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Mac Pro replica (late 2013) - low power design

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Hi guys!

I have to say I was pretty impressed by sascha288 build. And I really like the idea of building a computer that is not just a boring black "brick".

Long story short: I´m in! :thumbup:

So, as the tittle says, my idea is to build a low power (and quiet) computer. The PC is for the Internet browsing, managing and viewing photos, videos ect., no heavy gaming at all. In future I will maybe occasionally run it as a home server, I will see what my other projects will be ;)

So my objectives are: low noise, low power consumtion, not-so-boring-PC.

I want to use i3-4130T (it´s Haswell, 35W TDP), no dedicated graphic card.
About motherboard: since I don´t need Wifi and plenty of SATA ports, i think any H81 (e.g. ASRock H81M-ITX) will do just fine, or am I missing something?
PSU: I have decided to go with PicoPSU (120W) and an 84W adapter. I have ordered these directly form China (these are really overpriced and hard to get here in Czech Republic), so right now I am waiting for it, and so is my whole project :rolleyes: (I should receive it within one week).
And the rest: some single 4GB RAM stick (to lower power consumption even more and to have possibility to upgrade in the future ), 64 SSD + some 2.5" HDD for a data.
About cooling: I will use one low RPM 12cm fan on the bottom and as quiet as possible CPU cooler. That is all. No fan on the top - it should allow me to use solid piece of something:) on the top, I want to imitate original Mac Pro in this part slightly more than sascha288 did in his build- I can afford that, since I don´t need so powerful cooling at all.
The idea behind this is get the best out of the shape of the bin... sorry, build:p... where hot air can move up easily. I just want to support this tendency by the bottom fan: I will try to make the rest of the build airtight, so all the pressure made by the bottom fan leaks only through the top hole.

When I was about to start with this project, my biggest concern (and I think it is everybody´s concern) was how to prepare the trash can? How to make the holes? I´m going to share as many photos and informations about this as I can, so it will be (hopefully) a bit easier for others making this unusual build!

Note: This tutorial is going to look really unprofessional many times. And that is the point: it is unprofessional! I´m just using regular tools that are available to everybody, I am not trying to 100% reproduce the quality and design of the outstanding Mac Pro. Also, some photos are taken with a mirorless, some with a cellphone, thus a quality will vary ;)

OK, lets start!

Even the package is kind of Apple-ish :)
Ordered from http://www.esuperstore.cz/lunar-odpadkovy-kos-sedy#tabs=0|3 , if there are any Czech readers interested. They do send also into the foreign countries, but for 12€. Also, about 36€ for the trash can is more than on Amazon, but it was the fastest and cheapest way for me.
SAM_1720.JPG

Get rid of it
IMG00624-20140201-1441.jpg

Size based on the fan diameter
IMG00625-20140201-1449.jpg

Any wood bit will do the job
IMG00627-20140201-1458.jpg

IMG00630-20140201-1515.jpg

half round file, than sandpaper
IMG00632-20140201-1517.jpg

Good enough. I will attach the fan with double sided tape - it should reduce the fan vibration (if there are any), seal the holes - help with my airthigh idea - and it will be repleaceable quite easily.
SAM_1727.JPG

Now you! :D
IMG00636-20140201-1541.jpg

What is the right diameter you ask? No idea - but size of CD looks about right.
IMG00637-20140201-1542.jpg

That is so thick! Well, German quality ;)
IMG00643-20140201-1612.jpg

IMG00645-20140201-1618.jpg

And again, half round file and sandpaper will do the job. Use the smooth one to finish.
IMG00646-20140201-1650.jpg

Use the same tools for the rim - it takes time, but it is possible.
IMG00649-20140201-1735.jpg

Balsa wood as legs. I know, it is not the 3D print, bud it is a waaaaay more cheaper :)
IMG00651-20140201-2354.jpg

Hot glue is surpassingly a good way how to connect wood and ABS. It is tight enough, but you can redo it if you need to.
SAM_1741.JPG

SAM_1743.JPG

SAM_1748.JPG

SAM_1744.JPG

Still a long way to go!
IMG00658-20140202-1955.jpg

That is all for now, I´m waiting for the PSU to arrive.
Hope you like it, all advices are more than welcome!

//
Edit on 21/2/2014
//

OK - PicoPSU, power brick and several other parts has arrived, so there is another part of this "tutorial".


Making of the top part. Did I mentioned that a CD is a must have tool for this build? :D
IMG00662-20140212-1938.jpg

IMG00664-20140212-1945.jpg
IMG00665-20140212-1957.jpg
IMG00667-20140212-2003.jpg

The motherboard on the base. It is just standing on simple construction, not firmly attached to the base yet.
IMG00672-20140213-2050.jpg
IMG00674-20140213-2050.jpg

I´ve decided to cut it from the bottom. By doing this, I am able to put the cover on and off very easily. Also I wanted to move ports as "out" as possible, so the are not deep inside the cover. I am aware that this is spoiling the design a little bit, but I have realized that I must place power button and power cord somewhere, so space under the ports comes handy and design would be spoiled by them a little bit anyway.

All in all this was a really demanding work to do and it took me many hours to finish this. I´ve made the hole smaller on purpose and then I was slowly adjusting it with sandpaper to fit. The thing is that the walls of the trash can are getting thicker on the top,it is not helping with fitting at all.
IMG00675-20140213-2229.jpg
IMG00676-20140214-0114.jpg

Painting! From the beginning I wanted to make it black - as the original one is. But the think is, Mac pro isn't´t just black, it is more a silver-black. I bought an "magic" metallic black spray color, but after trying on small part I didn´t like it at all. Maybe pure black would be good, I´ve decided to paint it white.
SAM_1897.JPG
SAM_1899.JPG


And here are some pictures of almost finished build. There are still things to do: the top part is temporally holding on two pieces of balsa wood (as you can see on some pictures), I will attach it on the top of motherboard, so it will "levitate" in the air. Also under the port there is just a hole now, I will finish it as soon as I get the power button (yes, China post again ;) )
Also, I need to change the fan on the bottom, it is not as quiet as they promised (an annoying sound on low speed). Any suggestions what to get? And it is the same for stock Intel CPU cooler - I am sure now that passive CPU cooler would be ok, the airflow in the case is just amazing!
SAM_1918.JPG

So far I like the top part of the build most, I just looks great to me (also at night there is a weak blue light produced by PicoPSU power diode leaking around the top, it is very neat, I will try to capture this later)
SAM_1919.JPG
SAM_1920.JPG
SAM_1922.JPG
Anybody knows why I´ve chosen this monitor for this build? :D
SAM_1929.JPG
SAM_1939.JPG
SAM_1942.JPG

That is all for now, I will post some more pics when it is finished!
 
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Great that you do this build and make a tutorial for it! This is more like I also want to build it. Simple and more or less cheap. But I wonder if the HD4400 is supported so well.
 

trs96

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Great that you do this build and make a tutorial for it! This is more like I also want to build it. Simple and more or less cheap. But I wonder if the HD4400 is supported so well.

To run integrated graphics you'll need at least HD4600, avoid the HD4400 if you won't be using a
separate graphics card.
 
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Thank you for the info guys. But this is really confusing for me, what is the problem with the HD4400? Are we talking about HD4400 + Mac OS or about HD4400 in general? Because so far I am pretty satisfied with intel´s HD line- HD5000 in my GF´s MBA and HD4000 in my ultrabook are doing just fine...
 
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Nice work so far :thumbup:

How do you create the balsa leg pieces ? They look realy good.

What type of PicoPsu did you buy, the normal one for 12V adapter or the wide input one which allows 12-25V adapters ? The WI version in combination with a 19V adapter (many notebook bricks are 19V) get you a very high efficiency at low load rates.
 

trs96

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Thank you for the info guys. But this is really confusing for me, what is the problem with the HD4400? Are we talking about HD4400 + Mac OS or about HD4400 in general? Because so far I am pretty satisfied with intel´s HD line- HD5000 in my GF´s MBA and HD4000 in my ultrabook are doing just fine...

It's related to the Mac OS. It doesn't have support for HD4400, only HD4600 or better for Haswell.
 
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Nice work so far :thumbup:

How do you create the balsa leg pieces ? They look realy good.

What type of PicoPsu did you buy, the normal one for 12V adapter or the wide input one which allows 12-25V adapters ? The WI version in combination with a 19V adapter (many notebook bricks are 19V) get you a very high efficiency at low load rates.

Thank you:)

Well, the legs were kind of hit-and-miss :D I used 3mm thick balsa (IMHO the best size for this, maybe 2,5mm will be OK too). First, I tried to make one leg that looked about right. I used that one as a model for the rest - just copied the shape on the wood and cut with a sharp knife. After that I finished every piece with smooth sandpaper. Then I squeezed all the pieces (like on the picture above) together and leveled them up with a sandpaper.It is also important to glue them with an outside overlap - at least 2 mm. I have made bigger overlap and than just leveled them with the white main part of the trash can. After some "polishing" with a very smooth sandpaper I have got what you see.

SAM_1730.JPG


And the PicoPSU - I have ordered the 12V version. The low power efficiency is really important to me, as I assume that most of the time PC will IDLE. I didn´t know that I will get better results using what you suggest. Although finding good notebook adapter with 80W or so isn't really easy or cheap. I guess I will do some measurements and than decide. The PicoPSU I have ordered cost me $18, so no big deal.
 
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It's related to the Mac OS. It doesn't have support for HD4400, only HD4600 or better for Haswell.

Thank you for the explanation. I guess I will go with Windows (It is a rude word here, isn´t it?:)) as there is no 35W processor with HD4600 or higher...
 

trs96

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Thank you for the explanation. I guess I will go with Windows (It is a rude word here, isn´t it?:)) as there is no 35W processor with HD4600 or higher...

Take a look at the I3-4330T that would work. Not widely available everywhere so
search the net for it.
 
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