I'm in the process of building a PC inside an NES case. I'm trying to get as much power out of it without breaking the bank. Rigging up the power switch and reset has been well documented, so this isn't the issue. I've followed several other builds, and from what I can tell, these are the requirements/limitations:

-Mini ITX motherboard

-Low power consumption

-A very efficient cooling setup. Additional fans will be needed for cooling (I can drill them in the back of it or the bottom, I can also open the cartridge bay to release some heat)

I have an older desktop that I don't mind stealing parts from. I was going to take the 160 gig SATA hard drive (full size, plan on putting it in the NES cartridge or sideways on the side of the case), the AM2 processor (Athlon X2 4400+ uses 65W IIRC), the RAM (the mobo I buy should have two memory slots, bringing me up to 2 gigs of DDR2).

I have a Radeon HD 4550 PCI-E video card, not sure if there is Micro-ITX motherboards that support this card? It'd be a great card to use if I can (although I did buy it several years ago). It shouldn't be too tall. Would I run into power issues?

So, since this is a Q/A site:

1) A. Will using my old gear (Athlon X2 4400+, Radeon HD 4550, desktop SATA hard drive) give me power issues? I was planning on using an external adapter.

B. How about heat issues? How much additional cooling will I need?

2) If I can't reuse all of it, what hardware can be reused to save money? Ideally I'd like to pick up an external power adapter, a few extra fans and a mini-itx mobo and call it a day.

3) Any other suggestions are welcome.

closed as too broad by Dave M, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Tog, Excellll, David Feb 1 '14 at 5:06

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • don't understand the need for downvotes, I posted my research and listed them clearly as questions. – Evan Parsons Jan 30 '14 at 17:25
  • Not my downvote but this seems a broad question and will generate many opinions. – Dave M Jan 30 '14 at 17:32
  • 1
    Please don't post mulitple questions as one. And we don't do suggestions. – user 99572 is fine Jan 30 '14 at 18:04
  • You can't really re-use anything - no mini-itx is going to support a socket 939 CPU. You'll likely want a 2.5 inch HDD instead of the 3.5 you have now (mainly due to space), and you're going to need to use the integrated video on the mini-itx, as you won't have space for a discrete card. – ernie Jan 30 '14 at 18:04
  • What do you plan to do with that pc? There is cheap solutions for make a simple pc like a raspeberry pi, or another type of mainboards. – gabrign Jan 30 '14 at 18:11

Your old gear will give you both power and heat issues. You need a cool-running, low-power CPU, such as modern Atoms. Using an SSD or a 2.5'' laptop HD will also help conserve power. There is no way you will achieve this project with your current parts list.

  • Can anything be used? I'd be happy if I could reuse the processor and ram. – Evan Parsons Jan 30 '14 at 17:25
  • Depending on the RAM standard, you might be able to use the RAM. Anything else will run too hot and too power-hungry. The NES is a very unforgiving form factor. This is not a project for decade-old desktop hardware. If you are fund-constrained, maybe put a Raspberry Pi in it, or any one of the Android sticks that the Chinese are selling in the $30-100 range. You can use them with Android or any one of the Linux distros with an ARM build. – user294732 Jan 30 '14 at 17:29
  • If the RAM is the only reusable item, I'd rather just start new... What about a brand new micro-ITX board with a quad core? Still too much heat? – Evan Parsons Jan 30 '14 at 17:33
  • Shuttle builds small form factor systems with powerful CPUs, and if you study them, you'll see that even the smallest system they have has about twice the volume of an NES, and that includes a specially designed, gigantic heatsink+fan combo to accomodate the cooling challenge. With the NES, it can't be done. The best you can do is an Atom or a Celeron ULT. I actually think this is a good opportunity to buy a cheap ARM system and learn how to work with it, but it's up to you. – user294732 Jan 30 '14 at 17:39
  • For reference, I built a system a few months back in an In-Win K2 Basic, which is about the same size (externally) as the NES. That system has an Ivy Bridge i3, 8 GB, and a 120 GB SSD, so you can squeeze a fair amount into that form factor, including CPUs better than Atoms or Celerons. That's all passively cooled too, so no fans . . . – ernie Jan 30 '14 at 18:02

The NES seems like it has a lot of space until you start cramming computer parts in there. I built one a while back, and if I was to do it again I'd make use of one of these pico DC/DC power adapters. There are a lot of great small parts on that site.

I made a blog post about it, complete with a lessons learned section. Hope that helps.

  • I'd give you a +1 if I had enough rep to do so, thank you. – Evan Parsons Jan 31 '14 at 13:14
  • Don't sweat it I don't have the rep to do anything useful either. – Deplicator Jan 31 '14 at 14:41

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