Chad Don Cooper Projects and ponderings…


771 – 775 Xeon CPU Mod

Through some late night surfing I recently discovered the socket 771 to 775 CPU mod. Provided you have a socket 775 Intel motherboard with a supported chipset, there's a good chance you can run a server class Xeon CPU in your humble old desktop motherboard.

Knowing this, curiosity got the better of me, not least since I had a salvaged EVGA nForce 790i Ultra SLI Motherboard sat in my garage which I've been meaning to test for ages anyway. The motherboard is pretty nice considering it's 8 years old. Triple SLI, DDR3, 1600MHZ FSB... I always felt having it collecting cobwebs.

One (albet expensive at £10) pre-flashed BIOS chip later I was ready to look at which CPU to buy. Now the fastest CPU, which actually demands a 1600MHz bus is the 3.4GHz 12MB Intel Xeon X5492, but those are running at £60+ due to the increased demand. Although the board is probably worth £100 working on eBay, I wasn't about to risk buying a CPU for an untested board. Instead I opted for an Intel Xeon X5460 3.16GHz 12MB cache with a FSB of 1333MHz, the same as the RAM I had. Given that it cost me £20 delivered from Korea, I plan on overclocking it as much as humanely possible using the 1600Mhz headroom.

The mod is pretty simple. You connect some of the pins on the underside of the CPU with a pre-made piece of tape and cut the tabs off the CPU socket allowing the chip to sit flush.
I've not had time to test yet as I need to source a cheap PSU for the build. Speaking of which I've also got an Ati 7850 with a blown mosfet and chipped resistor to fix, if that happens then I could have a nice little ghetto gaming rig.

Filed under: Fixes, Tweaks No Comments

Making a decent cappuccino

So I've had a DeLonghi ECC 221.B espresso machine for around a year now, I've used it constantly but never been quite sure how to get the most of it. The machine itself was somewhat of a bargain, I picked it up for £35 down from £125 when a local Tesco Extra was closing it's doors. Even with a price tag of £125 the machine is firmly considered budget to your average home espresso connoisseur, however I believe being a pump driven unit it's hard to beat without spending several hundred more.

So over the last week I've studied up and tried out a number of alterations to both the machine and the way I make a cup of coffee. The change in appearance, texture and taste of my cappuccinos has improved significantly, so much so I've written up how to achieve it below.

  • Buy fresh beans! I've been getting mine from Has Bean, they post them to you on the day they are roasted
  • Grind the coffee as fine as possible. Using one of my favourite presents ever, a Krups Expert GVX231 grinder, I was able to get some really good grinding results out of the box. Over the last week, I've been able to get it working even better by opening it up and adjusting the burr mechanism until grounds were coming out with a flour like consistency which is exactly what's needed for espresso with a good crema
  • Tamper the coffee. Using a good tamper is essential. For the DeLonghi a 51mm tamper is ideal, I purchased this one from Amazon. Getting the tamper right is all about finding the ideal pressure and twisting as you lift. The grounds should be pushed down leaving an even gap at the top of the basket
  • De-pressurise the basket. By default the basket it pressurised, put simply there is a spring loaded valve to keep the pressure high enough when using store brought pre-ground coffee. This is great for your average consumer because they get OK results from all types of coffee, but for me I want to use grounds that have completely pulverised and use tampering to control the pressure. De-pressurising the basket is pretty simple (and reversible), a video guide can be found here
  • Remove the plastic bottom from portafilter. You can either remove the bottom or drill a single large hole, although this is non-reversible
  • Steaming the milk. Using a decent amount of cold milk in a small cold stainless steel jug, insert the frother at a 45degree angle into the milk so that it begins to move in a circular fashion. Remove the frother when the temperature reaches 130 degrees (a temperature probe will aid with this)

Next on my list is bean roasting 🙂

Filed under: Tweaks No Comments