Zalman TNN-300 Fanless PC Enclosure System

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With the motherboard in place, place the heavy copper CPU block.
Now, check the six S-shaped heatpipes for best placement. This is very clever:
There are 10 grooves in the blue block so that the placement of the six heatpipes can be adjusted for different motherboards.

Next, apply the supplied TIM all around where the heatpipes meet the heatblocks.

Place the cover grooved blocks, and install four screws in each, tightening all the way.
On the CPU, the four screws only join the top and bottom sections, clamping the heatpipes between them.

This clip has to be installed with two big bolts for pressure to be applied between the CPU and the block.
The procedure is simple: Just turn the bolt until you can't turn any more.

This completes the motherboard and CPU cooling installation. The drives were installed next. The optical drive is straightforward, the aluminum bracket having to be removed, the drive screwed on to it, then the ledge reattached.

Zalman supplies little rubber shock absorbers to be used between the drive and the aluminum bracket. From previous experience with these rubber plugs, I know how effective they are. Quite simply, the rubber is too hard to provide more than a modicum of damping. At the same time, cooling is adversely affected as there's no heat conduction from the drive to the chassis. It's not a great compromise; at least if the HDD has to run hot, the damping should be effective.

These hard rubber plugs do not make HDDs any quieter. Not really.

Instead of the supplied mounting, four small blocks of Sorbothane were used. Sorbothane. It is sticky and tacky, so that just pressing the HDD down on top of them keeps the drive secure enough for a desktop PC that's rarely moved. Sorbothane...

  • is a proprietary, visco-elastic polymer.
  • is a thermoset, polyether-based, polyurethane material.
  • has a very high damping coefficient.
  • combines shock absorption, good memory, vibration isolation and vibration damping characteristics.
  • While many materials exhibit one of these characteristics, Sorbothane combines all of them in a stable material with a long fatigue

We've recommended it as a drive dampener in the SPCR forums. The most often mentioned source for Sorbothane is, but according to Ralf Hutter, "they don't call it that any more. It's listed under some innocuous name like 'ultra soft polyurethane.'"

Quiet SATA notebook drive on Sorbothane blocks.

The cables between the PSU and all the components went in. This procedure was straightforward. But, better cable management would have been nice, with multiple output sockets on the PSU and multiple individual cables rather than just two big cable sets.

At this point, Windows was installed, along with the usual range of utilities and tools to test, monitor and measure the system. This would be the minimalist configuration, using the onboard graphics for the coolest and simplest system. The system was used and tested in this mode for about two weeks.

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