Justin’s Intel LGA 1150 Mini ITX SFF Desktop PC (Initial Build)

This was the first small form factor (SFF) build that I took part in. We started talking seriously about the build after Justin’s laptop, a Dell XPS L1502x, kept overheating. I convinced Justin that building a desktop was the smart thing to do – he was a rising senior in college, and with multiple moves ahead, portability was a high priority. Together, we were able to spec out and build a capable, compact desktop PC.

Parts Billing for Justin’s SFF Build

Case: Cooler Master Elite 120 Advanced (Amazon.com)
CPU: Intel i5-4690K (Amazon.com)
Motherboard: Gigabyte H97N-WiFi (Amazon.com)
Memory: 8GB (2*4GB) Crucial Ballistix DDR3
GPU: Sapphire Radeon Vapor-X HD 7950 OC 3GB GDDR5 (Amazon.com; pulled from my first mining rig)
PSU: Corsair RM550 80PLUS Gold Modular PSU (Amazon.com)
OS: Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

SFF PCs are challenging compared to larger builds because they require more forethought. Space is at a premium, and cable management becomes a larger issue. We didn’t opt to fill the 5.25″ bay, which gave us a nice cavity for extra cable length.

I would rate a modular PSU is a must-have when building a SFF PC.

Cooling becomes more important as well. Airflow inside of this particular case is restrictive: there are many better options, but they come at a premium.

I did experiment with Smartfan, which I might write about in a future post.

Next step: Replacing the stock Intel CPU HSF with the Zalman CPS8900 Quiet

FreeNAS: First Boot Issues

As of yesterday evening, I’ve gotten FreeNAS installed and running.

I ran into a couple of issues that I was able to find answers for.

run_interrupt_driven_hooks: still waiting after xxx seconds for xpt_config

This message came up the first time that I booted from my FreeNAS USB flash drive. I’d just started up the machine, set the boot devices in the BIOS, and watched a wall of text with various system information go flying past. Then I was left with this message:

run_interrupt_driven_hooks: still waiting after 60 seconds for xpt_config
run_interrupt_driven_hooks: still waiting after 120 seconds for xpt_config
run_interrupt_driven_hooks: still waiting after 180 seconds for xpt_config

I shut off the machine, waited, and turned it back on again. This time, it brought up a screen with:

F1 FreeBSD
F2 FreeBSD

Boot: F1 ###

A new # appeared every second, or every time that I pressed a key on the keyboard. I tried pressing F1, and the # marks stopped appearing. Below, a new line, and a blinking _ (underscore).

Pressing F6 brought up a new prompt, which advised me that I ought to insert some boot media.

Background: Missteps?

I wasn’t able to get back to the first error, run_interrupt_driven_hooks, after my first boot. After seeing the F1 FreeBSD, F2 FreeBSD screen a few times, I got frustrated and rewrote the contents of the FreeNAS .IMG to my USB flash drive once more. This got me back to square one, though it probably wasn’t necessary.

Solution to run_interrupt_driven_hooks

The solution was to disable the onboard 1394 controller in the BIOS.

On my ASRock 970 Extreme4, I enter the BIOS, navigate to the Advanced tab, enter the South Bridge Configuration, find Onboard 1394 controller, and set it to Disabled.

Solution to F1 FreeBSD, F2 FreeBSD, or FreeNAS not booting successfully from USB drive

I read that this was attributed to using a USB 3.0 port. Guidance here was to switch from the USB 3.0 port to a USB 2.0 port. Sure enough, I removed my flash drive from the USB 3.0 port that it had been plugged into, relocated it to a USB 2.0 port, and was able to get my FreeNAS box to boot to the administrator menu.

More updates on this subject to follow. Until then, I’m diving back into the FreeNAS documentation and playing with the system.

macbook pro case warp, ntfs.


Click on images for full view. I took my MacBook Pro to a local mall this weekend, and it turns out that Apple’s warranty doesn’t cover the casing. No matter, it’s not too much of an issue.

Proper bezel-screen alignment

Warped bezel

If any larger problems pop up in the future, I’m getting this thing swapped. And if there are hardware updates around the corner, you can be sure that I’ll end up having some sudden technical difficulties with my MBP.

On another note, I finally got around to delving further into the issue of getting NTFS write support through Mac OS X. Normally users are allowed read access only from NTFS-formatted drives. However, it is possible to use MacFUSE and NTFS-3G in order to enable write access. It works like a charm, but it’s quite slow. Meaning I probably won’t be using it much.

Listening To: anberlin – Na├»ve Orleans