Puget Custom Pentium-M Rig: A Silent WC System

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Water Cooling System (continued)

A water reservoir was installed between the hard drive and optical bays. This is to ease filling, and simplify the bleeding process to get the airbubbles out. It actually hurts performance by inducing more restriction in the loop, but in the context of this system, the slight cooling performance penalty is probably negligible. The reservoir is completely watertight, but it needs to be kept upright to prevent air from flowing into the water tubing.


The water reservoir is clipped into place behind the optical drive bay.

The waterblocks for the CPU, Northbridge and GPU are all branded Koolance. Apart from the mounting clips, the CPU and Northbridge waterblocks look identical, but the GPU module is much larger. In addition to cooling the GPU itself, it also makes contact with the RAM on the VGA card (on both sides of the board). The VGA card is likely to be that biggest source of heat in the system, so the large size of the waterblock is probably appropriate.


The Koolance waterblocks for the CPU and Northbridge chips seem tiny compared to air-cooled heatsinks.


The GPU waterblock covers the whole VGA card, and also cools the DDR3 RAM chips on the board.

Smart Drive 2002C

Apart from the water pump, the only other source of mechanical noise in the system is the hard drive. To keep noise levels to a minimum, an 80 GB notebook drive is used. In most systems, this would be enough to drop the hard drive noise below the ambient noise level, but this is not good enough for the Puget system: The already quiet notebook drive is further quieted using a Smart Drive 2002C. This enclosure is designed for silencing (and cooling) larger and louder 3.5" drives, so it should have no problem eliminating whatever residual noise is produced by the notebook drive.

The Smart Drive is not mounted in a 5.25" bay as it is intended to be. Instead, it is strapped to the bottom of the case with bungees. In combination with the layer of Acoustipack that is below it, this provides some limited vibration damping to prevent drive vibration from being transferred to the case.


The hard drive sits in an enclosure at the bottom front of the case.

Acoustipack

Just in case the hard drive and the water pump aren't completely silenced by their enclosures, the interior walls of the cases have also been covered with Acoustipack. The intake and exhaust vents have been left clear so that heat can escape, but every other surface is covered. Puget did a very thorough job applying the Acoustipack. It's so thorough, in fact, that the Acoustipack interferes with opening the case. Removing the side panel requires prying it off with the claw of a hammer; it's fitted much to tightly to remove by hand. This may not be much of an issue for most people ? it's not supposed to require tinkering inside ? but for those who want to tweak the build themselves (or just admire Puget's handiwork) it's a bit of an annoyance.

Most of the time, the Acoustipack is unlikely to have much effect. Acoustipack is most effective for reducing the resonant vibration noise that can affect systems with high-vibration components, but the notebook drive and the already-enclosed water pump are unlikely to produce enough vibration to warrant the use of Acoustipack. However, there is one more vibration-producing component in the case: The optical drive.

Because optical drives spend most of their time inactive, the noise and vibration they produce is often overlooked. In the Puget system, the optical drive is likely to be the noisiest component by far. Although we do not expect the Acoustipack to eliminate optical drive noise, it should make the noise sound smoother and reduce the buzzing rattle that optical drives sometimes produce.


The Acoustipack is so close to the edge of the case that it makes it difficult to remove the side panel.



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