The Gray Bunny (graybunny) wrote,
The Gray Bunny
graybunny

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Blood Makes Computers Work III


The MUSE machine has had a long and checkered history. It started out with an MSI motherboard and an Athlon XP2200. That combination always ran very hot, to the point that I could never get it to work unless I left the side of the case open and had a big table fan blowing into it. That wasn't very satisfactory. After trying a couple different cases, I eventually went out and bought a big Thermaltake XaserIII case with about a billion fans in it... which didn't help. At that point I gave up and bought a nice Gigabyte motherboard with an nVidia chipset (no more VIA for me, thank you!) and an XP2600 and a new heatsink. I also bought a Dremel tool which I used to carve a hole in the side of a case (not the Thermaltake). I mounted a case fan in that hole, blowing outside air directly into the heatsink's fan. No grills, nothing to impede the flow. The CPU ran hotter than I really liked in that configuration, but it was cool enough to be stable and that's what really mattered.

Well, the new world order calls for MUSE's 120G drive to become part of the new fileserver. In order to have enough scratch space to support video editing (MUSE's major purpose in life), it will get all the leftover 40G drives from my closet and other machines and use them in a striped array. That means more drives, and more heat, in a case that was already on the edge of thermal issues and was also full. Thus, the whole shebang moved over to the Thermaltake case: motherboard, power supply, drives, the whole lot. The Thermaltake has lots of space for drives, space enough to spread them out even.

So: first, I moved all the files from the 40G drive already in MUSE onto the 120G. Later on, I'll put the 120G into an external USB case and move the files to the array. Then I removed the old MSI motherboard from the Thermaltake, untangled all the power leads for the billion fans, and generally prepped it for its new brain. After that, I opened up the existing MUSE case and gut it. By the time I was done, the only things left in that case were three case fans and a dead Pioneer A01 DVD-RW drive.

The parts migrated one by one into the Thermaltake. More drives arrived, from my closet and from the remains of the old fileserver. Cables, cables, and more cables, trying to route them to avoid blocking airflow. Finally, it was time to power MUSE up in her new home.

Amazingly enough, she fired right up with no problems. I took a look at all the old drives before deleting the volumes and creating the striped array, and it's a good thing I did. I found some video of a convention, video that I had forgotten even existed. I saved that off to another drive so that I can edit it and make it into a DVD sometime, then created the array. While the array was formatting, I checked the CPU temperature. Oops... hovering around 55C even with the CPU virtually idle.

Once the array was formatted, I fired up Second Life, which is quite CPU-heavy, and confirmed my suspicion that cooling in MUSE's new home was not quite up to the job. It never set off the high-temperature alarm solidly, it just kept poking at it, making it go squeak... sqk sqk... squeeak... as the temperature kept flickering between 59C and 60C (the alarm point). So tonight as I go home I'm going to stop by Fry's and give up and do what I should have done in the beginning, buy an advanced cooling system. I did a bit of research today and water cooling systems have gotten quite slick and easy to install, and aren't all that expensive anymore either. MUSE would look really slick in its shiny blue Xaser case with a water-cooling tower parked next to it! Stay tuned.
Tags: tech
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