Home Theatre PC - The Build

Well the build went quite well. I encountered two problems:

The Intel Atom A330 ION motherboard had two prongs for the Power LED, but the Lian-Li PC-C37 case had a cable for a three prong connector. The cable on has two wires, so I got around this issue by levering up the plastic catch holding one of the cables and moved it into the middle connector, which then fitted the motherboard fine, just with the now vacant connector overlapping the connectors.

The second problem that I encountered was the question of which way up the PSU should go. Normally an ATX PSU sits at the top of a tower case with the fan downwards, pulling the hot air out of the case. In a desktop (horizontal) PC this is never going to be as effective. With my case, there is no space below the PSU, so that the fan would be drawing air from nowhere and exhausting it out the back of the PC. Not only will this not cool the case, it will also burn the PSU in a very short time. By mounting the PSU upside down, the cool air should be drawn in from outside, via the top vent, cooling the PSU and exhausting out the back. This does mean that the PSU is not helping to cool the case, but at least it is not adding heat into the case.

Unfortunately, mounting the PSU upside down has meant that the power cables are furthest from the motherboard, with the result that the main 24-pin lead does not reach. It seems that extension leads are available, and I’m to have a go at getting one from Maplin in Guildford today.

This lack of PSU fan cooling for the case does mean that we are very reliant on the two case fans. The case does allow for several more case fans if necessary, although the Intel Atom processor shouldn’t be generating too much heat.

Hopefully the following should be a slideshow of the build. I’m sorry to say that I didn’t take many interim photos, so this slideshow is rather a before/after:

These days building PCs is not a black art - the connectors are all labelled - and the motherboards generally have a helpful manual detailing exactly what goes where. Building a PC is primarily a challenge from the perspective of making sure that you buy compatible components and that you design in sufficient cooling.

With luck my next post will be the power-up and install of Kubuntu 10.04 with MythTV!

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