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Running a motherboard without a case.

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Running a motherboard without a case.

For those of you who have read the relevant posts you’ll know I’m building another Cluster but using ASUS Motherboards and Intel i7s. However I want to ‘store’ these in my 19" server cabinet so I was considering creating a template of the anchor points from the Motherboard and drilling holes in to the rack shelf directly to mount two boards per shelf. I’d then tap these holes and mount the boards using brass stand-offs and paper washers just like inside a PC case.

So my question is would this be deemed electrically unsafe and or would it be against any regulations? The cabinet itself has an earthing strap if that helps. I could search myself but that can only be done when you have an idea of what to search for!

 

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Re: Running a motherboard without a case.

There aren't really any regulations regarding what a consumer does with their own electronics. Only mains cabling and house wiring really (and even that is incredibly relaxed!).

 

With motherboards you can mount them how you like in whatever you like. Just be sure to make sure all solder points are clear of anything metal. I once had a board mounted in a case over a brass riser that I had missed.. and it kept crashing. I did eventually discover the brass riser, removed it and the problem went away but it was frustrating me for several weeks beforehand.

As for unsafe, that depends on your own judgement. If it's in a rack with a locked door that is safe from spillages etc then yes. If you have an open rack and toddlers running around then its only a matter of time until one of your boards goes up in smoke lol.

 

Years ago i knew a crazy but rich eccentric who used to power his boards by pushing wires into the end of a kettle lead - you could see copper strands sticking out! What made it worse was that he did so in a knackered old warehouse that had broken windows and roofing Crazy2 There was only an artist hiring space off him in the same room... with piles of paper and canvas's everywhere right next to his machines Shocked

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Re: Running a motherboard without a case.

I'm glad to hear that regarding the regulations so thanks for that @7up. I think I'll go ahead as planned unless someone else posts something to the contrary. I've worked it out that I can get two boards, two PSUs and two radiators on each shelf and I'm just waiting on the m.2 disks and CL cooling to arrive before I start the build.

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Re: Running a motherboard without a case.

Nothing unsafe about it, you just have to remember about airflow, if there's no case to set up airflow over the important areas, you could end up with some unpleasant hotspots on the board which could prematurely damage them if run for extended periods...

 

Back when I worked at a computer shop, the only time a motherboard was run outside of a case was to test them (usually returns or warranty repairs), it was never permanent and only lasted up to an hour at most...

idonno
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Re: Running a motherboard without a case.

Hard to see how there could be any problems, except maybe a fire risk (from overheating). I too have managed to short out the rear of a motherboard. All that happened was the PSU shut down. Certainly voltage wise, most is mainly 12v and below on the motherboard.

 

Water cooling is something I'd recommend to anyone. I've got a Corsair twin fan unit serving my I7. No fan noise, just performance. As to cooling the CPU just doesn't ever get hot. Only down side is they do cost money to buy but well worth it I think. Same in some ways with the SSD. So quiet in use. And boot up time is extremely quick.

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Re: Running a motherboard without a case.


idonno wrote:

Hard to see how there could be any problems, except maybe a fire risk (from overheating).


Bare boards mounted in a server cabinet will not be at risk of overheating.

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Re: Running a motherboard without a case.

Thanks for the input guys. And yes, overheating is the biggest issue and as a result I'm going to put them in cases (cube cases to be exact) that can be stacked to minimise the footprint they occupy as there will be 4 of them.

Water cooling is an option I am giving serious consideration to as these will be driven hard but it's 4 times the cost. I do intend to monitor the CPU temp and fan speeds from my software so once I have enough data I will reassess the situation at that point.

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Re: Running a motherboard without a case.

My business provides advice in building IT Infrastructure for datacentres. Part of the advice we give concerns housing servers in racks. It is not unusual to have bareboard servers mounted in racks. The Google servers use a similar technique.

What you have to watch out for is good air flow over the components which generate heat. Usually nowadays you have a front to back airflow with cool air entering the front of the rack and hot air extracted at the back. The old style of letting heat rise in the cabinet leads to hot spots. 

Watch out for dust. This can damage fan bearings and dust build up can lead to localised overheating. In extreme cases I've seen this lead to fire.

If you are using active cooling such as water cooling watch out for condensation forming on the cold parts/pipes then dripping down onto sensitive electric devices.

Most motherboards have built in temperature monitoring capabilities. If you search around a bit you should be able to find freeware or low cost software to monitor variables such as temperature and to raise an alert. It is usually possible to email a messaging service for a few pence and have text messages sent to your mobile phone.

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Re: Running a motherboard without a case.

Thanks @AlaricAdair that's all sound, sensible and free advice. I'm sure there will be a utility to read the system state on the CD that came with the board but that is of no use to me so I have to write my own code to do it. The PCs will be running Windows Core R2 with no GUI for one and I also need to feed the system data back to the master controller so it can record it for me. To read the values I intend to use WMI which I know is not the most reliable way but assuming it works it should be enough for me and I'll push the values back to the controller using my existing transport.