Alpha Three is a work system; although concessions have been made to reduce the noise output from this system, reliability came first in its development, followed my a focus on optimizing subsystems specifically for dealing with my line of work, professional desktop publication and digital imaging. The old NgTech Labs archives outline a history of Alpha line, from back when it was more of an overclock gaming rig. That page was in dire need of updating, so the old site and its layout along with its (admittedly, severely outdated) images has been dumped in favor of this major revamp, what with the development of an entire new system with its new focus.
Among the special focuses were the graphics subsystem, which is critical for desktop publication/digital imaging, and also on the storage subsystem. Unlike in Sigma One, where the hard drive was chosen for its acoustic performance as well as thermal characteristics, this system's two storage subsystems were set up from the very root to reduce the hard drive bottleneck to the very minimum, a critical factor when you're working, for example, with 16-bits/channel, high-resolution (300-2400dpi), four-channel (CMYK) images, which are often over 300MB in size. To deal with these massive A/V requirements (this system also acts as my DVD ripping/encoding/burning system), I assembled a multiway RAID-0 array using Maxtor's highly A/V-oriented Diamond Max Plus 9 series drives. Because a RAID array of long-access time ATA drives is not exactly the ideal environment for installing and running your OS and application software from, I acquired a bootable LSI Logic Ultra 160 SCSI host adapter, which Windows XP supports natively, and attached Seagate's blazing fast Cheetah 15K.3 series drive to it.
The other critical focal point for my line of work, as I said, is the graphics subsystem. Unlike in gaming, where the focus is on pure speed as well as having an up-to-date, complete feature set (DirectX and OpenGL support), digital imaging relies on high resolutions at high refresh rates, maintained at the most stable and sharp condition possible (consumer level gaming cards tend to utilize cheaper filtering components, resulting in image blurring as refresh rates and resolutions go up); clearly, the Sapphire Radeon 9800 I was utilizing before was not up to the task! I replaced it with a true professional card designed for getting work done, a Matrox Millennium G550; the Radeon now serves heavy duty in Gamma Two, my new gaming rig. While I considered the Parhelia, I felt that the little G550 served all the needs I had, without costing me an arm and a leg, since I did not have any real need for the Parhelia engine's advanced 3D capabilities, being that my line of work is pure 2D.
NgTechnik Design Alpha Three System Specifications:
Enclosure: Antec Sonata with Globe 120mm thermal-control exhaust fan mounted via ear grommets
Power Supply Unit: "Special" Antec TruePower 380 modified with AcoustiFan AF80CT for cooling
System Mainboard: ASUStek P4P800 nonDeluxe
Noise Reduction: System Exhaust and SCSI HDD Cooler attached to black Vantec Nexus NXP-205
Central Processing Unit: Intel Pentium 4 2.6C processor
Central Processor Performance Configuration: 13.0x multiplier * 240.1MHz Front Side Bus Rate = 3120.9MHz Core Rate
Central Processor Running Configuration: 1.872Volts
Central Processor Cooling: Thermalright SP-94, Arctic Silver V, AcoustiProducts 92mm Acoustifan AF92CT
Graphics Acceleration Adapter: Matrox Millennium G550
Display Unit: Beige NEC MultiSync FE1250+ 21" CRT
System Memory Subsystem:
Random Access Memory: Two pieces of 512MB PNY Verto PC3500 Double Data Rate SDRAM (1GB total)
RAM Performance Configuration: Dual-Channel, 5:4 Ratio, DDR384.2 with timings of 7-2-3 and 2.0 CAS Latency
RAM Running Configuration: 2.75Volts
Mass Storage Subsystem:
Operating System and Applications:
Controller: LSI Logic LSIU160 PCI Ultra160 LVD SCSI controller with native Windows XP drivers
Hard Disk Drive Unit: Single Seagate Cheetah ST318453LW Ultra320 LVD SCSI drive, 17.0GB formatted capacity @ 15000rpm
HDD Cooling: Zalman ZM-2HC1 heatpipe cooler with rubber isolated mounting, Vantec HDC-502A heatsink and active cooler
Audio/Visual & Documents/Downloads Archiving and System Operating Cache:
Controller: Promise FastTrak S150 TX4 PCI Four-Channel Native-SATA RAID controller
Hard Disk Drive Units: Triple Maxtor Diamond MAX Plus 9 series 6Y060L0 UATA-133 drives, 60GB at 7200rpm each
RAID Configuration: Three-Way, 64KB-Striping, 229GB total NTFS formatted capacity
Running Configuration: Drives connected to SATA RAID controller through ABIT Serillel SATA->PATA convertors
Optical Media Storage: Black Plextor PX-708A
Alternate Subsystems: Utilizing onboard 3Com Gigabit ethernet controller 3C940
Behold the pictures!
Here's a shot of the system
It has been lined with, "egg crate," foam along
the right side panel, the floor, part of the rear panel,
underneath the 3.5" drive cage and at the base of the 5.25" bay.
You can also clearly see the way the stock Antec case fan has been
remounted to the Zalman fan bracket to cool the VRAM and the northbridge.
Here is a much closer view of just
the case interior.
The PATA->SATA adapters are shown to the right,
the ZM-2HC1 cooler for the SCSI drive is visible
and the two AcoustiFans are visible as well.
This is a shot from the rear side of
The exhaust grill was cut out using tin snips;
it will be lined later to prevent injury.
I removed two of the half-height bay
fascias in order to shoot this nice picture.
With the illumination of the blue LEDs in the Vantec Nexus NXP-205,
you can see, not just its components, but also the HDC-502A
that cools the Cheetah from underneath. Nice?
Please point all comments and inquiries to Edward Ng.