X-Case RM400 and Asus E35M1-M PRO Motherboard Installation

So I’ve just finished installing the motherboard in the case, after a while spent moving the stand-offs around to accommodate the microATX motherboard. Here are the shots of the motherboard in the case, and the rear panel for the motherboard.

As you can see, the motherboard takes up barely any room in the case, which might be a downside, because I’m going to potentially run into issues with SATA cable length, but it’s excellent, because it means it will give the passively cooled processor far more room for the air to circulate, keeping the internal case temperature lower.

The Blog….Fixed

So it seems that the blog has been offline for about three or four weeks without my knowledge.

The only thing that actually led me to the problem was when logged into LinkedIn last week, I saw that the site wasn’t able to pull my RSS feed.

After much investigation and troubleshooting with the PHP side of things, it turns out that a problem with the hosts MySQL database engine caused one of the tables to become dirty and needed repairing.

Soon, I’ll be moving the blog to a new dedicated MySQL database as it currently shares its database with another product, Simple Machines SMF Forum, however I’ve just been given some extra databases from the host for gratis.

Past the First Hurdle, but In a New Camp

Since my last post about the new Home Server project, I’ve received financial backing in the form of overtime at work to start the purchasing, and I’ve also received WAF (Wife Approval Factor) in that the new server will be near silent, give us much greater storage capacity while cutting the overall power consumption significantly.

Late last week, I ordered the case for the project and the motherboard with a twist.

Since my last post on all things Home Server back in March, I have discovered a new product, recently released by AMD square in the playing field of the Intel Atom. The processor is the AMD E-350 Zacate, based on the AMD Fusion platform. The platform is designed for high performance, yet low power consumption, while integrating HD video capabilities and other top end features into the chipset.

So moving away from the Asus AT3IONT-I board with the Intel Atom 330 processor, I have instead gone for the Asus E35M-1-M PRO motherboard, being an AMD fanboy in a previous life.

This motherboard is microATX by contrast to the Intel board, which was miniITX. This shift in form factor gives me more flexibility due to the increased number of PCI Express slots and also means there is room for more powerful chipset on the motherboard. The net result, is a motherboard, which, for a little over £100 gives you a 18W TDP processor which can be passively cooled, or actively cooled with the optional CPU fan included, support for up to 8GB DDR3 memory, 2x PCI, 1x PCIe 1x and 1x PCIe 16x, 5 SATA-II 6Gbps ports supporting JBOD, RAID0 and RAID1, Gigabit LAN, USB 3.0, HDMI, DVI-D and VGA video output, along with SPIDIF optical out for audio.

The new motherboard sees the power consumption up from 12W to 18W, however this extra 6W, based on the performance benchmarks and a recent review from TheWindowsBlog on Twitter which you can read at the Windows Team Blog site really seems worth it. The motherboard they reviewed is actually the miniITX version of the board, which lacks a couple of the features I have, but the processor and chipset is identical.

Forum topics on sites like The Green Button and AVForums are all suggesting that this processor and video card combo, in a HTPC scenario are more than capable of handling two simultaneous HD streams, something the Atom can’t manage on it’s own.

With the motherboard in hand, I have to say it’s a really nice looking board, and the features still blow me away for such a small and tightly integrated package.

The case is another ball game. The pictures over on the X-Case website really don’t do it justice. The 4U chassis has large slots in it’s front to allow for decent airflow. Unlocking the front panel allows you to lower the flap to reveal the internal air filter and two 80mm fans, with the air filter mounted in front to stop the case inhaling the dust. Inside the case, you have ample room for even a Full ATX board, so my microATX board is going to be swamped inside, but at least it will have six of the ten 3.5” drive bays full with 2TB Western Digital Green disks to keep it company.

I’ll be assembling the motherboard in the case later today, and will grab a picture. Next month, I will hopefully be ordering the memory and the power supply which will give me enough to get the machine powered on and to configure the EFI BIOS settings how I want them before ordering the RAID controller and the disks last.

In light of the additional PCI slots, I am currently thinking about adding an Intel Dual Port Server NIC to the machine so that I can setup a team to give me more throughput and redundancy on the network, as this is what I currently have setup in my existing Dell PowerEdge SC1425 box.