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 Post subject: QUIET CASES
PostPosted: Sat Jan 04, 2003 10:30 pm 
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Hey everyone,

After a lot of research, I just wanted to give some suggestions for cases that I believe are good for quiet PC systems.

Palo Alto PA-ATCX
Palo Alto PA-810 (120mm rear exhaust)
Fong Kai 320
Fong Kai 600 series

Does anyone know if the PA-810 is a quiet case? I was thinking that the 120mm exhaust fan could really lower my system's case temps so and create excellent airflow so I can SAFELY put a ZM80A-HP on a Ti4600 without killing it w/ thermal death. :D Thanks!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 9:09 am 
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oh, and for all of the SPCR members that want to use a duct over their CPUs like OEMs such as Dell, the Fong Kai (they make HP's cases) 320 has a 92mm fan duct system


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 3:05 pm 
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Last I heard it's nearly impossible to find Palo Alto cases at retail. Know of any sources?

As for the Fong Kai duct, I'm unsure how ducting would work if you also had a fan on your heatsink. If your HSF is set to blow, and the duct is sucking, then there's going to be a mismatch somewhere.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 3:08 pm 
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From what Ive HEARD these silent cases make a subtle difference but nothing dramatic, which, IMO, doesnt justify the price and heat they come with.

IMO your money would be better spent on buying top quality fans and decoupling screws etc.

That said, most of them are very good cases aside from ther acoustic properties.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 4:21 pm 
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I would say it is not how quiet your case is, it is how quiet your fans and components are inside your case.

Cases don't actually make much of a difference in reducing noise. If the fans and components inside your case don't make much noise then not much noise will be emitted. I have a double layered case where the outside has a thick layer of steel and the another layer of some other metal on the inside. You would think it makes a difference but it does not.

The only case I think that would reduce noise if the whole case is made of rubber and foam where the noise is either absorbed, reflected and then absorbed and also would eliminate most of the vibrations.

Dell case is the only one I have seen that comes remotely close, it's made of plastic, it doesnt vibrate much as steel or aluminium.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 4:43 pm 
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yes but the design of a case does help improve the case's thermal management and therefore it become much easier to keep it quiet and cool. about the fong kai 320, yeah i guess the duct would be useful mainly for those with the Alpha heatsinks (which specify sucking air). btw, Palo Alto cases are the exact same used by the Dell Dimension XPS and 4100 series and the Fong Kai cases are very similar to the HP enclosures (same manufacturer).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 5:39 pm 
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Dell are making cases entirely from plastic?!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 6:14 pm 
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the dell cases have a steel frame structure that is basically wrapped in a plastic shell to absorb vibrations and help mute some sound


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 Post subject: I did the same thing
PostPosted: Sun Jan 05, 2003 11:59 pm 
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I also moved away from a DELL 4100 shell to a newer computer and I gotta say before the upgrade I was dreading the increase in noise a jump from a fanless PIII cpu to a "modern" system would entail. Not to mention what you've highlighted: the Dell case somewhat muffles whiny or vibrational sounds compared to metal cases.

So at first I thought I wanted a new "quiet" dell-like case. But after going through parts I realized that the DELL 4100 wasn't quiet because of the case but because the components didn't need to shed so much heat. Now that practically every component screams (at different frequencies too) for some kind of active cooling, whatever muffling ability a computer case might have becomes largely irrelevant.

If you isolate what component noise is bothersome, you might find that there are more direct and powerful ways of stifling the sound (i.e. try silencing your WD hard drive and see if the computer noise is more bearable).

When all was said and done I went with a case that had good airflow, figuring that the job of the case is to give your components enough fresh air to either a) be overclocked or b) be very quiet. After buying the case I used low rpm case fans, quiet components and was able to boot up a killer gaming system (complete with an overclocked cpu). My overall system noise is much less than my old DELL 4100 and the quality of the noise is of a much lower frequency (no whiny psu or hard drive noises, no high-whirring video card noises... you take those out and you may be surprised at how much more bearable your system is).

I am fairly pleased with the results. I think you mentioned cheiftec or antec as something you are considering in a previous thread. The only thing I'd say is as long as they have a balanced intake and outake airflow, you're good to go. If there are any more bells and whistles on the case then you'll have to think about how it affects system temps, which would mean you having to compensate with higher rpm fans...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2003 4:16 am 
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I have a Palo Alto PA-810 and have used it for 3 years so I know it quite well by now :wink:

I would certainly not call it an inherently quiet case. First, it is all steel, which helps to transmit noise and vibration. Cases that have a plastic "shell" will do a better job of dampening this noise. Second, the front inside piece of plastic that holds the front 92mm fan, card brackets (for full-length PCI/ISA cards, thank goodness I haven't seen one of them in a while), and the front controls really seems to be a noisemaker since I can hear airflow noises when the front 92mm NMB kicks in.

Don't get me wrong, it's a great case and I love it, it's cavernous and very easy to work in, and it's built like a tank. However, I wouldn't use it as the basis for a Quiet PC unless you were going for watercooling and could get away with some relatively low-RPM fans (which is exactly the opposite that it was made to do, since it's really a workstation case). As a point of reference, mine sits in my basement and acts as my home file server, where the drone of the 120mm Delta and the 92mm NMB don't bother me as much.

Pete


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2003 10:27 am 
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is it easy [or possible] to remove the 120mm fan from the rear exhaust bracket (beige colored thing). from my experience with the atcx, removing a fan from the bracket that attaches the fan to the case is impossible w/o breaking either the bracket or the fan. thanks!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2003 10:28 am 
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mudboy,

what do you mean about "airflow" noises around the front bezel intake? would i still get good airflow if I just used a low-rpm fan or just not have an intake fan and just have a 120mm exhaust fan? thanks again. :D


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2003 1:00 pm 
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Front and rear fan brackets both come off easily enough on the PA-810

I can't quantify it, it just seems that there is a good amount of noise coming from the front of the case. Is it horrible? No. If I wanted to hack up my $150 case to clear up the front interior airflow, would I? Sure. Also note that I have a piece of air conditioner filter acting as a front filter for the case, so that might be affecting noise somewhat.

Don't get me wrong, I love the case, and I could definitely see making it into a SILENT PC case through the use of a lot of Dynamat, a good 120mm and a duct, and some dremel work. However, I don't need to do that for what the system is being used for.

Pete


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2003 2:38 pm 
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oh, what i meant mudboy was if it is easy to remove the fans from their respective brackets. :D


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 Post subject: Another PA-810 Owner
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2003 3:37 pm 
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Location: Sunnyvale, CA, USA
I also own a PA-810 and actually use it as the basis of my "quieter" system. I didn't originally intend it to be this way, it was one of two cases that I had when I was building my quieter system.

I agree with mudboy on the problems of a steel case. However, I was able to reduce the problem by putting cork on the insides. After adding cork to the large side panels, I felt that helped the system be much more quieter. (I also added more cork to other areas afterward, but didn't think it made that much of a difference so I removed them.)

I've never had problems with fan noise, either the 92mm in front or the 120mm in the rear. I actually believe the larger fan sizes are a plus in helping the system stay cool and quiet. I do use quieter fans and run them at 5-7v. (Swapping the fans is pretty easy, but it is a little different.) The noisest fan in my system right now from the Zalman PSU; it starts off quiet but after an hour or so of use, it's more audible. Grrr.

One other nice thing about the case is the plastic drive rails. I think it helps keep the hard drives's vibrations from transmitting thru the case. I can't really quantify how much of it difference it makes, but I do think it's better than other cases I've owned that have the typical direct screw attachment.

I don't know if it helps with the 5.25" bays since my CDROM drive is still a loud monster. Fortunately, I don't use it much.

Anyway, it's not a great quiet/silent case out of the box, but it has a lot of potential to it if you have time to work on it. There might be better selection out there but it seems most cases need some work to get them quiet.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2003 4:11 pm 
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WantMyPCToBeDellSilent wrote:
oh, what i meant mudboy was if it is easy to remove the fans from their respective brackets. :D


Easy enough for me to figure out...seriously, not that hard.

Pete


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2003 5:58 pm 
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are steel cases truly that much more quiet than cases with some plastic? based on this belief, i would think that the antec/chieftec cases would not be good for a quiet PC, but ralf hutter uses a Antec SLK3700AMB that seems to be very much like the PA-810 in that it has a 120mm rear exhaust fan. i believe this case has worked for him. btw, would the PA-810 owners comment on the thickness of the steel used for the case? thanks!

oh and i have been noticing my friend's new compaq evo PC -- it's a dead silent 1.8 P4 system that is enclosed in a steel case. i used to think that building a quiet pc with a case with plastic like my current ATCX would but this system obviously breaks that assumption. while it does have a fanless video card, it has a 92mm (i think, certainly larger than the usual 80mm) Power supply exhaust fan (adda), 80-92mm rear exhaust case fan (I'm not sure size but it's an adda), and a cpu cooler similar to one of those radial CPU coolers that you can quietpc.com.

has anyone heard of the PA-820? to the pa-810 owners, where did you buy your pa-810? thanks everyone!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 06, 2003 6:44 pm 
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Well, I don't think steel cases are inherently good or bad; I believe most the issues have to due with the thickness of the metal. The PA-810's side panels are rather thin so it's easier for them vibrate. Had they been heavier (or perhaps had different joints to the other pieces), things might have been okay.

Additionally, what's in case is important. Examine the compaq's parts. Do they generate a lot of noise vibration? If not, it may not be such a big deal what the case is. The case is kinda the last line of defense when it comes to noise (unless you have some monstrous noise absorbing enclosure).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2003 4:26 am 
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I wrote earlier that the case was built like a tank, and IMO it is. The side panels are about as thinck as I would want them to be. Not very scientific, I know, but thick enough to be durable and not so thick that they are unwieldy.

As far as steel cases being noisier, consider this: what material are tuning forks, i.e. a tool that is made to vibrate, made of? Steel. Now, don't get me wrong, all of the cases in my house are steel, so I'm no anti-ferrous bigot, but it's something to consider. A well-fabricated Al case with sufficiently thick panels will, all other things being the same, probably be quieter than a steel case.

I bought my PA-810 directly from Palo Alto Products when they first became available; since then, Flextronics bought them out and their cases are OEM-only. It's a shame, PA made some great, very usable cases.

Pete


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 07, 2003 7:36 am 
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but wouldnt aluminum be worse for quiet cases as most of these cases have (so ive heard) thinner walls?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 1:59 pm 
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Just wanted to add that the a friend has one of the newer tower/clamshell Dell cases that looks to be a custom design. He bought it `bout 3 months ago and it is black/dark plastic over metal fram but interestingly has slot openings for only 5 slots, and a matching sized 5 slot motherboard. I can't find any good pictures on the net of this setup but it's one of those thing ya gotta see if you know someone willing to open their system to show you.

Basically this means the motherboard is custom sized between a mATX (4 slots) and a full sized ATX board (7 slots). Not sure if the PSU is custom wired like the older models. It has what appears to be two rear 92mm fans spaced about a inch away from the grills and a internal ducting system that sucks air off a fanless cpu heatsink. It's definelty quieter compared to a normal beige system.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 4:33 pm 
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You are probably talking about the Dell 4500/4550/8200/8250. I have also read that it does not except normal ATX motherboards, and you can't just plug in a ATX PSU either. They have rearranged the pins so you need to get a ATX to Dell adaptor or do a bit of rewiring yourself.

Talk about being a Microsoft!! :evil: :evil:


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 6:30 pm 
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I believe metal cases are better for quiet systems because they radiate heat much more effectively, and heat (not sound) is really the greatest enemy of a quiet system. Any chance you get to dump heat you should take. I thought i read a review somewhere that indicated the difference in heat shed by steel versus plastic cases, and it was substantial. Might be worth thinking about.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 09, 2003 11:29 pm 
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wussboy wrote:
I believe metal cases are better for quiet systems because they radiate heat much more effectively, and heat (not sound) is really the greatest enemy of a quiet system. Any chance you get to dump heat you should take. I thought i read a review somewhere that indicated the difference in heat shed by steel versus plastic cases, and it was substantial. Might be worth thinking about.



...excellent point...


heat = sound

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 8:45 am 
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does anyone know if the chieftec "dragon" case's steel is thicker than the Palo Alto PA-810?


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 Post subject: IIRC...
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 10:25 am 
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Quote:
does anyone know if the chieftec "dragon" case's steel is thicker than the Palo Alto PA-810?


If the Chieftec is the same as the Antec's (which they are very similar to) then they are 1.0mm thick steel, and it's good strong steel, too. Not soft "peanutbutter" steel like so many cheap cases.

If the Palo Alto's are similar to Dell's, then the thickness of the steel is not really relavent -- the main case is plastic and the steel is only there for RFI and EMF shielding and therefore only needs to be thin. For noise reduction, it is probably the combination of the plastic and the steel that accounts for how it works.

BTW, could you please post a link to your source of Palo Alto cases?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2003 12:24 pm 
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oh, i think there's a misunderstanding. the PA-ATCX, which is what i have, is the case that Dell used to use for their cases (plastic shells). The PA-810 is built more like a standard case (steel with plastic front bezel). I would love to know if anyone knew if this case was more sturdy (thicker steel, etc.) than the chieftec cases.


Here's a link: www.paloaltoproducts.nl :D


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