Homemade PC

I've been using a gaming laptop (Packard Bell TS11) as my daily driver and gaming machine for the past few years.

There had been a big performance dip in recent months, and even a few crashes. So I decided to install hardware monitoring software and noticed that the CPU (i5 2450m) would regularly break 100°C, and the GPU (GT 630m) would reach high 90s. This meant I was constantly being thermal throttled, and the computer would occasionally shut down to protect itself.

Something had to be done.

Upon disassembling the laptop, I noticed the cooling system for the CPU and dedicated GPU comprised of a single fan (clogged with dust) with an inlet the size of a R5 coin. And - due to the nature of laptops - everything was crammed together, not allowing for airflow.

After some brainstorming I set about searching the house for a suitable case. I ended up with a video camera (Minolta 8 k170) case from the 1960s. This is what inspired the steampunk theme, which I'm very happy with.

Commence the build.

I sourced the largest, most powerful computer fans available at the local computer store. The inlet fan I placed in a cut-out on the front (see photo attached of me holding it in place), and the exhaust fan on the right side panel. Also, I made a long cut-out on the opposite side panel for the motherboard IO.

Next, I painstakingly removed the motherboard from my laptop. Along came the SSD, power button circuit board and power inlet. The screen, track-pad and keyboard cables were easy enough to disconnect.

I made custom raisers from plastic rod to secure the motherboard in the case. By some miracle it was a PERFECT fit. The power button circuit board was screwed to the back panel with a hole for the button and LED (see photo of back panel), whilst the power inlet was fed through a cut-out below the IO.

I pushed the power button and... it worked!

I planned on using the battery charger to power the fans, but for some reason Windows thought there was no battery inserted. Pfft. Instead I hooked up a USB circuit board (with 2 USBs) to the motherboard.

Now everything was working, but I was a little underwhelmed by the performance. I would consistently hit 87°C whilst gaming, meaning I was still being thermal throttled.

The problem was that USBs output 5V, whilst the fans require 12V. I needed a converter. Unfortunately these didn't ship to South Africa. Fortunately my friend was about to return from a trip to the UK.

With the fans running at max velocity, the last thing needed was a heat sink. I fashioned homemade ones from copper wire, and borrowed another from some old desktop. These I attached to the heat pipes and CPU.

It was complete!

I now rarely push 70°C on either the CPU or GPU. Thanks to the improved thermals, I've been able to significantly overclock both my GPU and CPU. Resulting in about 30% increase in performance. As well as not being thermal throttled results in an additional 50%.

Total expense for the build was R240 (minus the broken jigsaw blade).