Lian Li case - that's a lot of drive bays!

Aparna is my mid tower PC built in 2007. It had kind of a rough start, as I initially installed Windows Vista Ultimate, but between Vista software incompatibilities, driver issues, and motherboard problems (a "feature" of the P965 chipset) it was nothing but trouble. I replaced Vista with Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 and swiched around some hardware. I also had to RMA a lot of WD5000YS drives, but the replacement WD5000ABYS drives work fine. Now the system is very stable, and it has replaced Shakti as my primary desktop PC.

Because it took so long to get the system stabilized, I kept adding parts and the specs have evolved, but below is what I have now. I bought the case, heatsink, and Arctic Silver 5 from CrazyPC, the speakers from the local Micro Center, and the rest from Newegg. Some of the peripherals (mainly the monitor) are left over from Shakti. The picture to the right is a little out of date, as I added a floppy drive (gasp!) below the lower DVD drive and replaced the upper DVD drive with a XION thermal control panel/card reader.

Recently I decided to add a little bling to the PC, so I added a windowed side panel. So that I would have something interesting to look at inside the case, the Scythe fan on the heatsink was replaced with a Bluegears b-COOL 120 fan. The animated temperature and RPM display is very cool, although it doesn't light up much of the case interior. Even though it flickers a bit, I was surprised that the fan is not annoying even though it's right next to my monitor.

You can read a nice article on the meaning of Aparna, but like all my other PCs, it's another name for Parvati, Shiva's consort in Hinduism.


the guts of the machine

This is the first machine that I've tried overclocking. Once I installed the Thermalright HSF, I was able to easily hit 3.2GHz at 8x 400MHz FSB, with the CPU at 1.375V and FSB at +0.1V. The memory is running at stock 800MHz, 4-4-4-12 at 2.1V. I could probably increase the FSB towards 450MHz to gain a bit more speed, but this is running so nice and cool that I'm happy where it is for now. The CPU core temps are 35C idle, 63C max running TAT, which are about the same as at stock speed with the stock Intel HSF. The Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme is a fantastic heatsink, and it just clears my tall Dominator RAM and the fan on top of the northbridge.

While repeatedly ripping the PC apart, I took advantage of some tweaking advice on HardForum. The "Crazy Cool" rear heatsink had to be removed to install the Thermalright HSF, which leaves no way to refasten the northbridge part of the heatsink/heatpipes to the motherboard. I replaced the thermal tape or whatever with Arctic Silver 5 on the northbridge, removed the Gigabyte logo from the heatsink (it slides off with a little force), and then reattached the heatsink to the motherboard with #4-40 machine screws and nylon washers. A 40mm fan from an old hard drive cooler was fastened to the top of the northbridge heatsink with some twist-ties, after soldering a passthrough power connector to the fan. The fan's a little noisy, so I might take it off if it's not necessary.

In the picture above, you can see a two white power connectors on the lower right. The top one is the passthrough that is connected to the northbridge fan. The bottom one is a Zalman Multi Connector used to undervolt the Supermicro cage fan, which normally is very loud. This has been replaced by the XION fan controller, which also controls the 120mm case fan in front of the Lian Li internal drive bay, and I can't remember which third fan (maybe the 40mm northbridge fan). The internal drive bay contains the two WD Raptors, which are connected to the bundle of red SATA cables from the Intel ICH8R. The yellow SATA cables are hooked to the ICH8R, with the fifth cable connected to the remaining Gigabyte/Jmicron port. I specifically chose this mobo because it has so many internal SATA ports.


I really like this Lian Li case, and I chose it specifically because it has so many 5.25" drive bays yet wasn't a full tower. My only complaint is that the wire from the power and reset switches just barely reaches from the top of the case to the jumpers at the bottom of the motherboard. The USB and audio cables have plenty of length, so I wish they had made the other wire just as long. Also, the accessories (aluminum floppy bezel, for example) tend to be expensive.

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© David Park
Last updated: Tuesday, March 1, 2011 3:01 AM UTC