Building A Wall Computer

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Building A Wall Computer

As part of Going Low Power project, I built two wall computers. In this post, we talk about wall computers and reducing energy consumption. These two things are separate topics, but they are combined in this post.

Power Consumption

I have two computers that are always ON (24 x7): the firewall, and my desktop. My desktop was consuming energy at the rate of about 130 watts while idle, and the rate went up to 190 watts (or higher) when it was busy. The firewall power usage was comparable. Please see my previous post about Intel Atom board for the details about the economics of conversion to Intel Atom board.

Building a Wall Computer

To build a wall computer, we take a particle board and install on it the motherboard, the power supply, the hard drive(s), and any switches / LEDs. Then install a hook on one side and hang the whole thing on the wall as if it were a picture.

Desktop Wall

Desktop Wall

Here is some pictures of my desktop computer on the wall.

Firewall 1

Firewall 2

Firewall on the wall. :)

Advantages

The biggest advantage is that more desktop or floor space becomes available.

Another big advantage is that I can access the connectors and sockets easily, without having to open and close the case.

Better air circulation.

Easier to clean the dust off.

Eliminating The Fan Noise Problem

One of my biggest problem with my old computer was the fan noise. Whenever I visited a web site that had Flash pages, the computer fan would make a lot of loud whining noise. Even while idle, there would be a constant fan noise. Intel’s Atom based motherboard can be used without a fan as long as there is enough air circulation, and having the motherboard on the wall provides that. The power supply had a fan in it, but I opened it up and disconnected the fan. At 40 watts to power the motherboard and the hard drives, it barely gets warm.

So the only noise that I hear now is coming from the hard drives spinning up or the heads chattering when I access data. And that my friends, I can live with.

Problems

All in all, I am happy with the low power, the silence of the computer, and the extra desktop space. But the problem is this: I have been using Fedora Linux for many years and Intel does not support the Media Graphics Accelerator chip on this motherboard for Linux. What a shame. My screen resolution looks awful, and I can’t use my second monitor. Maybe there is a way, but I have to spend time to figure it out, or return the board (Model D2700MUD).

Perhaps related to lack of Linux graphics drivers, it is somewhat slow. Maybe it works better with Windows 7 / 8, I don’t know.

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