Task List For DIY EX47* Upgrade
In the sections that follow, I’ll provide step-by-step instructions on what to buy, what tools you’ll need, and how to perform various upgrades or improvements on an AMD-based MediaSmart Server. Here’s a more detailed description of these tasks, in the order in which they will be completed:
- Replace the 512 MB 240-pin DDR2 Hynix DIMM with a modestly-priced 2 GB module. Total cost should be somewhere between $20 and $30 (I paid $17 for mine).
- Remove the northbridge heatsink and the thermal adhesive HP applies to this device, then lay down a coat of Arctic Silver to improve heat transfer. A stock EX47* northbridge usually runs at 57-59 degrees Celsius (137-139 degrees Fahrenheit). Judicious application of a high-quality thermal compound can bring temps down to 52-55 degrees Celsius (127-131 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Install a replacement CPU in the AM2 socket on the EX47* motherboard. This also involves laying down a coat of Arctic Silver to help things run as cool as possible.
- (Optional): If you want to install a dual-core CPU in the EX47*, you must first patch the BIOS to permit it to recognize such a processor. This is easily accomplished using free tools and BIOS sources via a remote login to the MediaSmart box.
Taking the EX47* apart can be a bit tricky and definitely takes time, while the right tools, patience, and a steady hand are essential. The first time I took mine apart it took me half an hour to get through the whole process (not including the CPU upgrade, which came later). By the seventh and final time I had taken the unit apart for concluding and clean-up photographs for this article, I was able to handle the process in under 15 minutes. A friend or family member who can work with you while you go through the disassembly/test/reassembly process can help to boost your confidence and speed things along.
Check prices for HP's MediaSmart EX475
Now tell us how we can convert a zyxel router into a storage system, or how we can mod a sata controller into a sas controller, or whatever else can be done to hardware if you know how.
ps. it's a bit wierd that you describe how to unplug an atx power cable ... I would expect people who'd dare take their working nas apart would know, or figure that out, on their own.
Slow news day I guess.
Good Question! I didn't think to tackle this within the scope of the current story, but it certainly would make fertile ground for a look at WHS in general. Having built numerous (more than 20) AMD AM2 systems and benchmarked them all, I didn't get the sense that we were dealing with motherboard limitations. Tim Higgins at SmallNetBuilder gives the EX470/475 models pretty high marks in head-to-head comparisons with other NASes so I don't think this box is hampered by inherent performance problems. But comparing it to other builds/set-ups is a good idea, and I will see if my editor is interested in a follow-up.
PS to neiroatopelcc: I wish I knew how to convert a zyxel router into a NAS/SAN, or how to mode SATA into SAS controllers. Both are things I too would like to know how to do.
Next up; guide to fitting square peg in square hole?
I'd like to thank HP and Micron/Crucial for their support of this article. Micron actually overnighted me a 4GB DDR2-667 SDRAM module when I was unable to buy one anywhere in the US, on very short notice.
I'd also like to thank the following terrific HP MediaSmart sites that helped me learn what I needed to know to write this story:
1. Alex Kuretz: www.mediasmartserver.net
2. Capable Networks MediaSmart Home (May be MS sponsored, hard to tell, still useful tho)
3. Terry Walsh We Got Served4. Andrew Edney Using Windows Home Server5. Donavon West Home Server Hacks6. Microsoft WHS Team Homeserver Blog
There may be more, but these are the most useful such sites I found. If you know of any please add them here.
I recently blogged on my own Vista site to list all of the latest workable drivers for the EX470/EX475 MediaSmart Servers. Anybody interested in making sure they're current on drivers should find this useful. I include the link to download.com for some less-than-brand-new drivers (which SiS has since updated, but which don't work on the EX47* models) because SiS doesn't keep an archive of older drivers (at least, not where I could find them).