I was upgrading and swapping parts and watching videos and plotting and planning, and what I thought was going to be a pretty good setup for new or at least newish rigs for my son and me didn’t quite work out. It looked like a trip back to the drawing board was in order.
I liked the looks of the Cooler Master Elite 130 Mini-Itx enclosure and thought it would be perfect as a housing for a Customac Mini or Hackintosh. It had better airflow than the Apex 008 and it could hold three 3.5″ hard drives (if you omitted the optical drive) and one solid state drive. At least that was the way it was advertised.
I went with a modular power supply in the hopes of fitting everything neatly into the small enclosure. The plugs that power the motherboard are hard wired into the power supply box. They are fairly long and the nylon sleeving makes the cable as thick and flexible as a garden hose. I felt as if I was wrestling an anaconda as I tried to work the cable into what little space I had without blocking airflow. Once I got power and data cables plugged into their appropriate sockets, I realized that my plans for this box had to be scaled back in order to get the lid on and everything screwed back together. One of the hard drives had to go leaving me with the one mechanical drive bolted to the case’s floor and one SSD hung on the underside of the optical tray. The optical tray has the slack from the cables slopped into it negating the possibility of an optical drive or additional hard drives being placed there. I went to the expense, time and trouble wrestling with this box only to gain one hard drive. It wasn’t worth it. It’s working, and it’s running, but it’s not ideal.
Meanwhile, Lloyd’s rig was crammed into an Apex MI-008 enclosure which an inexpensive and a nice little case that comes complete with a 250W power supply, but it also has room for only one hard drive. As you may notice in the above picture, there are two MinStack hard drive enclosures containing SATA hard drives that I pulled from Lloyd’s Dual G4 containing his music, videos and all of the stuff he likes. It seemed like a nice setup, right? Then the little fans kicked in on the hard drive enclosures, and they are more annoying than I thought they would be.
The other thing I noticed as I sat at my son’s desk is that I could hear the fans on this rig. I turned off the external hard drives to make sure, and I could hear either the power supply’s fan or the cooler mounted atop the CPU chip or both. Of course it is getting warmer, but I started to worry. It’s a cramped enclosure with not a whole lot of airflow.
Back in the late ’90s I worked in a service bureau that had wall-to-wall work-stations and a lousy air conditioning system. I remember the hard drives failing one after another in three relatively new Power Mac 7300’s. It may have been a bad lot since the machines were bought around the same time, but the environment wasn’t helping matters, and the machines were kept on 24 hours a day although they didn’t need to be. Hey, it was the 90s.
My son can be pretty tough on his computers so a reconfiguration was in order. I thought I’d spend a little money to save a lot more money on the other side. I also decided to ditch the cute and tiny form factor cases for something a little roomier.
This is the Corsair Carbide Spec-01 mid-tower case which is modestly priced but packed with features. I went for it because it will take an ATX, Micro-ATX or a Min-ITX motherboard; it’s got a lot better airflow than the smaller cases: it will take four 3.5″ hard-drives; cable management is a lot easier, and it’s cheap! Yes, it’s big and inelegant compared to some of the Mini-ITX cases, but this has the potential of growing beyond a Mini-ITX board.
NEXT TIME: I put it together. We’ll see how it goes. Stay tuned!