How to Build a Green Instant-On PC

  • By

    Frank Ohlhorst

    | Posted 2008-08-22
CHANNEL INSIDER LABS: How to Build a Green Instant-On PC

Optical Drives

Optical drives have almost become a commodity on today's market, ranging from low-priced do-all, be-all units to higher-priced advanced units. We set out to make our instant-on green PC as feature-rich as possible. With that in mind, we wanted to incorporate support for Blu-ray discs, yet still have the ability to burn DVDs and CDs.

We chose to install a pair of SATA-based optical drives to meet those goals. The advantage of having a pair of drives as opposed to a single drive are many. First off, today's multifunction drives that support Blu-ray along with DVD-R capability are still very expensive, making a dual-drive solution somewhat more economical.  Having two drives allows workers to more easily copy disks, or watch a movie or play music while  using the second drive to perform other duties.

Finally, a dual-drive arrangement makes life much easier for the budding video producer, who has to import video while burning DVDs.

For Blu-ray support, we chose a DH-401 Internal 4X BD-ROM drive from Lite-On. The DH-401 has a street price of around $130 and offers a SATA connection. The DH-401 proved to be an attractive addition to our system. The drive features a black bezel that matches the design of the NZXT Tempest case. Performance-wise, the DH-401 worked as expected and was able to read Blu-ray disks with ease. The drive also worked fine with a variety of DVD and CD media. For a burner, we chose a Lite-On iHAS-120, which has a street price of just under $25. Although very inexpensive, the iHAS-120 features a SATA interface and supports all major formats of DVDs and CDs.

The drive features a technology called "SmartWrite," which automatically determines the optimal writing strategy for the media inserted. The unit also looks good in the NZXT system case, thanks to the included black bezel and clean front panel. Lite-On bundles in a copy of Nero 7 Essentials and includes mounting screws and a SATA cable.


Frank Ohlhorst Frank J. Ohlhorst is the Executive Technology Editor for eWeek Channel Insider and brings with him over 20 years of experience in the Information Technology field.He began his career as a network administrator and applications program in the private sector for two years before joining a computer consulting firm as a programmer analyst. In 1988 Frank founded a computer consulting company, which specialized in network design, implementation, and support, along with custom accounting applications developed in a variety of programming languages.In 1991, Frank took a position with the United States Department of Energy as a Network Manager for multiple DOE Area Offices with locations at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL), Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPL), Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), FermiLAB and the Ames Area Office (AMESAO). Frank's duties included managing the site networks, associated staff and the inter-network links between the area offices. He also served at the Computer Security Officer (CSO) for multiple DOE sites. Frank joined CMP Technology's Channel group in 1999 as a Technical Editor assigned to the CRN Test Center, within a year, Frank became the Senior Technical Editor, and was responsible for designing product testing methodologies, assigning product reviews, roundups and bakeoffs to the CRN Test Center staff.In 2003, Frank was named Technology Editor of CRN. In that capacity, he ensured that CRN maintained a clearer focus on technology and increased the integration of the Test Center's review content into both CRN's print and web properties. He also contributed to Netseminar's, hosted sessions at CMP's Xchange Channel trade shows and helped to develop new methods of content delivery, Such as CRN-TV.In September of 2004, Frank became the Director of the CRN Test Center and was charged with increasing the Test Center's contributions to CMP's Channel Web online presence and CMP's latest monthly publication, Digital Connect, a magazine geared towards the home integrator. He also continued to contribute to CMP's Netseminar series, Xchange events, industry conferences and CRN-TV.In January of 2007, CMP Launched CRNtech, a monthly publication focused on technology for the channel, with a mailed audience of 70,000 qualified readers. Frank was instrumental in the development and design of CRNTech and was the editorial director of the publication as well as its primary contributor. He also maintained the edit calendar, and hosted quarterly CRNTech Live events.In June 2007, Frank was named Senior Technology Analyst and became responsible for the technical focus and edit calendars of all the Channel Group's publications, including CRN, CRNTech, and VARBusiness, along with the Channel Group's specialized publications Solutions Inc., Government VAR, TechBuilder and various custom publications. Frank joined Ziff Davis Enterprise in September of 2007 and focuses on creating editorial content geared towards the purveyors of Information Technology products and services. Frank writes comparative reviews, channel analysis pieces and participates in many of Ziff Davis Enterprise's tradeshows and webinars. He has received several awards for his writing and editing, including back to back best review of the year awards, and a president's award for CRN-TV. Frank speaks at many industry conferences, is a contributor to several IT Books, holds several records for online hits and has several industry certifications, including Novell's CNE, Microsoft's MCP.Frank can be reached at frank.ohlhorst@ziffdavisenterprise.com

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