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 Post subject: HDPlex H3 V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 3:17 am 
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2018 8:22 am
Posts: 19
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Intro.

Hi,

My name is Andrei, I'm a pianist and overall technologies enthusiast. You can check what I do here: http://www.youtube.com/user/pianopictures

It was time for me to upgrade the PC so I decided to try to go fully passive/silent. For what I do (working with audio) I need a powerful and responsive PC but without any extremes. The trick about working with realtime audio is that you need a plenty of headroom, so you never hit the ceiling, that means a powerful PC while working at moderate loads all the time. Seems ideal for passive cases.

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Streacom vs. HDPlex.

First I was thinking about the Streacom case but after CA_Steve recommendation I decided to get the HDPlex H3 V2 as it allow more heat pipes to go to both sides of the case which seems to be more effective to me and overall looks more solid than the Streacoms. Another reason was that it was not that obvious how to buy the Streacom with the shipment to Russia, while in case of HDPlex you just pay what they ask on the website and you get a free worldwide delivery - could not be more happier about it. Streacom don't sell from their main website, just give you the links to the retailers. Another great touch about the HDPlex is that they offer you a reward of 20USD for posting "some photos" and giving a bit of feedback in any language on any forum or blog.

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Silent builds information resources.

Unfortunately while there are quite some websites around dedicated to silent builds I still was extremely nervous during the component selection process, as the overall area is still very much a niche, so there is not enough data around to be 100% sure in your choice. It was very much like a gamble where I was ready to get an unstable and unusable system in the end. (Spoiler alert: this is a "happy end" story). So here goes my first complain. I wish the HDPlex had more test data, more articles and more direct recommendations from the support. Larry (the owner?) was very kind answering my question by emails but at the same time I felt that he was avoiding giving the direct answers to my components choice questions, more like "it should be fine, most likely", which is not ideal to me. I would really wish they have more data, especially directed towards the "audio people" - and it is a very big, perfect market for them. There are very big forums like https://www.gearslutz.com/board/ and https://www.kvraudio.com/forum/ where some representative from the HDPlex should be active promoting their products and providing the test data, like what processor, what PC case should be able to handle a certain project file with a certain amount of VST's, plugins, tracks; what the heat, the temperatures it will be.

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The parts, the build.

So, the case arrived. The amount of parts was a bit frightening, but in the end there was no significant problems to assemble everything. I would never recommend this case to be the first ever build for anyone (you may want to ask for some help from someone experienced). For me it was my third major upgrade/build so everything went rather smooth, although I was extremely nervous being affraid to screw things up. Minor issue: the "tool" for applying the heat paste is not a whole molded piece (as I wish it should be), so the end-ball have a high chance to unscrew during the process.

So overall the case have an industrial look as you may see, which I like a lot. The parts, all the screws fit great, overall impression is top notch. It is a custom hi-end product. To be exact the quality of the aluminium cutting, the finish, is not as extremely fine as the ones on, say, MacBooks, but still perfectly fine. Maybe I should not actually mention it, not an issue really.

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PSU issues.

Next. The PSUs. This is the area that confuses me the most. I ordered the Nano 160 ATX and also the external power brick based on a Larry's recommendation from Ebay (would be much better if they'd sell them on their website). Regarding the Nano 160. First - it gets very hot, even under the minimum idle load. I can't say the exact temperature of it's radiator, all I can say that I'm able to hold my finger ontop of it for about 6 seconds, than it exceed my pain threshold level. Is it normal? I don't know, maybe it is, was not able to get a clear answer from Larry. Second, it covers the internal USB2 pins on my motherboard (ASRock z370 mITX). Next, there is no manual about nano 160, only the sections in the case manual about it. It comes with 2 tiny screws which I had no idea what are they for for about a month until just today, I was checking another HDPlex case manual, the H1, and only there they say you can mount the radiator down to the bottom plane of the H1 case, and use the extender (which go with the H1 case) to connect it to the power pins. But guess what, the bottom planes are the same for both H1 and H3. So I could theoretically mount it to the bottom plane, but there is no extender cable! (I'd hope it to be included with Nano 160 package). Another issue is that the side panel with USB ports, the audio connector and the power button are on the same side as the Nano 160 bottom mount. ...confusions, confusions. Right now temporary I'm just using the standard fanless Seasonic PSU, simply just putting the wires through the places in the H3 backplate. And again, their H5 case have an option, a connection bracket for the back of H5 case, so you could safely connect the standard external PSU to it - but not with the H3 case!

The last thing about the power issues (I hope). I tell you what, the Seasonic Fanless 400W Platinum is ... not silent! What I mean is the definitions. Say, the soap brick is really silent, then, the fine mechanical hand watch is very quiet, but it is NOT silent. So the fanless Seasonic is much more on the watch side than the soap (actually, it is louder than the watch). And the same goes for the external Dell power brick I'we got! They both make the same type of noises, like some uneven very quet scratchy sounds. Realistically, yes, I can't hear them from 1 meter distance in a very quiet room, but given the price payed and the overall "silent enthusiasm" situation I would really prefer them to be really quiet, almost silent. Like, say, my TV power brick, which is being put directly firmly to my ear I still barely able to hear something.

So I'm not yet landed with the power solutions, ordered their another HiFi 400 ATX device, will test it and return something back.

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PC parts I choose:

Processor - i5 8400. Again, thanks to CA_Steve. Very happy I did not go for "T" processors, it is another topic why I can't recommend getting them, especially for this particular case. They are fine, but they are basically just the same line of processors, but with significantly lower clocks, with the same price as the higher clocks ones. They should be just significantly less expensive. This T thing is just a marketing trick from Intel. Better to go for the lower clocks "normal" processors like 8400, 8100, 8300, or Pentiums/Celerons. Actually (if anything, please correct me about this) you can go for any 8 series processor, even the top ones, under the same load they consume the same amount of power, producing the same amount of heat as the lower ones. The key words are the "same load". So it goes for watching the videos, browsing, working with realtime audio, etc. As soon as you start rendering, archiving, gaming the processor will go full power (although not exactly) producing more heat. But even for such scenarios one can enable the power consumption limit in the BIOS to whatever you wish - so you'll have all the short-time responsiveness of the system while being protected about the overheating.

Motherboard - ASRock Z370M-ITX/AC. No complains about it, everything works great (except a pretty much standard issue with underpowered front-end USB3 connections). I guess I should go for their H370 motherboard as it is totally identical to Z370 one, but they was not awailable at the time and I did not want to wait. Another very interesting candidate I could go for is Asus Prime H310 Thin Mini-ITX motherboard - no internal power adapter needed, it has the built in connector, just the external power brick required.

RAM, SSD - some Corsairs 16 Gig and 2 Samsung SSDs, nothing special to write about.

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Power consumption, heat, benchmarks.

So, technically everything works absolutely perfect, I was able to get very powerful PC, stable, extremely low latency for my work with audio. By default there are a lot of things enabled for power saving in BIOS and Windows (10 is very much recommended as it use the most advanced latest Speed Shift/Speed Step technologies), and it is what 99.9% of users should use. At idle the whole system draws about 25-27 watts from the wall. On a processor level at idle it draws about 2 watts. With disabled C-states, disabled core parking, and minimum limit for the clocks @ 2000 MHz (settings I need for audio work) it draws 6-7 watts at idle and Internet browsing (processor only). Watching some video adds about 2-3 watts extra (10 watts overall).

I'm not a big synthetic tests expert, I've run something in Prime 85 and also there is a "stress" button in the CPU-Z software. To me they do about the same thing. All cores are loaded 100%. Internally the software shows 46.6 Watts for processor package in this case (Core Temp utility). So, from the wall it'll be, add 40 to 27 (idle from the wall) - so about 67W from the wall at full synthetic(!) load. In reality with what I do (working with audio) I stay at about 10-12 watts internally 98% of time, with occasional load up to 20 watts for some short period audio rendering, files unpacking, etc. The processor temps stays at about 37-40 C for now (max at 51 C), with usual comfortable spring temperatures outside. Although it'll be very hot soon in the summer where I live.

ADDED: sorry, as I said, I'm not a testing expert, so while writhing this I just checked with the Prime85, set it to small FFT this time (have no idea what it is) - so in this case 85 Watts on a processor level this time, which means slightly over 100 Watts from the wall.

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Overall transition impressions.

I saw people write how natural for them to finally being able to have a fully silent PC. Strangely enough, not exactly in my situation. All my life I dealt with sounds and hearing professionally, half of it I have a PC with a relatively quiet components running almost 24/7 for my work. The switch to fully silent messed with my own hearing perception quite a bit. I have a very quiet room and this sudden almost total silence was not what I was used to. Luckily enough I did not end up hearing "voices" in my head, but in a few days I developed some tinnitus-like issues (ringing), however strange it may sound, caused by silence. It was not a very pleasant experience, but after some time I was able to understand it better and it almost stopped being an issue. Again, this could be the whole other topic to speak about, so I just wanted to share my experience. Overall for me there is no way back to a "moving parts" PC, I very much enjoy havig what I got.

Ah, listening to the music, movies, working was surreal for me, and still is to some extend.

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Another few very minor issues, comments I have about the H3 case.

I don't really like the additional side mounted USB ports and the power button. Ideally for me personally would be a front mounted power button with a tiny LED light, maybe even right in the center. Another thing is that I very much dislike how it was done with H5 case - I don't like the big logo-square thing in the front of it. Regarding the side USB ports - they just add the dimensions to the case, I'd like all my wires to go to one direction - from the back. Especially considering that the H3 case have two PCI bracket-mounts for the additional USB extensions if needed.

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Ending.

So, overall, in the end I very much recommend everyone to go fully silent/fanless. I think this is the perfect time for the switch since the recent Intel's 8-series processors are very powerful and at the same time very power efficient. Especially I recommend the switch for the audio professionals. I hope to see more fanless PC cases for even more demanding scenarios like gaming in the nearest future. I'm very happy with this particular HDPlex H3 V2 case and can't think about anything better for myself for the foreseeable future, really recommend it a lot.

Regards,
Andrei

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_________________
Andrei Kuznetsov
http://www.youtube.com/user/pianopictures


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 Post subject: Re: HDPlex H3 V2 Review
PostPosted: Fri May 11, 2018 9:47 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Posts: 7158
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Thanks for the user review/build. Looks like it worked out with just a few bumps. You should consider using the upload attachment feature to host your pictures here rather than elsewhere (they'll load much faster and not be lost if your current host goes away).

Also, the news about Asus having a Thin mITX H310 board is pretty cool. ..and just hit the press in the last day or so. It's so new, Asus' motherboard selector tool doesn't have it listed. They haven't had a similar board since the h81.

_________________
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

Support SPCR through these links: Amazon and Newegg


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