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 Post subject: SG02 3d graphics design build (image heavy)
PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:51 am 
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Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 8:20 am
Posts: 25
Location: Oslo
Pics start in the next post


GOAL
Putting together a small form factor PC with high performance for the use of 3D modeling, texturing and limited rendering yet cool and quiet. I don't want bling, I don't want a gaming system or to get high scores on some fancy benchmark. The end result should be stable, powerful, very quiet and easy to transport as I do a bit of traveling and my old P182 weighs about half as much as I do, so time to replace it.

BACKGROUND AND CHALLENGES
I've always built my own boxes. However picking parts has never stretched much further than choosing what seems like high specs at reasonable prices. I decided to go a bit deeper into research this time, particularly because it would be necessary for this kind of build. High performance means heat, small case means less airflow and less efficient fans. I had a feeling this was going to get too hot or too noisy and I wouldn't know until I'd put all the components together to give it a go.

CASE
Trawling silentpcreview.com and HarOCP's forums I assembled a list of cases that are rated high for silence and quality.

Here are some of the choices I had, along with relevant findings, ordered by volume size:

Silverstone SST-SG05 mITX
  • 4.8kg
  • Absolutely tiny. A real temptation though not a high performance case. Supports max. 9,5 inch gfx cards
Aerocool M40 mATX
  • 295x130x348mm
  • max 140mm PSU, tiny and horrendously looking.
Silverstone SST-SG01-F mATX
  • 4.9kg, 263x212x393mm
  • The first case that may qualify for high performance. The "F" version supports large graphics cards.
Silverstone SST-SG02 mATX
  • 4.9kg,263x212x393mm
  • Supports large video cards (12").
  • Two 12" SLI cards possible by removing the HDD cage fan
  • PSU mounted above CPU, so huge passive CPU cooler out of the question.
Silverstone SST-SG03 mATX
  • 3.5kg, 200x360x312mmm
  • Doesn't seem to stay cold enough
  • Although bigger than the SG02, doesn't seem to have more room for a CPU cooler.
  • Overall not too enthusiastic reviews online.
Silverstone SST-SG04 mATX
  • 4.8kg, 200x360x347mm
  • Relatively poorly reviewed
Antec NSK3480
  • 8.1kg, 200x350x360mm
  • Relatively poorly reviewed
  • Not good ventilation for HDDs, drives run hotter
  • Is an NSK 3400 w/ PSU...
  • Can't hold PSU deeper than 150mm
Cooler Master Elite 340 mATX
  • 195x370x350
  • Same internal layout as the TJ08, but significantly lower price. Doesn't come with PSU or fans.
  • Two 3.5" bays
Antec NSK2480
  • 6.5kg, 445x139x414
  • Well reviewed. Nice looking. Fits a big passive CPU cooler.
Lian Li PC-V350B
  • 279x262x373
  • Room for 11 inch gfx card
Silverstone SST-TJ08 mATX

  • 5.5kg, 195x378x381
  • Well reviewed. I initially was going for this before laying my eyes on even smaller cases.
Antec P182
  • 15kg, 210x520x510
  • My existing case, for reference.

I was considering the TJ08, then the NSK2480. However, research showed they may not be ideal for a high-temperature i7+GTX275 setup (my initial intention), so if I'm going to consider lower performance specs, there's little stopping me from considering a smaller case as well. Once my choice of cpu and gfx card had been made, the Silverstone SG02 F was the natural choice. The smallest relevant high-quality case I could find. It also fits a larger graphics card than many of the largest mATX cases.

CPU
Originally I had eyes for nothing but the i7. I came to realize it might pose a heating problem and did research performance. It was quickly apparent that a quad core would easily meet my needs. Reading articles about undervolting 45nm processors got me interested. It seems they're very well suited for this (Intel sells already undervolted versions at high premiums, but in many cases you can do it yourself with a regular processor). This would come in handy if it turned out that even a quad-core would get too hot. I was being careful. I ended up with the Q9400 2.66GHz 1333Mhz.

RAM
I was now firmly back in DDR2 land and started digging for how to maximize performance. RAM timing was only the introductory subject - there's also the matter of matching the sticks with your cpu FSB and making sure the mobo supports both. Honestly I never got to the bottom of this topic. There was so much conflicing information to be found online that I figured the issue would not have a definitive impact on performance. However I understood that it's futile to buy too fast ram. Still, I believe I did. Oh well, I was getting impatient at that point.

2x OCZ Platinum DDR2 PC9200 4GB KIT CL5 - Great reviews, and they glitter like gold. How to refuse?


MOTHERBOARD
A new ASUS board had very recently been released. It was love at first sight. Mostly an mATX version of their Formula board, the ASUS Maximus II GENE looked like seven degrees of win and was an instant purchase.


GFX CARD
Being used primarily for creating 3d assets, my graphics hardware requirements are different than a gamer. First off I needed GeForce. ATI is rarely ideal in a professional environment. Second I needed plenty of RAM. JamieG on the silentpcreview forums recommended the Gigabyte 9800GT Silent Cell 1GB. I had no idea that there was a passively cooled 9800GT. I believe that's the only one in existence. I had spent a lot of time looking at GPU coolers, their installation processes and so on and was getting tired. The silent cell was another insta-purchase. More than adequate performance for my needs and no fan!

PSU
People so far ponder that the choice of a 750W psu is overkill for my needs. I chose the Seasonic M12D Power supply due to its efficiency and noise characteristics at low wattages. It'll never run at 750 in this case.

Some recommendations (all of these highly rated on efficiency, ripple and noise tests):
  • M12D also comes in 850W if you're particularly worried about power (don't be)
  • Enermax Modu82+ 625W
  • Corsair HX 520W/62W - Extremely silent, great stiff cables, 5 year guarantee
  • Seasonic S12 Energy Plus 550W - Not as low-noise as some of the reviews claim, but solid indeed
  • Antec Signature 650W
  • Corsair TX650W


COOLING
Scythe Shuriken BIG CPU cooler and 3 x Scythe Kama FLEX 80mm case Fans. What to say? The reviews speak clearly; evidently you can't go wrong with these choices. 80mm is the max for the chosen case. I was concerned about that, but it turned out not to be an issue.

STORAGE
WD VelociRaptor® 300GB SATA - System disk. Will hold OS, program file and everything that needs speedy loading. SSD was an option I chose to pass on. They still do not seem mature and reliable enough for my use.
Samsung SpinPoint F1 1TB SATA2 - Highly rated performance drive. Chose this over the WD Caviar Black and hitachi deskstar 7k1000.B due to reports of lower noise signature.
QNAP QBack-35S eSATA - External drive case, comes with a one-button backup system that seemingly doesn't work yet with drives larger than 1TB.
Western Digitial Caviar® Green 2TB - Goes in the external case. For backups, archiving and so on. Space inside the SG02 is limited so this will come in handy.

OPTICAL DRIVE
What to say? I ended up with a black Sony NEC Optiarc DVD±RW AD-7243S. It burns at 24x, supports labelflash which sounded like a good idea but is something I'm unlikely to ever make use of, and it's supposedly quiet and cold. A quiet DVD drive... really?

MISC
OCZ Freeze thermal paste - Easy to work with, not electrically conductive, no curing time.
Arctic Silver Arcticlean - Smells nice. What to say? Highly rated
... a whole bunch of cable management stuff, most of which naturally ended up unused.
Koss Porta Pro headphones - When I'm on the run, these high-performing headphones fit my needs. They fold together to take up little space and should they break they're cheap to replace.
Logitech Ultra X - This keyboard has a terrible build quality and frequently breaks. However, it's small, sexy, has laptop keys without the horrible laptop layout, and again should it break it's cheap to replace.

PURHCASE SUMMARY

Silverstone SG02B-F Sugo
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9400 2.66GHz 1333Mhz 6MB
OCZ Platinum DDR2 PC9200 4GB KIT CL5
ASUS Maximus II GENE, P45, Socket-775
GIGABYTE NVIDIA GEFORCE 9800GT SILENT CELL 1GB DDR3
Seasonic M12D 750W

Scythe Shuriken BIG Quiet CPU Cooler
3 x Scythe Kama FLEX 80mm Case Fan 2000 RPM

Samsung SpinPoint F1 1TB SATA2
WD VelociRaptor® 300GB SATA
QNAP QBack-35S USB/eSATA Auto Backup
Western Digitial Caviar® Green 2TB
Sony NEC Optiarc DVD±RW burner AD-7243S

1 x OCZ Freeze thermal paste
Arctic Silver Arcticlean
Koss Porta Pro headphones
Logitech Ultra X Keyboard

OK, on to the fun stuff...


Last edited by Per128 on Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:55 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:53 am 
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Location: Oslo
PICTURES AND ASSEMBLY

Please excuse the dark photos. I've been building this thing in the basement. I don't want the neighbours to realize I'm secretly a computer geek.

The SG02 in all its glory. Although I had run measurements, seeing it in person was a surprise. Compared to my previous cases it's tiny, and empty it barely weighs anything, yet doesn't feel flimsy; this is a steel build.
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The maximus GENE II installed. You'll need to add the lower right motherboard standoff to the case. Also be wary as the rear panel is a tight fit. On this case the HDD cage can't be removed, but installation was still a breeze.
Being a 775 motherboard, and very highly rated one at that, you know you're getting a mature product. This is streamlined and utterly dependable. I made a note of slightly reduced esata performance on this card in a review, but it didn't influence my decision. Make note of the slot positions.. they could not be more ideal. More on this as we go.
Image

See how the ram slots only have clips on one end not to interfere with a slot1 graphics card. They stick click into place at the other end - you don't have to worry about the sticks falling out during transport. Very nice.
Image

There's not much clearance here. The battery is in a vertical position to fit on the board. Make sure to keep your cables clear as there's little pressure needed to ease it out of its socket. Note the space behind the EATXPWR. It's ideal for running a SATA cable up to the optical drive (or 3.5 drive installed in one of the two 2.25 bays with the included adapter). The drive cage fan cable won't be lying out in the open once we're done with this.
Image

Whoever came up with these SATA ports deserves praise. See how convenient that is. We'll get by with ultra-short ITX case cables here. I've chucked in an old drive for testing. The drives slide out on trays.
Image

It's a snug fit, all right. Here you can also see the supremeFX chip from soundblaster. It supports all sorts of fanciness, but the one difference I noticed instantly is a loud maximum volume straight to my headphones. A lot of boards provide low maximum volumes off the board and you have to boost them, decreasing quality.
Image

I'm leading all the case cables to the bottom of the card. How brilliant is that? They'll fit nicely in the groove between the mobo and the case. Also can you spot the HDD cage fan cable to the left next to the sata ports? The cable is led underneath the motherboard (do this before installation of the mobo) - out of sight. Very elegant.
Image

Here we have the silent cell in PCI-E slot 2 and cpu w/ stock cooler installed. We'll be doing some further cable management here and get rid of the system panel connector, but the case closes just fine.
Image

The top fan cable neatly connects to the cha_fan1 position. Couldn't have asked for a better placement. The cable itself wraps around the fan before descending. Very nice. The motherboard seems custom made for this case.
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The rear top fan hooks up to opt_fan2. Again the cable is invisible, running down the corner of the case then underneath the mobo before popping up to be connected. I've used a strip here to secure the path of cables, and you see the top section of the case is still easily removable without placing stress anywhere.
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The PSU comes with all these nice detachable cables. I won't be using any of them except another SATA power when there are 2 HDDs plus the optical drive installed. Luckily there's a very short sata cable included. Less cables, better airflow.
Image


Continued in the next post...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:54 am 
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This is not what I expected a SFF case to look like with the psu installed and all the cables hooked up. Except for the one temporarily misplaced fan cable this is cleaner than my p182 setup, which is a huge case with space for running cables behind the motherboard plate. Cables impeding airflow certainly won't be a problem in this case (pun not intended). One of the SATA cables is an "upside down" left-handed L joint, so we get the cable to go straight up and into the 5.25 bay. All spare cables run underneath the optical drive, and there's still plenty of room for more. All the case cables are firmly held in place, more often than not by their own rigidity and position. Replacing the case cover or ripping out the graphics card makes no difference and requires no manual tweaking, even with all the slots there so close to the edge. You can see I've installed the big shuriken. More on that below. The cable running out the case belongs to the external LCD poster. I'll have no use for it later but it's somewhat convenient for testing. It will show readouts of temperatures or fan speeds while you're running fullscreen apps, which can be useful.
Image
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This is love
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The mammoth CPU cooler makes no discernable sound. More on benchmarks below.
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The rear panel.
Image

And we finish off with everything in place sans the lid. You can just about tell how the plastic cable wraps are stabilizing the graphics card cooling fins here.
Image




Stay tuned for performance notes and conclusions...


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:55 am 
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Location: Oslo
PERFORMANCE
I've set the fans to low speed. There's still room for optimization, as I have the top center fan running faster than the top rear fan, though more heat is generated at the rear. I'll make updates to this and re-run benchmarks, but as you'll understand from the below, there's no immediate need for further improvements.

This forms by far the quietest system I've had. The fans and cpu cooler make a low whooshing sound that is more pleasant than the whoosing sound I get with my existing system, which is itself low-noise (Antec P182, Seasonic S12, Asus P5B, Scythe ninja plus cpu cooler with no fan, passively cooled graphics card)

The two biggest element of noise in this particular build are not related to the fans. They stem from vibrations in the case and the passive cooling fins of the graphics card. You can't tell from the photos, but I tied a plastic cable wrapper to the graphics card corner (there's a conveniently drilled hole there) then placed it between the cooler blades and the rear fan, then tucked the front panel plastic wrap underneath the blades. Together they provide enough pressure to keep the card silent at all times. For the case it was a matter of keeping everything tight. Running some cables in the slot where the case lid hook goes provides more contact and stability. There's still a slight bit of rattle at times, but barely noticable and I'll see what can be done about it. The PSU emits an extremely high-pitched low-volume whine when turned off. I may have read somewhere this is a sign of a defect power supply that will eventually toast the entire machine, but hey, let's not take sorrows in advance.

CPU Cores Idle at 33C, full load with prime95 at [I've lost my notes but am pretty sure it's 54C max]

GPU in furmark maxes out at 79 degrees celcius.

CONCLUSIONS
I was worrying for nothing. You can get high performance out of a truly small SFF PC at a low noise level. You can easily go with higher performance components than I have and still enjoy an extremely silent case.

Negative points:
Non-removable HDD cage. You can however slide it in and out. Removing its fan lets you slide the cage to the edge of the case and not have a problem with large graphics cards. At the moment the passive cooler butts into the installed HDD when placed in PCI-E slot 1, forcing me to place it in slot 2. To my knowledge the performance reduction isn't significant, however I believe with a good hard drive you can safely remove the fan.

While reviews note the small space in the case it didn't once pose a problem for me, but that must largely be attributed to the motherboard layout. ASUS have a great track record, and this is suberbly well thought out. You pretty much can't get less wire clutter than what I have in this case, and when removing the graphics card there's plenty of room.

The psu weighs in at 2.3 kilos. Pretty hefty, though a sign of quality. Combined with the case and all components we end at approximately 8kgs (about 17 pounds). By contrast my existing case is 15 kilos (33 lbs) without components installed. Even the skinniest of geeks should be able to lug the sg02 around to LAN parties without breaking a sweat.

I've lost track of the prices. I believe you should get quite a decent price on this system if you can get all the parts locally. Unfortunately I ended up having to order parts from the US, Hong Kong and London, which brought the total cost to a point where I could have purchased one of those extreme 3DMark score setups. That was not the aim, however.

TODO
  • Replace the cpu fan. The stock big shuriken fan can't be reversed, so the psu fan and cpu fan end up trying to create conflicting airstreams.
  • Reverse one of the top fans


3D GRAPHICS ARTISTS
You guys shouldn't fashion your hardware as gamers do. Your 3d app is running the gpu in idle most of the time. Unlike a game where everything is in constant motion, 3d apps run in partial updates and don't tax the system the same way. You'll want plenty of VRAM if you intend to do any texturing (say in mudbox2009) or run game editors with uncompressed textures.

Many ignore noise concerns when building hardware, though I'd argue that if you used this case for a day you'd find it intolerable to go back to a normal build. Offices regularly sound like aircraft hangars. If you're freelancing, afford yourself the extra luxury of low-noise and sit working in peace and harmony as you watch the palm trees gently sway in the sea breeze outside.

The argument I hear for getting an i7 is AO bakes. First of all, your bakes will still take a lot of time on the fastest CPU in existence, so no matter what you do you're going to have to fashion yourself a workflow where you remain actively working while the maps are generating. You should be modeling or texturing, not sitting idly waiting. Lower the bake process priority so your system doesn't lag.

As for GPU performance, I run an ancient GF 8600 GT on my old setup, and it's entirely sufficient for most tasks. I've got tens of millions of triangles up in max and mudbox without a problem. The only reason you'd pay premium for the latest and greatest is to play crysis. Don't be a nerd, spend the money on something useful instead.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:55 am 
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Can your CPU fan not be flipped over instead if buying a new one? If the blades clip the heatsink find make a card gasket to space it slightly.. :)

Very nice build by the way.. :)


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 10:28 am 
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Seriously sweet build!

I especially like those short SATA cables.

The whole thing reeks of quality.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:42 pm 
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Haha Wipeout, yes, absolutely. I wrote in part frustration as the fan was the only thing that didn't work out smoothly in the case :) It does indeed come in contact with the cooling fins the other way around. I didn't check until turning on the pc. The noise was not pleasant!

Thanks for the feedback guys, I put a lot of love into this one. Yes, the shortest SATA cables I could find were I believe 15cm. Other than I believe everything I found was 50cm or more. It's funny but what I'm thinking is that with large case components there's rarely much thought to space efficiency so you end up with a messier layout than with something like this mobo and case where you barely end up seeing any cables in the end.

So, what I'm curious about is what happens in the future; as we keep upgrading component performance will silence potential suffer gradually? Anyway what I do know is that this rig should work fine for a few years still.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:48 pm 
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Oh, not to forget: A pic showing the case sans the optical drive. As you can see there's plenty of space for the cables in the 2nd 5.25 bay. I don't know how you would significantly improve this case and mobo combo with regards to space efficiency. The PSU cables feed directly into the empty bay, the hard drives are right next to the SATA slots, the top fan cable goes the absolute shortest route possible to connect to the mobo, the small case fits huge graphics cards... in SLI, the psu helps cool the processor.

I'm first and foremost excited about it because I have a practical need for a small case though. If you don't, it won't be a big deal.

Image


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 3:48 pm 
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Pics remind me that I need a new digital camera :(

Otherwise, a very nice build.


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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2009 6:58 pm 
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When I saw "SG02," "3d graphics" and "build" I got excited because I thought someone had done a case mod to put a quiet PC into a Little Blue Toaster:

http://www.reputable.com/o2.html


Oh well.

It's something I'd like to do but probably won't because of the time and expense.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:27 am 
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Pgh: Wow, been a long time since I used a silicon graphics machine for anything.

I've had these pics lying around for a good while, finally got around to posting.


Tidying up the cables in the front panel, arranging them so they can be fed out of and into the case so slack can be adjusted. Worked very well.

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Next up is to channel the HDD power and optical SATA cables through the front panel.

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Inside the case
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And so
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Using all the space there is. The optical power cable loops in the space around the fan here.

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The case is free of cable clutter.

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[continued...]


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 2:27 am 
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On setting up the final build it went from silent to horrendously noisy. The culprits turned out to be the HDDs. Watercooling or passive solutions; they would make no difference. The only real sound comes from the disk drives. The first step was to minimize case vibration. I plucked out some of these neat bits used for the p180 drive cage and cut them up to fit.

First avoiding direct contact with the tray.

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Minimizing tray-case contact for good measure.
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Notes on this build:
I'm not a hardware enthusiast. I wanted practical value as opposed to meaningless benchmark figures. With that in mind here are some conclusions:

Hard drive soft mounting: People will tell you this removes drive noise, even seek noise. From my limited experience that sounds like rubbish. How do you cancel noise that happens inside the drive with external gadgets? Obviously you can cut noise by reducing metal-on-metal contact with components that have moving parts, but when I held the drives in my hand or put them on soft material they made as much noise as ever. I'd be happy to hear from soft mounters on this as it makes no sense to me whatsoever. The drive I've got installed is even supposed to be a low-noise one. I did experience significantly less noise with an old 5400 drive I used for testing, but I deal with multimedia - I don't want to cut down on speed.

In fact the HDDs make so much noise that it's almost pointless to dedicate a great deal of attention to fans, cpu coolers and such. Whereas stock coolers and fans didn't perform well enough, all of the top brands were more or less equally low-noise. You may measure a difference with some fancy instrument, but real practical differences were unnoticable.

ATX is the common standard, though you'd wonder why. You get fantastic performance out of mATX boards, even ITX. You can fit two gf250s in an ITX case, what more do you need?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 28, 2009 4:09 am 
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This is the scavenger build. The old system worked well enough that I saw no reason to ditch it. Wanted to try a low-cost experiment instead.

I wanted this build to be low cost, low investment, so please excuse the low quality low number of pics.

I purchased the SG05 mITX case and Zotac GF 9300 wifi mITX mobo. Realized I hadn't taken any clear photos, so here are official product images.

The Zotac motherboard has an onboard GeForce and I can run 4 monitors from this puppy.

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Unfortunately the sticks I had are 1gig, so I could only use 2 of them. It's tempting to get new 2gig sticks, though the idea here is to reuse as much as possible. Anyway this pic shows what kind of size we're working with here. That's a regular 120mm fan, on the Coolermaster Gemini II S. I couldn't reverse the fan, it makes too much noise upside down. Temps are good, though higher than in the SG02 case.
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It's a tight fit. I had to replace the new fan in the end as it was brought out of balance by the HDD cage. I believe I have the stock case fan in there now and it's perfectly fine.

The fan input on the mobo is the nearest point to the fan. Nice. I have the fan cable run underneath the mobo to get rid of the slack. It's held in place there by the front panel cables. They come down the side of the case, underneath the mobo, then up at the other end to connect, squeezing in below the graphics card.


The 4x power cable runs along the edge of the case. Messily in this pic, but once tweaked virtually invisible. The main power feed doesn't clutter much either, more below. So far all the cables are out of sight.

You can tell space is tight. There's no space between the HDD cage and the case fan, HDD cage and the cpu cooler, PSU and cpu cooler. Check out the graphics card fit below.

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Another tight fit, to say the least. I was certain this wouldn't work, though in the end the passive cooler on the geforce looks custom made for this case.

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Cables. There's one less now that I've replaced the case fan. Most of them are held between the PSU and drive cage by their own rigidity. At the other end there you have the GPU power cable.
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Wrapping up with size comparison pics.
The old P182, SG02 at the bottom, SG05, then the Qnap 3.5 eSATA box holding a 2TB drive.
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Yep, it's small. I had the sg05 in my lap while building it. You get to lift it up and turn it around and on its head while fitting stuff. It's absurd to think that this tiny box is a more capable machine than the p182 it replaces (15 kilos without any components!)

The sg05 functions as a htpc running XBMC hooked up to an hdtv now, remote desktop controlled via wireless (made very straightforward by win7), but is a great backup PC for work, running a core2 duo, 2gigs of ram and 2 geforce cards it can handle most 3d tasks.

Definitely, next time you build a new PC, get an ITX case and mobo and hook your old junk up in it. At the very least you can give it to friends or family as an HTPC, network share or anything.

I'm going to very briefly touch on my software setup.
My home computers (2 desktop, 1 laptop) run:

[list]
[*]A default win7 partition boot.
[*]dev channel Chrome with synced bookmarks (using link commander to merge previous bookmark from all browsers).
-Drop box to share common files. Documents, current project.
-Home network and remote desktop control setup (not set up on the main machine for security reasons)
-Google chat. Am meaning to replace skype with this. Also stays in sync perfectly between machines and logs conversations to gmail.
-Gmail. Recently moved my remaining accounts to gmail. It's simply the best email client, online or desktop.

Gmail, Gchat, google docs, and drop box means I have access to my files and bookmarks anywhere. Very very nice.

This means moving from one to the other is usually effortless. The external hard drive contains all the major media files.


TODO:
-Find a good and small wireless keyboard to go with the sg05. Still no luck. Keysonic has some that look great, except performance reports are bad
-Laptop sized wireless mouse. Wireless Mobile Mouse 6000 from MS looks great. Great performance, tiny dongle.
-Try to quiet down my SG02 HDDs. Replacing with SSD doesn't look like an option. First off I'll need a lot of space and I don't trust those drives to remain operational for too long.


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 7:53 am 
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I recently built an HTPC for my dad using this case and I was able to really make it quiet. I used some Noctua fans spinning fairly slowly as well as dynamat on the bracket that holds the to fans over the card slots and the casing and it really impressed me how quiet it ran.

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I think these mounting screws might be wasted efforts as the entire rail is metal to solid plastic contact. In order to keep my dad's HDD's silent, I went with this option.

Image

The build looks great otherwise. It looks like it is very capable machine despite the size!

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Jason

Click HERE to see my computers.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 2009 4:36 pm 
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Location: Canada
I very much appreciate this thread, Per128. I'm trying to decide between the SG02 and the Antec NSK2480, and your posts were very helpful.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 2009 12:19 am 
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Hi Per128,

Thanks for all your efforts in putting your pictures and thoughts online.

And great for finding out its the HDD that are causing the noise.

Have you ever thought to test/try out Samsung F2 EcoGreen HD502HI: Silent 500GB 3.5" HDD reviewed here on this site or their 1TB/1.5TB versions?

Best regards
Alan


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 02, 2009 3:07 pm 
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Location: UK
Hi,

Have you thought about putting one of your 3.5 drives inside a Scythe
"FANLESS HDD BOX" Internal HDD Silencer into one of your 5.25 bays?

Best regards
Alan


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 2:28 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jul 25, 2009 12:47 pm
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Location: Birmingham, UK
Per128 wrote:
On setting up the final build it went from silent to horrendously noisy. The culprits turned out to be the HDDs. Watercooling or passive solutions; they would make no difference. The only real sound comes from the disk drives.

Sorry Per. On my first reading of the thread, I didn't read this far down and missed your observations on the HDDs.

I agree that HDD noise is significant, which we only realize after we have silenced all the fans. It might even be a good idea to add in some fan noise to drown the HDD noise.

One thing you should try doing is to use a Solid State Drive to hold the operating system, applications and the swap space. These are the most frequent parts of the disk activity. I bought a Corsair X64 SSD (64GB) for something like 135 GBP, not a significant expense considering its practical worth. In addition to eliminating the disk noise, it also makes it blindingly fast to start up applications. If you are worried about reliability, you can periodically make an image of the SSD on your HDD and keep it as a backup.

The point of suspending/soft mounting drives is to stop the case from amplifying the vibrations. My previous case, an Enlight 7250, had all the drives mounted on spring-loaded rails, which seems to have been a very effective damping solution. In most modern cases, it seems that the drives are tightly coupled to the drive cages and thence to the cases. The Scythe Quiet Drive HDD silencer can be an effective damper in this case.

Some soft solutions. Playing with Automatic Acoustic Management (AAM) might help. Frequently defragmenting drives can put the disk blocks close to each other and reduce seek noise. Even better solution is to periodically copy files from one disk partition to another fresh partition. This will again put disk blocks close to each other and minimize seek noise.

Uday

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Case: Antec NSK1380 / PSU: PicoPSU-150-XT + Dell DA-2 / Mobo: ASRock G43Twins-FullHD / CPU: E6750 Core2 Duo @ 2.66GHz / Cooler: Akasa Evo 120 + Scythe Kama PWM / GPU: GeForce 6800GT / RAM: 4GB G.Skill DDR3 @ 1600MHz / Drive: Corsair X64 SSD / Drive: Seagate Momentus 7200.4 2.5" HDD / OS: Win XP Pro x64


Last edited by reddyuday on Wed Oct 14, 2009 12:22 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 3:04 pm 
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Posts: 25
Location: Oslo
Hi guys, I appreciate the responses and all the advice. I'm posting to say I'll be away for still some time but will get right back to this hardware project when my schedule clears up some.

At the moment I've been running both new setups successfully for quite a while.

Worth noting is that when I reversed the direction of the cpu cooler fan so it would match the airflow of the psu, my temperatures went several degrees up.

So far I have gotten everything to work just the way I want except the hard drives, and I won't stop until that's taken care of as well, so it's taking some time but I'll be posting on the progress.

Again thanks for the replies, I'll post answers when things quiet down a bit on this end.


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 Post subject: Re:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:35 pm 
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Location: Oslo
Per128 wrote:
I'll post answers when things quiet down a bit on this end.

...which took quite some time, but here I am!

SG02 UPGRADES (pics below):

-Crucial RealSSD C300 2,5" 128GB
-Scythe Quiet Drive
-WD 2TB Green 3.5
-Akasa USB 3.0 PCIe card

HDD NOISE
The spinpoint f1 and velociraptor drives were not only loud loud (though reviews indicated otherwise) but they covered different frequency ranges that, when combined, created a screeching wall of noise. Or so it seemed.

The solution: Yank them out and replace with the above listed drives. The SSD connected with only one screw due to the SG02 HDD tray. I buffered it with a bit of soft rubber to stop it sliding around (the case was built to be mobile, ruling out suspended drives in the last setup), and that works just fine (pic below).
The WD Green. Same HDD as I'd used earlier as an external drive, only this time the updated WD20EARS model, which is quite a lot quieter than the EADS. I chucked it in a Scythe Quiet Drive enclosure in the 5.25 bay. However, many may not find that necessary. I have a 2nd EARS as external backup, with no case on the backup unit at the moment, and while its noise can hardly be heard over the case fan noise, it can definitely be felt when turning it off. It's a significant difference.

WHAT NEXT?
The sg02 airflow isn't perfect. Too many small fans. The accumulated noise (well, it's only a wind whoosh with a very soft profile now) is more than I'd like to hear.
There are five fans at the moment - PSU, CPU, 2 above the GPU (passive) and one for the hard drive bay. There are great fanless PSUs now, plus the hdd bay fan isn't needed anymore. I'll try turning off the rear top fan as well. That would leave 2 fans in the entire case, which should be silent enough, but I probably won't find out as I'm not going to upgrade the PSU unless I know it'll go in the case I'll use for the next build (which won't happen before the end of '11 at least). I had to replace the existing PSU with one that was non-modular. Not happy about that, but aside from making the build slightly less clean, there's so much room inside the case it really doesn't make a difference.

The SG07 is a much smaller case (just slightly larger than sg02), plenty of space for storage and the great overhead large fan space (much better than the large amount of small fans in the sg02). Seems like the best thing out there right now for small and cool builds. SPCR has a great review of one... though with all respect; from the pictures the reviewer does not seem qualified to comment on the cable management opportunities in that case.

BACKUP SYSTEM
I was running out of USB slots, and the Akasa card is cheap and 3.0 - very nice. The enclosure I use for external drivess is 3.0. My setup is easy to deal with:

INTERNAL:
DDS - 128GB SYS -System, program and active project files,
WD Green 2TB PRI - High priority files. This is data that needs backup. Old project files, reference files, educational material, sorted media files
EXTERNAL:
WD Green 2TB RAW - Low priority files. Unsorted media. Anything that's not a problem to re-download.
WD Green 2TB BAK - Backup drive. Being selective

Relevant files on SYS and everything in PRI is backed up to BAK (skipping unsorted/unprocessed directories using a naming convention). 2 TB is sufficient as anything on PRI is sorted (unnecessary files removed. From a typical work project this can shrink the size to a 10th or 20th) and possibly compressed)

Specially marked directories (professional projects) are also securely backed up online.

The backbone of this setup is good naming and structuring routines. Having good conventions speeds up backup, which enables backing up more often (especially online).
Backup of text documents, scripts, configuration files, anything text-based and important is done realtime through online sync.



PICTURES:

The SSD fit on the HDD tray in the SG02:
Image

the 5.25 Scythe Quiet Drive. The HDD is quiet as-is but this makes it completely inaudible.
Image

USB 3.0 Plenty of space for more cards, that I'll never need. I'll be running strictly mITX in the future unless there are new compelling reasons not to.
Image


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