When running web servers, physical space can be limited. Servers are often crammed into a room of their own to increase profit and cut down on the space needed to rent. Multiple motherboards can be mounted inside a single full-size server case and run by a single high-wattage ATX power supply. Micro-ATX motherboards can be mounted one above the other if the ATX 24-pin power cable is split and holes are drilled for the motherboard mounting screws. A Dremel tool is necessary for cutting out port holes in the back of the case for the motherboard's connections. Mounting two motherboards in one case can be quite an ordeal, but if you're a computer enthusiast familiar with modding, it can also be a fun, rewarding project.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Drill with steel or aluminium drill bit
- Dremel tool with circular saw for steel or aluminium
- High watt power supply
- 24-pin power Y cable
Measure the motherboards, then open the computer chassis and mark out the spots to be drilled on the back mounting plate.
Take out the hard drive bay at the bottom so that both boards can fit with the power supply. A 3.5-inch to 5.25-inch adaptor can be purchased to mount the hard drives in the 5.25-inch slots normally used for breakout boxes and DVD-ROMs.
Mark the holes and slots for the motherboard's PCI-Express and connections panel. It helps to mark both sides of the panel to make sure the holes correspond to the motherboard's connections.
Drill the holes into the back panel, then use the Dremel tool to carefully cut the holes for the motherboard's outputs and PCI-Express. Mount the motherboards to the back panel using the supplied screws.
Place the power supply into the bottom-right corner of the case where the hard drive bay was. Make sure the back of the power supply is facing the front of the case. The computer will plug into the wall outlet through the front of the case.
Connect one end of the Y-split, 24-pin ATX power cable to the power supply's ATX cable, then connect the heads to the two motherboards. Build the rest of the computer, connect two monitors and two keyboards and mice and turn it on. You should now see two separate boot screens.
Tips and warnings
- You can create a 24-pin, Y-splitter ATX cable by following a pinout diagram (see Resources).
- Make sure the power supply has enough watts to run both computers. You will need one that is at least 800 watts to run two standard computers.
- Watch the temperature of the chassis and CPUs. The computer should have aftermarket cooling to keep up with the heat of two motherboards in one case.
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