ultra fast, ultra quiet system
primary source of information:
SCPR Forums. Thank you to all who have gone before me, and bothered to take the time to write about it. There are a few new tricks and mods I came up with in building my system that I hope are worth sharing, but mostly it was just a process of incorporating the best ideas I found here in the forums.
This is a brand new system built from scratch. Incremental testing showed stability at 10% overclocked. After running it through it's paces for several days (and allowing enough burn in time for the Arctic Silver 5 to at least start setting up), so far I've found my hard drives maintain a cap of 40C at highest load, my VGA card peaks out around 58C after an hour of playing Deus Ex, temps inside my PSU hit 47C, and my CPU never gets above 52C running CPUburn. I find all those temperatures comfortable for now, with the exception of the video card. If that doesn’t cool a bit as things break in I will remove the fan controller and let it run at a full 12v. Then I will be completely ready for the release of Half Life 2!
opened bottom front panel bezel
opened internal front panel bezel
removed internal hard drive bays
opened up the front case intake, and based on Katana Man's excellent report on grills, filters, and air flow
, I removed the front filter altogether. This cutout is just large enough for a 92mm fan to be slipped into the opening if I should need to provide more cooling for my hard drives.
Performix PlastiDip rubber paint.
AcoustiPack Deluxe acoustic dampening material. I went with the Deluxe pack rather than the precut because I wanted the thicker material for the door, and because I wanted to cut my foam in much closer and in more places than the precut kit allows. When finished I had a small pile of a dozen or so pieces of the foam left, none more than an about 1" x ½" big. When you really start looking it's amazing how many places you can put that foam. Around the PSU and around the case fan were natural areas since so much noise and vibration starts there.
Notice on the removable side door I did not completely cut out the dampening sheet for the support bar. Instead I removed just enough of the thickness to allow the door to close properly with a touch of pressure. This way there is one completely unbroken sheet of dampening covering that somewhat thin door panel. Next time I would have undercut the sheet over the door handle and left foam in one piece on the surface. I didn't think of it in time, so I undercut and re-applied the foam to that handle area. (that handle moves very little on the inside - no reason most of it needs to be exposed.)
1 3/4" Tall Case Feet
You will see custom grills on the back and inside on the PSU, held off from the case to reduce interference. Yes I am aware there would be better airflow with these removed, and if I would leave the grills off I could use my E.A.R. grommets to mount the fans, but looks are just too important to me. Life is about balance and I like to be surrounded by attractive things.
Front blue LED's removed (those were NOT attractive things).
ASUS P4C800-E Deluxe
Pentium 4 Extreme Edition(3.20GHz, L2:512KB, L3:2MB 800MHz, Socket 478)
Zalman CNPS7000-ALCu cooler heatsink attached with Arctic Silver 5, running 7v through Zalman Fan Mate.
1024 Meg DDR550Mhz Dual Channel, Corsair XMS440 tested and matched Twin Pair with heatsinks.
nvidia GeForce FX 5950 Ultra 256MB 8x AGP
ZM80C Zalman Quiet Video Card Heatpipe, ZM-OP1 (Quiet Fan for ZM80C-HP) running 7v through Zalman Fan Mate. Closed cell foam neoprene rubber placed between fan and heatsinks.
1-120GB Seagate 7200.7 SATA Hard Drive
1-160GB Samsung SP1604N IDE Hard Drive
SmartDrive 2002 enclosures
The SmartDrive enclosures were isolated from the case, and stacked using ½" 40 durometer Sorbothane blocks. Additional ramsink memory heatsinks were attached to front of each enclosure to directly catch the incoming air.
Enermax Noisetaker EG425P-VE(SFMA) 420W SATA Intel ATX+12V Ver 1.3
silicone gasket mounting to case, custom paint, custom grills.
Both stock fans were removed, the intake fan was removed permanently. The exhaust fan was replaced with Enermax Ultra-Cool UC-001B-TC (required soldering since they use a non-standard pin order on their non-standard fan connectors inside). Notice the strips of thin closed cell foam neoprene rubber sheets on the two metal lips where the PSU rests. It seems important to isolate these shelves from the PSU.
Case exhaust fan:
Papst Ultra-Quiet 4412 FGL
Since there is so much variety in everyone's favorite 120mm fan, I tested four fan options.
Mounted against silicone gasket, rubber grommets on both sides of the screw.
Samsung Noise Reduction CD-RW
Samsung 1.4MB Floppy
Iomega 250MB ZipDrive
Sound Blaster Audigy2 ZS Platinum Pro
FLEXO PET Sleeving
Spiral cable wrap
Black stage tape
Logitec UltraX Quiet
Red LED's mounted inside PSU, at GPU, HDD, and RAM
Hand silk-screened Chinese Border Paper outside case for accent
Silicone gasket isolation, Silicon noise isolation strips, closed cell foam neoprene rubber sheets, or simple rubber washers were used between every possible metal part (fans, optical drives, power supply, etc.)
Digital Doc 5+
I like it. Most of the time I can't hear it at all. At full load you can hear a slight rush of air out the back if you are close enough. It is a deep low sound that is not the least bit annoying. There is no noticeable case vibration.
1. If you use the Digital Doc 5+, be very careful with those temp sensors. If one gets pinched, all eight temp displays fail. Using a screw on the side of a GPU heatsink to clamp the end of the lead down to the aluminum block WILL cause the sensor to fail. Trust me on this one. I also found on my unit it would only function in the upright position so I had to stand my case up when I was checking it. Their tech support said this monitor does not work well if it's in contact with other metal so perhaps that is the reason.
2. Before you go too far, be sure your fan controllers are wired in correctly. Test things at every step of the way. On my case fan I inadvertently sequenced it Power-Fan-Fanmate so while it did run, I could not dial down the voltage. It was in the middle of a complex wiring string and it LOOKED right, lol. To fix it I ended up having to go all the way back to removing my CPU heatsink just so I could get to it. Re-applying the thermal compound taught me my lesson on this one.
3. Removing the second fan from my PSU may have been a mistake. It's rock solid and runs cool enough, but the sole 80mm fan gets kicked up to full speed a little too often for my listening comfort.
4. Don't put the AcoustiPack material too close to the inside of the front bezel at the rotating door for your external ports. If you don't keep it back 1/8" or so from the edge the quarter circle door drags really bad when you try to rotate it open.
5. The standard size "QuietFeet" get squished down almost flat on the motherboard side of the case. My guess is the larger size would not necessarily hold up any better since they are made of the same material. I still used my foot extension posted to this site to raise the case off the ground, but I changed my feet ends back to the rubber discs that came with the case. They are much more solid.
6. If you want great looking cable management, hire Ralf to come over to your house and do it. If that is not an option, you may want to select a PSU other than that new Enermax Noisetaker that I used. It has two separate feeds or "rails" as they call it. Which means you have two large bundled cables coming out the back instead of the normal one. Each one's diameter is nearly the size of the single one in my previous PSU, and these cables are LONG. This makes them very difficult to hide or even wrap into a controlled look unless you have Ralf's mastery of cablegami (which I do not).