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Building a polycarbonate, all-in-one, LCD PC

George Ou, technical director of ZDNet.com, talks through his decision to build his mother an all-in-one PC and LCD display

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1 of 8 George Ou/ZDNet

George Ou, technical director of ZDNet.com, talks through his decision to build an all-in-one PC and LCD display.

The last time I built a wooden, all-in-one, 19-inch LCD PC, my family wanted it in the kitchen and my mother wanted it in hers. To keep everyone happy, I built my mother another one out of 3/16th-inch thick jet-black polycarbonate, which makes the chassis look like the material from a grand piano.

For more details, see "="" href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=971" rel="follow">George Ou's blog post on ZDNet.co.uk sister site ZDNet.com.

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2 of 8 George Ou/ZDNet

Cutting this material was fairly simple using wood-cutting and drilling tools. Just be careful to slow down on the table saw so you don't chip the polycarbonate. I had initially avoided putting in vent holes in the back, but the CPU fan and the PSU fan dynamically ramped up in RPM because of the increased temperature, and were causing some noise. Once the four holes were put in the back, the CPU fan stayed at lower RPM and remained fairly silent, even if I stress-loaded the CPUs.

For more details, see "="" href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=971" rel="follow">George Ou's blog post on ZDNet.co.uk sister site ZDNet.com.

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3 of 8 George Ou/ZDNet

This time I mounted the on/off switch up on top, along with two USB ports, which makes them easy to access and comes in handy for the webcam. I just wish I had a webcam that did away with the cable and just had a down-facing USB port so I could just plug it in right on top of the case. The other USB port is convenient for plugging in other devices, such as USB memory sticks, that I want sitting on top of the chassis.

For more details, see "="" href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=971" rel="follow">George Ou's blog post on ZDNet.co.uk sister site ZDNet.com.

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4 of 8 George Ou/ZDNet

As usual with these slim, custom chassis, I used a 1.75-inch 1U Sparkle SPI220LE 80 Plus 220W power supply. The idle power consumption on this computer is 43W and 63W under peak CPU loads generated by wPrime.

The motherboard is an ECS 945GCT-M which came bundled with an Intel Celeron 430 CPU (Conroe-L 1.8GHz single core) I got at Frys for $70 (£36). I put in an Intel Core 2 Duo E2140 dual-core 1.6GHz instead and kept the lower-profile CPU fan which came with the Celeron 430.

That lower-profile fan came in very handy since it fits inside my 3-inch thick chassis, which has even less space inside because of the thickness of the walls. This chassis has plenty of room for additional devices, such as a slim optical slot-loaded drive.

For more details, see "="" href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=971" rel="follow">George Ou's blog post on ZDNet.co.uk sister site ZDNet.com.

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5 of 8 George Ou/ZDNet

This 3-inch thick custom chassis is nowhere near as thin as commercial all-in-one computers, but it makes up for it in flexibility, since you can use any monitor of your choice and the price is right ($500) for those who are willing to build it.

For more details, see "="" href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=971" rel="follow">George Ou's blog post on ZDNet.co.uk sister site ZDNet.com.

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6 of 8 George Ou/ZDNet

You can see the power plug reflected on the polycarbonate back. A belt sander would have allowed me to smooth out and polish the edges more. It not only makes for a better finish, but it makes it easier to glue the joints together.

For more details, see "="" href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=971" rel="follow">George Ou's blog post on ZDNet.co.uk sister site ZDNet.com.

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7 of 8 George Ou/ZDNet

The webcam comes in handy for Skype. This is the older Logitech QuickCam Fusion, so it can't be used for the high-quality video mode in Skype, but it still looks decent. The keyboard and mouse are Logitech EX 110 offerings, which use 27MHz with shorter range but aren't susceptible to Wi-Fi interference.

For more details, see "="" href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=971" rel="follow">George Ou's blog post on ZDNet.co.uk sister site ZDNet.com.

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8 of 8 George Ou/ZDNet

From the front, you can't see the computer behind the display at all — which is the whole point. This computer takes no more space than the display and the wiring is all self-contained, which avoids cable clutter.

For more details, see "="" href="http://blogs.zdnet.com/Ou/?p=971" rel="follow">George Ou's blog post on ZDNet.co.uk sister site ZDNet.com.

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