Bulletproof PC Build

So I would like to gather people opinions on building a bulletproof Windows PC for CNC machines

I have been needing a solution for awhile now because I have been going through cheap pc’s quite alot

Here are the requirements:

Passively cooled
Windows 7-10 32 or 64 bit
Dedicated to the machine running only 1 program and nothing else (Mach 3)
internet access optional but not preffered
vibration resistant
moisture resistant
Dust resistant
Ethernet Port
x4 usb 2.0-3.0 ports
min 1 ghz cpu
min 512mb ram
video card min 512mb ram
solid state min 120gb hard drive
1 vga port minimum

I think thats it

I got quoted by a local computer store to build one for me but I think it is a little expensive I have computer building experience but I am not sure what to choose on the hardware side of things I can just build it

here are the images of what they specd me

Altec Fanless NUC Custom
Intel Celeron N2930 Quad-Core 1.83 GHz CPU
8GB DDR3 Ram
120GB msata SSD
Windows 7 Pro
3 Year Warranty


image (1)image

what are your thoughts

What have been your failure points on the PCs?

I know a lot of people have been using cheap tablet PCs without issue.

Also see this thread about a Stick PC


Hey there thanks for the reply

and the main failure point on the pc’s have been the platter type hard drive because of vibration

and the second main failure point is the amount of dust that gets sucked into everything

I actually have a few of those stick pc’s from intel and personally I do not like then and I want to run something more robust and i need a ethernet port mine mine do not have

Look at a panasonic tough book, refurbished, they are pretty reasonable.

Hey @DouglasHarrison

so I have been told my many people not to use laptops for machines that need to be rock solid because there is something psychically in the hardware that are different from pc’s for power savings and something in the software that is not ideal either

do you know any truth to this I have just always been told this

what I need is almost server like stability

also I really do not want to use a laptop because the dust will affect the keys pretty badly and there are not passively cooled

these have low power CPU and not very much RAM. Might be OK for really basic stuff but if you try and run something like Vectric or fusion 360 on it, you’ll be disappointed and a lot poorer than you need to be.

For half of what this cost, I bought a refurb i7 with 12gb ram and a decent video card.

Just setup some filtering for the fan input areas, and blow out your machine periodically.


thanks for your reply

yeah all i need is a low power pc

this pc will be dedicated to running 1 piece of software

Mach 3

and nothing more so I dont need anything crazy I have other custom built computers that I use to design stuff on this one will just control the machine

Not sure about those items. I use a laptop for my X-Carve but i am just a hobby user. I set my laptop to never sleep and it works fine.

Should be more than sufficient.

Also get these:

Or totally fanless:

First thought is of cooling. Passive cooling is good, and the computer offered does that by having the case act like a big heat sink. But that does not excuse you from providing adequate air flow to dissipate heat.

Look into positive pressured cases The Right Case for Your Next PC Build, Part Two BY NATHAN EDWARDS. I’ve built server cabinets in high dust environments (auto tire shop) that after a year has barely enough dust inside to draw a line with your finger.

Water cooling might be an option, as you can put your tower where you want to and have it accessible to be dusted when desired. My current solution is doing all my design work on my gaming computer while having my old laptop run the jobs which I connect to remotely.


I got a couple questions if you dont mind

on the cooling issue do your think that the system being passively cooled and being such a low power system do you think that it would ever even get hot enough to warrant internal airflow?

the placement of this computer will be in a open shop and the computer will be out in the open and not in a cabinet

I am just not sure that the computer would ever get hot enough just running mach 3?

and yeah I love water cooling and hope to do my design pc soon lol but for cnc machines I hate it because of all the potential failure points that you introduce into the system especially if you are running all your own tubing and fittings

thats pretty neat what you did with the tire shop server I think I would need that if I was running multiple computers for multiple machines in 1 server rack

now if you are willing I would love to share some pics with you on my electronics cabinet and how I can improve the dust resistance of that because it fills up with dust rather quickly and I am really worried about running my electronics the big power supplies like to fill up the dust most often


hey justin thank for the link yeah I have seen that zotac box before I think that might be a good option

how do I find out the specs on the graphics card to make sure that it meets my spec?


Windows has a higher video card requirement than that.

You’ll be fine. That shouldn’t even be a concern unless you’re 3D gaming or high end 3D modeling.


okay thanks I was just worried about large gcode files

and question if you know I do the majority of my 3D modeling in Fusion 360 and I am running a Gforce GTX960 some sorta g1 gaming edition but I find that I can slow fusion down to a halt with files that are by all accounts not complex do you have any ideas on what might be going on there?

That’s off topic for this thread but it’s probably more system memory or hard drive performance than video memory/card.

If the fan pulls air in, easy. Build a filter box and duct it.

(from google):

Try updating or rolling back your video drivers.

And, try adding more memory. 4 gig not enough for complicated apps. Also you can manage page file manually, using hard disk space as memory space would help.