Quiet Overclocked Quad Core in a Sonata I
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Author:  pablo [ Fri Apr 18, 2008 3:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Quiet Overclocked Quad Core in a Sonata I

Here is my latest build in my trusty fiveish year old Sonata I case. Its almost silent all the time except when I load it up with Prime95 + TAT and WinRAR to stress test it, where it is still very quiet and totally stable. This is the result of a few months research (mainly here) and trial and error.


Im running XP and use it for downloading, encoding, web and as a media server for Xbox Media Center.

I wanted fluid dynamic bearings on all fans so that limited my selection, but Im happy with them all. There is a slight tick from the Noctua NF-S12-800 at any RPM but that is inaudible from any distance, and the Arctic Cooling PWM CPU fan isn't as smooth as the Noctuas but with the sound deadning it cant be heard over the exhaust fan and PSU with the case closed.


Temps are a bit high but are safe, adding the intake fan in the stock location helped with video and drive temps without adding noise. The intake is a Noctua NF-P12 which will run at about 1300RPM @ 12V, it has a high starting voltage and I couldnt get it to start at low RPM with a ULNA so used a Fan Mate at minimum which starts and runs it at 580RPM.


The Q6600 G0 is undervolted (dropped CPU temp 2 degrees) and the bus is overclocked from 266 to 333MHz to up the internal speed from 2.4GHz to 3.0GHz, this helps a lot with encoding frame rates.

The PWM CPU fan is controlled via the Silent Q-Fan profile on the ASUS P5KR motherboard and under extremely high (non real world) load ramps up from 480 to ~800 RPM.

The exhaust fan is controlled by Q-Fan as well and is set to a MB target temp of 39 degrees which means it begins to ramp up from 700 to 830 RPM and become slightly audible when MB temp exceeds 44 degrees which only occurs during stress testing. At idle/web the MB is at about 39 degrees.


I initially thought the ADDA ball bearing fan in the Corsair HX520 was noisy but most of that noise is whine from the circuitry which cant be heard without an ear to the back of the case anyway. I have replaced the ADDA with a Noctua NF-S12-1200 and its a little quieter than it was with the ADDA, thermally it should be safe as the fan never ramps up as I am not getting anywhere near the 520W max of the PSU. Also the Jonny Guru review confirms that the fan will ramp up at high temps, I estimate it is running at about 500 RPM my motherboard doesnt see a RPM signal so it must be very slow anyway. I modded the PSU as seen in a thread here so the fan is plugged in to an external socket on a lead to allow easier fan changes in future if desired and to allow me to turn off the PSU fan easily if Im looking for noisy components.


The hard drives are suspended with Stretch Magic and the stock Antec mounting screws, the case can be moved without them going anywhere and the drives can be removed and returned to the case without needing to redo the suspension. AAM is set to full on all drives, there is some very slight seek noise from the Caviar OS drive that is audible when there is no background noise. I am considering ordering the new WD single platter 320GB but am worried about the random nature of what you actually get with this model.



Any ideas on getting it to run any cooler without getting a new case? The CPU is already undervolted to 1.38V in the bios which gives 1.34V in CPU-Z at extreme load @ 61 degrees. Core 0 hits about 73 degrees. MB hits about 46 degrees and the Caviar about 38 degrees. The Green Powers are cooler but I cant get a temp as they in Intel RAID. Prime + TAT stable for 8 hours +.

At idle there is a 8 degree temp spread across the four cores 38-46 degrees, too much?

Any comments or questions welcome, I dont really think I can get it any quieter without making major changes but from my chair with no audible background noise it is just barely audible and the tone is very inoffensive.

Author:  nick705 [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 3:24 am ]
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Your maximum Core 0 temp would be way too high for my liking - I think a maximum CPU fan speed of ~800rpm might be a little low to handle an overclocked Q6600 at full throttle, even on a TRUE and with some undervolting. Maybe Q-Fan's "silent" profile isn't really appropriate, at least with this particular CPU fan and overall setup. The Sonata isn't brilliant in general airflow terms (as you're obviously aware), and the slow Noctua exhaust fan won't be helping matters.

I get around a 5-6 deg variation between cores at idle (which I gather isn't uncommon), but 8 deg does seem a bit excessive ... maybe you could try remounting the heatsink, although I reckon it really just needs more airflow all round, which is going to prove difficult in your Sonata without a noticeable increase in noise.

Having said that, I do have a soft spot for the Sonata, in spite of the slating it generally gets around here these days... it was after all one of the first really "mainstream" quiet computing products, and it's still not at all bad for a more modest system. It looks a darn sight better than most of Antec's recent efforts, too...

/edit: another thing you could try is snipping out the rear fan grille... the Noctua by all accounts doesn't work well against static pressure, and removing the resistance might help it shift more air out of the case (you'd still have a problem with restricted intake though, and the "front" fan does zilch to help in this department).

Author:  Lorain [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 11:43 am ]
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You shoud add a grill door in the slot pci under the graphic card.

Whith a ixtrema 120*38mm fan you will have better results, and the fan in the midle of the case, whont be necessary, in the most situations.

The air filter in the front, isn´t also necessary if you don´t have the pc on the floor. The airflow is increased, and de noise going down.


Author:  Lorain [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 11:50 am ]
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I have the same case of you. I reduce my noise level with this power suply isolator:


and this fan noise isolator (to the exterior fan):


The result in the power suply was pretty impressive.


the fan i was talking about"

Author:  edh [ Sat Apr 19, 2008 12:20 pm ]
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Quite a lot of airflow may be going to waste with that open a layout. I disagree with the idea of putting a vented PCI slot cover in below the graphics card, that would further waste air as the whole expansion slot area does not need much airflow in that system. Below the graphics card is pretty much empty. I would try experimenting with ducting.

Author:  Lorain [ Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:20 am ]
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I have a dedicated desk to de pc, printer, scan, ups, external hard d...... i haven´t any troubles with waste.

The passive graphic cards have nearly a half of the life of an "normal" air cooling (even if you don´t play games) if you doesn´t have a good air flow and heatsink in memories. It´s a fact!

It´s so easy to clean the case! i can´t understand why the hardware have to be under stress.

It´s dificult to have a good air cooling, faster, closed (even whith filters) and quiet machine.

I chosed close almost all the case and give free way to the air cooling in hard drives devices and to the graphic card.

Author:  Modo [ Sun Apr 20, 2008 8:42 am ]
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It looks like the lower Noctua fan is pushing air past the CPU heatsink, instead of into it. Have you tried turning it to face the sink, or removing it altogether? Is it possible to install that fan as a real intake?

Also, did you try removing one or two plugs for the expansion slots? This might help a little if the front intake is indeed not open enough to provide enough airflow.

Author:  edh [ Sun Apr 20, 2008 1:15 pm ]
Post subject: 

Lorain wrote:
The passive graphic cards have nearly a half of the life of an "normal" air cooling (even if you don´t play games) if you doesn´t have a good air flow and heatsink in memories. It´s a fact!

Really? Unless you're able to substantiate this 'fact' I'm going to find it very hard to believe it.

The reason why I am not recommending opening up air vents is that you don't know what you're going to do to the airflow and seeing how the original poster is concerned about the CPU and not the graphics card temperature it's quite likely to make the CPU cooling worse simply because the air will have less of a tendency to pass over the CPU.

The actual cooling components are about as good as you're going to get which is why I would suggest ducting due to wasted air.

Author:  Lorain [ Mon Apr 21, 2008 2:30 am ]
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All the good sellers know that. Try to ask one.

I´ve 10º less with acelero, when one expansion slot below was open (with the fan next to the hard drive stoped).

I've tryed some situations but the temperature of the cpu only depends (in this case), air flow of the cpu and rear fans.

Author:  pablo [ Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:49 am ]
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I have tried all 3 of nick705's ideas. The results are...

Cutting out the rear exhaust grill:
Very easy with a small pair of wire cutters, didn't even remove the fan! May have had a very small impact on motherboard temps and turbulence noise. I cant say it has made a big enough difference for me to recommend this mod to anyone else. May have more of an impact at higher RPMs.


Remounting the CPU heatsink (using AS5 btw):
No difference at all to core temp spread. Still ~8 degrees at idle, I am definitely mounting the heatsink correctly. It could just be my particular CPU or surface irregularities, not interested in lapping so I'll live with it I think.

I changed the Asus Q-Fan profile from Silent to Optimal (Performance is the third option). This has resulted in the CPU fan hitting a new maximum of 1000RPM which is a little noisy but this is running Prime+TAT+WinRAR so it is not real world at all. In real world situations the CPU fan is rising from 480 to about 650 more readily and is slower to drop back down to 480RPM. Max Core 0 temp is down to 69 degrees and max CPU temp is down to 57 degrees. So I'm pretty happy with the results of this change.

Prior to my first post I has already drastically reduced motherboard temps by using a better exhaust fan and running it at higher RPM's.

The "intake" fan has drastically reduced HDD and video card temps as well so I won't be removing that. The video card runs Windows at only about 28 degrees now. Also the video card was very cheap and I don't really care if it doesn't live too long.

I'm not a fan of Silenx due to their reputation, my experience of one of their PSUs burning out after a few years and the fact that their fans are shiny plastic which is supposedly inferior acoustically according to Mike C.

I am already using a PSU gasket and rubber arrowhead fan mounts, extra soft Acousti ones on the front fan as the Noctua P12 vibrates quite a bit relatively speaking.

I dont think ducting is a good idea in the Sonata as it has no real intake. It takes in air through holes in the side panel and around the front USB ports etc.

Removing some expansion card covers may help with intake, or it could cause weird airflow issues with the front fan. I might do some wool tuft experiments in this area.

Author:  Ash [ Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:00 am ]
Post subject: 

which exhaust fan are you using now? or have you just increased the rpm on the noctua

Author:  Ash [ Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:01 am ]
Post subject: 

which exhaust fan are you using now? or have you just increased the rpm on the noctua

Author:  pablo [ Tue Apr 22, 2008 3:53 am ]
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Previously I was using a AC PWM sharing fan so it was tied to the CPU fans speed of 480 RPM before ramp up.

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