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 Post subject: Where do I go from here?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 4:13 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:55 am
Posts: 18
Location: Inverness, UK
Hi everyone, I'm sure I'll need to shove in lots of detail to this thread so I'll try and stay brief. Hello though, great forum you've got here :)

Here's my situation. I have an opteron 146 in an Asus A8N-32SLI, a 6800GS, a soundcard, a RAID 5 card, and 5(yes, I know) hard drives, powered by a Seasonic S12 500. This sits in a Cooler Master Stacker. Obviously when I got this all it wasn't with consideration to quietness, but I've become obsessed.

To quieten it down, I've installed a Scythe Infinity, and Zalman VF-900 on the CPU and GPU respectively. I've installed a fan controller(the Zalman 6 fan one), and replaced every case fan I have(4 120's and 3 80's) with Nexus and NMB-MAT's. At it's quietest, the system runs with all the case 120's at 5V, two of the 80's off, one at 5V, and the CPU fan at 65% in speedfan. The fans are placed with three 120's at the front(intake), one at middle rear(exhaust), two 80's at bottom rear(exhaust) and the last 80 on the top front(intake). The hard disks are composed of a single seagate 'cuda, couldn't say what specific flavour(120GB though) and 4 samsung T133's, 300GB ones. I've also recently added an Acoustipack Deluxe into the case with little effect. I think that's everything, so now my question.

Where do I go from here?

Do I give up on this case with it's perforated front, or modify it in some way? I'm not removing hard disks, but I would welcome ways to bring down their noise levels, since they're just screwed in. I'm not really sure what else I could do, but I thought this would be a good introductory/question post. I know I can't be the perfect silence nut, having such a hefty system - however if I can't use my system for what I want to it might as well be off, solving any silence problems in the course :p

Thanks for reading :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 5:13 am 
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Welcome to SPCR!

What is the loudest part? The HD's, or the fans? Does it work to only use one 120mm as the intake?

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http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 5:31 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:55 am
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Location: Inverness, UK
Hi there, thanks for the welcome :)

I'm pretty sure there no longer is a loudest single part. I've stopped all my fans seperately except for the PSU one(which I doubt is going to be causing much noise, given the type) and the noise level didn't decrease noticably for any single one.

It is I guess possible that the main source of noise is now my hard disks, given the number of them.

The noise is just a low to mid range hum basicly now. I'd be concerned about leaving my HD's without cooling, there's a single 120mm per 2 disks right now, with them evenly spaced up the front of my case. Hard disk temps are under 30C. I guess I should try removing the top most fan that's only cooling the system drive. Unfortunately for my ears, at some point the RAID will be expanding up to 8 disks, and I'm pretty sure that 8 disks with no space between each other would require at least low speed active cooling to stay reasonable.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:28 am 
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Location: UK
Quote:
hard disks, but I would welcome ways to bring down their noise levels, since they're just screwed in.


Well, the first priority is to get them soft-mounted, either with rubber grommets or suspension (see this thread), maybe something like this (Nexus DiskTwin) or at least putting pubber washers between the hard drives and the chassis.

Quote:
Do I give up on this case with it's perforated front


Well, if there is a direct sound path from the noise-making components to your ears, you could make some kind of baffle (could be as simple as a wooden board with some sound-absorbent material on the back) to put between the PC and you.

Quote:
The noise is just a low to mid range hum basicly now.


I strongly suspect this is hard drive vibration being transferred to the case.

Quote:
at some point the RAID will be expanding up to 8 disks


8 3.5" hard drives are very, very difficult to silence. Is there any way of having the majority of your storage remotely, like a NAS or something?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:42 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:55 am
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Location: Inverness, UK
Thanks for the reply.

I shall get some rubber grommets. I've read all the stickies and while disk suspension is clearly the best way to do things, I'm limited by space. Even in a large case like the stacker fitting the number of drives I have in isn't the simplest of tasks.

I use 4in3 units as seen here(http://www.coolermaster-europe.com/inde ... e%20Module) to hold my disks. In theory I could stick all of my disks in 5.25" bays, however that would remove all of my intakes basicly, and I don't think running a system as full as mine without intakes of any sort would be wise.

I've considered a NAS from time to time, but have avoided the concept for a few reasons. I'm unlucky when it comes to networking, and I hate the idea of periodicly being without the bulk of my files untill I can persuade windows to play ball. Also my RAID card required at least a PCI-E 4x port, and mobo's that have those or above tend not to be the cheapest, although I guess with PCI-E 16x becoming more and more common the price is dropping, it's still a fairly expensive option.

The baffle sounds like a very good idea, and I'll think on that. Sorry if I appear to be fault picking at everything. I know I have some rather difficult kit to silence, but it's important to me that I can quiten my PC and be able to retain its functionality. I do apreciate all help :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:46 am 
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Quote:
The baffle sounds like a very good idea, and I'll think on that. Sorry if I appear to be fault picking at everything. I know I have some rather difficult kit to silence, but it's important to me that I can quiten my PC and be able to retain its functionality. I do apreciate all help


That's OK, all silencing is a compromise and a tradeoff, I mean when we finally get solid state hard drives we won't even have to worry about this, but for now we are stuck with noisy rotating disk technology.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 7:59 am 
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Location: Inverness, UK
Would be I be making a smart move to sell the stacker and move everything into an Antec P180? I've read plenty of reviews talking about how quiet they can be. One would just fit all the things I need(with no bays to spare), but would it improve things at all?

I get the feeling that my drives are going to be the largest obstacle for me in this obsession :(


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 Post subject: Re: Where do I go from here?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 8:31 am 
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Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:38 am
Posts: 273
Location: Chicago
specofdust wrote:
To quieten it down, I've installed a Scythe Infinity, and Zalman VF-900 on the CPU and GPU respectively. I've installed a fan controller(the Zalman 6 fan one), and replaced every case fan I have(4 120's and 3 80's) with Nexus and NMB-MAT's. At it's quietest, the system runs with all the case 120's at 5V, two of the 80's off, one at 5V, and the CPU fan at 65% in speedfan. The fans are placed with three 120's at the front(intake), one at middle rear(exhaust), two 80's at bottom rear(exhaust) and the last 80 on the top front(intake).


7 case fans is a bit excessive. Generally having both intake and exahust fans doesn't improve cooling but adds noise. I usually stick to exhaust fans and add a single intake to ensure the video card gets fresh air. The negative pressure from exhaust fans pulls in air from vents to feed the rest of the system with fresh air.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:04 am 
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Joined: Mon Nov 22, 2004 2:18 am
Posts: 449
If I am correct the case is:
1) aluminium
2) has more hole area than actual 'covered' area :)

That plus 5 harddisks is bound to be a problem! Do you really need 5 drives! Assuming you do.. The best option would be a case that is heavier (steel) in which you can softly suspend the drives. 5 drives with those rubber grommets might still not be that good..

Of course given the gfx card, the Zalman can be set at absolute lowest speed. I'd say you'd be perfectly fine with one 800rpm intake, one for outtake and one on the Scythe. Perhaps a P180 (edit that is an Antec case in 'case' you didn't know :D)would work, It can take the 4 drives in the lower bay and you might be able to suspend the entire bay somehow..

Good luck !


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 9:14 am 
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Location: Inverness, UK
Yeah, all drives are staying. I may reconsider expanding and instead buy larger drives to replace the 4x300's when I expand, but certainly I'm not going to be going below 5 drives in the forseeable future.

The Stacker is actually 1mm steel, however it does have a fair ammount of area with just a mesh or grill over it, as you say. I'm thinking I'll try stopping the top and lower 120's, and the top most 80mm also. I guess that'll show me whether the fans are contributing much or whether the HDD's are much more the source of noise. I am a little concerned about having disks without airflow over them, but I can keep an eye on their temps I guess.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 10:29 am 
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Location: Linköping, Sweden
specofdust wrote:
Also my RAID card required at least a PCI-E 4x port, and mobo's that have those or above tend not to be the cheapest, although I guess with PCI-E 16x becoming more and more common the price is dropping, it's still a fairly expensive option.

Any mobo with integrated graphics would work, since you can stick it in the X16 slot


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 12:47 pm 
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Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2005 3:16 pm
Posts: 187
Location: Travelling worldwide
A few comments building on the previous posts.

You say you use the specific 4 in 3 modules for Staker.
I am using one myself and I am very pleased with it though in another enclosure (with a door I must say).
They already have a suspension (the inner cage is monted on rubber inside the outer one) : hence I doubt that you could get any further suspension would improve anything further.
Also I found the monted fan to be very quiet even at 12v.
I just modified the module a bit by removing the perforated plate just behind the fan to reduce airflow impedance.

Also the baffle sounds like a good idea in theory but I doubt its practicality given the drives with the module are very close to the front of the case and placing anything ahead of them will be very difficult. IMHO and experience you can always get the fan noise down to a point the disks are the one remaining (and yes then you get that kind of general hum).

Then there are few easy improvements.
P180 would probably be quite an imporvement but that's a step change, and doing away with a great case like the staker is a bit of a pity.

Maybe, it is not a possibility for you but what I have done in a similar situation might be worth considering. I just split and moved my data away from my main system.
I stuffed and oldie (XP 2000+) with a buch of disks and a few NICS into a decent case (a mid-tower Chieftec, quite similar to a Staker) .
Being very paranoiac about my data, I also put a bunch of fans (2 x 12 cm + 3 x 9.2cm + Zalman 7000 + Noisetaker PSU with 2 fans + PCI blower = 9) to cool a couple of Raid 1 arrays. It is not silent of course but still pretty quiet (thanks to a couple of fan mates and a Zalmann multi-connector).
I keep it down most of the time and only open it once in a while to backup and sync the data from my other PC.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Dec 03, 2006 1:02 pm 
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Joined: Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:55 am
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Location: Inverness, UK
I have been considering just building a tall freestanding(or maybe suspended from the metal racks above my PC) baffle. Just wood with proper professional soundproofing material sandwiched inside two thin bits of heavy(and hopefully not to expensive) wood. Sticking that maybe 2 inches in front of the system would I figure probably get rid of a lot of the noise since at night in bed(the time at which the noise annoys me most) it would be directly in between the PC and me.

I am thinking of possible ways of moving the HDD's to another system, but even ignoring cost doing it in a way that would allow me to have it on 24/7 and silent would be complicated, especially given the simple logic that two pc's = louder then one PC.

Continued thanks, and again, I am apreciating these suggestions,and am thinking about them all - so please don't think I'm only asking for advice in order to say no to suggestions.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 4:58 pm 
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I've been paying attention to sound making things the last few days, and I've come to realise something quite surprising(to me at least).

A fair chunk of the noise from my computer now that I have my system running fairly quietly is actually coming from my speakers. Theres a not insignificant humm from them. Does anyone know if this is solvable without buying new speakers, as for active's they're actually really good and it'd be nice to keep them if possible.

Another part of my noise is even more worrying, when I have my music player(foobar) maximised on my screen I hear a high pitched whining noise through my speakers. Alt+tabbing to Opera gets rid of the sound, in fact alt tabbing to most things gets rid of the sound, although theres the odd other program where it happens too. What is this that I'm hearing, and how do I solve it?

Thanks again everyone.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 04, 2006 5:47 pm 
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Joined: Wed Oct 11, 2006 10:38 am
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Location: Chicago
specofdust wrote:
A fair chunk of the noise from my computer now that I have my system running fairly quietly is actually coming from my speakers. Theres a not insignificant humm from them. Does anyone know if this is solvable without buying new speakers, as for active's they're actually really good and it'd be nice to keep them if possible.


Does the hum occur when you unplug the audio cables (remove from speaker side if possible) but leave it plugged into the wall? If so, it's bad speakers or "dirty" power.

Have you tried plugging headphones into the audio out jacks on your computer to see if there's a hum with those? If the headphones hum, you got a bad sound card or a lot of electrical interference. (My Dell laptop has a horrible hissing thanks to craptacular sound cards they use)

Have you tried moving the speakers to an area with little to no electronics nearby and plug them into a known good audio source? If that helps you might just need to reposition your speakers relative to the computer and monitor.

Listen really really carefully. If it sounds like voices are coming from the speakers too, then it could be interference from a radio station (I had this problem in the past - I just chose to ignore it).

Check for damage to the audio cables.

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