Mikes Custom

Power in a Small Package

About a year ago, I built a small PC that I refer to as my Utility PC.  It was setup for a multitude of things such as recording my security cameras, running my home automation, managing iTunes using iHomeserver, Photostream, and handled my Eye-Fi.  In addition to all these tasks, I was also using streaming software to stream video to my mobile devices.  For the most part everything worked perfectly, however because of these apps running, media transcoding was less than efficient.  During transcoding, it was not uncommon to see the CPU climb to 90%+, and to watch  most of the 4Gig of RAM get used up.  To cut to chase, I realized that it was time for an upgrade.  The parts I selected where based on the balance of power and power efficiency.  I wanted to keep the total system draw under 60 Watts as the system runs 24/7, but I wanted enough CPU headroom for now as well as the future.

I opted for the Z68 chipset not because I needed it, but rather for standardization, future proofing, and because I got a great deal on it.  My only requirement was that it by MicroATX, and have Sata 3 to exploit the full potential of the Force 3 SSD drive.

The Gigabyte Z68MX-UD2H-B3

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Of course if you are looking for more power but not much more out of the wall, the Core I5-2500 is a great choice.  My idle performance with everything except transcoding was 54 Watts out of the wall.  Not bad for this much power.

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To keep things running cool in inside I used a Cooler Master Gemini II S which I had in my inventory which is an awesome cooler and very quiet.

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Results after running at idle for 1 day.

Utility Temp

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For storage I used a Corsair Force 3 120G and a 2T WD Green Drive for recording space for my security cameras, as well as temp files and other required storage needed by the system.

The Corsair Force 3

Force 3 Picture  Utility -Force 3

Nicely packed in the Lian-Li PC-V354b.

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Conclusion

When all was completed, I must say that I am very happy with the result.  The system is noticeably faster using transcoding, iTunes, and most software that I use on it.  The extra performance of the Force 3 over the original drive is very noticeable, and of course the CPU now barely breaks a sweat.  I have yet to see it go over 60%.  In addition, the upgrade despite the huge increase in CPU power and the addition of a 2T hard drive, only increased my wattage out of the wall by about 8 watts.  This system with all the software running except for transcoding, draws about 54 watts out of the wall.

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