Silent AM1H-ITX Development Workstation

I purchased an AM1H-ITX motherboard 2 weeks ago to replace the old tower under my desk.  My old tower is a 6 core AMD with a GTX-260 video card.  It still performs well on CPU intensive tasks and many games, but these days I don’t play many games nor do I run CPU intensive tasks.  It consumes over 100 watts of power all day and makes quite a bit of noise doing…pretty much nothing.  My old tower is overpowered for the job.

oldtower

These days I surf the web and edit code in Emacs.  Both are light workloads.  For these tasks, I want a computer that sips power and is silent, but still powerful enough to play video and it would be really nice if it’s not too expensive.  I found these qualities in the AM1H-ITX.  I ended up putting together this beauty.

AM1H-TOP

The first thing to notice is the power supply.  It is a Universal AC Adapter 70W I bought at Amazon for $11.70.  The AM1H-ITX has a DC barrel jack in the back that you can see on the corner of the motherboard in the picture below.  I set the power supply to 19 volts and I was up and running.  The motherboard hooks directly into the power supply.  This saved me from purchasing a $30 pico psu!

AM1H-BOTTOM

The CPU is a 2.05 GHz quad core AMD 5350 rated at 25 watts.  I have 16 GBs of ram plugged in and two ~256 GB SSDs.  The CPU fan is set to not run until a certain temperature is reached.  Mine is set to not run until the temperature is over 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which means the fan is almost never running.

Linux

The only downside so far has been the video drivers support under Linux.  Without AMDs video drivers, I wasn’t able to configure dual monitor support.  Maybe someone with better xorg.conf skills could figure out how to get the free drivers working, but I was left with the AMD catalyst drivers.  The drivers didn’t work on Debian, so I had to switch to Ubuntu to get video on both monitors.

Power Savings

The AM1H-ITX uses only 22 watts at idle.   My old computer consumed 122 watts at idle.  At 12 cents per killowatt hour, this saves me $105.12 per year.

Conclusion

The AM1H-ITX sips power and can run silent. It is powerful enough to play video and it cost $122 for the motherboard, CPU and power supply.  So far I am really enjoying the silence, the savings on my power bill and the smaller environmental footprint.

 

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