The Original Twist PC in a desk
You may be an architect or graphic designer or you might just want a flash looking office; either way here is a computer and desk idea for your viewing pleasure.
Windows 8.1 is the steering influence for the desk. Swiping and pinching at the screen is all very fine but reaching forward is not very convenient and greasy fingerprints are the last thing you want on your high resolution monitor. The answer is to have 2 screens; a touch screen set into the top of the desk and a separate monitor standing up in the usual place. A crisp white desk with inset monitor will make your studio look pretty smart but we can add extra technomologicalness with a glass panel set into the desktop to show off the high spec PC components built in underneath. If you could even source a desk like this it would cost £thousands so this project is about making one for yourself. The desk-top part is quite easy to make in MDF and a durable finish can be achieved with polished Hammerite paint. A pair of ready made office drawer units, painted to match, make suitable supports for the top.
So onto the computer case made in 18mm and 12mm MDF, some Perspex all completed with a glass top. The sketches here show how it goes together. Note in particular the false floor which hides most of the wires and how the motherboard is raised slightly to give better airflow around it. The curved section is made from a stack of MDF parts cut with a jig saw and capped with a small Perspex support for the SSD. The finished case will be bolted up under the desk and capped with the glass top set into the desk.
To flesh it out more we’ll go through the components that would make a top of the range designers PC and then we’ll add up the prices using the fabulous uk.pcpartpicker.com web site.
Corsair H100i CPU cooler.
The whole design rests on this pre-assembled water cooler which will cool the CPU while its fans draw air across all the other components. It comprises of a pump block to go on the main processor chip with a pair of pipes connecting a large radiator with 2 fans on it. The exhausting air flow is choked across the narrowed section of the case containing the motherboard and the hard disk drive. The fans are controlled on the Corsair Link and will run almost silently unless heavy CPU loads are imposed when the full 77cfm flow comes into force.
Asus Z87i–pro. Successor to the Z87i–deluxe this is a top quality and great looking board. The Wi-FiGO feature enables rapid start up with a swipe of a dongle or even your phone.
Intel 4770K Core i7 Haswell processor.
Without going into mega expensive speciality chips this is about as good as it gets. The H100i is well up to cooling this latest generation Haswell CPU even when overclocked and the cooling limits are actually related to heat flow across the chip rather than the water cooler itself.
RAM Corsair Vengeance Pro 2x8Gb DDR3-2400
16Gb is as much as the motherboard will support and that is enough for most users. Not only are Vengeance Pro top quality memory strips but they add some shiny bling to the board. Note that we have moved on from DDR3–1600 which is not fast enough to match Haswell CPUs.
Asus GeForce GT610 low profile graphics card.
Full sized cards are too big for the case as shown but this little fanless card might be good for some undemanding applications. The on board graphics of the Core i7 chip are pretty good of course so some systems will be perfectly fine without a graphics card and there is no particular need for one to drive the 2 screens.
Samsung 840 pro SSD
This 260Gb solid state memory is currently hugely popular and will ensure super fast boot up times and application loading.
Hard Disc Drive – 3.5”
This rather boring component looks great with passive coolers and sound damping rubber suspension fitted into a 5.25” drive bay bracket. A couple of Akasa aluminium finned side mounts will look and perform well without significantly impeding airflow.
Corsair Professional Series AX 760i Watt Digital ATX/EPS Fully Modular 80 PLUS Platinum Power Supply Unit.
760 Watts is greatly in excess of requirements but the bonus is that on light loads the inbuilt fan won’t even run at all. Like the H100i cooler the parameters can be viewed and controlled by Corsair Link on the PC. Quality is matched by the 7 year guarantee. The unit is modular so only the cables needed are used and being black and flat they will fit under the false floor and pretty much disappear in the case if it is painted black.
Note that the PSU is mounted on its side outside the case in a corner cut out; an arrangement that isolates the cooling from anything else going on in the case. The width of the unit determines the 150mm height of the PC case before the glass goes on top.
The PC parts come to almost exactly £1,000 which is remarkably reasonable for such a high specification. As only £400 would be saved by downgrading all the components to something more ordinary most professionals would just go for the best in the interests of reliability and performance headroom. The 2 screens will add at least £500 so in total the whole project could come to about £2,000 which is fantastic value for something that will make your offices look ultra modern. It goes without saying that productivity will be maximised with such a useful workstation.
N.B. The design was done by dragging appropriately sized boxes around in Excel. If you want to use or modify these designs just message me and I’ll e-mail the file to you.
Also please note: The cooling of components may be very much on the excessive side but even so this is all untried and should be treated as a suggestion and starting point for someone who is computer savvy.