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 Post subject: My finished Antec P160 upgrade
PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2007 7:35 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 5:33 am
Posts: 46
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
floppy 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!
Image

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...
Image

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:
Image

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!
Image

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.
Image

When it's all put together, it's looks like this:
Image

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:
Image
(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...]


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2007 11:45 pm 
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Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:46 pm
Posts: 26
Great build, with some great pics. I really appreciate good pictures w/ decent lighting in the gallery thread.

You're right though, you need some help with those cables. I suggest you get some velcro ties or zip ties and start tidying it up. I would try hiding everything above your optical drive if you can.

What your really need (when your wallet opens up again) is a modular, and sleeved power supply like an Antec Neo or Enermax Liberty.

Nice post nonetheless!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 12:55 am 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2007 2:31 am
Posts: 319
Location: Hell
Out of all things, I think harddrive vibration annoys me the most. I think you need someway of getting the vibration dealt with =) Nice case though. And nice picture lighting.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2007 5:32 am 
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Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 5:33 am
Posts: 46
Thanks for the comments, guys.

Yeah, I'd love to get a sleeved modular power supply - it's on my wish list. I finish school (doctoral degree, so I mean really finish) in a year, so I might have some more $ flexibility soon after that (a real job!) I'd love to put a whole new C2D system together - but who knows what will be around in a year from now... Just a year ago, there were no Core 2 Duo's!

Most of those cables actually are above the p/s and CD drives. The ones that snake down to the bottom are the connectors for the front panel audio/usb/firewire/power & hdd lights. I'm using some twist-ties to keep the wires running down the center until they have to split and get connected. Well, as bad as it still is, it's a great improvement over the previous spaghetti jungle in my old case...

And yes, jaldridge6, the harddrive is one of the noiser elements left. I bought some elastic drawstring-type cord from Walmart, and will be soon suspending the hard drive. By putting my hand on the side of the case, I can feel the vibrations... :(

So, things I have left to do include:
1) Suspend the HDD
2) Attach the Front Panel Audio to my Audigy 2 ZS(proprietary connector - gotta get inventive on this one...)
3) Mod the stealth doors - they get stuck when the trays are closing.
4) Maybe replace those 80mm Thermaltake fans for p/s and vid card... They've been used for ~3 years now, and I think they are not as quiet as some other 80mm fans...

Other than that, I'm pleased as can be with my "new" system. Overall system performance is more than double what it was before. :)

Does anyone have any recommendations for a quiet, and cheap, 80mm fan? the SPCR 80mm rec. list includes 3 fans - the Nexus($), and 2 others that you can't get in the US. Not tremendously helpful.
Does Yate-Loon make a 80mm? I haven't seen one at jab-tech, just 120mm...

Edit: just did a jab-tech search, and lo and behold, they do have them now... 80mm Yate Loons - Low speed version that should undervolt nicely @ $2 each... Guess I'll grab a few!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 3:22 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2007 2:31 am
Posts: 319
Location: Hell
instead of using that cord to hold up the fan, you could try a 'sunbeam wherever bracket"

http://www.xoxide.com/sunbeam-wherever-pci-rack.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 6:22 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 03, 2007 5:33 am
Posts: 46
That bracket is clever. I've actually come up with an idea of my own, similar but not as pretty. I'm going to use those break-out panels from the 5.25" bay and drill a few holes... we'll see what I come up with. Should look better than the wire, at any rate, and be a bit more solid.

I also have succesfully suspended the hard drive and wow, does it make a difference! I used to be able to hear this low rumbling noise when it would seek, and now I can't hear it at all. I also can no longer feel any vibration in the side of the case, where I could before. Yay for suspension!

I did manage to connect the front panel headphones, and replaced the 80mm Tt fans with some 80mm Yate Loons.

I'm very pleased with how quiet this thing is. I can't even tell when it's on, except if it's dead silent in the house(which isn't often, with 3 small kids running around!)

I'd like to be able to slow down the 80mm fans a bit more, as well as the 120mm Yate Loon I stuck in(replaced the Antec case fan)... The 80mm's rotate ~1450RPM, and the 120mm around 1050. It produces more of a "whoosh" than I think I need... So I'm thinking of putting some resistors in-line. I figure if I just drop the voltage by 3 or 4 V, then I'll have more room to adjust it lower with the fan-controller I've got.

I'll try to post some final pics when I get my last mods finished. (Still gotta do those blasted doors, too...)


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