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New Build Mini ITX Weird Question

Last response: in Systems
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November 21, 2012 12:52:03 AM

Hi all,

A few days ago, I posted about building a new mini ITX system. Here's the weird question - I'm a smoker (I know, you don't have to tell me...) and I have to use my computer in an uninsulated, unheated garage in northeast USA. How bad would it be to leave my system and monitor in the garage year round? Otherwise, I would have to lug it outside in the morning and back in at night. It sometimes gets to around zero degees Fahrenheit in winter (very occasionally below) and over 90 in summer sometimes. If I wrap it in something in the winter, would that work? If it's going to be really hot, I can bring it in sometimes in the summer, but it's heavy! :lol: 

I know it's an odd question, but if I can't do it I have to buy a so-called cheap gaming laptop with the larger price and the lesser performance...and the Black Friday sales are here so I have to decide now.

Thanks so much!
November 21, 2012 2:25:40 AM

I would not smoke around your computer very much. It can damage components and keep temperatures high. In fact, I wouldn't recommend keeping it in the garage at all. Don't you have a room where you could place a desk to put it on? That's much better than keeping it in a freezing, unventilated, smokey room.
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November 21, 2012 3:46:44 AM

I know I shouldn't :-). But the garage is actually pretty ventilated and pretty big, like 300 sq ft or so. It's just not heated. I wouldn't recommend keeping it in the garage either, but I just can't see carrying it in the house every night like I do the current useless "gaming" laptop. It's either do that or buy another "gaming" laptop that I put in its bag and carry in the house every night. I know I'm not doing right by it, but will it survive? LOL.
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November 21, 2012 4:14:23 AM

Are you planning to switch it on and off.

We left a computer in the unheated garage over the winter(Canada so good and cold), but it was left on. No problems other then it giving a cpu too cold error on startup.

Please note this was an old system(intel celeron 466mhz :)  ) so I do not care if it fails, another one will take it's place :) 

I have seen systems from actual service centers(garage) and truth is they are scary to look at, but they seem to just keep going and going.

A system left off all should will not hurt it
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November 21, 2012 4:14:56 AM

In theory it should be fine
Circuitry has quite high tolerance to temps when being stored (not in use) and while in use should be reasonably stable operating temps

In practice who knows could be fine, could not be, depends how dirty the environment is, will u be smoking at your pc etc.. lots of factors can affect things
does it get damp etc..
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November 21, 2012 5:01:27 AM

I really hate to even ask this question because I would prefer to treat it properly :-). But, I would also rather not carry it in and out of the house because it's heavy LOL. It shouldn't get damp when I shut it down and close the doors for the night. I would be starting it in the morning and turning it off at night. I can also wrap the monitor in its foam wrap and put it in its box for the night. I can also wrap the computer. I dunno - what do you guys think? If I wrap it in thermal wrap or something? Yes, I'm going to smoke around it, but I always have :-). I just don't know what temp differences do to it...should I just buy the stupid useless "gaming" laptop and put it in its bag every night in the house?
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November 21, 2012 5:13:09 AM

nukemaster said:
Are you planning to switch it on and off.

We left a computer in the unheated garage over the winter(Canada so good and cold), but it was left on. No problems other then it giving a cpu too cold error on startup.

Please note this was an old system(intel celeron 466mhz :)  ) so I do not care if it fails, another one will take it's place :) 

I have seen systems from actual service centers(garage) and truth is they are scary to look at, but they seem to just keep going and going.

A system left off all should will not hurt it


I have seen those computers at the service centers! I would turn it on and off, on in the morning and off at night. I don't want to waste the electric by leaving it on. Does that make a difference?
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November 21, 2012 2:23:14 PM

The problem with on and off is that when it goes off. it gets cold. Then when it warms up the next day it may face condensation problems(this can suck for something like the hard drive). The general instructions for almost all computer parts say to let them warm to "room"(I would assume this does not cover if room temp is 0f :)  ) temperature over an hour or 2.

What are you using this system for? I mean if its just some excel or research a cheap netbook or tablet(web excel app) may do the trick.
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November 22, 2012 11:36:26 PM

Nope, it's for gaming so it doesn't sound like leaving it outside is the best plan. I'm going to post a new build in the new build section and promise I'll put it in a semi-heated enclosure when I'm done with it every day :ange:  Thanks for your help!
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November 23, 2012 12:30:24 AM

I think you'll be fine as long as you use a solid state drive. The biggest problem is regular hard drive. It contracts when cold and then the heads and disks can expand at different rates which may cause read error, or worse, damage. If you were running a solid state, you are probably fine as it's not mechanical.

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November 23, 2012 12:48:35 AM

twelve25 said:
I think you'll be fine as long as you use a solid state drive. The biggest problem is regular hard drive. It contracts when cold and then the heads and disks can expand at different rates which may cause read error, or worse, damage. If you were running a solid state, you are probably fine as it's not mechanical.

That a VERY good point. SSDs have a rather wide operating temperature as well.

Condensation is still a bit worrisome for the rest of the system.
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November 23, 2012 12:51:02 AM

twelve25 said:
I think you'll be fine as long as you use a solid state drive. The biggest problem is regular hard drive. It contracts when cold and then the heads and disks can expand at different rates which may cause read error, or worse, damage. If you were running a solid state, you are probably fine as it's not mechanical.


Really? See how much I know :lol:  But how would I store games and stuff on such a small drive? I keep hearing how much room they take up. Notice, I have not gamed and know nothing about it, but I would like to start. I have played games of the Diner Dash variety and I'm sick of them. And, from what I can tell, solid states are so expensive! So cold and heat wouldn't hurt the video card or PSU or RAM? That would be great! Would they hurt the monitor? Cuz that's kind of big to carry around, too!

Thanks so much!
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November 23, 2012 2:24:48 AM

Here's an article from Intel (PDF format) talking about cold and laptops, but it definitely applies. I knew about hard drives, but according to Intel, it appears LCDs can freeze quite easily (liquid inside) and condensation is an issue.

http://download.intel.com/it/pdf/Protect_Cold_PC.pdf

Maybe a laptop stored inside is the way to go?
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November 23, 2012 2:35:06 AM

twelve25 said:
Here's an article from Intel (PDF format) talking about cold and laptops, but it definitely applies. I knew about hard drives, but according to Intel, it appears LCDs can freeze quite easily (liquid inside) and condensation is an issue.

http://download.intel.com/it/pdf/Protect_Cold_PC.pdf

Maybe a laptop stored inside is the way to go?


Using the desktop inside is the perfect solution - being a smoker and a gamer is not a good combination :lol:  . I can carry the monitor inside, no problem. I don't want it to freeze. As long as it's on, I assume it won't freeze. I'll just make sure to keep waking it all up during the day. At night, I can bring it in when I'm done. If that doesn't work, well then I'll just cry because I don't want another laptop that I can't fix.
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November 23, 2012 2:49:19 AM

Well I know easier said than done, but quitting smoking seems like the best way to go here. You'll have an extra $1000 a year to spend on a killer rig for indoors, too! But who I am I to talk, I can't even quit Dew :) 

You know, I hate to even mention this when 2013 is upon us, but a CRT monitor is fine in the cold. If you have room for a big beast monitor, maybe hunting craigslist for one of those could be a solution.

A heavy blanket could probably keep the computer reasonably insulated and protected from too much condensation while it warms up. And like I said, an SSD will be happy down to freezing.
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November 23, 2012 3:04:45 AM

twelve25 said:
Well I know easier said than done, but quitting smoking seems like the best way to go here. You'll have an extra $1000 a year to spend on a killer rig for indoors, too! But who I am I to talk, I can't even quit Dew :) 

You know, I hate to even mention this when 2013 is upon us, but a CRT monitor is fine in the cold. If you have room for a big beast monitor, maybe hunting craigslist for one of those could be a solution.

A heavy blanket could probably keep the computer reasonably insulated and protected from too much condensation while it warms up. And like I said, an SSD will be happy down to freezing.


I TRIED quitting - I swear my whole family wanted me to smoke again when I turned into the bitch from Hell LOL. I was actually thinking of the blanket option myself. If I wrap the computer in a blanket and put the monitor in its box in a blanket, you think that could work? I could also carry the monitor into the house at night if I had to...
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November 23, 2012 3:36:14 AM

I know, we all have habits we wish we didn't, so I'm not judging.

I think it could work, but leaving outside you can pretty much plan on it dying earlier than one kept inside the house, no matter what you do. You might cut the life in half, but most of us want to upgrade by then anyway.

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November 23, 2012 4:28:33 AM

twelve25 said:
I know, we all have habits we wish we didn't, so I'm not judging.

I think it could work, but leaving outside you can pretty much plan on it dying earlier than one kept inside the house, no matter what you do. You might cut the life in half, but most of us want to upgrade by then anyway.


Sigh, ok, I'll carry the whole kit and kaboodle back into the house every night. Actually, we have a woodbox from the garage to the house - aha moment - I will just stick the computer in the woodbox which is heated somewhat and carry the monitor in. I can handle that. Just all the unplugging and plugging is a pain :-). I'll make a box for the computer so it doesn't get all scratched. How about that? LOL
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December 9, 2012 2:30:21 AM

twelve25 said:
I know, we all have habits we wish we didn't, so I'm not judging.

I think it could work, but leaving outside you can pretty much plan on it dying earlier than one kept inside the house, no matter what you do. You might cut the life in half, but most of us want to upgrade by then anyway.


Ok, I just thought about it and realized I have an electric twin blanket outside with me in the garage (God forbid I should lack for creature comfort). If, when I'm done playing I wrap the computer and monitor in the electric blanket and turn it to low, would that keep it ok every night, do you think?
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!