Bringing Back the Dead
When my PC wouldn’t boot one day, I decided to upgrade most of its parts because I wanted a new system anyway. My focus for awhile was on building that machine up and enjoying it. See that build HERE.
Now that we’re a bit removed from that, let’s see if we can revive the “dead” PC so all those parts don’t go to waste. But first things first, let’s give some background, so you can understand the purpose and theme of this build.
- Use “Media Cube” as my media server instead of my main PC.
- Allow my main PC in the bedroom to sleep and not have to be constantly on as media server.
- Utilize PC for browsing and other activities in the study (eventually when I upgrade my GPU it will get my GTX 1080 and be a decent secondary gaming PC in its own right).
- Ensure the PC somewhat fit in with current aesthetic of the room, which has a kind of an old world/library vibe.
- Re-purpose old parts and buy minimal new hardware.
- Where new parts are required, keep the cost low since this isn’t my primary PC.
It’s a small but cozy room that I retire to whenever I want to read. When you see some of the room elements, it’ll help to understand the choices I made.
I really wanted to do something new and unique with this build. I had started looking at test benches to try and test components but the nice ones were just as expensive as a case. In my searching I stumbled across the Cooler Master HAF XB EVO which had a removable motherboard tray and could be used as a test bench. The more I explored the features, the more I realized how ideal it would be for my media center. With 2 hot-swap hard drive bays, and space for 2 more hard drives and an optical drive, I could move all my hard disks from my primary PC to this one and still rip my Blu-rays. It also had ample airflow and space for my 240mm AIO. Once I started building in this case, I had a lot of fun. With the 3 removable side panels, removable motherboard tray, roomy interior, and cable management features, this was by far the easiest build I’ve ever done, but more on that later.
For this build I’m using my old Core i7-4790K quad core OCed to 4.4 Ghz on all cores.
RAM is 16GB of Corsair Vengeance DDR3 2400.
Motherboard is a Gigabyte GA‑Z97X‑SLI.
I’m stealing one of my SSDs from my other PC for the Windows drive so it’ll be running on a 250GB Samsung 850 EVO.
For cooling I’ll use the Thermaltake Water 3.0 RGB 240mm AIO that I had from when I upgraded to the Kraken X62.
Since this is a media center build, no GPU was added and I’m using Intel’s integrated graphics. When the 1180? 2080? comes out I plan on moving my current GTX 1080 to this machine.
I didn’t have a power supply, so in addition to the case, I had to spend some money here. In keeping with the budget/hand-me-down theme of the build, I threw in a Corsair CX650M bronze.
For media, I moved the 3 Toshiba X300 drives in 4, 5, and 6TB variants over to the Media Cube. Blu-ray drive was also moved so I can rip my movies to it.
I forgot to take pictures before I put the motherboard tray on, but here you can see the SSD hiding above the 6TB hard drive, as well as the controller for the AIO. I’ll be running this in silent mode all the time and keeping it at red, so no need for quick access to this (though it’s easy enough to get to with the side panel off).
Here’s the power supply hanging out, as well as the 4 and 5TB hard drives in their hot-swap “X-Dock” bays. There’s room for an absolutely massive power supply given the PSU protrusion from the back of the case.
Easy hard drive install and access. Blu-ray drive.
The fans that came with the case were removed to install the 240mm radiator.
One of the fans was relocated to the back for heat exhaust.
The PCI-E network card I had lying around wasn’t good enough to get a media-streaming-level signal from my router downstairs on the other side of the house, so I spent some more money here and bought another Asus 4×4 PCE-AC88 Wifi card. This gave it a blazing fast, rock solid connection.
I bought a red LED Cooler Master 200mm fan to go in the top for extra exhaust. Definitely overkill for now, but once I put a GPU inside, it should keep things nice and cool while still being ninja silent.
The Perfect Piece
While looking for a table to set this on so it wouldn’t be on the floor, I stumbled across this table at World Market that fit with the room aesthetic. I measured it and it was a perfect fit for the Media Cube. Score. Bonus: it gave me a nice spot to store my cameras and lenses.
Old meets new.
For those wondering how I got this machine alive again, well it really wasn’t bad, after a lot of trial and error. After playing with different RAM sticks and different RAM configurations, getting it to boot into Windows, but then failing to POST on the next boot… I discovered my motherboard will no longer function with Fast Boot enabled. This was actually default enabled on my BIOS, and used to work fine. When I disabled this, everything worked as normal and the machine boots constantly without issues. Now, this is probably something I should have figured out a long time ago, but I never really tried very hard, as I used it as an excuse to build my new Ryzen system. Ha.
After getting Windows installed, it was just a matter of restoring my Plex database and we were in business.
It All Comes Together
WALL-E lives! I thought with the box shape and the round eyes it kinda fit.
After the way this turned out, I couldn’t just have it running on my crappy testing keyboard and mouse. I decided to buy some nice, mid-range budget peripherals. Enter Corsair K55 keyboard and Logitech G602 wireless mouse. I also had 2 Samsung SyncMaster 2343BWX 2048×1152 monitors hooked up to a Surface Pro docking station, so those will be the monitors for this PC.
The new furniture worked nicely with the room and my hand-built shelves.
I’m very pleased with how this turned out, and it made a functional room even more functional. I now find myself using this PC more than my main one when I’m just browsing the internet, because I like hanging out in this room.
Including the table, all in all I spent about $500 to prevent the waste of hundreds of dollars of parts and add some functionality to another space in my house. I’d say it was well worth it.
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