just required a Slimline SATA adapter. Putting it to the side, I noticed that the heatsink of the crumbling AiO was held in place towards the top of the frame. Being curious to crack a heatpipe for science reasons, I resolved to remove it, and then throw out the rest. After all, removing BGA processors is a futile endeavor; should you even manage to crack the processor off the board, there's no socket to drop it into.

The old thermal paste separated from the CPU's heatsink with a dry, arid crackling noise, and I sat the cooler to the side. But they it lay, as tender and innocent as a newborn child, albeit a little dirty. With a little isopropyl alcohol and a lift of the AM3 socket lever, an Athlon II x2 235e chip emerged from the socket. And I had the gall to simply send this precious cherub to the junkyard.

I immediately cradled the babe in my arms, and gently rocked it to sleep. I then sat it in a cradle of a previous holder for my A10-7870K of which it had exactly the same footprint. As it slept, I sent my fastest steed, Amazonius, to fetch me two bargain SSDs, the only Mini-ITX AM3 motherboard on sale in existence, and the ISK-110 VESA from Antec, as well as a small 40mm cooling fan for this board's southbridge, for I knew the IGP on this board, like it's brother, was ancient. But I saw potential, and saw it fit to grant this little low-TDP chip another chance from the grave. Serenely, I leaned next to the carton turned cradle and whispered: "Follow me to glory."

I then scrambled down the basement stars to draw on whatever components I could conjure. After fighting various dangerous felines and arachnids, I came upon my spare parts box, filled with smaller boxes and cartons. From this, I summoned a Scythe SCKZT-1000 that was initially for a client ITX build, but I rejected it because the fins were damaged in shipping, although it had come from Taiwan, so there was no easy way of hunting down those miscreants who damaged my machinery. I also drew 2 of the 3 sticks in a 12 GB kit of Corsair XMS3 memory, that I hope to increase to their full supported speed, despite the limitations of the board. Finally, I retrieved an old D-Link DWA-556 PCIe Xtreme WiFi card, because I have an extra PCIe x1 slot and wanted to fill it with something. Despite there being no official space for this card, I resolved to install it anyway, simply because I might be able to cram it in there.

After little thought and guesstimations, I concluded that I'd need a PCIe x1 extender, as well as RP-SMA extended to lead the antennas out of the IO shield. I installed the card's antennas where the original antennas were, and put the board's built in antennas in place by drilling out holes in the IO shield for them. Finally, I laid the card on top of the heatsink. I wasn't worried about choking the CPU; it's a 95w TDP cooler handling a 45w CPU, so I kept the fan setting low. I also bent the fins back into place, to make the cooler a bit more uniform. In the back of the case, I installed two 64GB SSDs in RAID 0, scoring a 7.9 on the Windows Experience Index for Disk Speed. The lowest score was a 4.9, for performance in Windows Aero.

Overall, it gives pretty satisfactory performance, even though the IGP is slow and hot. It's an ATI HD 4250, which is so old I had to install a legacy Catalyst 13.9.1 driver for it. I plan to overclock the CPU to 3 GHz and the IGP to 725MHz, right after I get a cooling fan for it, anyway, because it seems to only use about 65 watts when working according to a vintage Kill-a-watt. I have a little headroom, but I probably won't use all of it.

So far, I envision 3 uses for this build: A basic Steam Link machine, a sentry gun AI for Project Sentry Gun's app, or an FRC Drive Station, since the two SSDs allows it to boot in 20 seconds and control our robot.

Better pictures to come soon.

Comments

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

That story...made my day...thank you

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

I fought courageously, but I might need to republish the build soon.

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

OWWWW This is cutest build ever!!!

  • 36 months ago
  • 2 points

Riveting tale and awesome build! +1

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Cleaver call on using the riser for the PCIe x4 slot (maybe x1 I cannot really tell). Looks like you have it shoved on the back of a monitor using VESA mount. This build looks really nice, good job mate.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! Gonna upload a couple pictures of it on the stand soon.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

I really, really like this thing. Love how that cooler looks on it, and good jury rigging.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! I had to bend the cables into place, especially the extenders for the antenna cabling.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Wow looking at that mobo, it's amazing how far we have come. It's layout is nothing but unfamiliar to me. And great story btw, gave me a little nostalgic feeling whilst reading this story :)

+1

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

Thanks! The difference was new to me too; Gigabyte's F2A88XN-WIFI has 2 small heatsinks: One for the chipset, and a larger heatsink set for the VRMs. This thing has 3 massive heatsinks: One for VRMs, the Northbridge and the Southbridge.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

are you just using this thing for an htpc? if you are, that's pretty good for an htpc.

  • 36 months ago
  • 1 point

The ATHLON has RETURNED!

  • 29 months ago
  • 1 point

better love story than twilight

  • 7 months ago
  • 1 point

My favorite build ever, this made my birthday.

  • 3 months ago
  • 1 point

Best fantasy-style build story I've ever read. And the only one. UPPED.

(+1 is what I mean by upped)

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