Gaming Rig

Went all out on this one.

  • CoolerMaster HAF 922
  • ASUS Sabertooth X79 LGA 2011 Intel X79 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0
  • Intel Core i7-3820 Sandy Bridge-E 3.6GHz (3.8GHz Turbo Boost) LGA 2011
  • CORSAIR Vengeance 16GB (4 x 4GB) DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1866
  • CORSAIR Professional Series HX750W Power Supply
  • CORSAIR H100 Extreme Performance Liquid CPU Cooler
  • XFX Radeon HD 6870 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 2.1 x16
  • WD Caviar Black 1TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s
  • Asus VE248 24″ Monitor

boxes of fun

Haf 922 stripped

Sabertooth x79

Incorrect fan/radiator positioning.

The image above, shows the original “pull” method I had for the Corsair H100 cooler. Due to the large heatsink on the top of the board, the fan would not fit. Putting the fans in a “push” setup, with the fans on top of the radiator blowing air downwards, was the solution. The fans are 120x120x25, so there is no room for a push/pull setup in this Haf 922 case. I have some thinner fans (120x120x12mm) that I plan to install to utilize the push/pull method.


Almost done

Runs like a champ. Plays Crysis, Skyrim, Battleield 3, etc on full 1920×1080 resolution and full graphics. Surprising for a 6870 2GB card running only 200$.

What’s next?

  • Apply Arctic Silver 5 to heatsink
  • Install 2 Scythe 120x120x12mm fans for push/pull
  • Add second Radeon 6870 for Crossfire
  • Add second WD HD for Raid 0 setup

More to come on this post as it progresses. I’ll post some benchmarks from 3DMark and upload some newer pictures soon..

3DMark 11 Basic Edition

Graphics Score

Physics Score

Combined Score

Heaven Benchmark v3.0 Basic

Min FPS:
Max FPS:


Windows 32bit Visual C++ 1600 Release Mar 7 2012
Operating system:
Windows 7 (build 7601, Service Pack 1) 64bit
CPU model:
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7-3820 CPU @ 3.60GHz
CPU flags:
GPU model:
AMD Radeon HD 6800 Series 8.950.0.0 2048Mb


1920×1080 8xAA fullscreen
Tessellation: disabled

Dual Xeon Server Build

This was just something I had built at work for a client. It’s a beast of a machine so I decided to post the results.


OS: Windows Small Business Server 2008

Chassis: Supermicro 4U Tower

Processor : Intel Xeon E5620 2.4GHz  LGA 1366  x2

Memory:  2GB DDR3 1333 MHZ  x8   (16GB Total)

Hard Drive:  Seagate 1.5TB  x6   (9TB/4 usable)

Raid Card, DVD-RW, Standard PSU, ….



Empty Drive Bays

Basic setup without components..

8 Drive Hot-swapable SATA

The PSU could of been modular.  Not very cable friendly. The SATA cables were a pain.

Completed build. Zip tied and organized.

FBI Tracking Device Teardown

Borrowed this from Wired via iFixit. Too good to pass up and makes for a great article.

Step 1 — Tracking Device Teardown


The FBI’s use of GPS vehicle tracking devices is becoming a contentious privacy issue in the courts, with the Obama administration seeking Supreme Court approval for its use of the devices without a warrant, and a federal civil rights lawsuit targeting the Justice Department for tracking the movements of an Arab-American student.

In the midst of this legal controversy, Threat Level decided to take a look at the inside of one of the devices — which are generally custom-made for law enforcement. Working with the teardown artists at iFixit, we examined a device an environmental activist discovered on her vehicle in 2005, which she recently provided to us.

What follows is iFixit’s analysis of the first-ever dissection of an FBI vehicle tracker.


Step 1

We finally have one of these on the teardown table! Being in its presence, I can almost feel my civil liberties being flushed down the toilet.

Before we whip out the blowtorches and jackhammers, here’s a look at the entire tracking system.

Clockwise from the top, the system is composed of:

  • Battery pack
  • GPS antenna
  • Transmitter-receiver unit
  • Magnetic mounting bracket

The components of the system are all attached to the tracked vehicle with extremely powerful magnets. Some were so stubbornly attached that they ripped out of the mounting brackets to forever remain stuck on the undercarriage of the host vehicle.


Step 2— Tracking Device Teardown


Step 2

Wondering what kind of technology keeps the tracking device powered? Let’s remove the battery pack’s end cap and find out.

The device is powered by four lithium-thionyl chloride (Li-SOCl2) D cell batteries.


Step 2— Tracking Device Teardown


Step 2 (Continued)

Each cell is good for 13,000 mAh [milliampere-hours]! That’s about double the capacity of the iPad 2’s battery.


Step 2— Tracking Device Teardown


Step 2 (Continued)

These cells are suited for extremely low-draw applications where longevity is needed, making them ideal for powering an always-on transmitter-receiver. Their service life is rated at 10 to 20 years.


Step 3— Tracking Device Teardown


Step 3

To begin tearing the device apart, we detached the two antennas from their screw-in mounts on the transmitter-receiver module.


Step 3— Tracking Device Teardown


Step3 (Continued)

The short antenna we disconnected in the first picture is responsible for transmitting the location signal to transponders that the FBI would use to find you.

The larger antenna is for receiving GPS signals from satellites orbiting far above the earth’s surface.


Step 4— Tracking Device Teardown


Step 4

Removing a few Phillips screws allows us access to the innards of the GPS antenna.


Step 4— Tracking Device Teardown


Step 4 (Continued)

In keeping with the nonpermanent mounting solutions, the GPS antenna is attached to its bracket with a hefty piece of Velcro.


Step 4— Tracking Device Teardown


Step 4 (Continued)

A quick peek at the antenna board indicates it was manufactured by SIgem, a company that partnered with Tyco in the early 2000s to make GPS components.


Step 5— Tracking Device Teardown


Step 5

Let’s turn our attention back to the transmitter-receiver module.

A few screws are all that remain between us and the innards of this invasive device.


Step 5 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 5 (Continued)

It seems that this rear cover is simply a method to connect the module to power. Presumably, power sources (batteries) of different shapes, sizes and capacities can be connected through the same plate to make the tracking device more universally installable.


Step 6 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 6

To get to the brains of the module, we focus on the other end cap.

The FBI really did not want anyone tampering with the innards of their tracking devices. The screws were coated with so much thread locker that we had to break out the power drill and eliminate the screw heads.


Step 6 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 6 (Continued)



Step 6 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 6 (Continued)



Step 7 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 7

Upon successfully drilling out all the screw heads, the outer case slides right off the transmitter-receiver assembly.

The two modules can be split apart to examine their circuits.


Step 7 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 7 (Continued)

The small blue wire connects the GPS antenna to the GPS receiver board.


Step 7 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 7 (Continued)

After disconnecting the GPS board, we can take a closer look at both components.


Step 8 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 8

The module providing the GPS signal processing on this device is a µ-blox GPS-MS1 that’s sort of ancient in the realm of modern electronics.

It was released June 29, 1999!

It features an astonishing 0.125 MB of SRAM and 1 MB of flash memory.


Step 8 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 8 (Continued)

The backup battery on its reverse side powers a real-time clock and maintains the GPS connection if the main power supply is interrupted.

The slightly imperfect alignment of the SMD components on the board indicates that the FBI hand-soldered them to the board and tailored the component choices to their specifications.


Step 9 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 9

The larger of the two boards contains the connections for both antennas and is responsible for the RF side of the tracking device. Its notable chips include:

  • XEMICS XE1201 Ultralow-power single-chip transceiver
  • The XE1201 allows for data transmission and data reception in half-duplex mode.



Step 9 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 9 (Continued)

    • RFM RF1172 SAW (surface-acoustic-wave) filter
    • The RF1172 provides front-end selectivity (the capability to separate signals in one frequency from all other frequencies) in 433.92 MHz receivers.
    • Typical applications of this filter include wireless remote-control and security devices operating in Europe under ETSI I-ETS 300 220.



Step 10 — Tracking Device Teardown


Step 10

Tracking device Reparability Score: -10 out of 10.
(10 is easiest to repair.)

  • The FBI will find you if you find their tracking device.
  • You cannot choose to be not tracked by the FBI.
  • You can legally be tracked by one of these units.
  • We’ll be right back, the FBI is knocking on our door.