Log Black and Tan: A Crime of PC Fashion -- Vintage Radio Hotrod 'Sleeper' PC

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
Props to my fellow Psych fans that got the title.

I've added some notable posts throughout this builds timeline to make it easier for people to follow along:

[Post #1(this post) - final build photos (v1 of the build)]

[Post #4 - added slim fans to radiator for push/pull configuration]

[Post #5 - beginning of redesign (v2) and maintenance/TLC]

[Post #18 - final build temps and benchmarks (v2)]

[Post #25 - final build photos (v2)]

[Post #26 - current status of the build)

Now, onto the first post showing the final build photos for version 1 of the build, hope you enjoy. :)


Here is my vintage Sony radio hotrod/sleeper/monstrosity.

I know some are going to wince at this and others may rejoice.
Just like real hotrods, this isn't for everyone. I know how the sff community feels about components being outside the case lol.
However this time it was by design. The goal was to take an old, broken, unassuming radio, and turn it into a pc. My original idea was to make a completely incognito, cpu-only, living room pc. Then I had an idea.... what if I got real weird with it?.....



















Documentation has never been my strong suit so I apologize for not having the time to go through a step by step build process.
EDIT: I've since accumulated so many photos of this build, I've had to seperate them into two albums. For those reading this thread all the way through for the first time, SPOILER ALERT!!!
v1 https://flic.kr/s/aHsmSz5KKG
v2 https://flic.kr/s/aHsmUUVwPH
They are in chronological order so hopefully everything else kind of explains itself.


Here are the specs:

CPU - Ryzen 5 5600x
Mobo - Gigabyte Aorus x570i pro wifi
GPU - EVGA gtx 1080ti gaming
Storage - 1 TB Samsung 970 evo m.2 nvme
PSU - Enhance ENP 7660B Pro
Pump - Swiftech MCP50X Exteme 12 VDC DDC Pump


My hope is to replace the 1080ti with a 3070, ideally an MSI Ventus 2X OC, since the pcb is a bit shorter and will provide more room for the power connectors. I'm in no rush however since they dont even have waterblock support yet and are currently made of unobtainium.

These are the temps I got after my first timespy run:

This was with a somewhat mild fan curve on the radiator fans.
I reset the min/maxes before running the test so the min temp on the EVO looks a bit high.
Idle temps are about as follows:
CPU - 35 C
GPU - 24 C
nvme - 42 C

So far in Cyberpunk I have maxed out at about 76 C on the 5600x and about 49 C on the 1080ti with fans set to max.
This isn't the quietest PC ever built that is for sure, but it doesnt bother me as I game with headphones. Actually with the Noctua's the only real ear sore is the Swiftech pump. Its very audible but damn does it push some coolant. I didn't do a crazy amount of research but for my idea of a short column reservoir to work i needed a fairly short pump with an inlet on top and this fit the bill nicely.

As far as 'small form factor' goes, my loose measurements put the volume of everything but the tubing at about 13L with the whole thing being able to fit inside a 17L box.

I'll end this post with one final thought.....
 
Last edited:

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
I've been looking into ways of squeezing out some more cooling headroom out of this thing. Recently I've been hitting as high as 82c on the 5600x in Cyberpunk now that I've got my game settings the way I want and would really like that to be a bit lower.

Looking at the back, at the gap between the gpu block and the radiator, it hit me that there is just enough room for some slim fans. I'd love to say it was forward planning but in this case it was just dumb luck as I originally ballparked the clearance needed for a gpu block and gave it a bit of extra space just to be safe. I figured surely a push/pull configuration would provide more cooling than just the push, even if its only 15mm fans on the back. I used a single slim noctua fan I had lying around just as quick test to see if there would be any noticable changes.





I could tell right away even at idle, temps were lower. Sure enough I was seeing about 70c max after about 30 minutes of gameplay. This was definitely enough to convince me to begin the necessary modifications to fit two. Only problem was, I only had one NF-A12x15 and it looks like Amazon won't have them available until after xmas. However, I did have two Chromax versions in my htpc build I decided to donate to this cause. Guess I'll be in the market for some new ones 😂







I'll probably put the slim tan noctua in here until I can get some new chromax ones. This pc doesnt really see much heavy use at the moment so a single fan should do the job temperarily.

So on to disassembly of the radio pc.

I made sure to do some forward planning when designing and building so that the radiator could be detached and swing out to allow access to the components behind it without having to drain the system.
Just had to undo the quick-disconnect and remove the screws that mount the brackets:



I made sure when designing this mounting point that it could be accessed behind the hinge even with the loop filled, just need to lean it over a bit is all.



Voila! Radiator brackets disassembled, without draining the loop.



The modification required to fit the slim fans would be grinding down the ridges on the support brackets.



First I chipped away at it with the cut-off wheel:



Then smoothed it down with the grinding wheel and finished the edges with a file.





I didn't take any photos of the other bracket, but it was the exact same process.

With the brackets ground down there was still one more glaring issue:



For the holes to line up I would need to cut a recess in the top of the fans.



Much better



Then after some measuring/fitting I did the same with the other fan.


You'll notice I also cut the corner off of one of the fans because during fitting it was hitting the bracket. Problem is, as you'll see during the final fitment, it doesnt hit at all and was a mistake I made during the test fitting. Once I order some new slim chromax's for the htpc I might replace this one but its not of huge concern at the moment since it isn't visible with it on my shelf. Still, I hate making avoidable mistakes like this. It goes to show, always measure twice before cutting.

But with that out of the way I threw a fresh coat of black paint on the brackets, and while those were drying I got to work cutting down some mounting screws, as I had none that would fit a 15mm fan. As luck would have it I had 8 matching long radiator screws in my hardware box, so I measure the required length (twice!) and cut them all down to size, this time with the dremel for a more precise cut.



I even test fit them all one by one to make sure they wouldn't foul the radiator.

Upon mounting, I noticed there was a little gap left as a result of the bracket sitting between the fan and the radiator:



This wasn't ideal, as you general want the fans to fit snug against the radiator to avoid static pressure loss. However, I don't think it will equate to much loss as they are only 15mm thick and they are still going to do their job of pulling air through the radiator so I just added some washers to even it out and called it good.

Here they are finally mounted to the radiator:



Here is a closer look at the corner that didnt need to be cut 🤬



With everything all mounted back up, I managed the fan cables the best I could.



This fan splitter on the back isn't the most mind blowing mod but it might be my favorite on the build just because I knew I would be disassembling this thing after I built it and I wanted all the fan cables to be easy to detach and reattach. Forward planning pays off again!
Another angle:



Here is the build reassembled:



There are really no other photo angles worth updating as this is the only angle you can really see them in.

As far as results go, after playing Cyberpunk for several hours, with some long cutscenes in between, the max temp I hit on the cpu was 68c. This encouraged me to mess with a gpu overclock a bit (+100 core), which brought temps up to about 77c max. I have found that overclocking this 1080ti doesn't really lead to any fps gains in game so I will probably roll it back to stock (or even undervolt) and enjoy a much cooler system. I say 'much' because in a build with only a 240mm radiator every extra degree helps. I was very pleasantly surprised as I did not expect to squeeze this much more cooling out of this thing with out having to extend the dimensions at all. Very satisfied with the results 😄
 
Last edited:
  • Like
  • Love
Reactions: Valantar and eedev

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
Its time for another update. There have been a few issues with the build that I've been meaning to fix/improve and I finally had some time recently to begin the teardown to resolves some of these issues. Not to mention, the whole thing could use a thorough dusting.





Here are the glaring issues:

The first one is this gap where the side of the radio is beginning to separate near the bottom.





The second, and more serious is one of the standoffs I had screwed and epoxied to the radio to support the radiator has ripped out.





Also, while I have the build apart I am planning to make some improvements to the system. I'll go ahead and spoil it by saying that it doesn't involve an RTX 30xx. However, I've been wanting to make some tweaks to the routing and design of the tubing for easier assembly/disassembly, as well as some improvements to the cooling ability itself.
One of these is revisiting my column reservoir. More specifically, adding a plug to the top instead of this rubber cap that I just slipped over the hard tube.



Before I can do any of that though, I need to do a complete teardown. Its very hard to disassemble this and take photos so I tried to snap the important steps

I start by disconnecting the quick disconnect and remove the radiator mounts to drain as much coolant as I can out before completely removing it.


(for some reason this photo came out like 💩)


Next I do the same for the GPU. (I keep a bucket on the floor to catch all the draining coolant.)


The rest was tricky to photograph while removing so here is the cpu lines drained and motherboard removed.


Finally, here is the whole build completely disassembled


That's as far as I was able to get for now. Hopefully I'll have some time to update more in the coming weeks. Thanks for following along!
 

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
Ever since I built this thing I wanted it to be my forever PC (a challenging goal I know, with ever-changing PC tech/hardware). So with that in mind, I want it to be as future-proof as possible and like I've said before, easy to modify and work on.
For those interested and mainly for my own reference, here is the laundry list of things I plan to fix/improve:

-close gap on side panel
-find more robust solution to broken radiator standoff mount
-add more quick disconnects, especially for gpu
-redesign reservoir with more air-tight solution
-replace the nf-a12x15 I mistakenly cut (fixed with noctua case badge 😎)
-DUST!!
-add dust filters to nf-a12x25s
-remake the removable motherboard tray
-mount gpu more securely
-incorporate an additional 120mm radiator into loop
-shorten and properly sleeve power button connector
-relocate m.2 to back of motherboard (redesigned cooling solution for nvme/chipset)
-cut a larger front panel opening for easier access
-noctua psu fan swap


These are just the things I could think of off the top of my head. If I find any more issues I want to fix, I will be sure to document them as well.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: dealda and Spiff

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
Spent some time conceptualizing some things today during my lunch break.
One of the things I left off my list that I completely forgot about (just added) was the motherboard tray. It is currently just a chuck that I cut out of the original radio back panel. I want to create a new one that looks much cleaner.

My plan is to make the new one out of some sheet acrylic (3mm thick), mainly because I already have some leftover from another project. It should be strong enough to support what I need it to and should be able to withstand considerable heat.
I also plan to add some captive nuts similar to the way I did with the current tray (since it will be hard to thread standoffs into acrylic and make them sturdy, I will simply use some machine screws and spacers)

Here is a rough preliminary sketch of the new tray design:

-2 captive nuts to mount it to the radio shell
-4 captive nuts to mount the motherboard itself

You may also notice I've labelled a slot with a carriage bolt.
This is my idea to give the gpu more support while being flexible enough to fit any future cards that his build might use.
Currently it is just held in place by the tubing and the riser cable. It isnt putting any stress on the riser but it still needs a more robust solution.
Here is my idea for that with an incredibly detailed mock up done in microsoft paint 😉:


With the new tray I will decrease the size of the foam pads to give the carriage bolt plenty of adjustment. I may decide to add a second carriage bolt on the other side of the riser to more evenly distribute the weight. For now this is just for proof of concept of the design itself.
 
Last edited:

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
Tackled a few items last night.

Threw in a screw on the underside to help close the gap in the side panel.




Also shortened and sleeved power button connector.
Before: (it was covered in heat shrink so I had a decent surface to glue into the corners to help manage the excess length)

Replacing the 4pin connector proved to be extremely tedious since the crimpers I have are a little too big to crimp the pins tight enough. I had to finish the job with some needle nose plyers but after wrestling with it and going through about 20 pins I ended up with a nice clean finished product. Good thing I bought the giant pin connector kit!




After:






Next thing I did was take the dremel to the front of the radio to open it up for a bit more access.


Doing this removes the holes that the front cover sat in so I had to come up with a different way of supporting it.
I drilled and countersunk some holes in the corners and epoxied on some screws that I hacked to length and then layered them with some electrical tape for a snug fit. It fits snug enough to keep the cover on even with it held upside down so I call that good enough.







I'm actually pretty excited to share this next part. The front needed to be opened up anyway but with more room in the front to work with, now I could look into an idea that's been kicking around in my head for a while now.

First, I opened up a box with some goodies from ppcs.com. Some more 45 and 90 deg elbows and some other misc fittings, some double sided tape, and...... an ultra slim 120mm rad from xspc 😏


So, my goal is to attempt to add another 120mm rad worth of cooling to the build in the very limited space in front of the motherboard.
Space is so limited in fact, that during test fitting the only way I found for the front cover to sit flush is to use a 92mm fan on the radiator that sits directly on the fins.




As far as plumbing the new radiator into the system. I really want to be able to add some quick disconnects so that the radiator can be installed separately from the motherboard to avoid tons of hassle.
After spending all evening trying different fitting combinations, I came up with this:


I know the amount of fittings is a little ridiculous, but the design allows it to hinge out effortlessly with the quick disconnects located in positions to be easily accessible.


Now that I have come up with a routing solution that works I will spend some more time tinkering with it to find a more efficient routing solution. With this solution the system flow goes PUMP -> 120RAD -> CPU -> but I will look at a option that goes PUMP -> CPU -> 120RAD -> that may potentially save me some fittings while also offering as much accessability.
There is also a bit of material left the shave off of the backside of the front cover, so maybe that might allow me to use a noctua 120mm slim fan or just give a bit more room to work with in general. It is definitely something I'll be looking into.

Regardless, I'm super stoked to actually find a solution that at least fits it inside the shell. This went from "you know what would be really cool..." to "holy s*** this could work", so I'm really excited to keep working at a way to improve it.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Valantar and dealda

Valantar

Shrink Way Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
1,815
1,739
Wow, I really love this project. Very, very cool. And well executed! The rad hanging off the back is a bit ... questionable, but somehow it still works. Next up: repurposing the frequency display as a temperature gauge, and giving all the knobs and dials a function? :D
 

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
Wow, I really love this project. Very, very cool. And well executed! The rad hanging off the back is a bit ... questionable, but somehow it still works. Next up: repurposing the frequency display as a temperature gauge, and giving all the knobs and dials a function? :D
Thanks for the kind words! I get asked that alot. While it would be very cool, I currently have the power supply sitting right behind it on the backside and I'm afraid if I looked into it, it would just open up a can of worms. It would be super cool and I know alot of people would love to see it done, its just not something I'm concerned with at this point.
 

Valantar

Shrink Way Wielder
Jan 20, 2018
1,815
1,739
Thanks for the kind words! I get asked that alot. While it would be very cool, I currently have the power supply sitting right behind it on the backside and I'm afraid if I looked into it, it would just open up a can of worms. It would be super cool and I know alot of people would love to see it done, its just not something I'm concerned with at this point.
That's very understandable, it was mostly a joke, though it would be really cool :D Oh, btw, wouldn't you say the can of worms is already well and truly opened with this build? :p
 
  • Haha
Reactions: BaK

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
I failed to mention in my last update that I did get a new motherboard tray cut and drilled. I attached the two captive nuts to mount to the case but still need to do the four that mount the motherboard itself. I can still mount the mobo I just really want the convenience of captive nuts. Regardless, at least I can use it to start mocking up some other things.




g]h


For those interested, this is the epoxy that I use:




I started reassembling some components to mock up where I wanted to cut the slot for the carriage bolt mount, but I came across an issue that I completely overlooked when I came up with that idea.
I only have this much room to work with:

Even if I did manage to fit it, I would lose the ability to install a second m.2 which I would like to keep.

So I went back to the drawing board and thought of this:

Using an L shaped bracket mounted at the same point as the radiator support bracket.
It would be a fixed length bracket so I would not have the ability to adjust it on the fly for any future graphics cards. However, I have plenty of sheet metal lying around so making another bracket like this to fit a different card wouldn't be that difficult. I would also add a square of foam to the top so it wouldn't just be sitting on bare metal.

On a more boring note, I found some dust filters I had leftover from another project to use on the radiator fans so I can cross that off the list.

I think the nf-a12x25s look much better unobstructed so I will probably move the filters to the backside of the nf-a12x15s on the pull side of the rad.
 
  • Like
Reactions: dealda

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
Haven't had much time to work lately, but I was able to get the noctua psu fan swap done the other night:














I know I listed this as a low priority task, but given the lack of time I've had to work on this project recently I knew this was something I could knock out fairly quickly since most of the other tasks on my list are a bit more involved. Happy with how it turned out, and glad I did it. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Valantar

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
**Long, pic heavy post incoming**

I was able to spend all weekend working on getting this build finished so I have a ton of updates.

I started with solving the broken radiator standoff mount issue. I decided to replace the standoffs with wood screw inserts. Much stronger than the previous solution:


Drilled out the holes and lightly hammered the inserts into place




I used some plastic spacers to achieve the desired radiator offset




While I was messing with the radiator, I went ahead and moved the dust filters to the pull side.


Also, I attempted my best Bob Ross impression by turning this mistake into a happy little accident :)


I recently received a Noctua goodie bag and wanted to incorporate this case badge into the build, and I thought this was the perfect spot.


Moving on to solving the m.2/chipset cooling of the x570i pro wifi.
As you'll find out with a quick google search, alot of people are having problems keeping their nvme cool with this motherboard. I wanted to keep my main nvme drive in the front of the board so I can more easily add a second drive on the rear if I ever need to. Here was my attempt at solving it:

First step was to swap to a different heatsink for the nvme. The one pictured was purchased off amazon here.


next up was to improve the airflow across the heatsink with a couple nf-a40x10 pwm fans modified to fit the mini-4pin connection on the motherboard.

I decided to mount them as pull since the radiator sitting above it will have a pull fan mounted to it and I didnt want any conflicting airflow.


after a bit of soldering and sleeving we're left with this:




Next I tackled the reservoir redesign. I decided to rotate the pump to it's side so it no longer protruded out of the back. This also frees up more room for larger gpus in the future.



I decided to go with some clear flexible tubing instead of the hard tubing I used originally. I used more wood inserts to relocate the tubing clamps and you'll see later that I trimmed up the aluminum flush with edge of the case. I also added a plug to the end for an air-tight seal.



I wish I had taken more photos of this piece before installing the motherboard on it, but here is the new motherboard tray installed in the case:

I pretty much copied my sketch exactly with all captive nuts and m.2 cutout. You might notice the really long screw at the top. This is used because I decided to move the riser cable over just a bit to be directly in line with that hole in the motherboard. I made a spacer the same length as the standoff so the riser cable sits level (you'll be able to see this a little better in a later photo).


Next on the agenda was to whip up a gpu support. I had some scrap aluminum lying around that was perfect for it.

here is the finished product


In this photo you can kind of see the mounting for the riser cable as well



I end up adding another piece of craft foam on top of the existing one for a more snug fit (this solution still had a bit of play where the gpu fits in the riser.

Here is how it looks installed with the radiator





Moving on, it was time to figure out how to mount the new 120mm radiator in front of the motherboard and have it fit inside with the front cover on.
Although it uses quite a bit of fittings and looks a bit ridiculous, I ultimately decided on this routing as it seemed to be the most flexible in terms of connecting/disconnecting the radiator with the allowance of quick disconnect fittings.


I experimented with a dust filter on the backside, mainly to protect the fins from the elbow fittings on the cpu block, but I was a bit concerned it would limit the much needed airflow so in the end I opted against it.


Here it is roughly in place

I wanted to use a slim 120mm fan but even with the speaker cover shaved down as far as possible it just wasnt going to fit.

Another issue I ran into at this point was getting the radiator to stay in place without falling forward and pushing the cover off.
My idea was to make a small bracket to hold the radiator in the correct position. (I also replaced the zip ties with a few small brackets to mount the fan to the radiator)

I added a captive nut to allow for a single screw to attach it to the case.


(all brackets would get a coat of black paint before the final assembly)
So to remove the radiator now, all I need to do is remove the screw, rotate the bracket to the side, pull the radiator out and remove the quick disconnect fittings. Pretty happy with the design all-around.





With that side of the case dealt with it was time to mock up the routing for the rear.
I didn't take any photos of this but with the whole build disassembled I touched up the parts of the build where the paint had worn off.
Here you can kind of tell:


I added another quick disconnect at the gpu to make it completely removable with the loop filled.

This build uses a pretty generous amount of quick disconnects (5 in total). Some might actually find it a bit cringe-worthy, and to be honest I'm inclined to agree. However, I really wanted every component to be easily removable without having to drain the loop.







Here is the final assembly before filling the loop:

all tucked in, with the cover on





With everything finally wrapped up, it was time for the scary part. Filling the loop!

I only took a few photos of the process, but it involved filling a little bit at a time, closing the loop, and rotating the whole thing 90 degrees to eliminate any air pockets. I kept going with this process until it wouldn't take anymore coolant. (EK Cryofuel, clear).


Initial temps looked great! However it is quite cool in my garage so the real test wont begin until it is in place at my desk.
The nvme was idling a bit warmer than I had expected so maybe my makeshift cooling solution wasn't working as well as I'd hoped. More testing will be needed to see.


Here is the build in its home on the shelf above my desk.



Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find time to do all that work and stress test the system during the weekend. This week I will dive into some benchmarks and testing to find out if my modifications truly made a difference. Sorry to keep you hanging! I will update with some results soon so stay tuned.
 

FreshGnar

Trash Compacter
Original poster
Sep 23, 2020
41
76
I was able to sit down this evening and do a bit of testing:
I did some cinebench r20 runs with heaven 4.0 running in the background and here are my findings:
(All tests run with a pretty mild fan and pump curve)

First, after 4 consecutive cinebench runs


Then, after 10 consecutive cinebench runs

Its worth mentioning that I've always been running PBO (since this build was first finished.) To maximize performance, I followed OptimumTech's video. 10/10 would recommend.

The highest temps I recorded were:
CPU: 73c
GPU: 49c
NVME: 55c
CHIPSET: 59c

I really wish I had done this kind of thorough and consistent testing before I made the modifications for some concrete data to test against but overall the system feels much cooler. That kind of load on both the CPU and GPU simultaneously would have brought the cpu well above 80c im sure.

For continuity sake, even though I have played the game in quite a while, I tested cyberpunk 2077 for about 30-45 minutes.

The in-game settings I used were:
2560x1440
Ultra settings
Vsync: off

1080ti: no overclock
The highest temperature I registered was 62c. This was <10c difference from before which left me a little disappointed. However....

I went ahead and messed with overclocking the 1080ti a bit and the results were quite impressive
Using the same in-game settings with a
+100 core clock and +350 memory clock using MSI Afterburner, the highest temp I recorded after about 30 minutes was 67c!


I thought surely the overclock would have added enough heat to the loop to push the cpu temp over 70c but the 120mm radiator must have picked up the slack. Staying below that 70c mark is really satisfying to see and that was really my goal all along.


EDIT: completely forgot to mention, but all tests were done with the front cover off. I used to run it with the cover off prior to these modifications as well so no unfair advantage. Yes, it does go against the 'sleeper' look of the build to keep the cover off but I really like the look for photos' sake. The mesh of the cover is just so dense, it really restricts airflow during high stress applications.

All-in-all super satisfied with the improvements. It may not have resulted in any drastic changes but as always this thing was a ton of fun to build and modify and squeezing every last bit of cooling potential out of these sff builds is what this forum is all about!

As far as what's next for the build, I plan to get back to gaming now that I have my main rig back. Stoked for the full Outriders game to come out soon.
On the list I made of items to fixed/modified I removed "
clean up i/o cutout" because while it would look nicer if I cleaned that part up, it can't even be seen inside my office and most importantly, after all that I've done so far, I just wanna take a break from working on it 😂.

I'll be sure to update this thread if/when I'm able to get my hands on a 3070!

Edit: Let me know if the info in the screenshots is too hard to read and I'll try and the data as text in this post so its more legible.
 
Last edited: