Hello there folks
I've spent a couple of years building a quiet and cool SFF PC. Since I'm getting to my target, it's time to share those bits of info that hopefully will be useful for anyone aiming for the same.
Compact size and good features apart, I am a fan of brushed, anodized aluminum. Looks so sleek, timeless and elegant. That means I have two viable options for case manufacturer; Lian Li or Jonsbo.
Now, Lian Li make some beautiful cases but the layout is usually somewhat odd, or flat-out terrible, for a quiet and cool PC. Jonsbo combine the build quality and classic design with functionality, which is just great. On top of that, the cases are very affordable, so it's an obvious pick. Their cases are sold under Cooltek Brand in Europe and Cooltek U2 turned out to be my choice.
Below there's a shot of how it looks like on my desk.Setup:
i7 3770 + True Spirit 120i
GTX 960 Strix
Scorpio Black 750GB + SX900 XPG 64GB
2x4GB Valueram VLP @ 2000Mhz (because don't buy what the marketing people tell you
Cooler Master V450S
2x Slip Stream PWM for case and CPU heatsinkDetails:
The case doesn't resonate nearly at all and is clearly more sturdier than the Lian Li PC-Q11 I previously had. It allows proper ventilation, big tower heatsinks, ATX PSUs and 220m GPU. Also, I love how smart this side panel mounting system is; the panel attaches to those two metal dowels in the front of the case, and leans on two rubber bushings in the back. See those red circles in the image below. It's secured from the back of the case using two thumb screws. Result is simple and solid.
On the inside, I've lined everything but the bottom, with thin foam that really helps with getting rid of any high-pitched noises. Still, as stated in SPCR's acrticle, the hissing nature of that Scorpio Black is quite apparent, even everything else at full tilt. As soon as 500GB SSDs hit 100€, I'll get one.
One of the key factors in making this case quiet is replacing all of your 3,5" drives with 2,5" ones, and mounting them in the front fan/HDD bracket using an adapter. Having them in the bottom blocks cool air from getting to the GPU. You might ask why I don't have a front intake fan. The reason is that it circulates the air that GPU might dump in the front, right over CPU socket area.
That would make for a good convection oven, though.
PSU fan spins nice and slow all the time but has a bearing problem and emits slight rattling. Without that it'd be inaudible or very close to being so. It's going to be RMA time as soon as there's enough time I don't need to use my PC. Meanwhile I can evaluate if semi-passive is a viable option - slow-spinning fan keeps the unit itself cool, helps case ventilation and is virtually unnoticeable, so why'd I go for a semi-passive one?
I am considering placing 120/140mm fan in the bottom, and possibly cutting it open, or alternatively replacing the stock GPU cooler with Accelero Mono Plus hoping it would act as intake fan. So there can be a need for less restricted intake, mainly with hotter components.
I've no real problem with thermal performance but opening the side panel lets me run those Slip Streams at 500RPM while CPU tops at 50C and GPU 63C @ 1200RPM, both at high load. Current 850RPM tops isn't loud
but I'd like it lower.
A real silent silent silent enthusiast could simply run the fans at 500RPM max no matter what, take a bit higher CPU temperatures and call it a day. Or just strap a huge heatsink onto the CPU and drive it passive, maybe using a fan fuct! In that regard this case is suitable for a silent
setup. It's not going to come close to overheating but won't deliver ultra-low temperatures, either.
Some might remember that SPCR tested the GPU and it produced only 14dBA @ 1120RPM and 18dBA @ 1550RPM. My custom fan curve and undervolting + overclocking resulting in, maybe, around 15dBA and 64C is terrific.
I do have to say, the card is a bit too aggressive and loud at stock settings, heating up to 69C at fan speeds of 1800RPM. Lowering the power limit while simultaneously raising core and memory clock results in lower operating voltage, but thanks to the overclock, higher than out-of-the-box clock frequencies. At least same performance but a lot less heat and noise. Lowering only the power limit without touching frequencies would mean that the GPU operated at much lower boost level.
I won't use Furmark + Prime to test stuff because that kind of load is unrealistic, and would cause my GPU to throttle, possibly lowering its operating temperature.
Performance, case closed.
I might have forgot something, and since this setup evolves all the time, this post will evolve with those things. Comment, ask, or just lurk, whatever