Wednesday, May 24, 2006

P2-AE2 : Optical Drive

I've had my Pundit for about four months, and it's been happily running on my desktop all this time (and silently). Because of how I placed it, when the optical drive tray is open, the bottom faces me and I have to reach around to put in a CD/DVD. Flipping over the drive (mounting it upside down) would solve this problem. As I rarely use the optical drive, I didn't look into this possibility until today.

The optical drive cage and the bottom of the HDD cage are on one frame, which is held down to the bottom of the Pundit's case at three points. After removing the top of the HDD cage, this frame can be removed simply by sliding/pushing it towards the back of the case and lifting it up.


I had to first remove my larger 80mm CPU fan in order to slide the frame back, however with the stock 70mm fan it probably is not necessary.






Here is a closeup of the three points where the frame is held to the base. One on the right side (near the optical drive) and two on the left side (near the HDD).









The optical drive slides into the frame and is held in place with two screws on each side. The screws on the left side are actually recessed from the edge (this can be seen from the bottom).







In the back, there is also an interface board/plate attached to the drive with two screws. This converts the regular IDE plug and a FDD sized power plug into what I assume is the standard interface plug for slim optical drives.

Here you can see both sides of this interface board/plate.







And here is the Toshiba SD6112 slim DVD-RW that came with my Pundit.












As you may have guessed, the asymmetrical mounting holes (one side recessed) means the drive can only be mounted one way. So unfortunately mounting the optical drive upside down is not an option (and any drilling or frame deformation is not in my plans).


However I hope this take-apart helps poster Coconut who asked about the possibility to install an optical drive in a Pundit that comes without one. I believe the mounting holes, size, and interface should be pretty standard and therefore any standard slim optical drive should be fine. From the images of the NEC-6750A on Newegg.com, it looks nearly identical to my optical drive and I do not see any reason why it wouldn't fit.
However you do need to be sure the Pundit barebone you are getting does include the interface card/panel. This is attached directly to the optical drive, so if your Pundit comes without an optical drive this would have to be taped to the frame or packaged seperately in the box with the screws(assuming it is included).

One thing to note, the opening on the front panel does make for a snug fit for the optical drive tray. As the drive frame is only slid into place (and also there is some play in the front panel), you do need to carefully line up the frame. This is not difficult, but just may take some trial and error and may need some adjustment over time.

Pundit Bared
With the drive frame removed, I did take a few shots that show more parts of the motherboard I didn't see before.







Here is a better look at the mini-PCI slot at the left. I suppose it is possible to find a mini-PCI wireless adapter and plug it into the Pundit for an internal wifi solution. Also the BIOS chip can be seen in the lower left corner.








On the right we see the power switch connector (green and white wires) and also an AUX and CD AUDIO connectors. I do not believe slim optical drives have the CD AUDIO connectors so not sure what this could be used for. Maybe some extra audio-in connections if you decide to use the Pundit as a recording station?






And since I have the Pundit open, a quick check to see how the foam/cool pack/notebook HDD/pencil case enclosure is holding up. There have been one or two users who reported finding condensation in such a setup, but fortunately I found no such signs. All felt dry and everything pretty much looked the same as four months ago.






Only the foam showed an impression of where it was pressed against the HDD and also seemed slightly whiter at the same spot. Possibly due to the extended exposure to the hot surface of the HDD, but it didn't seem to be anything of alarm.







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16 Comments:

At 5/30/2006 10:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hifriday, sorry it's taken me a while to reply. I've been very busy off the forums for a few days.

Thanks for taking the trouble to post the photos and details of the Pundit's optical drive! It's really helpful and is bound to come in handy when I assemble the Pundit in a couple of days.

I placed an order for it a few days ago and am awaiting delivery. At £111.61 without optical drive, it wasn't exactly a sweet deal, but I was very keen on a near-silent system that would be fairly easy for the non-technical user to assemble, and the Pundit was the only thing that seemed to fit the bill.

I don't know if the box I'm getting includes the interface panel for the optical drive, though I certainly hope so.

I'm thinking of buying the Pioneer DVR-K06, which is a slot-loading drive, so that I don't have to reach around to put in a CD/DVD in the drive tray if I decide to place the Pundit vertically. However, the DVR-K06 is 129mm in depth, which is 3mm longer than the Toshiba SD-R6112 that came with your Pundit. Do you think that there is enough space at the back to accommodate this drive? If not, I could get the DVR-K16 (tray-loading) which is 127mm deep.

I'm also hoping to replace the stock AMD fan with a 80x15 Panaflo (the Zalman being unavailable in the UK), but first I'll wait and see what the AMD fan sounds like.

Thanks ever so much for all the info.

Coconut

 
At 5/31/2006 12:09 PM, Blogger mmstac said...

Coconut,
A slot loading optical drive definitely sounds nice, and I don't think the extra 3mm depth will be any problem. Several user comments on Newegg however do mention a flimsy faceplate so something to be aware of.
For the CPU fan, actually the Pundit cooler comes with it's own stock fan so you can try that first to see if it's quiet enough for you. Using Speedfan will also allow you more control to decide how you want to balance temps/noise. If that's not quiet enough then you can try the AMD or look into finding a 80x15mm fan.

 
At 6/01/2006 6:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My Pundit arrived today, and rather unexpectedly it came with a pre-installed combo drive...

Unfortunately, on opening the case I noticed that the ribbon cable had been jammed. (I've posted some pics on the spcr forum, in the SFF and Barebones subforum).

Dilemma: I doubt I can fix this myself, but on the other hand the Pundit looks rather lovely...

coconut

 
At 6/08/2006 1:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Coconut,

I am trying to find a UK supplier for Pundit+CD/DVD combo. Where did you buy yours?

Aahz

 
At 6/08/2006 11:26 PM, Blogger mmstac said...

I believe Coconut bought it from www.ebuyer.com. More in his post at SPCR http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=31818

 
At 7/25/2006 9:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Coconut again. I was wondering if you've ever had the chance to hook up your Pundit to a regular 17" or 19" monitor, and if so how did you like the image quality? I recently bought a Samsung SM770p monitor and text reproduction leaves much to be desired. Text is shimmering, and there is a white shadow around each character when black text is displayed on a grey background. I'm not sure if this is a problem with the onboard graphics in the Pundit or with the monitor itself.

I'm otherwise quite happy with the Pundit, it's been performing well despite the cabling issue.

 
At 7/27/2006 2:22 AM, Blogger mmstac said...

Hi Coconut, my Pundit is connected to a 16" Eizo LCD which has a native resolution of 1280x1024. I've also connected it to a 20" and 24" Dell LCD without any issues. The onboard VGA should have no problems driving a 17" or 19" LCD.
Did you previously connect your Pundit to another LCD or CRT? Did you have the same image problems? If no, then you might try checking the VGA cable/connectors are plugged in securely. Also be sure your Windows resolution is set the same as your screen's native resolution (I believe 1280x1024 @ 60hz for the SM770P). Also try the LCD's AUTO ADJUST function in the OSD menu (sometimes turning it off and on will do the same). Finally if that doesn't work, you might want to try installing the monitor drivers and running MagicTune per Samsung's manual to see if that improves the image.

 
At 7/28/2006 12:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the feedback! I tried all of the above and more but to no avail. I think the problem must lie with the monitor itself rather than the onboard graphics in the Pundit because I previously had it connected to a CRT and then a 19” Sony LCD without any issues.

I was wondering whether you might be able to recommend a good all-round monitor for the Pundit? I want to use it mainly for office tasks, web-browsing and movies. I’m not a gamer so I’m not bothered about response time. I’ve been looking at 17” and 19” monitors because I thought anything above that would stretch the Pundit beyond its limits. Unfortunately, most 17” and 19” monitors these days feature TN panels which suffer from narrow viewing angles and poor colour reproduction. I asked around and was recommended the SM770p but the text quality of this particular sample makes it unusable for web-browsing, and I don’t like to use ClearType which might have masked the problem. Any ideas?

 
At 7/28/2006 4:44 PM, Blogger mmstac said...

Hi Coconut, I'm a little surprised as it's unusual in this day and age for an LCD to have poor quality text, especially a Samsung (and I believe mid-high end model). Personally I've had luck with Dells (19" at work, 20"/24" at home) but this is the previous generation/models. All are sharp, bright, good contrast, low cost (only complaint 24" does not have good viewing angle, 20" slightly uneven backlight - but only noticable if you stare at an all black screen). I heard the current generation Dells are slightly lower quality though. You might want to check out CNET and TomsHardware which uses a colorimeter, and measures brightness/contrast, and some subjective comments on viewing video (interpret the data yourself, as Tom's conclusions not always logical).

 
At 7/31/2006 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The “sampling clock” in the SM770p seems to have difficulty synchronising with the “pixel clock” in the Pundit’s graphics card. I’m able to correct this temporarily by visiting the following test page and running Auto-Setup but it’s not long before the “clock” starts drifting again (usually within an hour or so):
http://www.techmind.org/lcd/phasing.html
Having only ever owned a laptop before, I don't know if this is typical of all desktop LCD monitors connected via analogue connection. My local library is equipped with dozens of Dell UltraSharp 1504FP monitors which are all hooked up via VGA to Dell computers with onboard graphics, and I've never noticed any shimmering on those; the image always looks very stable.
I’ve written to the author of the above phasing test and his advice was to try temporarily swapping the monitor with one from a known-good system so as to have some guide as to whether it is the monitor or the graphics card which is most to blame... Unfortunately, I don’t have another LCD to hand, but I was wondering whether you might be able to do the phasing test with your Eizo hooked up to the Pundit and let me know the results. According to the author of the test, “if you auto-adjust the monitor half an hour after switching everything on, it should hopefully stay good for the remaining of the session”.

 
At 8/02/2006 1:37 AM, Blogger mmstac said...

Hi Coconut, I've used analog connection on many LCDs and haven't experienced any phase/clock drifting before. Themight have needed to initiate an adjust was after changing resolution/refresh rate. If your laptop has a VGA port, you might try to see how it fares with the Samsung. Otherwise PowerStrip is a utility that will allow you to tweak clock/phase of your video card (among other things) if you want to see if that makes any difference. It probably would be easier just to ask a neighbor if you could try your monitor on their PC.

 
At 8/27/2006 4:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

mmstac hi again, I ended up returning the SM770p and replacing it with a 19" LG monitor with which I'm quite happy. Text is free from shimmering and the Auto-adjust button works well. I also tried swapping the Asus fan with the AMD fan that came with the CPU. I used a knife to make the fan fit onto the heatsink, but when I switched on the Pundit the fan spinned for a few seconds and then stopped. Is this normal? The Asus fan stays on all the time (although it does slow down after boot). Fearing that the CPU would overheat I quickly turned off the Pundit and put the Asus fan back on. I then noticed that the AMD fan I got is slightly different from yours; mine is rated at 0.14A but I don't know whether that would make any difference as regards fan behaviour.

 
At 8/27/2006 10:55 PM, Blogger mmstac said...

Hi Coconut, glad you solved your monitor issue. Depending on your Qfan settings, probably the low speed setting is below the startup voltage of your AMD fan. As soon as your CPU warms up, Qfan should increase the voltage and your fan should start spinning so you shouldn't need to worry. If you use Speedfan, you can adjust the low speed setting just high enough to keep the fan spinning.

 
At 8/28/2006 5:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, mmstac. The AMD fan does make a difference on my system; the fan noise is much smoother and unlike the Asus fan this one does not make annoying clicking sounds at low rpms. I experimented with Speedfan but eventually settled on the "Auto on CPU temp" setting in Advanced Configuration as this just keeps the fan spinning under light load. I'm also on the look-out for a suitable case for the HD which is now the noisiest component on the Pundit. I did find a pencil case but couldn't get it to fit inside the HD cage. I'll find a smaller case I hope... Anyway, thanks ever so much for your patience and for all the fantastic stuff you've put onto here.
Coconut

 
At 1/03/2007 9:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi..
Please, do you know if there is possibility to change CPU voltage to 1.2V from BIOS?
Thankes
XioN

 
At 1/04/2007 1:23 PM, Blogger mmstac said...

The P2AE2 BIOS does not allow CPU voltage to be changed so you would need to do it via software with CrystalCPUID or a similar utility.

 

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