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Project Iceberg (v2)

When I get to this point, I'll have the external appearance of the Iceberg pretty much sorted. Then I'll have to get to work on the internals...

The biggest headache I have had with this project is cable management. With the large window in the side panel, the internals have to look as neat as possible. Unfortunately, my efforts thus far still leave far too much ugly wire hanging around. The rounded IDE and floppy cables produced a big improvement and the braided PSU-to-motherboard cable also helps, but there's still more work to do.

I plan on routing the majority of the cables behind the motherboard tray. I will complete the cable management with split-loom sheathing on any remaining exposed wire. That should sort it out.

the AeroCool Deep Impact DP101 cooler

Moving on to the system's cooling: I am very happy with the Akasa Nebula blue LED fan I am currently using, so I will adopt these for all four of the case fans. The top blow-hole fan will be visible externally and will also add to the interior illumination. However, I won't know the visible effect of the front fans until I try it. I don't think they'll add to the interior light much, if at all, because the HDD cradle sits directly in front of them and will be loaded with four drives. They may be visible through the intake vents in the front bezel of the case, though not by much. I will add chrome fan guards to the two exhaust fans and replace the intake filters with aluminium mesh types to increase their longevity and ease their maintenance.

I have replaced the stock HSF of the original system with the AeroCool DP101 "Deep Impact". However, I have experienced no decrease in CPU temperature with the DP101. In fact, until I replaced the DP101's fan with a higher performance Akasa, the CPU was actually running hotter than with its factory-fitted counterpart. I have since learned that I made a couple of mistakes when I installed the DP101. I should have "lapped" the base of the heatsink before installing it. I should also have cleaned the old thermal gunk off the CPU core before applying the new Arctic Silver 3. So, at some point, I'm going to have to remove the cooler and perform these steps - sooner, rather than later too, I don't want to damage my expensive CPU.

The DP101 is an ugly cooler. It is extremely large, standing 12cm tall. It dominates the motherboard completely. With the fan on the side, you are looking at something that's about half the size of a regular house-brick. It spoils the aesthetics I'm striving for with the machine.

So, I want a cooling solution that significantly reduces the temperature of the CPU, is a fraction of the size of the DP101 and contributes cosmetically to the overall appearance of the Iceberg...

And so, drum roll please, I have to decided to change to liquid cooling. With a decent water-cooling kit I should be able to knock at least 10șC off of the CPU temperature. I won't have to worry about a massive HSF tearing free from the motherboard either. Best of all, with some coloured dye and/or UV-reactive additives in the water, the Iceberg should look fantastic. This rig is illustrative of what I'm trying to achieve.

the Vantec Iceberq chipset cooler...

A final modification to the Iceberg's cooling will be the replacement of the Northbridge cooler with a Vantec Iceberq CCB-A1C copper kit. My motherboard only has a heatsink on the Northbridge so, hopefully, the Iceberq will benefit the chip by the addition of an active cooling element. Of course, as with all these mods, the cooler looks the business too.

It's a RAID!

I equipped the Iceberg with two 80Gb, Maxtor 7200RPM HDDs, my plan being to mirror them for data integrity (the poor man's RAID 1). Unfortunately, Windows XP Pro doesn't support mirroring, so I have ended up with a disk copy running once a day under the scheduler. This is far from ideal. I will overcome this by adding a HighPoint RocketRAID 404 IDE RAID controller and two further Maxtor HDDs. I will configure this as a RAID 0+1 array so that I should benefit from a performance increase (RAID 0) along with the peace-of-mind offered by the mirroring (RAID 1).

As a programmer who writes database-driven applications, a disk sub-system such as this offers huge benefits. When I upgrade the memory to 1.5Gb of OCZ PC-3200 DDR, the combination of lots of RAM and fast disk should contribute considerably to my overall productivity, that's how I'll pitch it to the purchasing department anyway. :-)

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