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PROJECT LOG Building desk PC, looking for input on current design

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1.21_gigawatts

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Jan 1, 2017
Howdy everyone. New member here, been stumbling upon overclockers a few times while doing some research into my current project. Been building and customizing PC's since I was around the age of 12 or 13, and I'm 29 now (wow that makes me feel old when phrases like "over a decade" start coming to mind...), so although I'm not fully up to speed on all the newest tech, I'm no newbie either.

I've been throwing the idea around about building a desk with my PC built into it for some time now (actually have wanted to do such a thing for a long time now, but have only recently been getting things together to actually do it), and have recently acquired a piece of glass to use for the project, so I set off on the design! I'm planing it around my current PC internals since I have no performance issues at all with it, but I am going to do some minor upgrades when everything gets put together.

Currently specs are:

Antec 902 case
Corsair CX750M PSU
Asus M5A97 R2.0 mobo
AMD FX 8350 Black Edition CPU
16gb (2 x 8gb) Kingston HyperX Fury RAM
1tb Crucial SSD
Sapphire Radeon HD 6970 2gb GPU

The computer performs outstandingly well for myself, aside from the GPU... When I build the desk, I plan to upgrade, current plan is a Sapphire Radeon RX 480 8gb, unless someone could recommend an alternative around the same $200-$250 price bracket that would outperform it. I'm also going to double up the RAM and throw in another matching pair of the 16gb (2 x 8gb) Kingston HyperX Fury. And although not needed, I will most likely toss the stock AMD CPU cooler and put something atop it that's a little more pleasing to look at through the glass top, and will obviously help temps out, although I don't have issues with them now. Everything is running at stock clock and I have no intentions on pushing that.

Airflow is one thing I've been concerned about in this desk build, since I do not plan on water cooling the setup. So far in the current design I have two 120mm intakes on the front that will have screen grills over them to keep dust down. Those will be the only air intakes. The desk will be sealed on the corners unlike most PC cases, so any air that enters the case/desk will come through those cleanable filters, so dust should be easy to control. Inside where will be two more 120mm fans to redirect and push the air around, and finally where will be two 120mm exhaust fans on the rear to pull air out of the desk, as well as an 80mm exhaust just behind where the CPU will be on the mobo to help pull that hot air out quickly. I'm hoping this layout will create just a little negative pressure inside to scavenge the hot air out. The way the PSU will be mounted, the fan on it will have no effect on the airflow. The back section of the desk will actually be open, so all the hot air will not be trapped, and this also gives me a great place to store cables and even a power strip, so it should make for a pretty clean setup in the end.

All the fans will be on a speed controller mounted to a box built onto the top of the desk on the left side towards the back, so I'll be able to leave everything at idle speeds to keep it quiet, but crank them up if needed when things start warming up. In that box just above the speed controller, I'll have some switches mounted to control LED internal lights, as well as a car stereo that will be mounted in a box on the right side of the desk. Connected to that car stereo will be a pair of car audio 5.25" coax speakers. I'll be using an audio input on the back of the car stereo connected to the audio output of the mobo for sound. The LED lights and car stereo I will be powering off an XBox 360 power supply (if you've never messed with them before, they're an easy way to get a solid clean 12v power supply up to about 30 amps). I MIGHT try to implement some sort of sub woofer into the audio system, but I'm unsure as of yet. My first plan was to run the 12v accessories off the Corsair PSU, but I know how voltage can drop in car audio when the volume gets turned up (I'm a gear-head as well; fast cars, lowered cars, big trucks, loud systems, I'm into it all), so instead of introducing fluctuating power into the mobo, I thought it would be best (and safer) to put the 12v accessories on their own isolated power supply.

No optical drive at all. I cannot remember the last time I put a CD/DVD into my desktop... Don't need it for music burning, I load music onto a USB drive and plug that into the radio in my truck. Don't need it to burn DVD's, I use Kodi on a Raspberry Pi for my media in the living room and bedroom. I have a USB CD/DVD drive for my netbook that I could hook up if I ever need to...

I DO want to find a spot to incorporate some USB ports and a headphone jack. I may do that with the switch panel for the lighting and stereo since I don't need but 2 switches for that, so I'll have some room to plan with in that panel.

Lastly, I'd like some input on what to do with the empty space inside the desk now! On either side of the mobo I have an area that's 11.5 x 9 (about the side of a sheet of paper) that will be completely open and barren! I know most that do this sort of build water cool their setup, and that would be the ideal places for reservoirs, pumps, etc. My first though, to bring my other passion into the build, would be to place some good quality scale model cars down in there :) but I'm open to ideas. Good thing is, whatever I put down there will be easily swapped out since all I'll need to do is lift the glass and swap it out.

Sorry for the long post, but if you made it all the way through, I look forward to any feedback! Thanks!


topdown1.jpg


front2.jpg



Using AutoCAD, I plan to do a little more modeling before I actually put any wood to a saw. It's super nice to be able to virtually plan it out. I tried to draw it out on paper first. After changing ideas and tossing out about 12 sheets of paper, I decided to use AutoCAD instead lol. Took 3 years of design in HS, it's finally paying off :p
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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And this is why I like using AutoCAD to play with the design. After browsing Newegg and eBay, I found a way to incorporate some USB inputs, audio jacks, even a card reader. Also some switches for stereo power, LED lights power, and fan speed controls, all into the left box.

The lower will be mounted as is, I'm certain I'll have to extend ALL of the wires, not a big deal. And the upper will be a 5.25 to 3.5 bay adapter, the 3.5 4 fan speed controller will be mounted into it, and on either side in the blank area I'll drill and mount two switches to control the LED lights and stereo off the 12 volts from the XBox 360 power supply.

leftbox1.jpg
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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I'm also trying to decide which edging I like better; rounded to angled. I'm leaning towards angled... Neither is harder than the other, just have to put the right bit in the router :p

boxcorners1.jpg
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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Minor update. I chose and brought home the stereo head unit I plan to use. I work in an auto salvage yard so car audio stuff is relatively easy for me to come by :)

Alpine CDA-9886

The blue lighting will go great with the rest of the lighting I plan to add :)


rightbox1.jpg
 

Blaylock

"That Backfired" Senior Member
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Go Blue!
Welcome to the forums 1.21!

The main concern I would have with this design is the lack of leg/chair space. Most "successful" Desk PC builds will include a cut-out or height change to accommodate the users legs. Here is an example of what I mean. This is a Google image and not my own. Otherwise it looks pretty nice. I'm excited to see how it turns out.

desk.jpg
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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It does :) In the first picture of the first post, the area in front of the mobo (bottom of the photo is the front of the desk), that is open underneath, the glass covers the area but that is all. It's 3 foot wide, only 8 inches deep, not a super deep cut-out, but it should be enough to scoot up to the desk and even tuck a chair under it some
 

Vishera

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Jul 7, 2013
Subbed! Welcome to the forums. :)

So this is the new fad now, huh? I might have to get into this later this year or next year, budget permitting...
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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Just something I've always wanted to do :) I remember having zero to little money in high school, but I had a Compaq desktop and a desk, and I always thought about gutting it and mounting the internals to the bottom and back side of the desk, laying the CD drive just on the top or something, so that the computer was part of the desk. The computer itself was nothing to write home about, it would have just been a neat thing to do lol. I never did do it, although that is about the time I started playing around with cutting side windows and lighting the inside up with LED's. But then I got my driver's license and my focus and money went towards my other passion in life, cars :p

Now being older and a little wiser (I like to think so anyhow), I have the time, money, a little more know-how, and a wife that actually likes to see my chase and achieve my goals, so this project will finally start to take shape :D


Have done a little more design changes. The center viewable area will have a 1/2" strip along the top so that I can hide LED's around the inside edge and be hidden from the top, so only the light glow emitted will be seen. In my first setup, this had that 1/2" strip simply added on and took up some of the viewing space. I redesigned the area a little so that the viewing space through the glass now has a straight line from the area the components will be in and the cut out area that is empty underneath that my chair and legs will go. Should be a little more pleasing to the eye I think, instead of the uneven lines. Have also started angling some of the edges that I mentioned before, and I think I'm going to carry the angling to a few other ares as well. I will also be routing a 1/2 angled bevel around the fan intake areas as well to make it look a little better and make the air flow a little better with less turbulence as well.

I'll be putting together a 3D rendering soon to to get a better idea on what the end product will look like. Then I can start getting my cuts planned out, gather the wood, and get to cutting! :D


The blue shaded area is where the glass will be able to be seen directly though. The shaded area that's just darkened on the left and right and the beam through the center will just be black. I'm leaning towards lining those areas, as well as the entire internal area where the components go, with black felt.

topdown2.jpg


front3.jpg
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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Couple design updates

For starters I realized I used the wrong measurements for the drive bay sized openings on the left side for the card reader / front panel assembly and the fan speed controller, so I had to open those up a little bit. But it helped me out because I also realized that I hadn't put power and reset buttons anywhere on the dang thing yet :p so they found a spot in the same panel right under the switches for the audio system and lighting.

leftbox2.jpg




I also acquired a different radio to use in the system. Because every desk should have navigation...

But in reality I want to pipe a video signal to one of the video inputs on the back, would make neat second display if someone could recommend a program that could use a second monitor to just display things like temps and what-not :)

rightbox2.jpg




Lastly, here's some pictures of the current setup, and the guts I plan to transplant into the desk during the build, minus the stock CPU cooler, upgraded GPU, and doubling up the RAM

Don't mind the dust... she's due for a cleaning... And my phone takes terrible low-light pictures...

20170109_190929.jpg


20170109_191038.jpg


20170109_191048.jpg




Also the radio :p

20170109_191508.jpg
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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So there hasn't been much happening with this other than some rethinking. Funds have opened up a little more, and I'm considering water cooling :) With that, I will probably end up redesigning the entire desk...

This would be my first venture into water cooling, and I've been doing a lot of research... I have a growing list of parts to built a custom loop for the FX8350 and the RX480 (changing to a reference card so I can use a full coverage block), but the end parts list is going to depend on how I decide to redesign the desk, because I need to figure out how to accommodate the radiators. In the end I want to have no less than 4 120mm fan sized radiators (in whatever configuration, be that two dual 120mm or 4 individual 120mm), but possibly will end up with more than that. I want the fans to run SLOW as I'm aiming towards a silent setup more than I am for pure temps, since I'm not looking at overclocking.
 

Dlaw

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Apr 26, 2012
Location
New York, USA
Well, here's a couple of things:

Car audio equipment is really not designed for open spaces, and I honestly think you'll be disappointed with the audio if you run it like that. However, there are sites like this that sell essentially replacement speakers for prebuilt cabinets, which is basically what you need. I have no idea how they would sound driven by a car stereo/amp though.

Also, you'll want more than 480 (4x120)mm worth of radiator in your setup. Those 8350s are hot, even at stock, and if I'm not mistaken so are RX480s. I'd probably go with 6x120 worth if you want to run the fans low, though 5x120 would probably be fine. I would grab a 240 and 360 or two 360s.
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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By open spaces are you referring to the physical room the desk/PC will be in, or the configuration they will be mounted into the desk? Each speaker is going to be mounted in it's own small sealed enclosure, they are not sharing airspace with the rest of the desk internal. I've ran car audio speakers in a small sealed box off a car audio head unit with a 12v power supply (converted an old ATX power supply for it) for my garage and it sounded great, and worked great until the power supply failed :p My original plan was actually to use component speakers to separate the mid drivers from the tweeters, but I'd have to make the boxes even larger and I'm trying to avoid doing that and taking up space on the top of the desk.

I also have an 8" sub in a small box in the garage that I might try to incorporate, maybe mounted to the bottom of the desk towards the back, so that the two smaller full range speakers wouldn't be responsible for the lower frequencies. I would either have to find a small amp (~200w) to run off the 12v power supply to push it (which I'm not certain if the XBox power supply will be able to handle the load of it AND the head unit...), or find a lower wattage dvc sub to put in it and drive it directly off the rear channels of the head unit because the Kicker 8" in it now requires too much power and it's only a single voice coil, and you can't just bridge the rear channels off the head unit, as convenient as that would be...

Yes that occurred to me too, and I'll probably end up with at least two 360's; pass thru one before the CPU and then the other before going to the GPU, maybe, haven't gotten into that part of the planning stage yet lol
 
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Dlaw

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Location
New York, USA
I was referring to the room it is going in. It likely depends on the equipment you use, but generally car audio has to be more compact than home audio equipment, and thus will not usually sound as good as home audio speakers in the same price range.

I wouldn't mount a sub to the desk itself, moving parts like the HDDs and pumps will wear quicker I'd imagine.
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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I wouldn't be so worried too much about the HDD as it's a SSD, but the moving parts of the water pump would be a concern I suppose...
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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Would there be any issues having two 360 radiators on the back that are pulling air out of the desk/case and thru the radiators, and NO intake fans, just 2 or 4 fan size holes cut on the front with grills over them to allow for passive intake? So that would be 6 fans pulling air out of the desk and NO intake fans at all. Would DEFINITELY give it negative pressure, should scavenge all the air from inside pretty quick even with the fans slowed down. Keep in mind, I plan on sealing all the joints as best as I can, so hopefully dust wouldn't build up too bad at the seams...

Working on a new design, trying to squeeze the radiators in there is proving to be the most difficult part... I originally had it planned with two 240's and two 120's, but it's MUCH cheaper to just do two 360's...
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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Also, will a single D5 pump be enough to push water through two 360's, a CPU block, GPU block, and maybe 6ft of tubing? On the plus side, everything is laid out horizontally so there's not much vertical lift the pump has to deal with.
 

Blaylock

"That Backfired" Senior Member
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Yes you can use only exhaust fans. The bad side to this approach are hot spots that don't get the required air circulation, Ususally corners of the case/desk. Also in a highly negative pressure case like you're building it would be a good idea to use filters along with grills for the intakes. If it were my design I would make provisions for intake fans in the event they are necessary. You won't know that until it's complete and can check temps.

A single D5 pump should have no problems with that loop.
 
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1.21_gigawatts

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Okay cool :) yeah I had thought about putting filters on those intake openings actually, and the spot I was thinking about putting them I could definitely put a fan there too if it ended up needing them. I'll have to upload a screen shot of the current re-design tonight when I get home from work, but the current setup really has no parts in the corners of the desk/case to heat soak. The motherboard is centered sort of how it is in the old design and the 360's rads will be to the left and right of it along the back wall (same plane as the IO shield), and aside from the SSD which I have yet to figure out a place for, the only other things that'll be in there is the pump and the res, as well as the tubing, which I still haven't decided on a location for either, but that might be something that I'll develop a better layout for once I have the desk constructed and have the parts to actually lay in place and see how it looks and balances out.

Yeah I wasn't sure if I should go with a larger pump, or use dual pumps, separate loops, etc., I'd much rather have one loop pushed by a single pump. At the moment the plan is to route res to pump, pump to one 360 rad, that rad to the CPU, from the CPU to the other 360 rad, then from that rad to the GPU, then from the GPU back to the res, repeat. With a mechanical flow meter thrown in line somewhere for a little "flare" and visual on water flow.

Hard tubing would be cool, but for my first dive into water cooling, I think it'll be flexible tubing for the sake of easier setup...