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 Post subject: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2014 4:49 pm 
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I realised (just shy of my 42nd birthday) that I had not had a new computer since 2003 :o All of my systems over the time had been cobbled together from second hand parts or cast-offs from friends. As I want to get into racing sims with friends at work, I realised I needed a decent PC. I also needed to keep the WAF (wife approval factor) reasonably high so the system needed to be compact and quiet. To this end I chose a Cooler Master Silencio 352 Micro-ATX case after reading about is cooling capability and damped side panels. Here is Australia it's fairly well priced against rivals like the Corsair Obsidian 350D and Fractal R4 mini

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K 3.5GHz Quad-Core Processor ($262.00)
Motherboard: ASRock Z97M Pro4 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($129.00)
Memory: G.Skill Ripjaws Z Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-2400 Memory ($105.00)
Storage: Kingston HyperX 3K 240GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($159.00 @ CPL Online)
Storage: Western Digital Caviar Blue 1TB 3.5" 7200RPM Internal Hard Drive ($63.00)
Video Card: Asus Radeon R9 280 3GB DirectCU II Video Card ($249.00 @ PCCaseGear)
Power Supply: Silverstone 500W 80+ Gold Certified ATX Power Supply (Purchased For $89.00)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro (OEM) (64-bit) (Purchased For $60.00)
Total: $1116.00
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2014-08-26 09:41 EST+1000

Album is here - http://imgur.com/a/mDDPq#0

The system is not as quiet as I thought it would be since the front case fan (connected to CHA_FAN1) runs at full speed all the time. According to the UEFI I should be able to slow it down - still researching that one


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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 2:36 am 
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oop wrote:
The system is not as quiet as I thought it would be since the front case fan (connected to CHA_FAN1) runs at full speed all the time. According to the UEFI I should be able to slow it down - still researching that one

In my very humble opinion, your system isn't well thought noise wise.
Anyway, IIRC cha-fan 1 is a PWM header (4 pin), while CM stock case fan (a rather mediocre one) should be a voltage controlled one (3 pin): am I right? In case, you need either a new fan or a different header.

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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:01 am 
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Or you need a fan mate.


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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:26 pm 
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I would ditch the intake fan entirely, and get a PWM fan for the rear exhaust. It will be 100% A-Okay from there.

Eventually you could upgrade to a tower cooler as well, with a better PWM fan for that as well. That said, at idle and under light use, the stock Intel heatsinks are very quiet. They always ramp up to 100% on startup, but after that, it's smooth sailing.

Your build looks pretty neat as it is. That case is pretty nice. Your height limit for the tower heatsink is about 160mm, for future reference.

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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Sun Aug 31, 2014 1:56 pm 
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Yes given the excellent motherboard PWM fan controls PWM chassis fans could be a better option for this case. And certainly the exhaust would be the prime position. However the Silencio 352 intake fan does blow air directly at the CPU cooler and graphics card, and for this reason a PWM intake/exhaust combination would probably be the optimum configuration. For a PWM fan I would recommend you consider the Noctua Redux NF-S12B 1200 rpm PWM which has a nominal speed range of 400 to 1200 rpm. Depending on the BIOS settings and ambient temperature this fan would idle somewhere in the 400 to 500 rpm range. The Noctua Redux NF-S12B 1200 rpm PWM from sources such as PC Case Gear should be around $20. As your motherboard has only one PWM chassis fan header if you decide to fit two fans then a PWM Y splitter cable will be required. For example the SilverStone PWM Fan Splitter Cable which is about $10 from PCG. I appreciate this adds up to another $50 Australian but it would give you a really quiet system under idle and low system stress conditions, and under gaming stress conditions the PWM fan(s) would automatically speed up to increase air flow and limit CPU and GPU temperatures (and fan noise). You would get a 'fit and forget' system but equally the BIOS controls would allow the fans to be fine-tuned if required.


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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:26 pm 
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I will admit that this post is bordering on thread mining :lol:

I've had the system running for about 6 months now, and since replacing the front non-PWM fan with a Noctua NF-S12B redux-1200 PWM fan, the noise in normal usage has decreased to a point where it's pretty well silent.

During gaming though the noise ramps up considerably (the box sits on my desk, if it were under I think I would be a lot less concerned about the noise it does make). The rear fan (the CM one that comes with the case) is actually quieter than the Noctua, and the GPU temps also rise up to 78-80C, with the GPU fans sitting at 45%.

The intake fan is at the bottom of the case, while the CPU is closer to the top and I have a feeling that airflow through the case is not as good as it should be.

A post earlier in this thread http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=587635#p587635 said that the "system isn't well thought noise wise" but offered no alternate suggestions.

Does anyone have any experience with any other micro-ATX cases that might be a viable alternative?


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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 6:54 am 
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oop wrote:
The intake fan is at the bottom of the case, while the CPU is closer to the top and I have a feeling that airflow through the case is not as good as it should be.

Personally I would say it is not good and cannot be better, but mine is just an educated guess.


oop wrote:
A post earlier in this thread http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=587635#p587635 said that the "system isn't well thought noise wise" but offered no alternate suggestions.

Because you already have that case at that time: broadly speaking it's not a good pick pairing a case like the 352 (small volume, lack of airflow) with your GPU, whether quietness is a priority.
In my experience without modding it (cutting the front panel, and/or maybe the top one) there isn't much to do to improve its cooling prowess.
I think that you can however improve the Noctua noise using SpeedFan to control it at a lower pace than what the BIOS do.


oop wrote:
Does anyone have any experience with any other micro-ATX cases that might be a viable alternative?

Given that it's on your desk, it's a tricky question. At first glance the freshly released Silverstone KL-06 comes to mind to improve cooling prowess while mantaining a low overall volume, but it sports a mesh front, so your mileage may vary (and more probably that not it deserves a fans swap): besides, the relevant availability is still a bit questionable.
Otherwise you should increase the case size, thinking to something like the Fractal Define Mini (or maybe even its Arc Mini R2 sibling), or the slightly smaller Nanoxia DS4 among tower options, which are rather good (in their own class) at cooling the GPU. Among cheaper options of about a similar size, the meshed version of your 352 (the CM N200) may be a viable alternative with the right fans, as well as the larger and more garish Corsair Graphite 230T.
Whether a larger footprint were allowed you may also think to the ugly but effective Silverstone SG-09/SG10 (you have to tame their large Air Penetrator, though, maybe swapping it with the more flexible but expensive AP182), to the Bitfenix Prodigy M (with the slightly quieter Phenom M your mileage may vary, as the relevant airflow isn't that better than the 352' one), and eventually to the Fractal Design Node 804 (which will probably be my first choice among cube cases, but this my feeling is just another educated guess, at the moment).

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Last edited by quest_for_silence on Thu Apr 02, 2015 9:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 10:42 am 
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Welcome back.

I'll ask the obvious question: is there no room under/next to your desk for the PC?

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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Thu Apr 02, 2015 9:21 pm 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
In my experience without modding it (cutting the front panel, and/or maybe the top one) there isn't much to do to improve its cooling prowess.

Thinking twice, without cutting anything you could try an old trick (I did it on the venerable Antec P182), you could try to place some fans nearby the hot spots, running them at a relatively slow pace (the closer, the slower).
With reference to that, another aspect I've overlooked is your phrase: "The intake fan is at the bottom of the case". What does it mean, exactly? Isn't the intake fan right in front of your GPU?
Last but not least, you didn't say anything about the CPU temp and noise: are you still running on stock cooler?

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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 4:03 am 
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quest_for_silence wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:
In my experience without modding it (cutting the front panel, and/or maybe the top one) there isn't much to do to improve its cooling prowess.

Thinking twice, without cutting anything you could try an old trick (I did it on the venerable Antec P182), you could try to place some fans nearby the hot spots, running them at a relatively slow pace (the closer, the slower).
With reference to that, another aspect I've overlooked is your phrase: "The intake fan is at the bottom of the case". What does it mean, exactly? Isn't the intake fan right in front of your GPU?
Last but not least, you didn't say anything about the CPU temp and noise: are you still running on stock cooler?


Lodestar asked if the intake fan was near the GPU and CPU - The intake fan is at the bottom of the front panel near the GPU and the CPU is at the top of the case

CPU fan noise and temps aren't an issue at this time.

I play Elite: Dangerous and I needed a decent GPU to drive my 2560x1440 monitor. The reviews that I read put the Asus cards at the quieter end of the Radeon spectrum, and to get the performance that I wanted at the budget I had this was the sweet spot. I think the next GPU upgrade will be an Nvidia card to lower both power and noise (depending of course on how the 300 series Radeons measure up)

I have made some attempts since your reply to change the fan curves. The AsRock utility allows for 5 points of control - I couldn't get speedfan to work properly with this mobo


Last edited by oop on Mon Apr 06, 2015 4:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2015 4:05 am 
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CA_Steve wrote:
Welcome back.

I'll ask the obvious question: is there no room under/next to your desk for the PC?


Unfortunately not, the available space is taken up by my NAS.


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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Tue Apr 07, 2015 5:50 am 
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oop wrote:
The intake fan is at the bottom of the front panel near the GPU and the CPU is at the top of the case

In front of the inlet placed at the bottom of the front panel, there's the lower hard drive cage, and there cannot be a GPU (as there are no slots): so, if I don't get you wrong, I think that fan is just above that cage, in the upper-middle of the front panel (as seen in your photos, though). At any rate, maybe you might try to (firmly) place that fan near the GPU, either suspending from the ODD cage or placing onto the HDD one, in order to see whether the GPU temp may lower (at the same current speed, of course), or not (a somewhat rigid support should work probably better than something like zip ties, which otherwise may come handy for a quick and dirty trial).


oop wrote:
CPU fan noise and temps aren't an issue at this time.

As I said a while ago with different words, whether you can't hear the crappy Intel stock heatsink, that may mean the rest is somehow noisy, rather than actually quiet: btw, usually CPU temps are figures, not subjective assessments, and those figure may help us to assess whether you may need more heat exhaust prowess or not, much more than stating "aren't an issue at this time".


oop wrote:
I have made some attempts since your reply to change the fan curves. The AsRock utility allows for 5 points of control - I couldn't get speedfan to work properly with this mobo

As far as I know, you shouldn't be able to install the ASRock utility and SpeedFan at the same time, without the former mess up the latter's settings: anyway, whether the ASRock utility works to actually lower the Noctua speed, that might be enough.
On the other hand, what SpeedFan might be able to do is to control the ASUS R9 fans also, helping to lower the GPU noise (at the expense of the load temp, though): if I'm not wrong, you can use Afterburner (or any decent Rivatuner derivative), alternatively.

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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 5:39 am 
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Hi, from a quick look up of the Silencio 352 I would suggest that it is (like many cases) heavily intake restricted. Think how the area of the 120mm intake fan compares with the area of the intake slots around the front. If you open the front door (and remove all the filters) does this help the noise/temps?

If it does and you're prepared to do some modding I would suggest hole(s) in the bottom under the HDD cage and using both top and rear exhaust points in order to maximize airflow through the case. The HDD cage looks screwed in and could be removed with the HDD located in 5.25 bay at top of case or suspended somehow not to block air flow too much.
The feet look reasonably tall in the picture and placed on a desk you should get airflow under the case. Can always stand feet on anything suitably sized eg small books, to see if helps and if does then look for more elegant solution.

Your combo of i5 4690k and R9 280 are going to use a fair bit of power so there is a good amount of heat to get rid of, which means airflow.
I'm not sure if I'd keep the intake fan(s) or not, depends how effectively you can get air in to the case, intake fans in combination with exhaust increase the effective pressure which helps to draw air through the restrictive intakes. Testing is only way to be sure.

In the past I've done testing with my PC monitoring fan speeds and temps etc and noticed that, when under load, a sudden jump in exhaust fan speed results in a jump in the PSU fan speed. I can only surmise this is due to decreased case pressure resulting in the PSU fan having to work harder to generate air flow. This is with 2x92mm case fans and the intakes are 160x80mm front and 80x80mm 'blowhole' intake with just very nonrestrictive mesh on them. Compared with many cases restrictive looking intakes I wonder how they work at all!

Good luck, Seb

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 Post subject: Re: Quiet combo rig
PostPosted: Wed Apr 08, 2015 7:22 am 
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SebRad wrote:
Hi, from a quick look up of the Silencio 352 I would suggest that it is (like many cases) heavily intake restricted. Think how the area of the 120mm intake fan compares with the area of the intake slots around the front. If you open the front door (and remove all the filters) does this help the noise/temps?

If it does and you're prepared to do some modding I would suggest hole(s) in the bottom under the HDD cage and using both top and rear exhaust points in order to maximize airflow through the case. The HDD cage looks screwed in and could be removed with the HDD located in 5.25 bay at top of case or suspended somehow not to block air flow too much.
The feet look reasonably tall in the picture and placed on a desk you should get airflow under the case. Can always stand feet on anything suitably sized eg small books, to see if helps and if does then look for more elegant solution.

Your combo of i5 4690k and R9 280 are going to use a fair bit of power so there is a good amount of heat to get rid of, which means airflow.
I'm not sure if I'd keep the intake fan(s) or not, depends how effectively you can get air in to the case, intake fans in combination with exhaust increase the effective pressure which helps to draw air through the restrictive intakes. Testing is only way to be sure.

In the past I've done testing with my PC monitoring fan speeds and temps etc and noticed that, when under load, a sudden jump in exhaust fan speed results in a jump in the PSU fan speed. I can only surmise this is due to decreased case pressure resulting in the PSU fan having to work harder to generate air flow. This is with 2x92mm case fans and the intakes are 160x80mm front and 80x80mm 'blowhole' intake with just very nonrestrictive mesh on them. Compared with many cases restrictive looking intakes I wonder how they work at all!

Good luck, Seb


Thanks - there's some things to think about in your post.

I've done a bit of testing over the course of the last few posts and I've found that it doesn't matter whether the front door is open or not, fan speeds and temperatures are within 1 or 2 degrees C. It does seem that a lot of the noise is generated by the dust filter behind the front door.

I have also mounted my PSU inverted in the case, so that the PSU fan pulls air in from a hole in the underside of the case (and not from inside it)


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