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Re: A silent computer as a multi-purpose home server / ASUS Terminator C3



I got the ASUS Terminator C3 last week! Here is my summary, as promised. 

(Just to remind everyone, Terminator C3 is a small barebone with a VIA
C3 processor, CD-ROM and floppy drives, which accepts DDR memory, and
costs only 115 USD.)

First of all, it is really much smaller than I thought it was going to be. :-) 

Fans:
There are two fans: one cool the C3 processor and another is a 90 or
92 mm exhaust fan. The fans are very noisy! Luckily, both fans are
connected with a standard 3-pin connector right to the motherboard, so
used a Zalman MC-1 (with 5V connector) for the exhaust fan, and Zalman
Fan Mate 2 for the cpu-fan. BIOS had only one option for fan controls:
"Q-FAN Function: [Enable/Disable]", and I didn't find it quiet enough,
although it was controlling both fans.

The barebone came with a thick printed documentation, although the
docs do not mention much about the specifications of the case,
specifically, of what is the size of the exhaust fan is (read "how
could I know for sure if I need to buy a 90 or 92 mm exhaust fan
replacement to improve acoustics/air circulation?"). Moreover, they
seem to have supplied a different BIOS that does not have any
additional Q-FAN controls that are outlined in the documentation (I'd
love to have those advertised controls!).

I was disappointed, although not surprised, that the system didn't
came with a spare IDE cable for the hard-drive. I had to install the
HDD on the same cable as the CD-ROM, so the HDD interface speed
appears to be limited, according to OpenBSD (it is still on an 80-wire
cable, though).

The system seemed to be very fast in the console, but as soon as I've
written "startkde" in the terminal, I realised that the system is
terribly slow! Processor idle was around 5% and it was starting very
slowly (first start was more than a minute). Anyhow, what was I
expecting? :-)

Overall, the system appears to be all right and rather quiet (after my
modifications). Certainly, if they have had packaged the interface
cables for the hard-drive, it would have been very nice. In addition,
I'd prefer the possibility of installing an 80mm fan instead of the
supplied fan of both unpopular and unknown size (90 or 92mm, the
supplied exhaust fan that is).

My only problem now is the high-pitched whine of the otherwise silent
Hitachi hard-drive... I'm thinking of replacing it with a 2.5" 4200rpm
notebook-style drive (Fujitsu MHT2040AT).

2.5" drives have different power connectors, don't they? Would it be
easier to buy some USB 2.0 external enclosure for 20 USD from
newegg.com and put the drive into the enclosure? Will it work with
OpenBSD and my BIOS? (If it's not going to work with BIOS, I assume
that creating a special boot floppy or CD should solve the problem,
right?) Is performance going to suffer greatly with the introduction
of a USB 2.0 link before the drive? The idea of external drive
otherwise sounds pleasing, as I would always be able to switch the
whole system to a different hardware very easily.

Here comes the dmesg:

OpenBSD 3.6 (GENERIC) #59: Fri Sep 17 12:32:57 MDT 2004
    deraadt_(_at_)_i386_(_dot_)_openbsd_(_dot_)_org:/usr/src/sys/arch/i386/compile/GENERIC
cpu0: VIA Samuel 2 ("CentaurHauls" 686-class) 800 MHz
cpu0: FPU,DE,TSC,MSR,MTRR,PGE,MMX
real mem  = 502833152 (491048K)
avail mem = 451829760 (441240K)
using 4278 buffers containing 25243648 bytes (24652K) of memory
mainbus0 (root)
bios0 at mainbus0: AT/286+(63) BIOS, date 01/06/05, BIOS32 rev. 0 @ 0xfbba0
apm0 at bios0: Power Management spec V1.2
apm0: AC on, battery charge unknown
pcibios0 at bios0: rev 2.1 @ 0xf0000/0xdfa4
pcibios0: PCI IRQ Routing Table rev 1.0 @ 0xfdf20/128 (6 entries)
pcibios0: PCI Exclusive IRQs: 5 10 11
pcibios0: PCI Interrupt Router at 000:17:0 ("VIA VT82C596A ISA" rev 0x00)
pcibios0: PCI bus #1 is the last bus
bios0: ROM list: 0xc0000/0xf200 0xd0000/0x8000!
cpu0 at mainbus0
pci0 at mainbus0 bus 0: configuration mode 1 (no bios)
pchb0 at pci0 dev 0 function 0 "VIA VT8623 PCI" rev 0x00
ppb0 at pci0 dev 1 function 0 "VIA VT8633 AGP" rev 0x00
pci1 at ppb0 bus 1
vga1 at pci1 dev 0 function 0 "VIA CLE266" rev 0x03: aperture at
0xe4000000, size 0x10000000
wsdisplay0 at vga1: console (80x25, vt100 emulation)
wsdisplay0: screen 1-5 added (80x25, vt100 emulation)
"VIA VT6306 FireWire" rev 0x80 at pci0 dev 9 function 0 not configured
pciide0 at pci0 dev 15 function 0 "VIA VT8237 SATA" rev 0x80: DMA
pciide0: using irq 11 for native-PCI interrupt
pciide1 at pci0 dev 15 function 1 "VIA VT82C571 IDE" rev 0x06: ATA133,
channel 0 configured to compatibility, channel 1 configured to
compatibility
wd0 at pciide1 channel 0 drive 0: <HDS722580VLAT20>
wd0: 16-sector PIO, LBA48, 78533MB, 160836480 sectors
atapiscsi0 at pciide1 channel 0 drive 1
scsibus0 at atapiscsi0: 2 targets
cd0 at scsibus0 targ 0 lun 0: <ASUS, CD-S520/A4, 1.32> SCSI0 5/cdrom removable
wd0(pciide1:0:0): using PIO mode 4, Ultra-DMA mode 2
cd0(pciide1:0:1): using PIO mode 4, Ultra-DMA mode 2
pciide1: channel 1 disabled (no drives)
uhci0 at pci0 dev 16 function 0 "VIA VT83C572 USB" rev 0x81: irq 10
usb0 at uhci0: USB revision 1.0
uhub0 at usb0
uhub0: VIA UHCI root hub, class 9/0, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1
uhub0: 2 ports with 2 removable, self powered
uhci1 at pci0 dev 16 function 1 "VIA VT83C572 USB" rev 0x81: irq 10
usb1 at uhci1: USB revision 1.0
uhub1 at usb1
uhub1: VIA UHCI root hub, class 9/0, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1
uhub1: 2 ports with 2 removable, self powered
uhci2 at pci0 dev 16 function 2 "VIA VT83C572 USB" rev 0x81: irq 11
usb2 at uhci2: USB revision 1.0
uhub2 at usb2
uhub2: VIA UHCI root hub, class 9/0, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1
uhub2: 2 ports with 2 removable, self powered
uhci3 at pci0 dev 16 function 3 "VIA VT83C572 USB" rev 0x81: irq 11
usb3 at uhci3: USB revision 1.0
uhub3 at usb3
uhub3: VIA UHCI root hub, class 9/0, rev 1.00/1.00, addr 1
uhub3: 2 ports with 2 removable, self powered
ehci0 at pci0 dev 16 function 4 "VIA VT6202 USB 2.0" rev 0x86: irq 5
ehci0: EHCI version 1.0
ehci0: companion controllers, 2 ports each: uhci0 uhci1 uhci2 uhci3
usb4 at ehci0: USB revision 2.0
uhub4 at usb4
uhub4: VIA EHCI root hub, class 9/0, rev 2.00/1.00, addr 1
uhub4: 8 ports with 8 removable, self powered
pcib0 at pci0 dev 17 function 0 "VIA VT8237 ISA" rev 0x00
auvia0 at pci0 dev 17 function 5 "VIA VT8233 AC97" rev 0x60: irq 5
ac97: codec id 0x41445368 (Analog Devices <68>)
ac97: codec features headphone, 20 bit DAC, No 3D Stereo
audio0 at auvia0
vr0 at pci0 dev 18 function 0 "VIA RhineII-2" rev 0x78: irq 10 address
00:11:d8:xx:xx:xx
ukphy0 at vr0 phy 1: Generic IEEE 802.3u media interface
ukphy0: OUI 0x004063, model 0x0032, rev. 10
isa0 at pcib0
isadma0 at isa0
pckbc0 at isa0 port 0x60/5
pckbd0 at pckbc0 (kbd slot)
pckbc0: using irq 1 for kbd slot
wskbd0 at pckbd0: console keyboard, using wsdisplay0
pcppi0 at isa0 port 0x61
midi0 at pcppi0: <PC speaker>
sysbeep0 at pcppi0
lpt0 at isa0 port 0x378/4 irq 7
lm0 at isa0 port 0x290/8: W83627THF
npx0 at isa0 port 0xf0/16: using exception 16
pccom0 at isa0 port 0x3f8/8 irq 4: ns16550a, 16 byte fifo
fdc0 at isa0 port 0x3f0/6 irq 6 drq 2
fd0 at fdc0 drive 0: 1.44MB 80 cyl, 2 head, 18 sec
biomask ff6d netmask ff6d ttymask ffef
pctr: user-level cycle counter enabled
dkcsum: wd0 matched BIOS disk 80
root on wd0a
rootdev=0x0 rrootdev=0x300 rawdev=0x302


Cheers,
Constantine.