Small Form Factor Build Log

The aftermath of an upgrade – some kit is just too good for a hard waste collection but not good enough for ebay. That’s right folks, this isn’t bleeding edge gear but who doesn’t like a build log?

I was pondering what to do with my previous home server, having built a brand spanking new one. It was still ok but I didn’t have a need for it or any of it’s components anymore. Originally, I’d built the previous server out of a retired gaming case and some HTPC parts. It served me well until I had to start rendering videos and running the odd virtual machine – at this point the Dual Core AMD processor started to reach its limitations.

Like any enthusiast, I can’t bring myself to toss out gear that still has some life left in it. My search to find a suitable home for the redundant kit didn’t take long – a friend had a need for a low level research workstation/print server. As a photo journalist, he was after a PC that could be permanently connected to his scanner/printers, store backups of his laptops and also handle print jobs from the wireless devices in his house.  No gaming here apart from the odd Solitaire or Minesweeper but any build is good practice and an excuse to tinker.

The Skeleton In the Closet

I had thrown my previous server together in a hurry, done absolutely no cable management and left it in the corner of my office to serve its purpose. Unloved and never really finished properly, this server didn’t miss a beat for almost 3 years and when I pulled it out of the corner I realised the shame of my build effort and ongoing maintenance. See the photos below of how not to cable a PC build. *facepalm*

The specifications of my previous server were:


  • Gigabyte Aurora 3D 570 case
  • AMD 64 Athlon X2 4800 CPU
  • Gigabyte M-ATX GA-MA78GM-S2H motherboard
  • Kingston 4x1GB DDR2 800 RAM
  • Corsair HX-620 PSU
  • ASUS DVD R/W drive
  • Shintaro – Memory card reader
  • Generic  PCI-E 1.0 SATA II controller
  • Cooler Master 4-in-3 HDD cage
  • Welland removable 3.5″ drive bay
  • 6 storage HDDs
IMG 4605

The Gigabyte 3D Aurora 570 with the front door open to reveal a DVD drive, the Cooler Master 4 in 3 drive cage, a Welland 3.5” removable drive bay and a Shintaro multi memory card reader.

IMG 4588

Side view of the case with the window panel installed. This case also comes with an interchangeable mesh panel. Unfortunately, the mesh panel lets the dust in but if you are OC’ing it’s good for temps.

IMG 4595

The shame of my rushed cable job that I never came back to, granted, I removed a few drives when building the new server but it wasn’t much better when operational.

Straight away, you can see the miss-match – I have a small form factor motherboard in a big heavy PC case – but it worked like a charm when in service.


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