Test Bench Roundup #2: Cooler Master and Homebrew Modded!
Posted on 3rd Feb 2010 at 11:00 by Richard Swinburne with 11 comments
Rolling straight on with part 2, the, uh, final part, in this two part extravaganza of open-top, naked PC goodness. We have a steel entry from Cooler Master that's built like a tank, and another homebrew mod I constructed way back in 2004. It's survived six years of abuse, and it has wheels. Possibly my greatest mod ever and certainly the cheapest.
Number Three: Cooler Master Lab The appropriately named Lab by Cooler Master is build like a tank compared to the other test benches we've seen. The only product that comes pre-built, the combination of extra divider bar in the middle and case-side-panel-thick steel means it'll take a consistent brute force attack of repetitive hardware renewal.
It's so advanced, you can even screw the PSU and optical drives in!
Unfortunately the build quality doesn't extend to the rubber feet, which are stuck on and inevitably become removed after constant jutting about. The biggest failing though, is the motherboard clips . Cooler Master, a lab test bench needs to simply hold the motherboard in place and have quick, effortless removal. It doesn't need to be an anti-theft device!
Clipping the motherboard in and it almost takes a pair of pliers to get it out again. While better than the brass standoff on the MSI, the simplicity of Intel's pointy bits of plastic work for us.
Verdict: Looks great, built like a brick *hithouse and has specific, measured spaces for common hardware, but it appears Cooler Master didn't actually test it on true lab monkeys beforehand.
Number Four: Homebrew bit-tech Mod: It was 2004, before I started working for bit-tech full time. As a freelancer, a student, and an avid modder with his fathers tools to hand, I needed a test-bench and I needed it cheap. This meant doing it the only way I knew how - scrounging for parts and modding it myself.
I just happened to pass a skip full of chipboard down the road from where I lived - large off cuts that sparked an overzealous urge to go dumpster diving.
So I did.
After running/dragging a couple of nicely sized off-cuts back to my parents garage under the cover of darkness like some modding ninja, I measured up the sizes of common components: PSU, hard drives, optical drives, and how big the overall size needed to be for an ATX motherboard.
This was before most people used Sketchup, and I still can't use it anyway, so I resorted to old fashion measure everything twice and guess how it should fit together. Then I set to work with jigsaw in one hand an electric drill in the other! Well, OK, one at a time.
It was constructed of chipboard, with some woodscrews and 90-degree plastic corner joints I found in the back of the cupboard to hold the sides to secure everything together. The advanced cooling includes an 80mm fan screwed in over the "hard drive" slots that blows air down, however the original 120mm at the top and metal hooks to tidy the cables together have been removed. Oh, and the Apple logo came free from Jamie. Thanks, Jamie!
The end result, at the time, is this below - pictured in 2005 with an Intel reference 925X motherboard, Intel Pentium 4 3.2GHz Extreme Edition and Nvidia 6800 GT.
The casters were added a few weeks after, and I can't remember where I acquired them but they were certainly free too.
Verdict: Awesome in every possible way: it has wheels, it has an Apple logo, yet was free, it has specific, measured holes and plenty of space for common PC hardware, it's survived six years of abuse and could probably be dropped down the stairs, and, finally, because it was modded.