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 Post subject: Thoughts on my new Sonata...
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 7:27 am 
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Hello guys,

If had my Sonata for almost a fortnight now, and I thought I'd share a few observations I've had about it with regard to my previous setup.

I originally used an old AOpen HX-08 full tower case, and had been disappointed with the poor cooling the case offered, as it had no exhaust fan to remove CPU/Gfx card heat (Gf4Ti 4200 fitted with a Zalman ZM80). The exhaust fans were instead situated above the PSU, which meant they were next to useless: all the hot air had to be expelled through the PSU. I had my Cuda IV no-vibed, and used a Zalman Flower on my Athlon TBird 1.4

I originally changed the stock AOpen PSU for a 300W Q-Technology quiet replacement, about a year ago now. Due to the aforementioned problem of the PSU having to exhaust all the air from the case, the temp-controlled fan had to speed up to compensate, resulting in increased noise (still alot quieter than the stock PSU though). The case still got quite hot nevertheless, and I'd frequently see CPU temps of 65C and case temps of about 30C. So it was time for a case change.

I finally got my Sonata after waiting for about a fortnight (I really do wish retailers wouldn't advertise stock until they actually have it) and swapped my gear over to the stock Sonata configuration.

I switched on, and found that it was considerably louder than my previous setup. It did do a far better job of cooling though - the PSU fan was faster, louder but kept the PSU cooler at around 30C, the case temps dropped by about 10C to 20C, and the CPU temps dropped to around 49C due to the excellent job of the (rather loud) 120mm case fan.

I also found that the HD mounts didn't manage to decouple the HD enough to stop vibrations travelling through the case when seeking. So I put the Cuda back in the No Vibes cradle and put it in the remaining 5.25" bay. This did lead to the HD temps being raised by about 5C, but that's nothing to worry about. I'll have no choice but to use the drive mounts if I add a drive, but I'm confident that the newer Samsungs will be quiet enough for this. My ageing 80G Cuda was just too loud to be hushed by the grommets.

Despite the excellent cooling job provided by the Antec PSU fan, I decided to swap back my Q-Technology PSU as it was much quieter. After realising I couldn't remove the top and right part of the case cover, I carefully managed to slide the PSU out over my Flower cooler, after removing the fan assembly. It was a shame to remove the stock PSU, as it was very cool and the fan shifted a lot of air for the resulting noise. There were plenty of nice touches about the PSU too which smacked of quality, like the 3 pin molex used to monitor the PSU fan RPM, and the PSU-governed case fan connectors, which all made it a little harder to swap back my Q PSU. I'm sure it would be possible to mod the Antec PSU for quieter performance, but rather than muck around risking a shock I thought it would be safer to swap out the whole PSU.

I didn't cover the 'Antec' holes on the side of the PC, as apart from the neglible noise emanating from them, they seem to help keeping the PSU cooler and therefore quieter.

The 120mm case fan, while doing a great job at keeping the case temps low, was far too loud. I didn't want to get cutting at the grill either, so I connected it up to the 5v line of a spare molex from my Q-Technology instead to quieten/slow it down. The rubber fan mounts do a great job of isolating structure-borne vibration.

There. As quiet as my previous system yet much cooler, compact, and better looking. But I'd also just about neglected every feature on it that was supposed to keep it quiet! I suspect Antec wanted to err on the side of caution when balancing noise with cooling ability, but still managing to acheive a quieter setup than your average stock PC. I'm sure you could do a fair amount of modding to get it quieter, but I think I'm already quite far along the path of diminishing returns, and don't feel it will be worth the effort TBO. I might get a few Panaflows to replace the 92mm Zalman and the 120mm case fan though, but I suspect this will be too costly (in the UK anyway!) to make it worthwhile. I have been thinking about a Silenx PSU though... :)

Sorry if I've missed any crucial points, and if anyone has any questions I'll do my best to answer them.

Cheers. :D

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 7:57 am 
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I followed a nearly identical path as you, only I replaced the Antec PSU with a Nexus NX-3000. I also felt kind of guilty removing what looked to be a fine PSU.

Anyway, just last night I replaced the stock 120mm with a 120mm Panaflo L1A, and the Zalman 92mm on the 6000Cu for a Panaflo 92mm L1A.

Quiet was better, but my CPU die temps increased by a staggering amount. Previously I was at ~37c idle, now I idle in the high forties , when folding it goes to ~57c. Still in the safety range, but I'm trying to decide if it was worth it.

For me when I moved from the Novibes to the grommets, I detected no difference in the cuda IV.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 8:11 am 
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I was very interested to read about your experience with the Sonata case. I'm also considering buying one soon and one of the things bothering me (you may have read my post about this in another thread?) is that I recently bought a Q-Tec 550W supply, so that money would be wasted. However, I've figured that as the Sonata is a similar price to other cases of a similar spec./quality, and I really like the look it, I wasn't really wasting money by leaving my Q-Tec out. As you said, there are a few features of the Sonata PSU that are quite nice and I'd like to use, and I don't really need the extra wattage of my 550W.

I'm concerned by what you said about the volume of the PSU though, and the included 120mm case fan. I wonder if it's better to buy another case and buy my own quieter 120mm case fan, and do something (maybe fit a thermistor) to my Q-Tec PSU to quieten the internal fans? I also thought I could buy the Sonata and fit the Q-Tec, take one of the internal fans out and fit a thermal control for the remaining fan.

Other people have kindly given me advice on what cases I could buy to fit my situation, but I can't find any of them available in the UK. :(

Now I just can't make up my mind what to do!

Well I thought I'd add my 2p worth. :)

Geoff.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 8:21 am 
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I also swapped out the Antec fan in my Sonata.

The fan was not loud when connected to the "fan only" connector but had a definate "whoosh" sound that my Panaflo L1A does not have. I'm very pleased with my Sonata case and in it's stock form is a very nice package indead. I've been making little adjustments here and there and I'm debating cutting out the rear fan grill and cleaning up the front intake but I may just leave it alone.
I added a Vantec Stealth 120mm fan to the front mount to direct air at my video card. I have that fan connected to my Enermax system monitor (two temp probes, two fan controllers, blue LCD screen) and set the fan speed to it's lowest setting (maybe ~4V?). I plan on installing a Zalman HP80A cooler on my Radeon 9500Pro soon so that's why I added the extra fan. Depending on the temps after that mod I may just remove the fan entirely.

I'll be posting pictures soon, maybe this weekend.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 8:42 am 
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Miker - are those Panaflos both at 5V?

Geoff - I hoped to convey the sort of relative comparison you need to judge the difference in noise levels, albeit pretty crudely. If you already have a quiet system the Sonata in stock form may be louder, but coming from a stock PC it will definitely be quieter. I'm still very happy to own the Sonata, as it has space for 120mm fans, great airflow IMO, and looks superb. It is perhaps a little more expensive at £97 than an SLK3700, but I feel the innovative 90-degree HD drive bay configuration (giving you more space around you mobo), great looks and much better than average PSU make it a worthwhile purchase.

Incidentally, I'm always curious how thermally controlled fans help. My system is always pretty hot (1.4 TBird furnace - little temp difference betwen idle and load!), and as running fans at lower speeds will lead to higher temps, thermally controlled fans will work harder to compensate, surely. I'd rather experiment with either fixed or manually variable fan voltages to get a balance between noise and cooling that I feel comfortable with. Higher temps at lower speeds is a given, but if it's within a safe margin there should be no need to worry.

BTW Geoff, I bought my Sonata from http://www.mighty-micro.co.uk/ (direct link to Sonata: http://www.mighty-micro.co.uk/acatalog/ ... s_612.html). £93.12 plus a fiver for delivery.

If you have a good case at the moment with good airflow, I can understand you might be a bit hesitant to buy the Sonata for a 120mm fan and HD grommets, but you could always try and sell whichever PSU you don't need, and you'll be left with a great case with plenty of quiet cooling potential and good looks.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 10:47 am 
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Miker - are those Panaflos both at 5V?


I have Zalman speed controllers on both Panaflos. The 120mm runs at about the minimum (maybe 6v) and the 92 probably is at 7V.

Its so hard to tell with that rheostat thing.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2003 2:44 pm 
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Hi Chris,

I don't already have a quiet system at all yet although I'm doing my best to make it that way. My case is a box standard full tower that I've had for years. I only recently started trying to make it quieter and all I've done so far is buy a Q-Tec 550W PSU and fit quieter fans in it (which are pretty loud!) and today I received a lovely shiney new Seagate Barracuda 80GB HDD. I can barely hear it but then over the noise of my PSU fans that's no surprise! :)

That's all I've done to make it quiet so far. The purpose of a new case for me is mainly to try and quieten down the remaining noise and seeing as I'm spending the money, it would be nice to improve on the looks too as mine is pretty boring. It's a shame full towers are so expensive as I'd like one for the looks but I don't really need that size.

On the looks side of things, I can't understand why the Lian Li cases are so popular. I'm sure they're good cases going by the amount of good coments I've read, but to me they look incredibly boring and lifeless. I suppose it's just up to one's personal taste. :)

You say that coming from a quiet system the Sonata maybe noisier, but how about from my current system in the way I've described it? Let's say for example that I use the PSU provided with the case and let it's speed control do the business on the PSU fan and also the rear exhaust fan. That means that the only different components from my old case to the Sonata would be a different PSU and the 120mm rear case fan (I currently don't have any extra fans as I haven't needed them before). How about if I then added another 120mm front case fan to that, would that affect the noise much? Would you estimate that the system would be quieter for me at that point, before I do anything else to it? If not, then I see no point in buying another case at all-Not as far as noise is concerned anyway.

You asked how thermally controlled fans would help. Well I guess my thoughts are that the fans can't be any noisier than they are now, so if the temperature control keeps them a little slower then it can only be a good thing. My motherboard slows down my CPU fan to about 3/4 speed I think (it's just the h/s & fan that came with my P4 2.4GHz) so it must be considered as running fairly cool. Right now the CPU is at 44 degree C and the mobo at 34 degrees C. I don't honestly know if that's considered to be high or low though. Obviously the mobo thinks the CPU temperature is low, otherwise it wouldn't slow the fan down. I don't know about the mobo temperature though-It sounds maybe a little high?

I'm mainly trying to get the noise down so I can leave the beast on all night while I sleep, so I can do long downloads. That won't stress the system much at all so I'm hoping the fans will run slowly enough to keep it quiet, but not so much that the temperature rises, therefore making them speed up again. I take your point about having manual fan speed adjustment though and I may well go down that route instead.

Thanks for the link for where to purchase the Sonata. I think I found 2 other places so far but they were both out of stock. I can't buy the thing right now anyway-I'm waiting to see if my car passes the MOT in a few days and if so, I'll have some savings spare to buy a case with. :wink:

Cheers,
Geoff.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 16, 2003 8:11 am 
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Geoff,

If you can't hear your Cuda over the fans when it's bolted into the drive bays, then I think it would be a good move to get the Sonata. I could hear my Cuda in the Sonata's drive bays, so unless I've got an unusually loud Cuda (possible), I think it'd be a wise purchase and would be considerably more quiet than your current system even in stock form. So yeah I'd go for it! :) You could try and sell whichever PSU you don't use to regain a little money.

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