Headcrash Hardware

Current Specs/Stats:

MSI K7D Master-L Motherboard
Dual AMD MP 2000+ (1.67GHz) Processors
Kingston 512MB PC2100 ECC Registered DDR
Diamond Viper v770 Ultra TNT2 32mb Video Card
4x Quantum Atlas IV Ultra-160 9.1 GB 7200 RPM SCSI HD
2x Quantum Atlas 10kII Ultra-160 9GB 10,000 RPM SCSI HD
Compaq 5304-128 Smart Array Controller with 128mb Cache
Aopen HX08 Full Tower Case
Enermax 465W Power Supply
20x CD-ROM
3 120mm Vantec Stealth fans
1 120mm Global fan
2 80mm Panaflo L1A fans
4-port Baybus

New hardware for Headcrash

Headcrash received some new hardware and a system wipe so I could install a fresh copy of Windows 2003 Server on it. It’s now serving as a test bed for various applications and experiments, like running IIS and Apache on two IP addresses on the same box with Microsoft SQL Server 2000 and MySQL databases on the back end.

It will also be running Quake ][ Devastation, Quake ]|[ Urban Terror and Counter Strike when the fellas come over…

I ran another benchmark series on the RAID-5 array connected to the 5304 RAID Controller that’s now running at 64-bit 66MHz goodness in its extended PCI slot on the new motherboard:

The thing runs 25% faster than it did on the other motherboard. It hauls ass, I tell ya.

The Dually PIII system was getting a little long in the tooth, so I decided to replace it with a dually AMD system. I had a minimal budget for this setup so I had to do it on the cheap, which included many weeks getting outbid on eBay in order to collect the parts.


Headcrash as it existed before the upgrade, with the Tyan Tiger PIII Dually motherboard and six U-160 SCSI drives on two channels.




Pulling out the motherboard tray. The Compaq 5304 board fits into a regular 32-bit 33MHz PCI slot, but really dangles off the end, doesn’t it?


The old Tyan motherboard, stripped of everything except RAM and the processors prior to sale.




The obligatory goody stack shot. Motherboard, processors, heat sinks and RAM.




Mmmmm…. shiny.



Mmmmm… goodies.




The new MSI K7D Master-L motherboard with integrated AC97 audio, Intel 10/100 LAN and spiffy red PCB. The two long slots are the 64-bit/66MHz PCI slots, the new home to the 5304 RAID controller. Running that thing at full speed instead of on a 33MHz 32-bit PCI slot should do wonders for hard drive performance.




The two MP 2000+ processors, acquired for pennies on the dollar. Thank you eBay!



Processors in their sockets.



One stick of Kingston PC2100 Registered ECC DDR SDRAM. I’m not overclocking this rig (SCSI controllers don’t like to be overclocked) so I went for solid error-correcting RAM instead of overclockable PC2400 or PC2700.




The Speeze FalconRock CPU Cooler Model 5F286B. $25 a pair off of newegg.



The motherboard mounted in the HX08 motherboard tray with RAM, processors and heatsinks installed.



Adding the ASUS v770 TNT2 video card.



The full-length Compaq Smart Array 5304 controller with 128MB batter-backed cache. It takes full advantage of 66MHz 64-bit extended PCI slots for all kinds of disk I/O performance goodness.




The 5304 card installed in the full-length slot. It still hangs over the end…




Another shot of the 5304. It almost perfectly blocks access to the two IDE ports.




Adding the 4-port USB 2.0 expansion card.




A back shot of the motherboard tray installed in the case. I left the empty PCI slots coverless to allow air to flow past the cards and out of the case.



The new Headcrash. It still needs some wiring and ribbon routing work, but it’s up and running Wn2k3 server. two drives for system and swap files, four drives for RAID-5 storage.



Headcrash SCSI benchmarks

While reinstalling Win2k server on Headcrash, I decided to take some time to run some benchmarks against the storage subsystem to see what would make the best setup out of the hardware I had on hand.

Here are the results using SiSoft Sandra.

Here’s a test of five LVD-80 10k SCSI drives in RAID-5:


Here’s a test of four U-160 7200rpm SCSI   drives in RAID-0:


Here’s a test of four U-160 7200rpm SCSI drives in RAID-5:


No real surprises here. RAID-0 beats RAID-5 and U-160 drives beat LVD-80 drives. Nice to know that SCSI RAID-0 still outperforms ATA RAID-0.

Still More Headcrash Modding

In a continued frenzy of modding, I’ve completely redesigned Headcrash to be a lean, mean rig. It’s been stripped down of all extra hardware and now exists to serve up test web pages, dedicated game servers and act as a test server for other applications.

In the spirit of this new approach, I’ve also updated its look, updating it with some new-style modding gear like a CCFL, some quiet Panaflo L1As and Vantec Stealth fans and a dual voltage baybus, while preserving it’s old-school modded-HX08 look.

I ditched the 5-drive ghetto array of 4.6gb drives as they were slower than the U-160 array. Since 5 10k rpm LVD-80 drives in RAID-0 are still faster than an ATA-100 drive, I’ll probably be sticking the Adaptec SCSI RAID 2100s card and the five drives into Plague to boost its loading times. I also wrapped some of the power cables to lessen their impact on the case.

The old look: The bezel looks pretty plain and silly, doesn’t it. Mismatched CD-ROM drives and a huge expanse of beige bezel = boring.


The new look: I added a second fan down low and installed a third fan into the 5-1/4″ face plates to cool the hard drives mounted in the bays up there.


Inside shots:

From the side: plainly visible are the four U-160 hard drives tucked nicely into the 5-1/4″ bays. They’re up in their own area with a separate airflow over them. This way they don’t heat up the air as it flows towards the processors.


Lights Out:


Headcrash and Earthquake side by side:


Temporary drive array

Here are some pics from the temporary drive array that I’ve set up on Headcrash. This is a temporary setup until I can complete the redesign of its case with some new mods.

The array itself is four lumber straps purchased at Home Depot and 5 4gig Seagate 10k RPM SCSI-3UW drives. All cabled together with a ribbon cable from an old Compaq server and a few molex splitters spliced into the power supply.

Adding SCSI to Headcrash

I scrounged up a bunch of cheap 10krpm SCSI drives and an array controller from Compaq, so I decided to add another array to Headcrash to store CD-ROM Images and for an excuse to mod up the HX08 case to see if I could fit nine hard drives into it while keeping the case sufficiently cooled.

Ill be modding the case this week as soon as some fans, drive rails and grilles show up from Directron.com. Pictures to come soon.

Headcrash also got the v770 video card from Plague. It now loads the title screens from server games that much quicker…

More Headcrash modding

I modded the Headcrash case to have four green LEDs on one of the 5-1/4″ bay covers indicating activity on each of the four hard drives. It’s an easy mod that involves cutting holes in the bay cover and connecting LEDs to the “busy out” jumper on the drive.

Unfortunately somehow when I was hooking up the LEDs I shorted out one of the drives. Thank god for warranties. The adventure begins when I receive my drive.

It turns out that Maxtor has stopped production on the Quantum Atlas IV drive, so they shipped the newer Atlas V. Normally this would not have been a problem except that the replacement drive was 6 bloody megabytes too small, preventing me from sticking it back into my RAID array.

After going back and forth between the RMA people and tech support a few times (one suggestion was pretty funny: the sales folks said that there was a firmware update that would change the number of sectors on the drive, making it a bigger drive. That’s like saying buying supreme unleaded instead of regular will turn my 4-cylinder Golf into a 6-banger!) my options ended up being wait three weeks for them to send me an 18gb drive to replace my dead 9gigger or rebuild my array with the slightly smaller drive capacity. Bleh. I wiped my array, losing 18mb off the total.

The good news is that I downloaded the latest drivers for everything, including the latest 4in1 drivers from Via, and my system is running a lot more stable by a long shot. It looks like this batch of 4in1’s cleared up whatever was causing the lockups I mentioned below.

Well, I now have four flashing LEDs that look pretty boss on my bezel, a more stable machine, and an array that’s 18mb smaller.

Headcrash wiped

I wiped Headcrash for the umpteenth time last night to install and configure a new drive subsystem. I broke down and bought a SCSI RAID 2100s drive controller from Adaptec on ebay the other day and four 7200rpm Ultra 160 SCSI drives to go with it. I’ve got a some games set up on it in dedicated mode, but I’m behind a firewall, so it’s not accessible just yet.

One thing to remember: The latest VIA 4in1 drivers play havoc with Win2000 server. I don’t know why. I wiped it and reinstalled everything, but kept off the VIA drivers, opting to go with the stock MS ones and things seem to be much more stable.

Bah to Bad RAM

Bah RAM sticks. Headcrash has been locking up on me quite often lately, but I finally resolved the issue by popping out the four sticks and re-seating them. It looks to have done the trick. They must have come lose during all the manhandling I’ve been giving the case lately.

It’s up and running now (unless I’ve turned it off) at What I’m looking for now is some HTML code that I can insert into this page that’ll indicate whether Headcrash is on or not. Hmmm…

Headcrash Weekend Update

I tore apart Headcrash over the weekend because I was sick of Windows NT and was looking for something new to do. Since I’m planning on getting my Win2k MSCE I decided to make it a Windows 2000 Server. After fighting with it for a while I found out that the Adaptec AAA-133u2 RAID card isn’t on the w2k Hardware compatibility list and the drivers that Adaptec provide on their web site suck ass.

After deliberating for a while I decided to gut Headcrash and sell the RAID card and my two LVD SCSI drives. I’ll take that money and help pay off my credit card that I ran up buying parts for Earthquake.

At any rate I installed Win2k on the Caviar 7200rpm IDE drive instead. I’m debating whether or not to buy another 19160 SCSI card and put in a SCSI solution into the box, but for now I’m going IDE to see how it works out.