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My Windows Home Server Atom D525 Build

My portwell machine finally died. No idea what’s wrong with it. It was never super-reliable to begin with. It would shut down randomly (I presumed due to a flaky power connector—but now I ‘m not so sure). Anyway, I decided to go ahead and build my own Atom D510 PC. This would not normally make much sense financially. I am an MSDN member, and get the OS for free (and I’d use FreeBSD/FreeNAS otherwise). But, to be honest, I did it just because I wanted to, not because it optimizes any specific cost or performance metric.

What follows is a photo diary of how I built this machine, including two external hard drives that I stuck inside the computer case (to save space).

I started with this Gigabyte D525 motherboard/CPU combo (NewEgg used to have it cheaper, but now Amazon has it for the same price with free shipping; I paired it with 4GB of DDR3):

Atom D510 Build 001Atom D510 Build 002

The reason I picked this motherboard is that it has the dual-core D525, and it has a total of 4 SATA connections. Two are on the Intel chipset and one is on a Gigabyte chipset.

I picked up this case for about $20 on Amazon (it’s now $30):

Atom D510 Build 005Atom D510 Build 006

This was the perfect case, because it was cheap. It didn’t come with a fan, but I don’t need one due to the Atom’s low power draw. (The Gigabyte does have a CPU fan on it, and connectors for a system fan if you want one.)

The case included a bunch of extra screws, including standoffs; here’s the motherboard sitting on the standoffs:

Atom D510 Build 008

I also bought this reasonably-priced efficient power supply (now out of stock):

Atom D510 Build 003Atom D510 Build 004

I didn’t want to over-size the supply, since the power efficiency tends to drop as the power increases (unless you need the extra power). If it had been available for cheaper, I’d go with a 180W rather than the 250W. This was the cheapest 80-PLUS power supply I could find.

One hitch between the motherboard and case was that the case’s cut-outs for ports (USB, PS/2 keyboard/mouse, VGA) didn’t line up correctly:

Atom D510 Build 007

Luckily, the Gigabyte also came with its own cut-out that fit perfectly in the case (the case’s cut-out was removable):

Atom D510 Build 009

Some reviewers complained that the power supply’s cables were too short. They were just perfect for my use:

Atom D510 Build 010

I stashed a couple internal (IDE+SATA) hard drives within the case. I also bought a couple SATA to eSATA cables, and stuck a couple external SATA hard drives within the case (just sitting loosely) to save space:

Atom D510 Build 017 cropped

Windows Home Server “Vail” runs pretty smoothly on this machine. I did, in the end, buy another 1 TB hard drive to replace one of the 250 GB hard drives I had in there. I’m very happy with the way this machine turned out.

More pictures:

Atom D510 Build 011Atom D510 Build 012Atom D510 Build 013Atom D510 Build 014

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