Low-Power Cube with Discrete GPU Build

Discussion in 'PowerMac G4 Cube' started by ShatteredAvenger, Feb 3, 2017.

  1. ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Feb 3, 2017 at 4:20 AM #1
    ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Hi everyone, long time lurker

    Recently got my hands on a FLAWLESS Cube (almost all in original packaging). Part of me hates to take it apart, but there's really no way I'll ever use it as a G4 machine (already got an old iMac for that purpose)

    So, add me to the ranks of people wanting to put a more modern machine inside. Admittedly, I'm not hellbent on getting OS X to run on the thing, but it'd be a nice plus. Not super concerned about it at the moment though.

    My main question has to do with power- I've looked through a good many of the other threads here and gotten a feel for how the majority of the builds go. I'm mostly trying to determine what the best way to power it, given the specs I'm hoping to achieve:

    • Mini ITX LGA-1151 mobo (either H270 or H170 chipset, not entirely sure yet)
    • Intel i5 6500 or 6500T. Maybe a Kaby Lake model, but it'd probably be better to switch to Coffee Lake in a few years for the power savings.
    • Nvidia 1050 TI (Zotac "mini" model, should fit just fine though a bit tight perhaps Went with an EVGA model instead which debuted just recently at the same price. General consensus is it's a better card. It is dual slot with the plate, but the top half is exhaust, which I think is a net win for heat.)
    • Optical drive (don't care if it's bluray or not, I'll probably just end up pulling one from a MacBook)
    • + memory, fans, SSD, etc...

    All in all, I think it's a bit aggressive, but doable. My concern lies in being able to power everything with a PicoPSU (largest one they sell these days seems to be the 160W model). I'd prefer to get a full-speed CPU and not the T variant, but will I have enough power to run the normal one @ 65W + GPU at 75W + everything else? As far as I can tell, it would be close to the maximums, but then I see other people here with similarly configured specs in terms of power, so maybe it would work?

    I'd ultimately like to be able to run it pretty normally, though I do want to play Overwatch as well. I don't *think* that will be too much, but I could be completely crazy. I'm thinking of trying to put a fan on the bottom and top to push air along, though that will require some extra cutting obviously. The quieter the better, but let's not kid ourselves, I don't expect this thing to be dead silent. So long it's not too much louder than my 08 Mac Pro, I think I can live with it.

    Hopefully this is enough information to go on. It'll still be a little while before I can start building (gotta get the cash scraped together first), but I definitely want to be able to have my parts all decided and a gameplan before I start spending.

    Thanks!

    EDIT: 5/18/17

    I think I'm content with it for now. I still don't have a touch button enabled, as I can't find a way to squeeze the original in and haven't felt like doing all the wiring for a different touch pad. Here's some pictures!


    And here's an iCloud gallery of all the photos I've taken of the project to date.

    https://www.icloud.com/sharedalbum/#B0oG6XBubhja8A

    Final system specs are as follows:

    • Intel Core i5-6500T 2.5GHz Quad-Core OEM/Tray Processor (35W)
    • Gigabyte GA-H270N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard
    • EVGA Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
    • Samsung 850 EVO 500GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive
    • Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory
    • PicoPSU 160W
    • Noctua NH-L9i 33.8 CFM CPU Cooler

    Overall, I'm pretty happy with the final build. There's very little excess cabling with the m.2 SSD, though I did leave a SATA cable snaked down to around the GPU just in case I want to put an optical drive in place at a later date.

    I have not installed OS X yet- I may do that in the future, but as of right now it's just on Windows 10 (gasp) and I'm actually reasonably happy with that as an OS (double gasp)

    Speeds and temperatures are good- it's remarkable how powerful these little tiny low power chips can get. Maybe in a year or so I'll up the processor to an i7 T variant, but it's pretty unnecessary right now. On average, I think I pull right around 100-120W under load, and if it's just being used for web browsing it's much, much lower.

    Temperatures under load tend to be around 70° for the GPU and upper 60s for the CPU. I did scale back the power draw on the GPU via Afterburner to 85% of what it's allowed to pull, but that's more for noise than for temperatures. I haven't noticed any real performance hits and that keeps the whole package quieter.

    Let me know if you have any questions! Overall I've really enjoyed this project and hope to do another build inside a quicksilver- but that'll probably be at least a year or two, hah.
     
    rake.mistry likes this.
    Last edited: May 18, 2017
  2. ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Feb 13, 2017 at 2:45 PM #2
    ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    A couple of updates:

    I've purchased a fair chunk of the components; here's what I ended up going with.

    Intel Core i5-6500T 2.5GHz Quad-Core OEM/Tray Processor
    Noctua NH-L9i 33.8 CFM CPU Cooler
    Gigabyte GA-H270N-WIFI Mini ITX LGA1151 Motherboard
    Crucial Ballistix Sport LT 16GB (2 x 8GB) DDR4-2400 Memory
    Samsung 850 EVO 250GB M.2-2280 Solid State Drive
    Zotac GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB Mini Video Card
    PicoPSU 160W

    CPU should be here today, so I'm hoping to try out everything (minus the GPU, don't have that yet) later tonight.

    I have a few old PowerMac G5 cases lying around the house, so I've pulled a bunch of old standoffs from those. I'm still concerned about power, but I have a 250W Dell ATX supply I'm going to test with first to make sure everything lines up.

    I'm pretty sure that with the 35W CPU I should be good on heat, but I think I'll still need to remove at least part of the central heatsink. I'd rather not necessarily remove it entirely, but maybe that'd be a good idea?

    Anyone have any suggestions?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2017
  3. Fallen

    Fallen

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2017
    Messages:
    7
    Mobo:
    Arctic Accelero S1 PLUS
    CPU:
    ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula
    Mac:
    MacBook Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Feb 15, 2017 at 9:30 AM #3
    Fallen

    Fallen

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2017
    Messages:
    7
    Mobo:
    Arctic Accelero S1 PLUS
    CPU:
    ASUS ROG Maximus IX Formula
    Mac:
    MacBook Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    I would recommend getting the HD Plex 300w instead of the pico 160, near the same price. Which ships fast off there site but amazon should have it in stock soon as well.

    For power adapter get this, https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OC1E14O/?tag=tonymacx86com-20
    1 left for 80$ that's a steal,

    Also the 850 M.2.'s aren't that great, pick up the new 960 for 120$
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01LYFKX41/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

    If you're gaming in 1080p, the 1050 ti isn't a "fun" card to game on. You can fit a 1060 Mini for 50$ more, or even the 1070 mini. But if gaming isn't a priority than this should be a solid build.

    You're going to need a riser, get this one.
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01CEIEWU4/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

    And I recommened this fan
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B009NQM7V2/?tag=tonymacx86com-20

    If you're aim is a budget build sorry my recommendations above but I always recommend spending a little more to get better parts. Hopefully you bought your parts from amazon or newegg :D I did a lot of returning and buying till I found what works best.

    I'm also almost done with my build, had to wait 2-3 weeks for the new asus z270i itx mobo to be released and shipped. I'm also to lazy to update my thread. If you need help lmk, I had to do a lot of case modding for my crazy build
     
  4. ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Feb 15, 2017 at 2:25 PM #4
    ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Thanks for the info- I'm definitely planning to stick with the 1050ti for the power savings- plus, it's optimized for Overwatch/eSports from what I hear, which are about the only modern titles I play.

    I'm waffling back and forth on the SSD- unless the M.2 variant of the 850 is significantly worse than the 2.5" version, I wouldn't say it's a terrible SSD- it's still a heck of a ton faster than a platter. May yet spring for a 960.

    So far in testing (without the GPU, granted) my power draw is about 30-40W idle, including a spinning disk. I'll be trying a little more intensive stuff when I get home. Currently I have it on a standard ATX power supply so I'm not worried about blowing anything up while testing. Since the HD Plex is about twice as expensive when all is said and done, I'd rather not sink money into it if I won't need that kind of power. Plus it's larger and gives off more heat, etc.

    Have you had any problems with your riser? It seems like those are consistently the weak link of these builds.
     
  5. ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Feb 27, 2017 at 7:22 PM #5
    ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Updates! (hoping to get some pictures uploaded soon- it's just that with winter and all, they don't look super great because it gets so dark so fast and I'm mostly working late at night as is anyhow. But anyways.

    • I've spent a ton of time trying to get a custom I/O shield developed. Most of that time has been in trying to recreate the shield in a vector format. I think I have it done, but I'll have to wait until I have an actual piece in my hands to see how accurate it truly is. If it turns out well, I'll upload the file here for anyone else who may want to pick up a GA-H270n board.
    • PicoPSU should be here later today- I've been using a beefier psu all weekend while playing Overwatch & Fallout at max settings on the 1050ti and I'm still barely peaking over 120W. I still need to test with a 1080p monitor (since the 20" cinema display is only 1050p), but I think I can make it under 160W, which is fantastic.
    • Temperatures are still pretty good- CPU isn't going over 40°, give or take a bit. Obviously it's not crammed inside the cube itself yet, so we'll have to see how that goes.
      • I'm a little concerned about the GPU temperatures- in the open air, it's averaging about 45-50°. The EVGA card is dual-slot, but the top half is an exhaust, so that's good.
      • Ideally, I'd love to orient the GPU so the fan is pointed towards the center of the cube like the CPU fan is. However, it won't line up with a PCIE extender that way. Any suggestions? I suppose I could try and build some sort of wind tunnel, if I have the space for it.
    • I still don't have an optical drive, but I'm in no rush for that. I don't think its power consumption is going to be enough to warrant planning it in now.
    • I haven't done any work on the power switch yet- I'm hoping it fits with the motherboard, but I'm not entirely convinced it will. I may need to implement a different strategy.
    I have done a good portion of the cutting and grinding by now- most of the central heatsink is gone. All that's left is the two side rails for the handle, which is non-negotiable. The cuts on the bottom went okay, though my drill press messed up slightly at one point so the one corner is a little crooked. I was hoping to do some rounded corners, but I don't think they'll really happen at this point. Live and learn.

    I may cut an even larger hole on the bottom and line it with some sheet aluminum- I cut apart one of the heatsink shields from a dual G5 tower, so it matches pretty closely while also being super thin.

    Hoping to grind down a bit more when I get home from work. The big question is making sure the GPU stays cool at this point.
     
  6. ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Mar 3, 2017 at 3:51 PM #6
    ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    I think the backplate is done. I'm waiting to see if a coworker of mine can 3D print it and we'll see if that's a viable solution.
     
  7. rake.mistry

    rake.mistry

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2016
    Messages:
    15
    Mobo:
    GA Z170N-Gaming 5
    CPU:
    i7 6700T
    Graphics:
    MSI RX 460 2G
    Mac:
    MacBook Air
    Classic Mac:
    Classic, iBook, iMac, Power Mac, PowerBook
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Mar 12, 2017 at 7:55 AM #7
    rake.mistry

    rake.mistry

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2016
    Messages:
    15
    Mobo:
    GA Z170N-Gaming 5
    CPU:
    i7 6700T
    Graphics:
    MSI RX 460 2G
    Mac:
    MacBook Air
    Classic Mac:
    Classic, iBook, iMac, Power Mac, PowerBook
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Awesome work so far! Looking forward to seeing more pictures and reading all about your progress. Which PCIE extender did you end up going with? And how have the results been so far with it?

    For my own build (that's still in the planning phases), I'm still debating whether I should go for a PCIE riser card, or a PCIE extension cable instead. Cables obviously offer more flexibility and length, but I've heard mixed reviews about the more affordable cables and I'm not sure I want to shell out around $100 CAD for an insulated 3M cable.

    So, needless to say, I am curious to find out how things are going with that riser card.
     
  8. ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Mar 12, 2017 at 5:33 PM #8
    ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    I ended up getting the plate printed on Friday, but it wasn't quite ready for me in time to take home this weekend, unfortunately.


    But, provided it fits all the ports, I'm pretty sure it's gonna work!

    regarding the PCIE card, I've actually ordered two, heh. The first one I think is too long- about 250mm, which means I'd have to wrap it on the inside between the support posts/handle - which I don't think would be great for cooling. Here's that one.

    I ordered another one which should be here tomorrow - that one is about 100mm. Honestly, I wish there was a 150mm one, I think that length would be perfect... but we'll see if this can swing it. I think the 100mm may just work- the physical plastic and PCB is not counted in that length, so it looks like it may have the perfect amount. I'll give this one a shot later today and report back once I know if it's any good. Shorter version. I think if I do the shorter one I'll probably have to carve a bit more space on the outside of the handle support as the slot doesn't line up with the existing cut out, unfortunately.

    So far with my testing of the long one, it seems to work pretty well. It seems like companies are starting to make them specifically for GPUs since a lot of people are using super slimline PC cases more and more. The long one is shielded and pretty stiff. It feels like it'd be pretty easy to destroy, but I don't think it's going to fall apart on its own any time soon.

    It does seem like this brand (EZDIY) tends to go out of stock, so keep an eye on it and save the links.

    I also purchased an external apple superdrive off ebay for about $20. Almost brand new, quite the steal. Unfortunately, the newest model that they vamped in 2012 doesn't even have a port on the inside- the USB is wired straight to the PCB. So, I'll probably end up selling this and getting a pull from a MacBook Pro. But for now, I'll hold onto it. I'd consider just sticking that in the case, but I think the added thickness will be too much of a problem.

    Really hoping to make significant progress this coming week. Power consumption is still positively incredible.

    A friend gave me a quicksilver G4 tower that I'll probably work on converting next, but it will be a while before that. Pretty sure that will be significantly easier than the cube, heh.
     
    rake.mistry likes this.
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2017
  9. ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Mar 13, 2017 at 11:52 PM #9
    ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS

    It works! Well, pretty much. It could totally fit my purposes as is right now- the DVI port is too narrow to actually plug a cable in, but since I'm using a discrete GPU, that doesn't bother me. All the same, I'm going to reprint it. Once I get it perfect, I'd be happy to upload the draw file so anyone else with the same mobo can use it.
     
  10. ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    Apr 4, 2017 at 8:47 PM #10
    ShatteredAvenger

    ShatteredAvenger

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2017
    Messages:
    48
    Mac:
    iMac, Mac Pro
    Classic Mac:
    iBook, iMac, Power Mac
    Mobile Phone:
    iOS
    UPDATE TIME

    so it's been a few weeks since last update. I got the bottom plate reprinted with a few minor adjustments. It could probably still be tweaked a bit further, but everything fits so I'm happy enough.


    Next up was cutting space for the PCI-E riser cable. The pre-folded slot on the one support handle winds up being just about a centimeter too high. I had to grind it down further than the picture actually shows, since the black aluminum handle sits further back. But, after filing and sanding, the resulting slot is wide enough and smooth enough that the ribbon for the cable fits.


    I took out the middle part of the optical drive/hard drive cage support rail or whatever we want to call it. I wanted to keep the sides in case I needed space to mount anything in the future, plus they provide a little extra structural rigidity.


    Aaaand here's a shot of everything crammed in. Currently, I've got an old beater 2.5" drive in place, but I'm hoping to replace that with an m.2 SSD soon. That should clear up a bunch of the cables and I'm hoping also that it might help the temperatures a little bit.

    Speaking of which, temperatures on the CPU are pretty fine- about 51° while playing Overwatch. Obviously it's warmer inside the case than it was when I had it assembled on a piece of sheet metal on my desk.

    The GPU is running about 80-85° under load, which is a little warmer than I'd like obviously and it also kicks the fan on the card way up. I didn't really expect them to be super cool when caged in a tight little box. Since I have a blower card, it's also sending that exhaust straight down, and with the thermal design of the cube it really just doesn't have anywhere to go.

    I think the other problem is that the card's fan is trying to pull air in where there's not exactly much to be had. Since it's the front of the case, I can't really cut any holes either without it look super terrible. Maybe in the future I'll try something else, but for now I think I can live with it, though it is rather noisy now.


    Still working on an actual touch button solution- the original won't fit anywhere so I'm working on creating one from an adafruit chip. Unfortunately, the one I bought first sends an active high signal and I'm not sure that will actually trigger the power on signal since my understanding is that ATX boards need an active low signal. I purchased a different panel that should send the proper signal. Right now, I just have the vent on the top pulled out and a sad little push button hanging out.


    Does anyone else have any suggestions for any ways of cooling it further? I am pretty happy with the power draw, as it's still riding under 110W max.
     
    Macachu likes this.

Share This Page