Log Little Mac 4.2L - A refreshingly dirty rebuild story with a 3060 Ti Mod

Runamok81

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This is Little Mac 4.2L. It was a novel console SFF powerhouse ... in 2014.
Original build log and specs here.



Here is Little Mac today, eight years later. Time can be cruel.



Let's look inside. Left is an Intel intel i5-4690K, center is an hdplex 250W dc psu, right is deshrouded GTX 970. Fans are the cougar vortex and a rare yate loon 120 x 20mm medium speed.



Rotated 180 degrees with the GPU on left now. Eight years of gaming has taken it's toll. This system used to breeze through Skyrim, GTA V, and Witcher 3!



But today, the CPU heatsink is filled with dust bunnies, robbing it of performance.



Same dust bunny story with the GPU exhaust fans and heatsink.



Today, this rig has been replaced by a smaller, faster, flashier rig - the 4.1L Neon Rocket.
These parts served us well, but today ... they all need to go. Sorry old friend.



Or do they?



Several hours of cleaning, scrubbing and de-dusting later ....
Let's see if we can refresh this build!



Little Mac 4.2L still has purpose. Because of it's slim console form factor, it's modified MC600 case is STILL one of the smallest fully-powered rigs that can cleanly slip behind a wall-mounted TV for sleek hidden gaming goodness (open to suggestions on this). For now, eat your heart out sandwich rigs! 😄

Let's start the build!
 
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Runamok81

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First up, let's upgrade Asus H97I Plus from 2014 to a Gigabyte Aorus B550 Pro AX.



We'll be upgrading the Intel 4690K to a Ryzen 5 5600X. Surprisingly - even after eight years - this still only a 50% CPU improvement, albeit at in a much cooler package. Intel really had a compute lead in 2014 and it took a long time for AMD and Ryzen to catch up.



The satisfying click as a cpu snaps into place! 😄



The Noctua L9A low profile cooler is rated to cool 95W of heat. It should have no trouble with the 65W Ryzen.



A slightly larger than "pea sized" drop of thermal paste. Paste patterns used to be something I worried about. The advice I give mostly these days is pattern doesn't really matter, just don't skimp.



Cooler mounted. We'll set aside the noctua fan, because we have an upgrade in mind.



Part of the fan upgrade happens because we are using VERY low profile ram in this build. It sits below the low profile CPU heatsink.

 
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Runamok81

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For GPU, one of the smallest 3060 Ti's on the market, the Zotac Twin Edge OC.
Upgrading from the GTX 970 to the RTX 3060 Ti will more than double GPU performance.




Small, but not small enough. Here is is hanging out over the edge of the case. We must go smaller!



Foreground is an aftermarket PALIT RTX 3060 STORMX OC heat sink cooler, the Zotac in back.



Time for "the mod" ... shrinking a normal 3060 TI down to ITX Aero size using @REVOCCASES technique. We'll start by tearing down the Zotac.



Removing the tiny fan and led power leads from the board headers.



Here is everything disassembled.



Cleaned off the old thermal paste with pure alcohol. Here a touch of purifier.



Another drop of thermal paste and the Palit 3060 cooler is mounted.



On the flipside, we've applied a custom acetal backplate design courtesy of @REVOCCASES.
If you'd like to try this mod, you can find the dxf here and get your own backplate from SendCutSend.com. Just remember to get REVOCCASES a coffee!



Here is the eventual home of the DIY 3060 TI Aero. A LiHeat black 200mm riser keeps the gpu in the same orientation as the cpu.




The gpu nestled down into it's new freshly cleaned home.
The HDPlex 250W GaN is currently not shipping, so for now the original HD Plex 250W dc psu has been cleaned up and cleared for duty.



We've yet to add cooling fans and button everything up. I will be saving that for the next post.
That's all for now!
 
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Runamok81

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For gpu exhaust the MC600 comes with a bracket to install two small 60 x 10mm fans.



Two evercool fans with low noise adapters help move air out of the gpu chamber.



The primary cooling duties will be handles by two oversized 120 x 25mm bequiet! light wings. One for the cpu and one for the gpu.



Rotated, and installed. Cpu left, gpu right.



These parts are bursting out from the case. Technically, I'm not sure if you could say it fits perfectly inside? However, tightening a few screws and a touch of downward pressure eventually has the fan frames tucked inside the cases edge.



On top are two 140mm air filters, to help with the future dust bunnies.



Cleaned up, buttoned up and ready for duty!



Took this shot as an homage to the original Little Mac 4.2L from eight years ago.
Also, first image in this post. They grow up so fast.



And sometimes they learn new tricks!



Dusk shot



Ready for gaming.



It was really satisfying to clean up and restore such a novel build.

But it's also a lot of work. The MC600 was never built with ventilation in mind. You have to cut your own fan holes in the lid and do some *cough*
to the gpu brackets to fit them

With the Skyreach in short supply, the SFF market is sorely in need of <5L console builds. Especially ones where cooling and gaming are prioritized. Even more rare are ones where the CPU and GPU face the same way. Only requiring one side to have access to fresh air. They are unique and can do things that other cases cannot. Like, slip behind a wall mounted TV, or underneath a desk for sleek, hidden, gaming goodness.

They really are a treat! Thanks for following along!
 
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Valantar

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Jan 20, 2018
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Looks like it'll be an interesting build! Looking forward to seeing it come together :) Btw, I hope you're selling on or reusing those old components - at least the motherboard and CPU have some life in them still (and older platform motherboards like that are increasingly rare as time goes on, so you can get a decent price for that combo).
 

rfarmer

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Jul 7, 2017
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Devil's Canyon was a great CPU, I used to have one paired with a EVGA z97 Stinger WiFi which I should have stuck with rather than upgrading to a 6600k. That was a really nice motherboard, too bad EVGA isn't still making decent itx motherboards. I have to say from looking at the dust bunnies it doesn't look like you cleaned that thing for 8 years. ;)
 

PVC

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Jul 12, 2020
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My neighbor has a big Craftsman air compressor in his garage. The tank is about 4-feet high and maybe 2-feet in diameter. And, for Christmas his kids gave him one of those self-winding wheels for the air hose. The wheel is attached to the garage ceiling and you can just pull out any amount of air hose that you need and then it automatically rewinds when you let go of it. Great for topping off car tire pressure, etc. But you can also replace the nozzle with one that just shoots air when you press the handle.

Occasionally, I take my computers over to his garage to blow out the dust. It works great!

Your first pictures of Little Mac was in dire need of an unlimited stream of air pressure 😉
 

Valantar

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Jan 20, 2018
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My neighbor has a big Craftsman air compressor in his garage. The tank is about 4-feet high and maybe 2-feet in diameter. And, for Christmas his kids gave him one of those self-winding wheels for the air hose. The wheel is attached to the garage ceiling and you can just pull out any amount of air hose that you need and then it automatically rewinds when you let go of it. Great for topping off car tire pressure, etc. But you can also replace the nozzle with one that just shoots air when you press the handle.

Occasionally, I take my computers over to his garage to blow out the dust. It works great!

Your first pictures of Little Mac was in dire need of an unlimited stream of air pressure 😉
Just a tip: unless the compressor has an in-line filter on its output it can blow tiny droplets of both oil and water onto your electronics, neither of which is good. Not a huge risk, but worth keeping an eye out for.
 

robbee

King of Cable Management
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The HDPlex 250W GaN is currently not shipping, so for now the original HD Plex 250W dc psu has been cleaned up and cleared for duty.

Are you planning on running that 3060 ti on a 250W PSU? That would leave only 50W for CPU, motherboard and other components. It would be an interesting experiment, but all sounds very tight to me, no?
 

Valantar

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Are you planning on running that 3060 ti on a 250W PSU? That would leave only 50W for CPU, motherboard and other components. It would be an interesting experiment, but all sounds very tight to me, no?
Not to mention the transient power spikes of modern GPUs, which are ... well, quite high. Depends a lot on the specific cards and other parts of the build, but 2x the power rating of the card for an ms or two isn't unusual. Unless that HDPlex has a lot of output capacitance, OPP/OCP shutdowns are likely.
 
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PVC

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Jul 12, 2020
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Just a tip: unless the compressor has an in-line filter on its output it can blow tiny droplets of both oil and water onto your electronics, neither of which is good. Not a huge risk, but worth keeping an eye out for.
Thanks for the tip and I will keep that in mind. Though, I am spoiled by the convivence of just a short walk to get my computers cleaned.😉
 
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Runamok81

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Are you planning on running that 3060 ti on a 250W PSU? That would leave only 50W for CPU, motherboard and other components. It would be an interesting experiment, but all sounds very tight to me, no?

Yes, it is tight! Perhaps my expectations have been spoiled by the "headroom" of the the original HDPlex 250W? It was shown to be good up to 400w if it was kept cool. We know from trying it!

The kill-a-watt power draw of this system at the wall is right at 250W. It's an If... but if... Larry built in the same amount of capacitance and headroom as his last device, we will be fine. If not, we can fallback to the OG 250W, which is currently working fine.


Not to mention the transient power spikes of modern GPUs, which are ... well, quite high. Depends a lot on the specific cards and other parts of the build, but 2x the power rating of the card for an ms or two isn't unusual. Unless that HDPlex has a lot of output capacitance, OPP/OCP shutdowns are likely.

Sure, we need to watch transients. Especially at 4K and with RTX on, transients can hit 2x load. Luckily - averaged across card vendors - transients on the 3060 Ti aren't quite as bad as say the 2x transients seen on 3080 and 3090. They are closer to 1.5x. Max transient on the 3060 Ti is ~320W or so. And I don't see the 3060 Ti running 4K + RTX that often. Source = https://www.igorslab.de/en/nvidia-g...ay-and-point-on-quiet-path-from-this-claw/10/

I say it'll be an interesting test? Did Larry build in enough overhead and capacitance into this GaN psu as he did prior psus? Or is GaN too new and the transient issue of the 3XXX series too much?

 
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msystems

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Per Larry new HDplex has OCP at 300w. It will take some testing to see how it handles gpus. But the track record of HDplex is that you can run them right at the rated amount with some cooling
 
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Runamok81

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Per Larry new HDplex has OCP at 300w. It will take some testing to see how it handles gpus. But the track record of HDplex is that you can run them right at the rated amount with some cooling
Well oof. Then, it's not looking good. I'd like an OCP closer to 400W to handle any kind of modern cpu+gpu combo.
We can always try! 😅 Fallback plan is A4000 with much lower power draw. I do have one I can swap in and try.
 
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msystems

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It's possible that it has enough capacitance that the very short duration transients don't trigger OCP, there's just no way to know until testing.

In the GN video, they are measuring the transients from between the card and the PSU, so it doesn't measure the effect of the PSU's ability to absorb them at all.

I hope the OCP trigger wouldn't see the extreme transients that they are recording.
 
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Valantar

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It's possible that it has enough capacitance that the very short duration transients don't trigger OCP, there's just no way to know until testing.
Given the size of the unit, that is quite doubtful, sadly. Capacitors take up a lot of space.
In the GN video, they are measuring the transients from between the card and the PSU, so it doesn't measure the effect of the PSU's ability to absorb them at all.
There's no other way to measure transient GPU power draw, and if the PSU couldn't handle them it would shut down, so... That's pretty much it. The GPU consumes the amount of energy it does at any given time, and it's up to the PSU to supply that power. If it can't, it can't.


One somewhat silly idea to overcome this would be to buy some large caps and put them across the outputs of the PSU to serve as extra bulk capacitance. Of course the current for charging those when the PSU is turned on would be rather significant, so you might need some sort of current limiting setup (some configuration of resistors?) to avoid that alone triggering OCP. But in theory it could help alleviate this.
 
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