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Krick's Antec NSK3480 - behind the tray cable management
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Author:  krick [ Wed Dec 03, 2008 11:01 pm ]
Post subject:  Krick's Antec NSK3480 - behind the tray cable management

This is my Antec NSK 3480 build. My old PC was a super silent rig using an overclocked Pentium M in a low profile Superflower case. I was very happy with my old setup except that with the World of Warcraft Wrath of the Lich King expansion raising the hardware bar, my system wasn't really cutting it, even with the graphics settings turned all the way down. So an upgrade was definitely required.

I really wanted to stay with my original case, but it severely limited my video card choices due to the height and length restrictions. There was also the problem of the 350W micro-atx power supply possibly not being beefy enough for a modern CPU and video card.

In the end, I made the painful decision to start from scratch and build a whole new system from the ground up with the following goals in mind:

1) as silent as possible
2) small and compact
3) energy efficient
4) powerful enough to run WotLK with most or all of the settings maxed
5) under $1000 (not including LCD, keyboard, and mouse which were recycled from my old computer)

I ended up meeting all of my goals and clocked in at about $800 total.


Component List:

Antec NSK3480 Micro ATX case
Asus P5E-VM HDMI Motherboard
Intel Core 2 Duo E7300 BX80571E7300
Corsair 2x2GB DDR2-800 PC2-6400 Memory TWIN2X4096-6400C5
Palit nVidia GeForce 9800GT 512MB DDR3 PCI-E NE/9800TXT352
Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 Rev.2 VGA cooler
Arctic Cooling Turbo Module
Samsung SH-S223F SATA 22x DVD Burner
WD Caviar GP 500GB SATA Hard Drive HD-WD5000AACS
Scythe SFLEX 120mm Fan SFF21D 800RPM (case rear exhaust fan)
Thermalright HR-01 Plus CPU Cooler
Arctic Cooling 120mm Fan AF12025 PWM 400-1500RPM (CPU fan)

Athena Power 12" P4-12V (4Pin) connector Extension Cable AD09

OMAR-2092 1 1/8" x 1/16" x 1 1/2" x 1 7/8" x 3/8" rubber grommets
http://cableorganizer.com/grommet/


Modding details:

To cut the holes, I went with a method detailed in a few other mods on this site. I used a 1 1/2" bi-metal hole saw mounted in my drill and used WD-40 as "cutting oil". The biggest problem with this method is that the drill "walks" around and makes the hole larger than you originally intended. I drilled a small pilot hole first to make sure it was centered, but during the drilling process, the guide bit in the center of the drill widened the center hole and resulted in the holes being less exact than I would have liked. Someone site suggested drilling a 1/4" center hole, then replacing the drill bit in the hole saw with a 1/4" rod of some sort so that it doesn't cut into the sides of the hole. Regardless, I am not really pleased with how the holes turned out and the next time, I'm going to use my trusty sheet metal nibbler to cut the holes and a dremel or file to finish them smooth. Sure, it takes a lot longer, but it's far more precise and actually a lot less messy.

After searching for trim for the holes and not really liking anything I saw, I had a flash of inspiration and decided to search for rubber grommets. The ones I found worked beautifully and my only complaint is that they're a little thicker than I would have liked. The thickness makes it a little harder to get the wires to lie flat on the back side of the tray but it still worked out well.

When I decided to use the grommets, I knew that the clearance by the power supply was very tight so I deliberately cut the hole close and planned to trim the edge of the grommet to fit. If I went farther toward the front of the case, the grommet would have intruded on the optical drive space and I would have had to hack an ugly chunk out of the edge of the grommet to make it fit. By putting the cut edge against the power supply, it's a lot cleaner.

I only needed to use one extension cable for the power supply, a 12 inch extension for the 4-pin ATX connector. I probably could have used a 6 to 12 inch extension on the 6-pin PCIE cable to give me more cable routing flexibility, but it worked out ok without it.

I decided to go with the Samsung DVD burner because from what I've read, it's one of the shortest depth drives on the market. Also, there's supposedly some sort of utility that you can use to limit the drive spin speed when playing back discs to make it quieter. I haven't really spent any time looking into that because I rarely use the drive anyway except to install software.

Due to the size of my video card cooler and its fans, there was no way I could use the bottom drive mount location. You can't see it in the pictures, but I think I could use the floppy bay if I wanted to. However, I decided to go with the upper mounting location because I wanted to have the air flow from the power supply to help keep it cool. I considered using a suspension technique on my hard drive, but it really wasn't necessary. The standard mounting location has rubber isolation mounts, and the 5400RPM "green" Western Digital drive I picked (mainly for power usage concerns) turned out to be amazingly quiet.

By far, the loudest thing in the whole case is the power supply fan, and even that is near silent by most people's standards.

I went with a PWM fan on the CPU. This gave me some issues at first because my motherboard behaves strangely if the fans are under 600RPM. With the default settings, it tries to run the CPU fan at around 500RPM. The default settings also try to run the rear case fan at a lower speed at idle temperatures. Unfortunately, the fan I picked runs at a stock 800RPM and it too is ramped down to under 600RPM by the motherboard. The main issue is that when the fans are running very slow and you're overclocking the CPU, the BIOS refuses to boot most of the time, presumably to protect the CPU from damage or something.

There are three fan headers: CPU_FAN, CHA_FAN, PWR_FAN. The BIOS offers three fan profile "modes" for the CPU_FAN header only: Silent Mode, Optimal Mode, and Performance Mode. There is a setting for the CHA_FAN that I think is supposed to control it based on some percentage of the CPU fan, but it's really confusing. There doesn't appear to be any controls for the PWR_FAN header. I have my Accelero plugged into the PWR_FAN header, though I have considered swapping the rear fan plug with the accelero plug and letting the motherboard control the GPU fan too.

I found that when I set the CPU fan to "Performance Mode" and turn off fan control on the rear case fan, I get the following fan speeds at idle:
CPU - 965 RPM
Rear fan - 810 RPM
GPU fan - 1875 RPM

This is extremely quiet at idle, more of an air "whoosh" than anything, and if I put the system under full load long enough to ramp up the CPU fan, I start hear the CPU fan once it hits about 1200 RPM. This is fine with me because the only time I would ever be under full load is while I'm playing a game and the noise from the game would thoroughly eclipse any fan noise.

Regarding the CPU, the default speed is 2.66 GHz (266 x 10). I'm overclocking it to 3.6 GHz (9 x 400) using 1.38v core. It's rock stable in everyday use, but one of the cores will always get a rounding error after about a half hour or so of Prime95 torture test. I'm not sure if I want to risk pushing more voltage though it, but people claim that wolfdales can take up to 1.45v or so. I'm also considering clocking it down a little to 3.4 GHz (8.5 x 400).

The Accelero cooler is amazingly quiet. I think it's due to the frameless design of the fans. I had a little trouble with wire clearance around the fans in my dry-run assembly but once I zip-tied everything down, there's no danger of anything getting in them.

If you have any questions about something you see here, let me know. If you want additional pictures of something specific, or just a better picture of something already shown, just say the word and I'll try to get them posted.

Pictures:

CLICK ON ANY PICTURE FOR A LARGER VIEW

Size comparison of my new Antec NSK3480 to my old Superflower TTGI TT-101...
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Let the modding begin...
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[H]ard Forum thread...
http://www.hardforum.com/showthread.php?p=1033410017

Author:  frenchie [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:19 am ]
Post subject: 

8)
Excellent job !!
very neat and tidy.

Author:  aztec [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 1:43 am ]
Post subject: 

Really, really nice!

Di you use a hole saw? If so what size?

Author:  Strid [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:43 am ]
Post subject: 

Looks great! It's gonna be a pain in the neck to disassemble it when you want to upgrade, though. :lol:

What are those rubber grommets called? And what are they comonly used for?

Author:  Pecorino [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 2:49 am ]
Post subject: 

Excellent job !!

Author:  pixel [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 3:59 am ]
Post subject: 

That's a clean and well-done job :) I really admire cases with such beautiful cable management; with my cheapo Asus case it's impossible to do such beautiful cablegami (at least switching to a modular PSU helped a bit).

Are you thinking of suspending the drive?

Also, the "frameless" fans on the Accelero looked a bit.. "fragile" to me. But I'm sure you'll ensure nothing will get in the way of the fans..

Congrats again! :)

Author:  redironman [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:03 am ]
Post subject: 

Great "cablegami" job (like that a lot!! :-)). What did you use to cut the holes?

What is the sound like from the open fans? I went fanless on my Accellero and my 8800gt runs cool (68 degrees max) even if I o'clock it.

Author:  KlaymenDK [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 8:26 am ]
Post subject: 

1) Very, very tidy case job.

2) Very, very tidy post, too.

Kudos on both accounts!

Author:  Jokoto [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 12:49 pm ]
Post subject: 

Very well done! When I did my NSK3480 a year ago I didn't have the time or tools for that kind of cutting... I've been planning exactly this, of course, but the system works just fine so taking it down for some 'body work' isn't exactly a top priority. Should have done it right away.

All you need now is a suspended hard drive. There are several examples on the forum. Check my sig for how to fit even a Scythe Quiet Drive in an NSK3480. ;)

Author:  Aris [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 9:14 pm ]
Post subject: 

I have that same case, and struggle with cable management. I never thought about doing it like that. I may just have to disasemble my system this weekend to cut some holes to do that on my NSK3300

Someone should send an email to Antec and tell them to make those 3 holes stock on this case.

Author:  krick [ Thu Dec 04, 2008 10:07 pm ]
Post subject: 

Aris wrote:
I have that same case, and struggle with cable management. I never thought about doing it like that. I may just have to disasemble my system this weekend to cut some holes to do that on my NSK3300

Someone should send an email to Antec and tell them to make those 3 holes stock on this case.


Do yourself a favor. Get one of these to make your holes instead of the bi-metal hole saw that I used. It's slow as hell, but you have much more control...

Nibbling Tool
Image

Author:  thejamppa [ Fri Dec 05, 2008 4:03 am ]
Post subject: 

I simply love the gabling you've done! Excellent job. Very creative and smart thinking ^^

Author:  AMDforlife [ Fri Dec 05, 2008 11:40 am ]
Post subject: 

Very nice work! The result is a system that looks like it was well thought out and plenty of time was invested in it. It has a quality look to it. I really like the look of the grommets. They really clean the look up. I have done a build in the 3480 before and it is an excellent case, great choice.

Enjoy the new system!

Author:  Ralf Hutter [ Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:05 pm ]
Post subject: 

Very clean job!

How'd you get the ATX power connector through the grommet(s)?

Author:  krick [ Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:10 pm ]
Post subject: 

Ralf Hutter wrote:
Very clean job!

How'd you get the ATX power connector through the grommet(s)?



It won't fit straight-on, so you just pull all the wires to one side of the the connector and push it through long-ways. It's pretty obvious, if you think about it, but I can take a picture to illustrate if you'd like.

Author:  tehcrazybob [ Fri Dec 05, 2008 1:51 pm ]
Post subject: 

I've always liked the NSK 3480, but have had a lot of trouble with cable management. You've given me a lot to think about for my next build, because this is one of the best-looking setups I've seen.

Author:  average_joe [ Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:36 am ]
Post subject: 

*THUMBS UP*

Well done. Easily 10 of 10 points

Author:  TMM [ Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:34 am ]
Post subject: 

Nice clean job. Just needs some sleeving and it'll look absolutely mint :)

Approx how much clearance is there between the PSU and the top cover?

Author:  Zenphic [ Sat Dec 06, 2008 11:37 am ]
Post subject: 

Awesome job! BTW, where did you get those rubber grommets/rings for the holes and those cable holders?

Author:  tehcrazybob [ Sat Dec 06, 2008 12:10 pm ]
Post subject: 

Zenphic wrote:
Awesome job! BTW, where did you get those rubber grommets/rings for the holes and those cable holders?
I was under the impression that he already said where he got them:
krick wrote:
OMAR-2092 1 1/8" x 1/16" x 1 1/2" x 1 7/8" x 3/8" rubber grommets
http://cableorganizer.com/grommet/

However, it doesn't look like you can order sane quantities from that site. Take a look at your local hardware store; something like an Ace Hardware will probably carry those.

.

Author:  krick [ Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

tehcrazybob wrote:
Zenphic wrote:
Awesome job! BTW, where did you get those rubber grommets/rings for the holes and those cable holders?
I was under the impression that he already said where he got them:
krick wrote:
OMAR-2092 1 1/8" x 1/16" x 1 1/2" x 1 7/8" x 3/8" rubber grommets
http://cableorganizer.com/grommet/

However, it doesn't look like you can order sane quantities from that site. Take a look at your local hardware store; something like an Ace Hardware will probably carry those.

.


They have a single unit price, and a price for large quantities. I ordered a quantity of 4. I needed three, but I figured I'd get one extra in case I messed up cutting the one by the power supply.

The adhesive zip tie mounts came from home depot in packs of 10. The smallest they had were 1" x 1" but I've seen ones as small as 1/2" x 1/2" online. I think 3/4" x 3/4" is the optimal size. Most case modding online stores have them.

Author:  krick [ Sat Dec 06, 2008 6:40 pm ]
Post subject: 

TMM wrote:
Nice clean job. Just needs some sleeving and it'll look absolutely mint :)

Approx how much clearance is there between the PSU and the top cover?


I thought about sleeving, but that was more work than I was willing to put in. I gotta leave some room for people to improve on what I've done, right? :)

There's not much clearance above the PSU. Maybe 1/8" to 1/4", tops.

Author:  Zenphic [ Sat Dec 06, 2008 7:39 pm ]
Post subject: 

krick wrote:
tehcrazybob wrote:
Zenphic wrote:
Awesome job! BTW, where did you get those rubber grommets/rings for the holes and those cable holders?
I was under the impression that he already said where he got them:
krick wrote:
OMAR-2092 1 1/8" x 1/16" x 1 1/2" x 1 7/8" x 3/8" rubber grommets
http://cableorganizer.com/grommet/

However, it doesn't look like you can order sane quantities from that site. Take a look at your local hardware store; something like an Ace Hardware will probably carry those.

.


They have a single unit price, and a price for large quantities. I ordered a quantity of 4. I needed three, but I figured I'd get one extra in case I messed up cutting the one by the power supply.

The adhesive zip tie mounts came from home depot in packs of 10. The smallest they had were 1" x 1" but I've seen ones as small as 1/2" x 1/2" online. I think 3/4" x 3/4" is the optimal size. Most case modding online stores have them.

Awesome, thanks man. I didn't know they called zip tie mounts, which would make looking for 'em quite difficult :D

Author:  c_g_f [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:01 am ]
Post subject: 

Hi krick, just wanted to say THANKS.. I made a rig very similar to yours, but not yet as nice.. I hope you can maybe give some tips in the thread I just opened about this case for gaming..

Author:  ghitz [ Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:43 am ]
Post subject: 

c_g_f wrote:
Hi krick, just wanted to say THANKS.. I made a rig very similar to yours, but not yet as nice.. I hope you can maybe give some tips in the thread I just opened about this case for gaming..


Couple of tips I need: Where can I get grommet strip to cover the holes and second, how else (another method) can I secure the HD mounted on the bottom of the case to avoid yet further noise being transferred to the case by the default install.

Author:  Paddington [ Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:02 am ]
Post subject: 

Really good post and a great result.

:D

Author:  BlackWhizz [ Thu Apr 01, 2010 2:14 am ]
Post subject: 

Great little system! Love how you did your cable management. Great job!

Do you know anything related to temps of your GPu without turbo module?

Author:  ficod [ Thu Jul 22, 2010 6:23 am ]
Post subject: 

awesome! thanks for giving me inspiration!

Author:  Bugsi [ Mon Aug 16, 2010 4:36 pm ]
Post subject: 

Nicely done.
I modded an older NSK3300 to add the cable passthrough in the side of the PSU compartment where the 3480 already has one (that you didn't use since you went "behind the mobo"). I used a similar technique of using the bi-metal hole saw, but I wanted an oval, so I cut two circles near each other and cut out the flashing between the circles using a nibbler to make the oval. I used car door edging to protect the edges.

A person could use that same technique for making wider oval cutouts in the motherboard mounting wall like you did, if one wants wider slot-style holes.

One roll of car-door edging will last a lifetime of case-mods, but they don't take tight turns very well.

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