A Skylake Cube

Discussion in 'PowerMac G4 Cube' started by neilhart, Jul 15, 2016.

  1. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 15, 2016 at 9:08 PM #1
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Edit: 11/17/2016

    I have finished this project and posted a summary with photos on page 5 post # 46. However if you want the true flavor of the project you may find it interesting to read down through the whole thread.
    Here is a photo of the my final G4 CUbe project.

    [​IMG]

    Good modding,
    neil
    end edit.
    [​IMG]

    Introduction:


    Computers and Apple OS X have been my primary interest for a number of years. I call it a hobby but it is really an addiction. We own three Apple laptops and I have built and collected a goodly number of of systems, where most run OS X. If you are not familiar with my obsession, you can get an idea by browsing this link: http://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/neilharts-completed-case-mods.87399/

    Background:

    The Apple G4 Cube was released in 2000. It was not a great success but was loved by many and scorned by a few. I was not into Apple at that time so I missed the event. I discovered the G4 Cube in 2010 and proceeded to hack one and that project was not a great success as my system ran hot and was just did not meet my (self set) standards.

    Then in late 2011 I happened upon the Intel DH61AG “thin” mini-ITX motherboard and took on the project of getting OS X to run. A key feature is the external AC to DC power supply. Long story short, I put that motherboard into a G4 Cube and I was happy with the end result and I maintain that system today in my collection.

    The original Apple G4 Cube used an external power supply so the “thin” mini-ITX is not a great leap away from the original design.

    Also, along the way sometime in 2013 I picked up a working cube with the external PSU. I maintain this in my collection along with the appropriate Apple display, mouse and keyboard.

    Last year I did a survey of available “thin” mini-ITX motherboards and recently discovered several Skylake additions. I was very pleased to find one that is reasonably priced and that has both m.2 WiFi/BT socket and m.2 PCIe 3.0 x4 data socket (bootable).

    So what’s up?

    The following is a costed list of material to build a compute engine that would “easily” fit into a G4 Cube hack. This system would be able to run El Capitan and macOS with ease and dual boot into Windows 10 , if desired.

    One of the key device selections is a low power CPU. The low power consumption lessens the cooling task in the system and make success much more obtainable.

    The down side that I see is the Apple OS support of the Intel Graphics HD 530. I own two Skylake systems and I have given up on dual displays when running HD 530 (at this writing I and basing this on El Capitan 10.11.5).

    However I am itching to see this system built. I can not justify the expense of another system and will offer advice and support to anyone that takes on this build. Key is finding an intact G4 Cube at a reasonable price (say about $ 100 US or less).


    Motherboard: $ 80 US

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813132833

    Thin Mini-ITX - uses external wall wart (not included) so no need for internal PSU! Has provision for m.2 WiFi and m.2 data/boot drive!

    Intel CPU $ 149 US

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BH4XX74/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

    Core i5-6400T - low power 4 core 4 thread - 35 watt TDP, 2.20GHz with turbo to 2.89 GHz.

    CPU Cooler: $ 20 US

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00K8PLRMM/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

    Low profile cooler - could be a single fan installation…

    SODIMM Memory: $ 60 US

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B015HQ9VEM/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

    Crucial 16GB Kit, 2133MT/s SODIMM DDR4

    SSD Drive (m.2 boot & system drive): $ 186 US

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00VELD92U/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

    This is the famous Samsung SM951 AHCI that provides near fastest SSD performance. Silly Fast.

    WiFi/BT: $ 29 US

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0156DVQ7G/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

    Radio card - BCM94352Z in the m.2 configuration = WiFi and Bluetooth (optional as wired Ethernet would be working).



    The total is $ 524 US for the compute engine… cube purchase and modding material extra.



    - - - - - - - - That is it! - - - - Comments or discussion welcomed.



    Good modding,

    neil
     
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    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
  2. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Jul 26, 2016 at 9:13 PM #2
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    This "SSD Drive (m.2 boot & system drive): $ 186 US" is a no go.

    As it turns out the m.2 slot on the ASUS H110T will only accept m.2 devices to "2260" and the Samsung SM951 is 2280...

    Looking at m.2 SSDs with the 2260 form factor and SATA 3 speeds. Only about 1/3 the speed of the SM951.





    Good modding,

    neil
     
  3. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Aug 12, 2016 at 1:07 AM #3
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Well my interest in the ASUS H110T/CSM has cooled. This is a great little motherboard and it runs El Capitan very well.

    However I am now mainly interested in "STX" form factor motherboards (5.5 x 5.8 inches; 140 x 147 mm). These motherboards are just now about to become available.

    This is a quote from Amazon about an ASUS MB: Supporting LGA1151 6th Gen Intel Processors in the tiny Mini-STX form factor, H110S/CSM is versatile enough for a variety of integrated usage scenarios, with DisplayPort, dual HDMI and LVDS connectors as well as TPM & COM headers. 5X Protection hardware safeguards and Corporate Stable Model benefits enhance longevity for projects.

    A set of key features IMHO are M.2 data and WiFi/BT sockets.

    Good modding,
    neil
     
  4. AppleMann

    AppleMann

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    Aug 12, 2016 at 6:20 AM #4
    AppleMann

    AppleMann

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  5. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Aug 12, 2016 at 3:03 PM #5
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    AppleMann,

    I notch the inside of the bottom cover to make clearance for the motherboard as seen here:

    [​IMG]

    I do not mod the motherboard as some have done.

    And the photo story of my second cube is here: http://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/new-player-low-profile-intel-dh61ag-mini-itx-g4-cube.36616/page-11

    The motherboard is mounted onto two custom ABS side rails (1/8 inch black ABS) that rest upon two of the corner supports. When completely assembled, the motherboard is captured and does not move around.

    However someone came up with the idea of suspending the motherboard from standoffs attached to the side rail/latch assemblies which is just as effective as my solution.

    An example of this mounting can be seen here on Rayds project: http://www.tonymacx86.com/threads/r...sh-i7-4790s-gtx-750-ti-dvd-rw-1tb-ssd.162210/

    Early on, I attempted to include a GPU in my cube builds. I was never happy using a flat cable PCIe extender and in some attempts the system just would not run reliably with an extender cable. There are more of these cable assemblies on the market now and build quality has improved greatly and it may work for your set of parts.



    Good modding,

    neil
     
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  6. kungpaogao

    kungpaogao

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    Aug 20, 2016 at 8:00 AM #6
    kungpaogao

    kungpaogao

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    Hello, I'm about to get a G4 Cube to mod, and I'm beginning to brainstorm what components to put into it. So far I'm thinking:
    • i5-6400T + Silverstone cooler (from your list)
    • H170N-WIFI (will this fit?)
    • G.Skill 1x8GB DDR4 (any cheaper options?)
    • Samsung 850 EVO 500GB (for both boot/storage to save money)
    • EVGA GTX 950 2GB SC (enough space?)
    • PCIE extension cable (how long should this be? Is it worth getting the more expensive cables?)
    • Z2-ATX-200 200W Pico PSU
    • HP 230W AC Adapter
    • Pwr+ 7.4/5.0 to 5.5/2.5mm Adapter
    • Dell DW1560 (if I go for a Hackintosh)
    Will these parts work (is there enough space)? Are there any things I could change to lower the price (really hoping for those Craigslist deals :lol:)? What fan configuration should I use?

    Also, do I only need a Dremel? Does it matter what model/blades? What other tools are required? (In case it wasn't obvious, I haven't really done a case mod like this before.)

    Sorry for being a complete noob. I hope you can help me, thanks in advance.

    P.S. The G4 Cube I am purchasing comes with the keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Are these worth the trouble to try to sell?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 20, 2016
  7. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Aug 21, 2016 at 3:21 PM #7
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Humm... The motherboard, CPU and CPU cooler are okay.

    The GPU is too long, see http://www.evga.com/products/Specs/GPU.aspx?pn=567ece10-ff52-4ebb-b856-6f38e9cde6f2

    Take a look at this one: http://www.evga.com/products/Specs/GPU.aspx?pn=7eac3c86-1a83-4df9-8a8b-5c55264d2bd0

    I am not a fan of the "Z2-ATX-200 200W Pico PSU", it may work. Take a look at the Mini-Box.com and this warning: http://www.mini-box.com/site/mini-box-counterfeit-products-alert.html

    The PCIe riser cable is always a gamble in my book. I have seen that better quality cables are now available but I have not had any success with these so I can not recommend a specific one.

    And please start your own thread to document your project and ask support questions.

    Good luck with your project.

    neil
     
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  8. Stork

    Stork Admin Staff Member

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    Aug 21, 2016 at 4:12 PM #8
    Stork

    Stork Admin Staff Member

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    Neil, I, too, had the same experience several years ago with eelhead and my first experience a G4 Cube case mod. Too much heat. Consequently, I took it apart and put it in a box awaiting a better component solution. (BTW, I also have an unmodified Cube running Tiger that's just plain fun to run every once in a while.)

    So, I've bookmaked this thread and will follow your progress. Keep up the good work.

    Oh, and I have 2008 Mac Pro (3,1) case mod in progress, and I'm using your Mac Pro mod thread as a primer. I'm using a Z97MX motherboard as my proof of concept along with a i5 processor and an AMD 280 graphics card. I like your approach to minimize the modifications and am not using a motherboard tray.
     
  9. neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Aug 21, 2016 at 4:43 PM #9
    neilhart

    neilhart Moderator

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    Hey Stork that is great news about your Cubes and current project.

    I am actively looking for another cube for this project which I now plan to proceed using a new to me motherboard.

    This week I purchased a ASUS H110S1 mini-STX motherboard and moved my i7-6700T CPU onto it along with a noctua NH-D9L CPU cooler on to it. I also moved the Samsung SM915 AHCI 256GB SSD card and the Broadcom BCM94352Z WiFi/BT to the m.2 stacked connectors.

    EDIT added... Note that I am modding the noctua NH-D9L cooler as it is too wide to fit between the side rails.

    And best of all, I used UniBeast and MultiBeast to install EL Cap 11.6. This was text book easy install for everything but audio (ALC3236 on board). So for now have VoodooHDA 2.8.6 running.

    The reason for this specific motherboard and CPU cooler is that it appears that I will be able to position the assembly between the side latch/rails.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Edit - added the following:

    With respect to the ASUS H110S1 motherboard: Notice - caution - not documented….

    The motherboard has DC to DC power circuits meaning the user needs to supply either 19 VDC or 12 VDC. The DC input is through the rear panel power receptacle, which is not documented by ASUS, and uses a 5.5mm by 2.5mm power plug.

    This was a disappointment as the more standard “thin mini-ITX” boards use a power receptacle that is common to Dell laptops and I have a goodly stock of those power bricks.

    I sourced a compatible power brick from Amazon, a 120W 19VDC unit by Oneda, model AAS12019632A.

    The second unique thing with this motherboard is that the headers for the front panel, the TPM, and serial port connectors are not the standard .1” on center but a finer pitch which maybe 2mm x 2mm.

    Still working this to come up with a mating female connector for the front panel.

    And I have both HDMI ports running concurrently. The first port is HDMI to DVI monitor 1600 x 1200 and the second is HDMI to HDMI HDTV at 1920 x 1200. With the current setup I do not have audio over HDMI. The Intel Graphics HD 530 is working very well on both displays; video is smooth, sharp and clear with a movie playing using VLC on the HDTV and a youtube video streaming on the monitor.

    More to follow, good modding,
    neil
     
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    Last edited: Sep 4, 2016
  10. Stork

    Stork Admin Staff Member

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    Aug 21, 2016 at 4:53 PM #10
    Stork

    Stork Admin Staff Member

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    Wow! In our initial Cube mod, we used a very good low profile cooler (can't remember the name, now). I'm looking forward to seeing how this all fits into the Cube and it's rails. Keep up the good work.
     

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