I always wanted to have a second computer where I could install Windows Web Server 2008 (or Win7) with IIS, SQL Express 2008 and run, develop and test my hobby projects locally. Well, you know what it’s like to have a second computer – you can do whatever you want on it and never be afraid that you do anything wrong with your work PC :)
My work PC is quite noisy and I just can’t find time to determine which one of 4 coolers is causing the trouble and replace it. So I wanted to build a computer that would be really quiet (or silent at all) so it wouldn’t add any noise and that I could leave it working at night if required. Then I thought that I didn’t need this computer to be really powerful – I wasn’t going to encode video on it :) And I could save a fortune on buying something that wasn’t a cutting-edge most powerful Core 2 Duo Quad Extreme Mega Turbo Something with 64 gigs of RAM.
I’ve been reading a lot about nvidia ION platform recently and thought it would be the best solution for the task – extremely small and nearly silent platform with great specs: dual-core Atom 330 CPU, up to 4 gigs of RAM, good Nvidia graphics card. But then first motherboard with NVIDIA ION and Atom 330 was announced – ZOTAC IONITX-A-U, which is great but according to different sources would cost $300, which is way too much for such a device.
So I had a look at Intel’s motherboard – D945GCLF2D. Yes it has Intel GMA950 video chipset, but as this machine was considered to be used without a monitor, I didn’t care which video card it would have. It also doesn’t have a WI-FI, but at the moment I’ll just plug it in the network switch and if required will add a wi-fi card later. And the price was great – I was able to get the motherboard and a 2Gb memory card at $125 total. I already had a HDD but had to buy a power supply – and here it is, a computer for 160 dollars. 2 Gb RAM, integrated dual-core Atom 330 CPU, 80 Gb HDD and 2 Gb USB flash card for Ready Boost – a great local web and database server, NAS and download box.
The only noise I can hear from it is a small noise of power supply cooler – so I plan to measure what power consumption this system has and get a fanless power supply fitting this motherboard needs. And also I’m planning to build my own case for it – something that could be screwed to the wall near the network switch.
And I’m also sure that such a computer would be ideal for most office needs – it’s capable of doing any office work, it’s really cheap ($300 with any of the great mini ITX cases on the market) and it’s small so it won’t take precious office space.
Awesome, just awesome.