I have been collecting the needed components for this workstation for a few months now and finally everything is coming together. Some of the particular parts I wanted for various reasons were out of stock at Amazon for quite a while. Some of the other parts I had not yet decided on but finally got the right parts.
As I went over in my previous post, Micro ATX Workstation Build, I chose to use the Silverstone SG04B-FH case. The two striking elements of this case that I really like are the handle and its compact size. It is the best engineered Micro ATX case I have seen and yet, is only slight larger than the footprint of the motherboard. The full photo set of my assembly today can be found on Flickr.
I also received the Seasonic X-660 today and have a few photos of its unboxing. I have to say, I have never before received a power supply that came in its own satin bag. I am very impressed with everything about the power supply including its packaging.
Having a modular power supply is also a huge advantage in a small case. There is no reason to have to tie up unused cables that simply get in the way.
I am impressed that this card is fairly compact compared to some of the other 6870 designs out there. Although a close fit it was not too tight.
With everything stuffed into the case and ready to put the side panel back on.
With the side panel back on ready to go.
Issues and Solutions
There are a couple of current problems I have to deal with in the case setup. First is that the power supply cables are too long. Seasonic designed the cables to be very high quality and work in all sorts of cases which means they fit in large cases too. This does not work so well for a super compact case. To rectify that problem, I ordered the Silverstone PP05 Short Cable Set for PSU. The set should arrive on Thursday and then I can get to work cleaning out the extra cables. I may also end up ordering some shorter SATA cables if I do not already have enough in my parts from previous projects.
The other thing I found out is that the PowerColor Radeon 6870 card requires “Active” Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapters. I was already aware of this requirement but was under the impression that Apple’s Mini DisplayPort to DVI adapter was an active adapter. In fact, I found an Apple FAQ entry dealing with this exact question.
I am not sure what the issue might be or perhaps the adapters I had in my stuff are much older and not actually active adapters. In my reading it does seem that not all “active” adapters are universally compatible. In any case, I ordered two StarTech MDP2DVIS Mini DisplayPort to DVI Active Adapters. I have already used the DP2DVIS version for using the DisplayPort output on my motherboard and it works perfectly.
While “active” adapters are not really required, if you do not have “active” adapters, you cannot use more than two monitors on the card. If I am stuck with that I might as well go back to integrated graphics. Because I do not really need high performance graphics, the primary motivation of moving to a discrete graphics card was the ability to drive four monitors.
The Next Step
As soon as I move some files around, my hard drive configuration inside the case will change. The dual 1TB Hitachi drives will be out and possibly replaced with a WD Caviar Black 2TB drive I already own. I currently have my OWC Mercury Extreme Pro 3G 40GB SSD installed along with the Toshiba MK1059GSM 1TB 2.5-inch hard drive installed.
I would like to take the system SSD only. I am still undecided on whether I should do that at this point. I am still waiting for my Intel Core i7 2700K processor to show up in stock as well. Once the monitor adapter problem is solved, I will be hooking up two to four 1920x1080 monitors and possibly a 2048x1152 monitor. Depending on how well all of that works, I may opt for three more 2048x1152 monitors and forego the 1920x1080 monitors entirely for this system.
I will have more pictures in a few days when I have cleaned up the cables sufficiently and removed the extra hard drives. I will also make prodigious use of zip ties now that I know how everything will fit.