Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Perfict Lan Gamer

I have found the perfect LAN gaming case!! No its not this little green box. Thermal Take makes the Thermaltake VF1000BWS. I have been skeptical about builds like this because they seem very hard to work on and at times hard to find small form components for. However after my brother in law bought this case I fell in love. It takes full size components including power supply and video cards. It actually has enough room for any two GPU's out there. You do have to use a micro ATX board but that will be the story for any small case like this. It has removable trays for almost every component in the case and when working on a computer of this size that is a must. I have spent hours in the past trying to fit components in the shuttle cases and I must say it takes the fun out of the build. I would completely recommend this case! I will start a blog for it shortly.

Lan pc specs:

Case: Custom Premio
Mobo: Intell
CPU: E7400 Core 2 Duo
Ram: 2Gb HyperX
Hard Disk: 250Gb 7200rpm Segate, 80Gb 10K rpm WD Raptor
Sound Card: Creative Audigy Sound Blaster
Water Cooler: Cooler Master Aquagate S1 , Zalman VGA Block
Operating System: Windows XP Pro 32 bit SP3

Build Idea

I built this pc with, as the name states, lan party's in mind. Prior to this build I was dragging a full size case around to lan party's at least twice a month. Not only was it bulky but it was starting to have problems due to the abuse. These where my goals going in to this build. First I needed a good solid semi rugged build that could take the abuse of being constantly moved around and yet still offer quality gaming performance. Second I did not want to spend much on this because this pc had a high risk of getting drooped or suffering some significant damage at some point. Third, I did not want a full size case. It needed to be small enough that moving it would not be a big hassle. So after some planing this is what I came up with.

The Specs

Case: Taking the size factor in to consideration I immediately started looking at Shuttle cases. They offered the size I needed but I was skeptical about fitting all the parts I wanted in the case and still keeping the cost down. If I was willing to pay the price, Shuttle offed the most ideal setup however my budget was very tight for this build. After shopping around I chose a Premio mid atx case. This case is rock solid with no flex what so ever. Straight forward simple design but I worked perfectly for my build.
Motherboard: I used a Intel dg965ss. Not the best board for gaming but it is a inexpensive board that holds up well. Intel is known for there reliable boards so I felt good about using one in this build. It supports any Core2 Duo and 800mhz DDR2.
CPU: Intel E7400 Cost effective! The price is good and it handles games well. It is a bit week due to the 2.8 clock speed and only having a 4mb L2 cache.
GPU: At first I tried a old XFX 8600 GT that I had from a old build and I have to say the 8600 chip works well. The only problem I had was that it would over heat constantly when gaming. I would constantly see tempratures of 70 +. Due to the small case and low ventilation this would cause my cpu to constantly reach temperatures in the high 50s. Having had good experiences with water cooling in the past I started looking for a cooler that would fit in my case. The only cooler that I could make work was a Cooler Master Aquagate S1. Not the most high performing water cooler but it works well in a restricted space. Not having a 120mm fan in the case to mount the radiator did spark up a bit of ingenuity. I installed a few L brackets in the bottom of the case and the radiator fit securely in to place. With the adition of a Zalman VGA block I had my temps under control. The CPU now would show temps "in game" of 32c and the GPU at 46c witch by my standards is more than acceptable!
Hard Drive: This was a much easier decision, I installed a Segate 250gb ATA drive that would be big enough and fast enough for this pc. Later I made the addition of a 80gb Western Digital Raptor that spins at 10K rpm. After installing a few games on this drive I could note a significant performance gain. Mostly with install and load times.

Problems and Upgrades

Shortly after getting this build completed I had the old 8600 GT give out on me. This left me between a rock and a hard spot. I wanted to up grade from the 8600 but most of the new cards that would offer a significant performance upgrade would not fit in the 9.5 inches that where available. After some careful shopping I purchased a xfx 9800 gt. The 9800 GTX was way to long and I wanted more performance than the 9600 line would offer. This card fit perfectly with a length of 9.25 inches. I have to say that I was very impressed with the performance gain as well. The only worries I had was that the Zalman VGA block would not cool the VGA memory like the stock heat sink. After some research however I found that in most cases the memory does not require cooling on this card. The last thing I have done with this build was to cut out the front of the case to hold a 120mm fan directly in front of the radiator. Althow restricted by the solid plastic front on the case it inproves the air flow greatly by forcing the hot air through the bottom of the front pannel.

Bench Marks

1280 x 1024

CPU: E7400
GPU: 9800gt
Ram: 2gb

CPU Score: 2096

3DMarks 06: 7964