I posted a while ago about some upgrades, and after some good advice from MikeC, I have completed my build, and am here to present some pics and tell you about what I did.
Okay, to start the story, you have to know that I've been itching to upgrade to a C2D for a while now, but it would necessitate a complete rebuilding of my entire system, which the wallet couldn't handle... So, I figured I would use most of my current parts, acquire some faster/better parts, and see what I could do to make it quieter.
So, the things I kept were:
Thermaltake TWV480 - 480 Watt Power supply
Asus P4PE motherboard - latest bios supports Northwood 800Mhz FSB CPUs
ATI AIW 9600XT video card
Creative Audigy 2 ZS sound card
Plextor 161040A - CDRW drive
Plextor 708A - DVDRW drive
Upgraded the following:
Case: Powmax P4 generic -> Antec P160 (not windowed)
CPU: 1.5Ghz P4 -> 2.6Ghz P4 w/HT and 800Mhz FSB(up from 400Mhz)
HDD: 60GB Seagate + 80GB WD(noisy!) -> 400GB Samsung
CPU cooler : stock
-> Scythe Ninja, rev B + 120mm fan
Case fan: Enermax 80mm "silent"
-> Antec 120mm
Plus, I added a Scythe Kama-meter fan controller. I'm not controlling many fans with it(only 2), though I'm monitoring rpms on 3, and using all 4 temp sensors(CPU,GPU,P/S,HDD).
Okay, here's a pic of the Scythe Ninja on my motherboard: it's enormous!
Next came the P/S. I knew that the rear fan was controlled by the Total Watts Viewer 5.25" fan control module(see pics below), but that the lower fan was running at a constant 2400rpm. I knew that couldn't be good for the noise. So, since the fan controller was designed to control 2 fans(the rear PSU fan and an included case fan), I figured I'd modify the leads on the lower PSU fan to connect to the fan controller. That should quiet it down! Here's my custom lead...
Next, the video card. Some weeks previous, the fan died a horrible, noisy death over the course of many days... it drove me crazy! I tried to lub the fan(peeled back the sticker, etc. but it didn't help). Noise was so bad I eventually just unplugged the fan. It doesn't have a temp sensor, unfortunately, so I've no idea how hot it was getting(I was
seeing artifacts during gaming, but it didn't bother me too bad)- More on that later. I figured that since the AIW9600XT has the notable honor of being the most efficient of the 9600 lineup, that I really should be able to run it fanless. Since the heatsink was covered up(sorry, no pic), I figured my best chances on cooling it would be to get the fins exposed to as much air as possible. After having an impossible time getting the mounting posts off(I ended up cutting them off!), I eventually got the cover off. I couldn't get the stick gunk off the heatsink/GPU at all until I used metal polish. Came right off then... When putting the heatsink back on, I used the same thermal grease that came with the Ninja. I had to use some ghetto techniques to get the heatsink back on, but it worked .Here's the result:
And here's the mess of wires I had to try and route/hide. Note that the Kama-Meter lines are still in the box - I had to use those, too!
And here's my attempt at decent cable management(be kind with comments - it's my first ever real attempt...). I think I managed to keep the main area pretty clear... There's just too many cables/wires to really get it looking clean, though.
When it's all put together, it's looks like this:
I think it's really sweet. All the stealth doors for the CD/DVD drives, and the floppy really help it look polished and nice. When I first started the thing up, I was SO amazed at the quietness. And that was with the door off, and the two 120mm fans at 12V!
So naturally, I started testing the fan controls, and sure enough, when the 120mm were turned down, it got even quieter. I wanted to make sure I could control the PSU fans with the TWV controller, and it was then I noticed the second fan didn't work as expected. In fact, it wasn't spinning at all! No wonder it was quiet. Apparently the TWV uses a proprietary control on the fan circuitry such that the leads that attached to the fan controller actually do not supply voltage, just control it somehow. Its weird, but anyway, I hooked it up the to Kamameter, and was dismayed that even when it's running undervolted, it's very noisy/whiny... So I just left it off - hoping the temps would stay low(they have, too).
As you can see in the picture above, the 55C temp is hot... that's measuring the passively cooled vid card at idle. I figured that wasn't too bad, but wanted to see how hot it would get under load. So, ATItool ran for a few minutes, and the thing skyrocketed to 90C in a few minutes! The Kamameter started beeping and flashing at me, and I realized that this wasn't going to work. I knew that just a little bit of air would make a big difference, as blowing on the heatsink with my mouth dropped the idle temp from 55C to 47C in a few seconds... So, after brainstorming a bit, I came up with this solution:
(You can see the screws I used to get my vid card heatsink back on... And no, it's not touching the northbridge h/s)
Very ugly, but it gets the job done. I modded the connector to plug into the 12V supply on the vid card. (remember, it's not running at 12V. it's a monster at 12V! the proprietary design on the fan controller somehow reduces the voltage in the fan circuitry...) Temps for the GPU are now idle @ 45C and max load(ATItool) @ 70C. Typical gaming doesn't put it over 60C. I can't imagine what sort of blistering temps that thing was reaching in my previous case when I unplugged the fan - even at 90C in ATItool, there were no artifacts at all... so it must have been really roasting... He's feeling just fine now!
The two 80mm fans go to about 1200 at the low end - not as low as I'd like, but very quiet indeed. In fact, sometimes, I can't even tell if the computer is on! It's such a dramatic improvement over our previous setup, and much speedier, too! It's cured my upgrade bug for the time being.
The loudest noise is HDD seeking. I mounted the HDD on the rubber grommets and put it the regular way... I might try suspending the drive and seeing if it helps lower the seek noise.
And for the record: Temps are
CPU : idle 33C, load ? but with those two 120mms, I expect really low.
GPU : idle 45C, load 60-70C
HDD : 37C
P/S : 35C (see, I'm not worried about that lower fan not running)
Well, there it is. My first quiet build. It was pretty succesful, thanks to the excellent advice from folks here on the forum, and some small mods to the equipment.
Any comments/suggestions/criticisms welcome...
[Edit: changed my pics to a free host, so I don't destroy my limited webspace bandwidth...]