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Old 24-04-17, 02:23 AM
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Qamra, My 'PayItForward' Project

Hello all, mb67 here, and first I want to apologize for this lengthy intro, but I wanted to share a project build I completed a couple of months ago.

I kind of need to explain a little background before I go forward with the thought process of this build: Last year a neighbor who knew that I was "One of those computer techie types" (His words) approached me with an old Dell Optiplex 780 and said that it doesn't work but if I could get it to work, I could have it. Well challenge accepted! It turns out that that it just had one 2GB RAM stick that was bad, a Core 2Duo processor, and an old-but-dead 80GB 5400 RPM HDD. I ordered 8GB of DDR3 RAM, used a spare 128GB SSD, and found a Core 2 Quad 9550 online for super cheap and got the system running for a grand total of $85. Since I really didn't need this system (My main rig is pretty stout) I found a local charity group that gives computers to kids of low-income families and gave it to them. I felt so good about doing that, that I decided to find out more about other charities and came across #payitforward.

TL;DR - 'Fixer-upper' project turned into charitable work going forward.

This is where I come into 'Qamra', a project build that didn't start out the way it wound up. Originally, this was going to be a "slap a bunch of decent lower-end parts into a case and give it away' build, but as things usually happen with me it morphed into a more involved and costly project for an artist friend of mine who was in need of a computer upgrade.

I live in Southern California so when Paul (from Paul's Hardware) & Kyle (from BitWit) announced their 'Swap Meet' back in November I decided to drive up there and see what I could find. I wound up buying Paul's Fractal Design Node 804 for $20 and was going to use that as a basis for the build.
My one and only picture from the event-Jay (JayzTwoCents) talking to a squinting Paul while Kyle looks unsure of what's going on.


It was then that my artist friend asked for some computer advice and I found out that his 10 year old system was on it's last leg and he couldn't afford to get anything new, and the light bulb lit in my head that this 'pay-it-forward build' was going to be for him.

'Qamra', a character that he created, is 'small but mighty' so that was going to be the theme for this build.

I found out that the Node 804 wasn't going to work for his desk/setup situation so I decided to get the Corsair Carbide 88R Micro-ATX case, as it was small and also had a slot for an optical drive (requirement). Since I made that change, I decided to make other changes along the way.

Parts List:
Corsair Carbide 88R Micro ATX Case
Intel i5 6600K Processor
MSI Z170M Mortar mATX board
Cryorig H7 CPU Cooler
G. SKILL Ripjaw V DDR4 16GB Kit RAM (2 x 8GB )
Gigabyte GTX 1070 Mini GPU
LG Blu-Ray Burner
SanDisk Ultra II 250GB SSD
Toshiba 3TB HDD
Corsair AF 120 x 6 case fans
EVGA G3 550W PSU
CableMod custom cables
Custom made transfer decals of the artist's work

Whew, that got out of hand quickly

Anyway, since Qamra is the theme, I used her three main hair colors: Blue, Green, & Pink and expanded upon that.

First thing was to paint the fan rings and intake vents blue, green & pink to try and color match the custom cables & decals:





Next is the CPU and H7 Cooler



I'll stop here for now, but more will be on the way soon.

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Old 24-04-17, 04:23 AM
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Nice work interested to see finished result
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Old 24-04-17, 05:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Excalabur50 View Post
Nice work interested to see finished result
Thanks!

I'm going to upload a little more right now.
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Old 24-04-17, 05:33 AM
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Okay, so once the paint dried and tape removed this is what the vents looked like:


A couple of shots of the fans installed


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Old 24-04-17, 05:40 AM
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Hehehe, I even did the Blu-Ray Burner



Mobo/CPU Cooler installed. Notice the G.SKILL RAM lettering is colorized too. :P
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Old 24-04-17, 04:15 PM
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OK, so at this point it's time to get the cabling in place on the board, but I ran into a snag: The case's USB 3.0 cable won't plug into the board header because the header is angled at 90 degrees, which conflicts with the thickness of the cable itself and the cutout in the case for cable pass-through. I'd have to either take a Dremel to the case cutout, get a different motherboard with a vertical 3.0 header, not use the cable at all, replace the cable with one more friendly, or use a low-profile USB 3.0 header extender cable, which is exactly what I did.


I ran into another problem: the label on the side of the PSU didn't want to come off so easily, but I eventually got it.


Everything started to look like it was coming together when I ran into my next couple of hurdles: First, the pre-drilled SSD mounts are configured to mount the SSD's on the backside of the case, and I didn't want it that way. The included SSD/HDD screws were too short, but luckily I had some leftover screws from my other builds and i was able to secure the SSD facing the interior side of the case.

The next hurdle was my error in ordering the custom cables way too long in relation to the case layout/PSU location. There simply was way too much excess cabling that didn't have a place to stack neatly, and the case didn't nearly enough room on the backside to tuck them away. Also, the case cutout for the 8-pin EPS cable was impossible to route the cable through the backside of the case so I had to route it through the front side . Fortunately the top fans hide most of the cable from view.

This picture also shows just how little room there is for cables to pass through the openings to the motherboard. Needless to say I wasn't liking the case very much at this point.



I wasn't happy with the way the cables were routed so I tore it apart and redid them, only to get more frustrated with the too long cables & lack of space for pass through. I am glad that I went with the Gigabyte 1070 mini at this point, as I would have had a more difficult time getting the 8-pin PCI-E cable routed. I also had to remove the fan that I originally had on the backside of the CPU cooler - there simply wasn't enough room to work with it.



She boots! I was just playing around with the BIOS getting the RAM to 3000MHz and the CPU to 4.4GHz in this photo, but I eventually was able to OC the CPU to 4.7GHz stable.


I was waiting on some more decals to arrive as the interior was looking a little sparse, so once they arrived The SSD and PSU got the decal treatment. Also, time became my enemy and I had to deliver the system to my friend. I wanted to go back and tidy up the cables a bit more to my liking, but I just ran out of time.I do like the colored anodized aluminum thumb screws for the HDD cage and side panels though.



Put together, she looks really nice. Overall I'm happy with the way it turned out, and my friend absolutely loves it, which makes this project a total success!





Comparison shot next to my main rig -

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Old 24-04-17, 11:42 PM
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Wow that looks pretty wicked
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Old 25-04-17, 12:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Excalabur50 View Post
Wow that looks pretty wicked
Thanks! I really did enjoy the whole process even with the complications. It inspired me to totally redo my build, and I'm in the process of getting the parts together for that.
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