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Putting an Intel D945GCLF Motherboard into a G4 Cube case

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#1
bibendum

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Updated April '08

This is not a full tutorial yet - I need more pix, but taking down my daughter's computer to take more pictures would put my family harmony at risk, so I'll start here with what I have...

First of all, MrFlooD has a great topic that speaks of the hardware and software required for this project:

Build a Perfect Mac for less than $250

I am using the D945GCLF2 (NewEgg has them for $82 bucks), and (as mentioned below) a 90W picoPSU, along with a 2 gig stick of RAM, and an inexpensive SATA HD. =note= Post 41 has details about using the original Cube power switch.

Also, instead of the install originally mentioned in MrFlooD's guide, I'm using iSynapse's guide: Intel D945GCLF2 10.5.x Retail Installation, Drivers and Guide v2.5, only I didn't build my own DSDT, I picked OcciJano's DSDT up from Dr. Hurt's thread. No more video pointer artifacts, 100% running. All apps work. 10.5.6 retail install. I used an external USB DVD drive to do the retail install, since the built in drive doesn't have a mechanical eject button.


I used the built in slot-load DVD Rom drive, hooked to the IDE port on the D945GCLF and slid a SATA drive into the drive slot... but I'm getting ahead of myself.

I started with a dead cube, purchased for $70 bucks that contained a DVDROM drive, took it apart (removing everything that wouldn't be needed - Cube motherboard, Power switch, Airport door, etc), used a Rotozip with an abrasive cutting wheel to cut off the heatsink...

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The Rotozip is like a Dremel tool on steroids. You could use a Dremel (someone has), but it will take longer. The cutting generates a lot of dust, so do this part outdoors and blow everything clean with some canned/compressed air afterwards.

I also used the Rotozip to cut a hole in the bottom to put the I/O plate in, but I didn't plan for the fact that the I/O plate is not centered on the board, so while my hole would hold the I/O plate, it won't line up with the board and I couldn't use it. I didn't need to cut away as much as I did... ARG!

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The board was just a smidge too wide to nestle between the top and bottom plates, so I used a pair of bolt cutters to nick a notch in the plates. If you don't have bolt cutters, a pair of strong side cutters would probably do the trick...

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After sliding the board into these notches, I found it a little wobbly...

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So I placed little squares of black electrical tape in each notch to provide friction to hold the motherboard (and to provide insulation).

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This is powered with an external brick via a 90W picoPSU. The PicoPSU's wire connections just nestle into the hole left by the old cube power switch.

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I used the existing hard drive mount to hold the sata HD and also the existing topload DVD drive. You'll have to use a longer IDE cable to reach the DVD Rom than comes with the cube. I think I used the one that came with the D945GCLF. Also, I used an old fan molex power tap to extend the DVD ROM's molex power cable by an inch or so. You can see a bit of that in the blue area of the picture above of the heatsink removal.

I had to run a pair of wires out the bottom to an external power switch, but... everything works except sleep... shoulda stayed at 10.5.3, I guess... (wonder if I put back the Sleep kernel? I think the 10.5.4 puts the vanilla kernel in place).

$102 Board and 1 gig of ram at Frys with tax
$50 160gig SATA HD
$50 PicoPSU package
$70 Cube case w/DVD drive.
------
$272 total...

not bad.

My daughter's 450Mhz G4 Cube XBenched at 28. This Atomic Cube's score is 49... wish it had a DVI out, but it runs Leopard just fine and my daughter thinks she's got the coolest computer of all her friends.

Lemme know what you think or if you have any questions...

Patrick

#2
mattrb

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Little frightening on the backside. I personally dont like exposed I/O ports. There are ATX cases on newegg for 50$ that are the same size as the G4 Cube anyway though.

My MSI wind got a much higher bench score then yours. Something may be wrong with your install.

#3
bibendum

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Perhaps you're thinking of geekbench. Pretty much all D945GCLF systems I've read of Xbench between 45 and 50. So I don't think I'll find anything wrong with my install

As to the scary backside - yah - sorry, didn't mean to frighten you - as I said, it's cut for the I/O plate and you can't use the I/O plate, so don't try to...

And I doubt there are any 8" Cube cases on NewEgg for $50 bucks...

Patrick

#4
willow18

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Thanks for posting this. To me, this has to be the best case available - taking what is a Mac design classic and bringing it up to date to be able to run Leopard. In fact, I have just bought a faulty Mac Cube case to do the same thing with. Ideally want to use it to run Plex (XBMC for OSX) and wondered if the atom processor is fast enough for HD movies?

Any help/tips appreciated.

#5
norrafi

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Try to enable speedstep + AHCI in BIOS. Xbench again.

#6
bibendum

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Thanks for posting this. To me, this has to be the best case available - taking what is a Mac design classic and bringing it up to date to be able to run Leopard. In fact, I have just bought a faulty Mac Cube case to do the same thing with. Ideally want to use it to run Plex (XBMC for OSX) and wondered if the atom processor is fast enough for HD movies?

Any help/tips appreciated.

Please post any pictures of your efforts - there's a discussion about the speed of the ATOM processor in the $250 mac thread listed above...

Patrick

#7
bibendum

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Try to enable speedstep + AHCI in BIOS. Xbench again.


Clearly you are not using this board...

Those settings are not available in this bios...

Patrick

#8
weaksauce12

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Got any pics of the finished rig? :hysterical:

#9
bibendum

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Got any pics of the finished rig? :)


Ah - there's something I can grab - I did add a couple of missing pix, taken when I replaced the noisy stock fan with a silent one...

Patrick

#10
lafouinne

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Hello,

I just finished build the same for my childrens , very nice case .
But it still have no sound trough the ALC662, cant you give me the link for the kext you use to make it work ?

thank's

#11
bibendum

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Hello,

I just finished build the same for my childrens , very nice case .
But it still have no sound trough the ALC662, cant you give me the link for the kext you use to make it work ?

thank's


Care to post any pix of your setup?

As to the sound, I recall testing it at one point - did you check the thread linked above? My daughter is using USB Digital speakers (which she loves), so I'm not currently using the onboard audio...

Patrick

#12
goodl

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Lets see the finished article :D

#13
scram69

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Great thread! Too funny - my daughter's cube finally died, and I was thinking of replacing it with a low-power hackintosh. Saw your link to this thread from the D945GCLF thread (MrFlood).

I had been considering an old XBOX case - a little more roomy, but not the aesthetic of the cube. So, I'll grab the dremel and give the cube a try.

One question - did you look into trying to make the cube power switch work with this board? If I recall, there was a 4-pin cable from the switch - presumably two pins for the switch, and two for the LED. In theory, you could wire all four to the appropriate pins on the board...

Also, which fan did you replace, and with what?

Thanks-


#14
sircastor

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Oh! You beat me to it. I'm doing this for my wife...

I was looking today at some of the other Intel Offerings out there. I don't know how they will fare in the cube case. Specifically, I was looking at Intel's DG45FC board, and plugging a C2D into it. More memory, faster processor, etc. But a lot of heat from what I read...

#15
scram69

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Following up on using the original cube power switch, I found this:
http://forums.macrum...ad.php?t=267050

It appears it is possible to make use of the switch with an ATX-type board, with a few parts from Ratshack. My only question now is the space. The OP completely removed the switch and it's associated circuit board. Is there room for both the switch/CB and the intel mobo?

#16
bibendum

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I wanted to keep the switch (and the power LED), but I couldn't see how to make it fit as the power connector for the D945GCLF is right up against that area of the case. If you can figure a way, please let us know, I'm pretty sure I still have the components around...

Patrick

#17
sircastor

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okay folks,

I finished (mostly) my "Atomic Cube" this evening. A couple of notes, and I'll have pictures for you later.

1) For mine, I found it was not necessary to cut off the main section of the heat sink. You might be able to fit everything in with a stock heatsink, for mine though, I removed the plate where the processor makes contact with the heatsink. It turns out that this is just glued on, and the glue melts easily at high temperatures. Preheat your oven to 500 F and stick it in there for 5 minutes. It falls off very easily. Make sure though that you put the heatsink and ONLY the heatsink in.

2) rather than nicking, or denting the edges of the case for the MoBo, I went ahead and just cut lines with my Dremel. Potentially, I could see this weakening the structure, but it is steel, so I'm not too worried about it.

3) Looking at pics from bibendum, I see that the Pico PSU 90 is quite different from the pico PSU 120 (which is what I have). There are two large capacitors on the top which make the top case bulge and therefore the handle will not lock into place. This is important, get the 90 and not the 120... (I had the 120 from a previous, failed project).

4) I tried to face the board the opposite direction to make room for the original power switch, but there's not enough room to get any cables around to connect to the drives, etc.

So I'll put some pictures up soon, along with some instructional information to add to the group. I was hoping to have it all closed up and be loading Leopard retail onto it tonight.
Questions welcome.

#18
sircastor

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Another quick thought, as I was preparing to install Leopard retail on this machine, I realized that the cube's original DVD rom has no manual eject button, and therefore using the boot 132 method of starting on the CD and then swapping out for the retail leopard DVD will not work.

#19
scram69

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Another quick thought, as I was preparing to install Leopard retail on this machine, I realized that the cube's original DVD rom has no manual eject button, and therefore using the boot 132 method of starting on the CD and then swapping out for the retail leopard DVD will not work.


That's a good point. I was thinking of preparing the retail installation on a second drive in my other hackintosh and then swapping the HDD into the cube.

At any rate, this weekend I took everything apart and dremeled out the heat sink. It was easier than I thought. I wanted the flow path clear across the mobo, however, as I was thinking of keeping my cube case fan (a very quiet Pabst I bought a while back to keep my sonnet upgrade cool). Presumably, I could then remove the small and reportedly noisy fan on the mobo and keep things cool with the quieter Pabst.

I've just ordered the mobo and 90W pico psu. My question is: did either you or Patrick have to cut/bend/modify the case fan bracket that is attached to the bottom plate in order to fit the mobo I/O ports in?

#20
sircastor

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I've just ordered the mobo and 90W pico psu. My question is: did either you or Patrick have to cut/bend/modify the case fan bracket that is attached to the bottom plate in order to fit the mobo I/O ports in?


If what you're talking about is what I'm thinking of, it's a motherboard mount point, not a fan bracket (no fans in the G4 cube). But that's not really important.

I cut mine off. on the Drive side of the case I cut mine down so it lays flat, on the port side of the case I pulled it up and popped it off. The piece is spot welded and with some effort will simply pop off from the weld points. I think that's right about where I cut anyway to fit the stuff down.

I will try to post pictures when I get home tonight.





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