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Recent Project (Vintage/Restomod? Computing)

27 November 2005
SoCal ✈ Vegas
Project = install primary desktop into a Commodore VC-1541 Floppy Drive housing:



Its a Dual Core athlon x2 64-bit system (4850e 45W processor), with 2GB DDR2, x2 750GB Samsung F1 spinpoint SATA2 drives, retrofitted into a Commodore 1541 floppy drive.

The original power LED is the power LED, the original floppy access light is the hard drive activity light, and the floppy arm is the power switch. The power supply is temporary, I had a 90W PicoPSU from an old project, which was insufficient to run this system, so now I have a 200W mini PSU on order, which should fit within the housing.

The system is running Windows XP 64-bit edition, there is a partial floppy epoxied into the old drive, its Disc 1 of "Microsoft Windows/286", with the label partially visible.





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The original system was very unstable, I believe this was the result of a poorly manufactured motherboard; the gaming performance was terrible, and the system would lock a few minutes into any 3D application. In addition, the board came with two NIC ports, which were both enabled by default, and were not able to work with one another, they caused endless BSOD's. Finally I disabled one, used only the other one, and still occasionally locked. I disabled both, put a low profile PCI NIC into the PCI bus, and the system was better, but would still occasionally lock.

Finally, I RMA'd, the motherboard and CPU to newegg, and went with something different... I wanted a minimal level of gaming performance with this system, a regular mini ITX was not acceptable (eg EPIA 2GHz), I wanted a full-featured system inside a 1541 floppy drive.

After a few days search, I discovered an industrial computer supply company, iBase, which produces an ITX motherboard (17x17cm) which has a x16 PCI-E slot, intended for driving large LCD banners. I ordered this board, and also found a low profile GeForce 8500GT, produced by Galaxy, which should fit into the floppy. Now the system is being driven by a Dual Core Intel P4 3.4GHz, I tried to use the same shruken cooler as before, but the system would overheat within minutes, air cooling was not going to be an option for this high-heat Pentium D processor, so I opted for watercooling, with a Thermaltake ProWater 850 kit. Once this was configured, the system would auto shut down after approx 30 minutes of prime95, as the northbridge was overheating, so I purchased the thermaltake northbridge waterblock.

Last night, I ran the system for 12 hours of prime95, reaching a max temp of 62C (this system idles at 52C), so everything is done...

I think I have the first watercooled, dual core 3.4GHz, x16 PCI-E GeForce 8500GT, 1.5TB SATA2 Commodore floppy drive ;)


Diskette is an old 5.25" Microsoft "Windows/286" installation disk:


Two 80mm Green LED fans pull hot air away from the dual Samsung 750GB SATA2 drives, mounted on a custom bracket:


Not much room inside, hoses are carefully ziptied, as to not kink and reduce water flow; original floppy bezel and diskette are held in by "Mighty Putty":


The complete setup, 24" Samsung widescreen LCD, Samsung external DVD-RW, the system also has a 15' USB repeater cable going to a desk on the other side of the room, with a Samsung CLP-315 color laserjet, and USB Cd organizer (Ziotek).


The system draws nearly 400W of power, as the Prowater is also powered by the 12V rail of the PSU, and the Pentium D is not the most efficient processor. With an external video card, dual fast HDD's, a power hungry CPU, a water pump, 120mm fan, dual 80mm fans, etc. any kind of low profile PSU was not going to power the system, I tried using a 24A 12V brick with a 200W PicoPSU, and the system wouldn't even post, so I finally opted to use a 460W 1U low profile server PSU, velcroed to the underside of the desk - the system has an ATX extension cable installed, so once on the desk, the extension cable is plugged into the 1U PSU. The radiator for the water cooling kit is also mounted on the back of the desk, using stand offs, to allow for better airflow.
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John did you do this stuff?

Now I know who to call for tech support! :biggrin:

I had the 'geek squad' do it

There were several steps, different thermal solutions, different power supplies, etc. - several times I found myself asking the question, will the result be worth it? While ordering additional parts ;)

Now that its assembled, working, and on my desk - it looks damn cool, and it scores respectable 3Dmark scores, gaming should be no issue. I would prefer a more powerful video card, but none are available in low profile. Galaxy (the company which makes the 8500GT I have installed now), is producing a low profile GeForce 9600GT, which should be out in the next few weeks... it will require an additional power connector, and its substantially longer, but I think I can fit it inside of my housing.

Right now, with the 8500GT overclocked significantly, I can score just north of 6000 3Dmarks, the average for my hardware is around 5000 3dmarks, the average for a 'power computer' is around 10000 - with the 9600GT, I should be able to score around 9500-10000 3Dmarks. At the moment, I can play all of the games I care about (Battlefield 2, etc.) at max resolution without lag, so I am happy - now the system doesn't overheat either ;-)