Running Two Systems with a Single PSU

Stacking Up the Two Systems

Stacking Up the Two Systems

We then took two of MSI's latest Intel P965 full-ATX motherboard and have them installed with Intel's latest Core 2 Duo processors running at 2.66GHz. In order to make the stacked systems in a smaller profile, we removed the fans from the coolers. We also used smaller half height graphics cards so that the systems would require less space. Hence, we picked MSI's GeForce 7300 GS graphics cards and removed the I/O bracket. The following series of pictures would give you a clearer idea of how the two systems are stacked.

The two motherboards are stacked on top of one another using spacers. Note that the systems are only using passive coolers.

Another view of the system.

The side view of the two systems.

Here's a couple of things that one should note :-

  • Since we did not use fans on the processor coolers, for reasons of building a really silent PC, we recommend that you install a 12cm chassis fan right beside the two processors. The processor may feel hot at full load, but it should still be within operating limits.
  • We would recommend using a heatsink with straight fins aligned along the direction of the chassis fan's air flow direction. This would be a more ideal cooling strategy for such a setup. Of course, radial heatsinks are way much nicer in terms of appearance.
  • We picked 2.5-inch SATA notebook drives because we think they are neater. Of course, if you want larger storage capacities, a full size 3.5-inch hard disk drive would be suitable too.
  • If you want better airflow across the system, we recommend that you use a board with integrated graphics.
  • This setup could also be achieved with AMD Athlon X2 low power processors too, not necessarily one that's based on Intel's latest Conroe processors. It's just that Intel's Conroe processors were more readily available than AMD's Energy Efficient processors right now.
  • You can connect the Power On headers of both the boards to a single switch, so that they are both turned on at the same time.
  • So, how much power does the entire system draw? We measured it using Cooler Master's built-in power meter and it came out to be a little over 200W. Pretty amazing, isn't it? This gives users a lot of headroom for other more powerful devices.

Power drawn from the two systems at full load is only a little past 200W.

Now, for those wanting to explore clustering (using OpenMosix on Linux), this would be an ideal setup. Of course, users can do anything they want with each of the two systems as the types of usage would only be limited to one's imagination. Now, we just need a funky casing to go with it....

Attendees at Computex Taipei 2006 can catch the technology demo of this system at MSI's booth - presented to you by Hardware Zone.

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