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Rig design points ideas for airline travel?

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July 25, 2012 3:32:58 AM

I'm having one of my staff members build a system for me with the list of components below. The system will ultimately go traveling with me wrapped in about 5 to 10 layers of bubble wrap in one of my suitcases. Not the ideal thing to do with a desktop system, but it must be done. I'm going on extended holiday for for a few months (up to 4 months) next year, and I simply must have my games. If the first thing I have to do after landing is take the system into the local shop to have it repaired due to damage during the flight, then so be it.

At the moment, the system is being built without travel in mind. It's just being set up in a clunky old tower case. At some point in the next 6 months, I'm thinking of addressing some specific design points in order to reduce the system's weight and mitigate potential damage during my flight(s) next year.

Can you guys help me with some of the following ideas and offer any other suggestions that come to mind?


Size and Weight

First off, I'm thinking of ditching the optical drive to save weight. Is removing the optical drive simply a matter of going into the device manager, disabling the device, shutting down the system, physically removing the drive, and then restarting?

Next, I'm thinking of putting the whole rig into a case that's light and somewhat compact. I don't want to end up without adequate space for cooling and such, so I don't want to get too extreme here. I'm just interested in a case that nicely strikes a balance between weight, size, and cooling. Does anybody have some suggestions on what cases might suit?

Aren't power supplies a significant point of weight? Are some power supplies designed with weight saving in mind?


Shock Resistance

Are there some design points that could be addressed in order to improve shock resistance? Like, are there some thicker than standard grommets and such I could use to mount all of the components? Are there any other products or devices that could be installed to improve shock absorption?

System Specs

• Intel Core 2 Quad Processor Q6600 1066MHz 8MB LGA775 CPU
Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO CPU Cooler
• Asus P5B-VM SE LGA775 MATX Motherboard
• DUAL CHANNEL 4GB (4x1GB) DDR-2 667MHZ PC-5400
Intel 330 Series Solid-State Drive 120 GB SATA 6 Gb/s 2.5-Inch - SSDSC2CT120A3K5
• 320GB SATA2 7200rpm 16MB CACHE (HIGH PERFORMANCE)
• 20X DVD-RW DUAL LAYER W/LIGHTSCRIBE
• WIRELESS-G 54MBPS PCI CARD
• BCC MID-TOWER ATX W/TEMP CONTROL LCD (BLACK)
600 Watt Power Supply
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 TI


Thanks a lot for any ideas or guidance.

More about : rig design points ideas airline travel

July 25, 2012 4:07:50 AM

Ditching the optical drive is as simple of shutting down the system and physically removing the drive. Nothing fancy.

It will be easier to pack your entire system in a box with an appropriate amount of protection (bungee cables, packing peanuts, bags of air; don't stick them on the inside, they can build up static), and shipping them via. FedEx.

Your weakest link would be the 320 GB SATA 2 HDD. Consider replacing it with 3 120GB drives. If the cargo hold is unpressurized, your HDD may not survive depending on its specifications.
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July 25, 2012 4:16:36 AM

My opinion is to forget trying to save weight. Buy the case based around a Pelican, and cut the foam to fit. Depending on what country you are going to, you definitely should have a power supply that has a 115/230V switch on the back of it.
Pelican Cases - http://www.pelicancases.com/?gclid=CKKvuoH8s7ECFQbonAod...
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July 25, 2012 4:43:34 AM

Good point about the power supply voltage. Thanks for that. I actually forgot about voltage issues.

Thanks for the idea on the Pelican case, but I'm still interested in getting ideas on the design points in my post.

Weight is quite important with airline travel, perhaps even more important than size. And I like the idea of a system built with at least some attention to the design points I wrote about rather than just sticking all of the components into a case and calling it a day.

Any further help from the community on this project would be much appreciated.
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August 1, 2012 12:25:44 AM

I appreciate the replies but the ideas are not in support of the project I have chosen to undertake. I'm open to alternative ideas that don't address my goals with the PC design itself, but that's not what I need at this time.

If nobody's interested in this post, that's ok. I appreciate the views anyway, and will proceed to do some experimenting on my own.

Perhaps I'm posting in the wrong forum. Perhaps there's a more appropriate area for this kind of discussion as it appears to possibly be somewhat of a niche aspect of PC design. If that is the case, I apologize for troubling the TH community.

If however some folks here would like to discuss and help me with some guidance on how to at least get started in the direction of lightweight and shock resistant PC design, I'd really appreciate it.



Many Thanks,
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August 1, 2012 12:51:01 AM

Part of the problem is your concept of being light and shock resistant! They just never go together without being extremely expensive, if at all possible. To be shock resistant you need a dense material to absorb force, it's simple physics, which in turn adds weight. The only other way is to remove it from the equation and rely on the enclosure to provide the safety of what's inside - which is precisely what Pelican cases are designed for.

With regard to airline travel - I've accumulated roughly 200,000 air miles in 3 years working throughout Europe, I'm pretty versed in what you describe you need, and an extended vacation to me means going from Point A to Point B, Not moving around - therefore the weight really is immaterial.
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a c 113 B Homebuilt system
August 1, 2012 2:04:31 AM

We can address your issues but you need to be more flexible.

The first, and largest problem with your current computer is the CPU cooler. There is simply no way you can or should ship the computer with that cooler in place, because the strain on the area of the CPU socket will be too great.

Secondly, the weight on the PCI-E slot from the GTX 560ti is an issue.

SO, the easiest way to deal with those is to remove them prior to packing. If you have enough packing material inside the case they can be in there, just not installed. Be sure to have extra thermal paste and coffee filters for cooler installations and cleanup of old paste.

If you really want to travel light then get rid of everything except the SSD and GPU and build a faster machine on a smaller form factor.

  • BitFenix Prodigy Arctic White / White Steel / Plastic Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
    A bit heavier than most at this size, but design clearly will reduce shock. Silverstone makes lighter aluminum cases for ITX, as does Lian Li.
  • SeaSonic M12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS 12V v2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
    A quality PSU will be more compatible with the highly variable voltages you will find traveling. You do not need a voltage switch as the active PFC will switch automatically. The modular design means you can leave behind the cables you do not need.
  • G.SKILL Value Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBNT
  • ARCTIC COOLING ACFZ11-LP 92mm Fluid Dynamic Freezer 11 LP Intel CPU Cooler for Power Users
    This cooler has a low center of gravity and bolts to the board, making it more practical to leave in place. (but still bring paste in case)
  • Intel Core i5-3450S Ivy Bridge 2.8GHz (3.5GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 65W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2500 BX80637I53450S
    Strong low voltage quad core for less heat.
  • ASRock Z77E-ITX LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
    Small form factor reduces packing costs, weight, and space.
    TOTAL: $542.94

    Share
    August 1, 2012 3:49:01 AM

    Best answer selected by Camineet.
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    August 1, 2012 4:14:52 AM

    Proximon said:
    We can address your issues but you need to be more flexible.

    The first, and largest problem with your current computer is the CPU cooler. There is simply no way you can or should ship the computer with that cooler in place, because the strain on the area of the CPU socket will be too great.

    Secondly, the weight on the PCI-E slot from the GTX 560ti is an issue.

    SO, the easiest way to deal with those is to remove them prior to packing. If you have enough packing material inside the case they can be in there, just not installed. Be sure to have extra thermal paste and coffee filters for cooler installations and cleanup of old paste.

    If you really want to travel light then get rid of everything except the SSD and GPU and build a faster machine on a smaller form factor.

  • BitFenix Prodigy Arctic White / White Steel / Plastic Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
    A bit heavier than most at this size, but design clearly will reduce shock. Silverstone makes lighter aluminum cases for ITX, as does Lian Li.
  • SeaSonic M12II 520 Bronze 520W ATX12V v2.3 / EPS 12V v2.91 SLI Ready 80 PLUS BRONZE Certified Modular Active PFC Power Supply
    A quality PSU will be more compatible with the highly variable voltages you will find traveling. You do not need a voltage switch as the active PFC will switch automatically. The modular design means you can leave behind the cables you do not need.
  • G.SKILL Value Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1333 (PC3 10666) Desktop Memory Model F3-10666CL9D-8GBNT
  • ARCTIC COOLING ACFZ11-LP 92mm Fluid Dynamic Freezer 11 LP Intel CPU Cooler for Power Users
    This cooler has a low center of gravity and bolts to the board, making it more practical to leave in place. (but still bring paste in case)
  • Intel Core i5-3450S Ivy Bridge 2.8GHz (3.5GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 65W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2500 BX80637I53450S
    Strong low voltage quad core for less heat.
  • ASRock Z77E-ITX LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
    Small form factor reduces packing costs, weight, and space.
    TOTAL: $542.94



  • Thanks for your helpful guidance. I will indeed perform the partial disassembly you described and pack the system as suggested. I've already watched some videos just now on how to remove and reapply thermal paste, so I should be able to handle the job.

    My budget will potentially allow for two items you mentioned along with some other minor incidentals only - thermal paste and a new case. A mostly new system is not possible for me at this time or in the next 12 months, but I will remember your suggested list of components down the road if/when my budget allows for such an endeavor.

    Given the system as it is, do you happen to know if the Prodigy case will fit the components? I have been planning on going with a Corsair Carbide 300R, but I do quite like the Prodigy for its size and might be very interested in moving the system into the Prodigy rather than the Carbide if it will fit.



    Thanks again,
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    August 1, 2012 4:42:12 AM

    I'm watching videos on the Prodigy. The optical drive bay can be removed. The case is designed to be small as hell and allow for high performance components if certain choices are made in components choices (not having too many drives, not having an optical drive). This case is definitely what I've been looking for but thus far had missed it in my searches :love: 

    So, do you think my existing system will fit in the Prodigy?


    Many Thanks,
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    August 1, 2012 5:28:25 AM

    Ah, I'm starting to see that I have a micro-ATX mobo, and the Prodigy only fits the newer mini-ITX boards. Does anybody know if my Q6600 processor will fit in the suggested Asrock mini-ITX mobo? Maybe I could afford just the mobo. Unfortunately, that Ivy Bridge/mobo combo is way outside of my budget. The best I could hope for is to get the Prodigy case, some thermal paste, and the Asrock mini-ITX case at the absolute most. I might be able to push the budget there given the benefits of this awesome Prodigy case. That case is so small. It would make it a lot easier to fit the other numerous items in my checked baggage that I need for my trip(s).

    One other interesting (to me at least) point of this project is that when you buy a new case, or any other new product, you get a box with styrofoam molded pieces that allow for transport without a madeup packing job with peanuts or bubble wrap or other such suboptimal methods required. Since I'm using a hand-me-down case at the moment, I don't have the original box. Anyway, since it's a regular old budget tower, the original box for it might not fit very well in even my largest spinner bag (I've got one that maxes out airline limitations).

    Get this, I once was forced to put a 24" monitor on a plane as checked baggage. During the '08 Olympics in China, you couldn't ship any electronics out of China, and I was leaving Shanghai for greener pastures at the time. Yeah, shipping electronic items into China was no problem, but shipping them out of the country was prohibited for like 3 months - sheer genius. whatever...

    I ended up on a plane with an Xbox and a whole lot of other unplanned sh*t in my baggage along with the monitor as another piece of checked baggage. The monitor was simply in its original box taped shut. It came through with a gouge or two on the box, and that was it. Quite a victory at the time.

    So anyway, the point is, after a lot of travel, I ended up finding out that original boxes with those molded styrofoams are precious. And after some time, I actually end up repairing the eventual cracks in the styrofoams with shipping tape because repaired pieces molded specifically to a product are still superior to peanuts or bubble wrap (maybe, well at least in some ways).

    Anyway, thanks again for the help with this project.

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    August 1, 2012 5:46:17 AM

    Right, so a little bit of googling and I can see that the Asrock mobo with 1155 socket won't accommodate my Q6600 which needs a 775 socket.

    Can somebody suggest a mini-ITX mobo that would be suitable? I found that they can be had for cheap, but I don't want to buy something that doesn't suit:

    http://www.geeks.com/details.asp?invtid=BOXDQ45EK&cat=M...

    How would that be? Or if it's not suitable, is there anything in the $50 or $70 range that would be adequate? $150 for the Asrock would be a bit tough for my budget.
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    August 1, 2012 6:40:30 AM

    Well, I've done read up on the mobo options out there with socket 775, and it's not looking good. Most of these mobos are early mini-ATX products that didn't receive very good reviews. They probably won't perform very well as the foundation of a decent gaming rig like the Asrock would.

    I'll probably have to look forward to this Prodigy project further down the road when I can afford to buy the previously mentioned Asrock/Ivy bridge combo. Hopefully it'll get down to less than $200 in a year or so.

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    a c 113 B Homebuilt system
    August 1, 2012 9:40:24 AM

    You've pretty much arrived at everything I would have said. Socket 775 ITX boards will be rare now. It's a very old platform. Most mini-ITX boards for that socket lack a PCI-E slot.

    You could get a cheap mATX case now
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

    That would save some space and probably weight.
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    August 1, 2012 9:55:57 AM

    Yeah, it looks like I'm stuck with mATX for the next year or so. My lovely new Hyper 212 EVO doesn't even seem to want to fit in a mITX. I've also discovered that I'd need new DDR3 RAM because I currently have DDR2. This project will have to wait for quite a while.

    So I was also just thinking as you suggested, to just stick with mATX for now. Either go with the Carbide I mentioned or just try to enjoy the crappy hand-me-down case I have now.

    But then I looked at the Ranger you suggested.

    8lbs and $40 for the Ranger as opposed to 16lbs and $80 for the Carbide? I'll have to read up on the Ranger for sure. It may be a piece of sh*t compared to the Carbide, but it may very well become my piece of sh*t.

    Seriously, 8lbs is like most of a wardrobe, or a full set of tennis gear, or all of my pharmaceuticals and health care items including electric razors and such.

    Thanks a lot for the suggestion. I'll watch some videos on the Ranger now :D 
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    August 1, 2012 10:08:23 AM

    Hmm... seems like the Ranger M will not be very agreeable with my components. I'll have to keep looking into it though.
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