Over the past few weeks, I have been building a quiet gaming machine and I think that it is about done! I know that some of the things that I got are not totally silent, but I work at home and play World of Warcraft, so I wanted a good powerful machine for both development and gaming.
Here are the components:
Case: Antec SLK3000B
Power Supply: Seasonic S12 430W
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 3700+ (San Diego)
Motherboard: Asus A8N-E
Memory: 2x512MB OCZ Value RAM
Hard Drive: Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 250GB
DVD: Plextor PX-716A
Video: BFG 6800GT
Sound: Creative Audigy2 ZS
Floppy: Mitsumi 7-in-1 + Floppy
Heatsinks: Thermalright XP-120, Zalman ZM-NB47J, Zalman VF700-Cu (not used, see notes)
Fans: 2x Nexus 120mm, 1x Acoustifan
Misc: Aerocool Gatewatch, NoiseMagic NoVibes 3
This is not the first time I've built a computer, but it is the first time I've ever changed anything on the components...I have always just put the things in the case like they came. I ran into a few bumps along the road, which I've put in the notes at the end past the pictures.
Pictures (thumbnails link to 800x600 images):
According to Asus monitor/NVidia drivers:
According to Aerocool Gatewatch:
36C CPU (side of XP-120 fins)
33C case (back of case)
37C hard drive
40C video card (edge of heat sink)
I'm really not happy with this fan. I was using the Antec Tri-Cool that came with the case on the XP-120, but I wanted a fan with the 3 wire connector so I could hook it up to the Gatewatch, so I got the Acoustifan since it was the only fan I'd seen in the recommended list that had open corners (I don't have any tools to cut open the corners of a Nexus with) and was not mentioned in the forums as either being not good on PWM or declining in quality. The Acoustifan seems to have a bit of a hollow whistle sound to it, though. My boyfriend says he cannot hear what I'm talking about but it's driving me crazy. I'm not certain yet that it's the Acoustifan, but I opened the case up this morning to: take pics, hook up the temp probes for the Gatewatch, and replace the Tri-cool with the Acoustifan, so the Acoustifan seems like the likely culprit. I'll probably unhook it this evening to see if it is that and if so put the Tri-cool back on.
I forgot to take a picture of it, but I didn't really like the side vents, so I removed the plastic tube thing over the CPU and covered up both holes with some air filter stuff meant to put in heating vents. I also taped up all the holes all over the case with silver foil tape (can see it a little bit on the picture of the back).
I used the zip tie method of attaching them, although they are a bit loose because I cut up some foam to pad between the fan and the case, and every time I tighten them the foam compresses a bit and not long after it's a little loose again. They're still pretty sturdy though.
I rigged up a platform on the bottom of the existing hard drive cage area for the NoVibes to sit on like I saw someone else here in the forums do. I cut a block of foam out of the packing that the hard drive came in, attached it to the metal with velcro strips and attached the NoVibes to the top of the foam with velcro strips. It looks precarious, and it tilts forward a little bit, but it's very solid.
I bought this, but as you can see from the pictures, I still have the stock heatsink/fan from the BFG 6800GT in there. As I mentioned earlier, this is not my first time building a computer, but it is the first time I've done stuff like removing existing heatsinks and replacing them. I had fully intended to replace the heatsink on the 6800GT with the Zalman, but I could not get it off. This is the biggest stock heatsink I've ever seen. It is attached to the card with 7 screws (all with springs) and a lot of thermal tape. It weighs a ton. I took all the screws out but I was afraid to pry the heatsink off the tape for fear of breaking something, since it was by far the most expensive component in the system. It's pretty quiet though for a stock heatsink. Not silent, but pretty quiet, and I still have the Zalman if I change my mind.
The Aerocool Gatewatch doesn't fit in the front of the case...at least not well. There is a very slight lip on the side edges of the opening in the front panel on the 3000B, and the Gatewatch's faceplate is just slightly bigger than that opening. So, once the Gatewatch is in place you cannot put the front panel back on because the lip prevents it from going through the opening. It does fit perfectly if you slide it in after the front panel is on, though, so that is what I did. It's attached to the sides with zipties, because the rails just weren't working. I do have to cut the zipties any time I need to remove the front panel, although I don't need to unhook all the fan cables and temperature sensors from it because you can get the panel on and off if you pull the Gatewatch forward a bit and turn it sideways. I don't think I've ever used so many zipties building a computer before as in this one, I have them everywhere.
So far the Gatewatch seems to be doing a good job, although it won't run the fans at any lower than 1250 RPM. This was kind of an "ooooh shiny" purchase...I could have and probably should have just gotten something much cheaper to control the fans.
It's running a bit hot right now, although no where near overheating, but I attribute that to both the weather (since it's summer and warmer in the house) and my desk. It is underneath my desk and the exhaust fan has...well, the back of the desk behind it. It has an inch or two of clearance, and I've tried to angle it a bit to give it some more breathing room.
I really wanted to clean up my cabling in this machine and for the most part it is ok. The center area of the machine is unobstructed except for the big honking video card in the way. I have as many cables as I can either ziptied to the drive cages and pushed to the sides or ziptied to the horizontal bar, but there's still a huge rats nest up at the top behind the DVD and the fan controller. I don't know how some of you people with the perfectly cleaned up cabling do it! I just couldn't seem to make it all fit and stay in the out of the way areas without still looking messy.