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A case of G4 Cube fever

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So I just built my first Hackintosh in February - very boring.... NZXT H2 case, ga-z68a-d3h-b3 board, i5-2500k, Sapphire 6850, 16gb corsair blue ram, apple BT (salvaged from old MacBook) .... Basically a generic first Hack. I made use of this forum for a lot of help n getting Lion to work but all the piecing together was basic.

Now I find myself wanting to go a little further down the rabbit hole and make a G4 Cube Hack. I was hoping to get a little feedback guidance from some of you Cube Masters out there... Neilhart and mini hack come to mind. So here is what I have planned

Intel dh61ag board
i3 2105 or 2125 (I know neilhart will talk me into the 2125 for an extra 10 dollars)
8 gb Kingston 1333 memory 4gb x 2
Random laptop power brick
G4 Cube
Apple BT from my above hack as I never use BT on it
Apple wifi (ripped apart my first gen APple TV)
MBP SuperDrive
MBA 128 gb SSD (I have an adapter that lets it connect via SATA)

I think all of these should work well together, but if anyone has any concerns please voice them.

My real question comes on the case modding. As I am using the thin ITX board I would like to avoid cutting the original heat sink. Is this feasible? I would like to keep and use the original proximity power switch. Possible? I would like to do as little damage to the bottom panel as possible. Neilhart, how did you clean yours up so that there were no remnants of the original ports surrounding the LP I/O plate? Looks like some kind of resin or epoxy. Isn't possible to spray paint the bottom plate including the intel I/O plate to match the stock bottom plate look/color? I'm hoping to go fanless... Is this too ambitious? Finally, would appreciate some guidance on making board to mount my drives on.

Sorry for all the questions, but with all the combined knowledge on here, I figure it would be foolish to not take advantage. Thanks.
 
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spence4 said:
So I just built my first Hackintosh in February - very boring.... NZXT H2 case, ga-z68a-d3h-b3 board, i5-2500k, Sapphire 6850, 16gb corsair blue ram, apple BT (salvaged from old MacBook) .... Basically a generic first Hack. I made use of this forum for a lot of help n getting Lion to work but all the piecing together was basic.

Now I find myself wanting to go a little further down the rabbit hole and make a G4 Cube Hack. I was hoping to get a little feedback guidance from some of you Cube Masters out there... Neilhart and mini hack come to mind. So here is what I have planned

Intel dh61ag board
i3 2105 or 2125 (I know neilhart will talk me into the 2125 for an extra 10 dollars)
8 gb Kingston 1333 memory 4gb x 2
Random laptop power brick
G4 Cube
Apple BT from my above hack as I never use BT on it
Apple wifi (ripped apart my first gen APple TV)
MBP SuperDrive
MBA 128 gb SSD (I have an adapter that lets it connect via SATA)

I think all of these should work well together, but if anyone has any concerns please voice them.

My real question comes on the case modding. As I am using the thin ITX board I would like to avoid cutting the original heat sink. Is this feasible? I would like to keep and use the original proximity power switch. Possible? I would like to do as little damage to the bottom panel as possible. Neilhart, how did you clean yours up so that there were no remnants of the original ports surrounding the LP I/O plate? Looks like some kind of resin or epoxy. Isn't possible to spray paint the bottom plate including the intel I/O plate to match the stock bottom plate look/color? I'm hoping to go fanless... Is this too ambitious? Finally, would appreciate some guidance on making board to mount my drives on.

Sorry for all the questions, but with all the combined knowledge on here, I figure it would be foolish to not take advantage. Thanks.
Hi Spence,
Well first, good luck and nice choices.
As well as mine and Neils' builds look at the mods from 61mg73:http://tonymacx86.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=42738&start=0,
Eelhead:http://www.tonymacx86.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=16300&start=330and more recently Sleppek: http://www.tonymacx86.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=58768. Other great mod.s out there too.....
Neil can advise specifics on the board and his mod.s, but here are some things from my own (continuing) adventures on these.
Preparing the bottom after modding. Actually this is not too bad, but should be the last thing you do once you are happy with how everything fits and works. Basically try to cut as little as possible (less to patch) and when you are happy with everything then you can patch. My methods on using the original were to put thin strips of metal on the inside of the case behind the cut area and then to fill over that metal with something like car body filler (Or JB - stronger but harder to sand back) and then smooth by sanding and spray over. For a reasonable colour match I actually feel that some of the grey primer paints work well and if it is a couple of shades out then it really doesn't show anyway. For instance when I did my first ever Mac Mini in a Cube job it ended up looking like this:
Rear View.jpg.
For passive cooling as you'll see from my clear cube mod. I used the original heatsink to do that and then added a base fan at really low speed. The processor in that is an old inefficient one E7400 having a TDP of 65W and when just doing normal stuff passive only is good for about 50 to 55 degrees C. As you can see if you look into my thread a little bit passive only and running stress tests pushed the temp up to a max of 78 degrees. And though in real life use I would never stress the CPU for that long, I think that components last much longer when they run cool, so that is why I added the base fan which is really inaudible and means this little beauty never (and I mean never!) goes above mid 40s and idles at 31C - which personally I am blown away by. So you need to make a judgement here. Hopefully the newer processors are more efficient and you may be able to achieve something that will function very well and completely silently IF you can hook it up efficiently to the Cube heatsink. It's not proof, but that is what I would expect but also remember that I ditched the metal case for mine, so it also has more room for air to circulate....
Notice the big IFs. There will be problems in getting that efficient connection between Cube heatsink and CPU. In my mod I had to go for putting the MOBO in the place where the hard drives went in the original - reason for that is more space above the motherboard to work in. Your advantage is that you have a low height mobo, so squeezing it into the original space should work (as Neil did) but if you want to use that Cube heatsink you will need to flip the board so the top of the CPU faces the heatsink and you will have to be clever in getting the connection to the heatsink. There are different ways for that: direct connection via a block (like I did) or getting the heat to it via heatpipes. Another choice is to keep the Cube switch (or not). Neil can advise on the difficulties of doing that and I think the space limitations got a bit too much - whereas for me I could do that but that was because I went for putting everything in the bigger side.
Okay, that's probably enough for now. And as you have given me an excuse, here is what my Cube looks like now:
 

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Minihack,

Thank you for the quick response. You raise a number of good points including some I hadn't thought about. I didn't realize you had flipped sides with your mobo. (Sadly, I didn't even know the areas on either side of the center handle were different sizes - hopefully this will change once my Cube arrives and I can get a look at it in person) Given this new information another question has popped into my mind - if I put the MB into the other side will I still be able to have a functional optical drive? I would like to have an optical drive for no other reason than to make it be as close to a real Cube as possible. In keeping with that, I absolutely want the original power switch to function like a real Cube sensor. I figured with the thin ITX board the inside would be like my grandfather's Caddy - roomy. I had toyed with the idea of putting in a half height mPCI E sata controller to give myself two extra SATA ports so I could have my SSD and optical drive plus an HDD for my files/mp3s etc. I think I will take my foot off the throttle for now, wait til my toys get here and go step by step.

I noticed you have a laser machine. How much do you think it would cost to ask a company with one that cuts aluminum to make me a custom backplate from scratch? I live in Hong Kong, so I might be able to get a more reasonable price than in the US or UK.

With regards to going fanless, I am not completely opposed to a fan if it is silent and on low power, but I had seen your stats and came to basically the same conclusion as you - the new i3 combined with the smaller board would be a big help to me. That was actually going to be my argument to Neilhart for why I was considering the 2105, not the 2125 even though it is only 10 dollars more - I figure it would probably run a little cooler. Why could I not replicate your technique of placing a block of aluminum between the chip's heat diffuser and the Cube heatsink?

That's all for now as I will hold other questions until I actually have the parts in hand - probably about 10 days or so as I got the Cube off CL in the US. Your Cube is unreal!
 
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spence4 said:
Minihack,

Thank you for the quick response. You raise a number of good points including some I hadn't thought about. I didn't realize you had flipped sides with your mobo. (Sadly, I didn't even know the areas on either side of the center handle were different sizes - hopefully this will change once my Cube arrives and I can get a look at it in person) Given this new information another question has popped into my mind - if I put the MB into the other side will I still be able to have a functional optical drive? I would like to have an optical drive for no other reason than to make it be as close to a real Cube as possible. In keeping with that, I absolutely want the original power switch to function like a real Cube sensor. I figured with the thin ITX board the inside would be like my grandfather's Caddy - roomy. I had toyed with the idea of putting in a half height mPCI E sata controller to give myself two extra SATA ports so I could have my SSD and optical drive plus an HDD for my files/mp3s etc. I think I will take my foot off the throttle for now, wait til my toys get here and go step by step.

I noticed you have a laser machine. How much do you think it would cost to ask a company with one that cuts aluminum to make me a custom backplate from scratch? I live in Hong Kong, so I might be able to get a more reasonable price than in the US or UK.

With regards to going fanless, I am not completely opposed to a fan if it is silent and on low power, but I had seen your stats and came to basically the same conclusion as you - the new i3 combined with the smaller board would be a big help to me. That was actually going to be my argument to Neilhart for why I was considering the 2105, not the 2125 even though it is only 10 dollars more - I figure it would probably run a little cooler. Why could I not replicate your technique of placing a block of aluminum between the chip's heat diffuser and the Cube heatsink?

That's all for now as I will hold other questions until I actually have the parts in hand - probably about 10 days or so as I got the Cube off CL in the US. Your Cube is unreal!
Hi Spence,

Yeah it's funny isn't it. When you first look at a Cube you think "what a lot of space!" and then when you get down to planning you inevitably find a lot of things are VERY tight.
Basically a miniITX board footprint will only just fit in the interior space because of the round corners etc.

Sure it is well possible to have functioning DVD whichever side you put the board. For me as you'll see from build pic.s I made my motherboard tray also be the support for the DVD player so the DVD is underslung and in fact the top surface of my DVD is flush with the top of the mobo tray. The mobo tray sits just above two of the four corner posts and the DVD then sits between them and that uses space very efficiently that might otherwise be wasted.

And absolutely a block of Aluminium (or better still copper) between CPU and the heatsink will give you good results if done properly. Only reason i suggested heatpipes is that if you decide to put your mobo in the "smaller" side you may be restricted in getting that block in there...so maybe routing heatpipes under the heatsink to then clamp to it on the opposite side (heatsink can flip either way) will give you more room to work in as well as avoid the careful need to balance the distance exactly between mobo and centre heatsink. Basically you must get good contact between the parts but not over pressure your CPU so having a mechanism to gently change distance between mobo and central heatsink is kind of essential to making the direct contact method work. To give you an idea of what I did look closely at this photo:



To make my mount I first had one block that is connected to the CPU via the sprung perspex. I then have another bolted to it like this:



And then the three holes you see in that are then spring bolted to the central heatsink. That is the thermal contact made, but you can realise that if you are not careful you could either have the whole mobo hanging from the heatsink or if you go the other extreme you could have the heatsink weight and extra pressures being transmitted directly to the CPU and to the mobo potentially over stressing everything. For that reason I put in a pressure relief system as shown here:




See the two little hex bolts on my bottom plate that attach into the heatsink supports on each side? They connect into a slotted block of perspex I put in the base of the supports and by loosening them off I can move the central heatsink axis ever so slightly mm by mm and make sure that I am not mechanically over stressing the mobo or CPU. Now, this is all well and good in a design where I don't have a functioning handle (as my Cube is top mounted and works either inside or outside the case depending on how I feel!) but you can't do the same stress relief job on one where you want the handle to work. So again, that's what makes me think that the most practical way of doing it for a Cube that you want to sit inside the metal case will be to make that connection via heatpipes.

All that said, there are so many ways to skin this cat that as long as you really take your time and think it through I am sure you can come up with nice alternatives.
 
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Minihack,

Is the only place I can buy that cooler you have, Austria? They want to charge me more than the cost of the unit to ship it to Hong Kong! Seems a bit outrageous. Do you know of any other similar products? I thought about just getting a regular set of pipes that normally wants a fan on top and then putting m wedge of copper between that and the Cube heatsink, but I'm guessing that there would not be enough surface area contact and I would not be able to take advantage of the Cube heatsink's large surface area cooling ability.
 
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spence4 said:
Minihack,

Is the only place I can buy that cooler you have, Austria? They want to charge me more than the cost of the unit to ship it to Hong Kong! Seems a bit outrageous. Do you know of any other similar products? I thought about just getting a regular set of pipes that normally wants a fan on top and then putting m wedge of copper between that and the Cube heatsink, but I'm guessing that there would not be enough surface area contact and I would not be able to take advantage of the Cube heatsink's large surface area cooling ability.
Hi Spence,
To be honest I think the cooler from HFX is too expensive. All I actually used from the purchase was the 40mm x 40mm block and the piece of perspex that tensions it down onto the CPU - as I went for direct contact.
Surely there must be though another solution available in China that would work out cheaper for you than importing from Austria. Browsing the wholesale suppliers over there actually shows that HFX seem to get their own parts from China - or at least identical looking parts to the ones HFX use are available from China and the unit cost is a tiny fraction of the retail from Austria. I have learnt a lot from that purchase and if I do similar passive cooling again I will get my own parts made to order!
As a Noob though I can see this would perhaps be outside your comfort zone right now but my suggestion is to do some more research and googling heat pipes/ passive coolers and see what is available in your area.

Edit: One more thing. If you did decide to go "bespoke" this is what I would do if I went down the heatpipe ro ute:Two 6mm heatpipes, a 10 mm (thick) block of copper of, say 40mm x 40mm or more and drilled with two 6mm holes in it for surrounding the heatpipes and then screwed to the heatsink using thermal interface compound (e.g. Arctic Silver) between copper block and heatsink will be absolutely fine for transferring heat to the Cube heatsink.
So all you need to do is figure out a similar block and tensioning system for attaching to the CPU end of the heatpipes for a homemade system
 

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spence4
Well minihack has done an outstanding job of responding to your questions. In short the Power Mac G4 Cube has been around so long (went out of production in 2001), it has been hacked and modified in just about every way you can think of. You can spend days reading web sites on the subject. Do look at this one: http://forum.hardware.fr/hfr/Overclocki ... 7254_1.htm as this fellow is really out there doing new things.

I can only assume that there are many frustrated hackers that are not really happy with their G4 Cube hack(s). Getting any cooling air through the box while maintaining a decent noise level is a real task. If you are going to work within the original G4 design confines (meaning reusing the original metal can and the original clear plastic shell) then the task is awesome.

I set my standard some time ago for all of my hacks which is to be able to run an hour under full CPU load. And I have had hacks go into thermal shut down - an out right failure in my book. I will not accept a hack where the CPU gets to 90C (as reported by iStat Pro widget).

Again, do a lot of reading. The more informed that you are the better your decisions will be and a higher probability that you will complete the G4 hack.

neil
 
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100% agree with Neilhart!

The Cube is a pretty hostile environment for a PC (even 10 years after the original) so you are doing the right thing by reading everything you can find before diving in there. Main temptation to avoid is doing too much.

I can't live with loud computers and I can't be doing with hot ones either. I think your choice of components though should give you something that is achievable as a good cool and quiet mod. however you decide to actually cool it down......a low profile cooler will work just fine in there.

My use of the Cube heatsink was really started just to see if it could be done as I am always wanting to experiment. It is a stupid hobby/obsession of mine. The fact that it turned out well and is my favourite mod so far was a bit of a bonus but there is no guarantee that putting it back inside the metal cage would give such good cooling - in fact it is certain to warm it up a little. Also by restricting yourself to a "standard" Cube instead of my slightly different take on it (!) does mean you cannot easily do the small adjustments I mentioned to the relative positions of CPU and heatsink without a bit of extra ingenuity.

Please don't though take these as negative comments - we are all here to chime in and give help/advice if you want it along the way regardless of which route you decide to take on this.
 
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Minihack and Neil,

Thank you for the comments; I certainly do not take them negatively. The reason I started this thread was to solicit ideas and suggestions from people like you who have already played around with this thing. No sense in reinventing the wheel right? I must admit I am now having second thoughts on the completely passive cooling system. While I could certainly get some HFx like products here in HK, the added warmth from the original tin can could make it tough. Minihack, you don't have the can, have a larger case and still put in a fan. I am sure that my i3 chip is more efficient than your old 386 :) but it is still a 65w chip so it will still heat up, yes?

In your heat pipe scheme would I drill into the original heat sink or would the pipes running through the copper attached to the original heatstink be the method of contact/transfer? If so does that mean I have piece of copper A stock on top of the CPU, piece of copper B on the cube heat sink and then the two 6 mm heat pipes running between copper A and B?

As always thanks for the guidance.
 
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spence4 said:
Minihack, you don't have the can, have a larger case and still put in a fan. I am sure that my i3 chip is more efficient than your old 386 :) but it is still a 65w chip so it will still heat up, yes?
Yes, that's my fear. I think the extra space without the can might give me perhaps 5 degrees of extra coolness but that is a complete guess - see the top area of mine is also opened up to the max - and while I could run it completely fanless I put one in there because (a) I know that Noctua at lowest speed is silent anyway and (b) I always want it as cool as I can get it. Whenever you try something new you run the risk of success or failure so I always had a plan b, c, and d if my experiment didn't work....you of course can try and I think you would have a good chance of success but then again. No straight answer.

spence4 said:
In your heat pipe scheme would I drill into the original heat sink or would the pipes running through the copper attached to the original heatstink be the method of contact/transfer? If so does that mean I have piece of copper A stock on top of the CPU, piece of copper B on the cube heat sink and then the two 6 mm heat pipes running between copper A and B?
Exactly right. Drilled block A on CPU, drilled block B on Cube heatsink, heat pipes joining the two. Block B could be glued to the Cube heatsink with thermal epoxy if you wanted, block A would be attached using some sort of sprung mounting (e.g. like a piece of 3mm perspex that presses down on the top area of the block and has four holes attached to posts that go around the CPU mount holes - same way as HFX do it). Holes in the copper blocks need to be a snug fit for the pipes (with plenty of thermal grease). That would give better flexibility for CPU positioning relative to the heatsink. I'd always recommend a 80 or 92mm base fan whatever you do - Apple in fact put mounts for an 80 mm fan in the Cube in anticipation of upgrades that they never made.
 
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