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 Post subject: Cooling and [quieting] Phenom X4 955 build
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 3:39 pm 
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Joined: Thu Aug 06, 2009 3:15 pm
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Location: UK
Hi Everyone

My first post here after I've done a bit of searching. I have the following build and would appreciate some advice on reducing noise and temps.

Antec P182 - standard tricool fans (very noisey)
Gigabyte MA790X-UD4P Motherboard
AMD Phenom II X4 955 CPU - standard AMD Cooler
4 x 2gb OCZ DDR2 800 ram
Pioneer PATA DVDRW
Samsung 500gb HD501LJ SATA drive
Seagate 250gb SATA 6L250S0 drive
ATI Radeon 4770 (Sapphire) stock cooling.
Corsair HX520 psu

I'm not overclocking nor intend to, just looking for peace and quiet and cool temps. Using speedfan the CPU temps are regularly over 50 degrees and the AMD CPU fan is pretty noisey over 3000 rpm (and it gets to over 5000 sometimes!). However it is "summer" here and the temps in the room I have the pc in is into the 20's C. The PC is also about 5 feet from the window. Even my wife is complaining about the noise of the thing!

I would like to change the case fans and the CPU cooler but I don't have the money to do it all at once. So I'll probably buy a new CPU cooler first, then follow up with new fans in a month or so. My logic for choosing the CPU cooler first is that it seems to be the biggest source of noise. I've removed the P182s inner doors and filters as suggested in another post to help the airflow .... and I'm going to switch off the tricool in the bottom of the case for now, just leaving the exhaust and top fan running with CPU and GPU fans.

For the CPU fan - I was originally thinking Thermalright HR-01 Plus, but it's hard to find in the UK and I gather there are mounting problems on an AMD board (from reading other posts here) - finding the accessory mounts isn't looking that easy either and I'm not sure which ones I need. I liked the idea of being potentially able to passively cool my 955. My other choices are (in order of expense - highest to lowest):

Noctua NH-U12P - which I think will fit
Thermalright Ultra 120 eXtreme AMD version
Xigmatek Dark Night S2183 PWM fan

I'd appreciate any wisdom on which one might be best for quietness, low temps and that can be fitted ok to my board.

For fans, I've been looking at 1200rpm Scythe Slipstreams (because they seem to be pretty cheap) but you have to buy something like a fanmate or Zalman RC100 separately as well as the rubber acoustic mounts - that are all included with something like a Noctua NFS12B FLX - so the price difference narrows. I'm also considering the Scythe S-Flex 120mm 1200 (SFF21E) - but the same comments about the accessories apply, in fact they would work out more expensive. I've read a few posts about people complaining about Slipstreams ticking too.

From reading the forums it seems that running the fans at 5v is best? Have I read this right - if so it seems to me that I should get the Noctua's to get all the bits I need to do this. If I've misunderstood - are there other options that I should look at. I don't seem to be able to find the Nexus fans in the UK.

I'd appreciate any suggestions ... before I spend my cash...

Many thanks indeed.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:38 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
You should definitely be able to remove the lower chamber fan if you only have 2 HDDs in that lower chamber.

You also might want to look at the Scythe Mugen 2 CPU cooler, but the Noctua NH-U12 should be good too, as apparently it also mounts the correct way on an AMD motherboard.

Have you opened your PC when it is on and checked which parts of your PC are the noisiest?

If you have set the Tri-Cool fans to low, then the CPU fan and the 4770's fan are probably the next worst offenders. Try manually stopping these fans by pressing gently on the centre of each fan - it won't damage the component if you only stop the fan for a few seconds and seeing which of these two is the loudest. Then try stopping both fans at once and seeing what other parts of your system are noisy.


Here's what I would try:

- buy the Mugen 2 or NH-U12 (whatever suits your fancy / price range) and install it
- tape up exhaust holes around the PSU
- if you haven't already got your HDDs in the lower chamber, move them there
- remove lower chamber fan
- experiment with using either ATI's Catalyst Control Centre or download RivaTuner to control your 4770's fan speed

You could also try disconnecting the top exhaust fan and block the top exhaust hole with some cardboard or just a book over the exhaust hole and see if your CPU gets too hot with only one exhaust fan - this shouldn't be the case though with a decent CPU cooler.

Additionally, you could try mounting the lower chamber fan in the front middle of your case and removing the middle HDD cage to help with a bit of airflow in to your system.

If your system still isn't quiet enough, you will probably need to swap the case fans for some quieter Nexus or Scythe fans (Slipstream, S-Flex or Gentle Typhoon). You will need to buy a couple of Fan Mates to go with each fan, but this gives you a lot more flexibility. Otherwise, see if SpeedFan (software) will allow you to control fans plugged in to your motherboard fan headers.

Finally, an aftermarket cooler for your graphics card is the last step. Modifying an Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 to fit would be the best option, or maybe an Accelero L2 Pro.

Hope some of this helps.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 2:20 am 
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Location: UK
Thanks JamieG - some good tips there which I'll look into. I've now done the Catalyst fan control - so that helps. I'll block up the case holes round the PSU and remove the tricool in the bottom of the unit. I've done the listening test holding the fans and the CPU one is the loudest followed by the top vent fan.

Do you know if a Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme would work as well? ... it's another interesting option - cost effective as well. They market and AM2+ version which sounds like it could be perfect.

Thanks again for your input - much appreciated.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2009 3:03 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
I don't know if the AMD kit on the Ultra 120 would allow it to mount the 'correct' way on an AMD motherboard - i.e. with the fan blowing toward the rear exhaust. Most tower style heatsinks on AMD boards can only be mounted with the fan facing up. This isn't too much bad on a P18x series case which has a top exhaust, but the fan in this position (as you said) can get quite noisy.

If your CPU isn't that hot, you should be able to remove the top exhaust fan and block the top exhaust hole to stop noise escaping reasonably easily. That's why it would be better to buy a heatsink that faces the 'correct' way so that you have this option.

Anyway, that's why I'm not 100% on the Ultra 120 being suitable for you, even if is a good deal. Also, from memory the NH-U12 and the Mugen 2 perform better than the Ultra 120 at low airflow (i.e. when using quiet fans). Both coolers come with quiet fans as part of the package, as the Mugen 2 has a quiet stock PWM fan and the Noctua includes fan adaptors to undervolt the fan that comes with the heatsink.

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My PCs:
Main PC (E5200, G31, Lian Li Q07) | Gaming PC (E6850, X38, 5870 Vapor-X, P182) | HTPC (4850e, 780G, 3450, NSK2480B)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 09, 2009 1:10 pm 
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Location: UK
JamieG - thanks again. I think you might be right about the positioning of the Thermalright - so I'm ruling them out.

I'll have a look at the Mugen 2 as well as the Noctua - as it might be a good alternative (I am leaning towards the Noctua to be honest).

I'm also looking at the Akasa Apache case fan as well as the Scythe S-Flex E and the Noctua NF-S12B FLX - which all look good. I know from other posts that the Scythe can run in a horizontal position (for my top port) but I'm not sure about the other two. I tried putting a book over the top port which definitely quietened things down a bit - but the CPU fan went up to about 4000rpm after about half an hour of web-browsing, so I took the book off!

Thanks again for your help - I think I'm getting there now on my choices.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2009 5:12 am 
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Thanks to JamieG's input and searching the forums I now have a plan. A Noctua NH-U12P and 2x Akasa Apache fans.

I do have another question though - as I don't have the money to do both the case fan swap and the new CPU cooler together - I can only afford to do one or the other. Obviously buying 2 new case fan's is the cheaper option - but which change should I prioritise first? Get the new case fans or the new CPU cooler? Which will make the biggest difference to the noise of my PC?

I'd appreciate any input.

I'm wondering about the case fans as their noise is closest to me (i.e. the CPU cooler is in the heart of the case) and with 2 better fans in the exhaust and top positions I may have better airflow anyway giving a cooler CPU (as well as a quieter overall case).

Thanks again.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 6:23 am 
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Location: UK
Hi, I would have thought the Antec fans on low wouldn't be that bad. I think I'm pretty sensitive to noise and I would describe the Tricools on low as OK. They're not very quiet but not obtrusive unless very quiet environment. You sure you've got them on low? Also try disconnect the CPU fan and power up PC briefly to gage noise level with CPU cooling under control. It's possible to run the tricools off 5v and then possibly switch to medium to get even quieter, all at no cost.
Definitely do the CPU cooler first, B grade Mugen 2 that comes with 120mm PWM fan for £32.
The Xilence Redwing is a reasonable budget fan. 120mm version for £5, 1200rpm by default but undervolts nicely. As long as motherboard can control the speed or run them at 5V, you can get pair for £12.50 on "super saver delivery." Scythes might be slightly better but everything else, including environment, needs to be pretty quiet to tell difference.
Good luck, Seb

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2009 7:09 am 
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Hi SebRad, Thanks for your reply, comments and suggestions. I appreciate what your saying about the Tri-Cools (they are on low) but I do find them a bit too loud. I think you're right about changing the CPU cooler first and am considering the Mugen 2 as well as the Noctua. The CPU cooler is definitely louder than the tri-cools and is a fairly constant noise in a quiet room.

How would I run the tri-cools at 5v without cost? I'm not sure I follow you there. Are you saying to do this via the motherboard? I'll have a look at the manual and see how I might be able to do this.

Thanks again.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 4:26 pm 
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Well I've finally done something about this .... this evening I installed a new Schthe Mugen 2 using Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste. I also took the opportunity to tidy up the wiring in my case. I'm still using the Antec Tric-cools as money is tight but I finally couldn't stand the noise of the standard CPU cooler anymore and ordered a Scythe.

It's only be running for about an hour but the temps have dropped significantly (around 10 degrees C) and noise floor has also dropped significantly. Right now the Scythe fan is running at 340 rpm and I never saw the stock one below 2000rpm. I'm really pleased with this improvement.

Now the noise I can hear is clearly the Tri-Cools (which are on low) .... I'll save up for new fans for the top and rear port now. I think I might be able to hear my oldest hard disk spinning too - but I'm probably imagining it.

Thanks again to JamieG for the suggestion of the Scythe - I went for it as it was more affordable than the Noctua - but still had excellent reviews.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 8:14 pm 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
toomuchnoise wrote:
Now the noise I can hear is clearly the Tri-Cools (which are on low) .... I'll save up for new fans for the top and rear port now. I think I might be able to hear my oldest hard disk spinning too - but I'm probably imagining it.

Thanks again to JamieG for the suggestion of the Scythe - I went for it as it was more affordable than the Noctua - but still had excellent reviews.

No worries. Glad to help.

If you are saving for fans, I'd go for a Nexus or Scythe Slipstream for the rear fan and a Scythe S-Flex E for the top exhaust and undervolt them both - that's what I've done in my P182.

In the interim if you want to try reducing the noise from the Tri-Cools a little more for free (although a little modding is required), try the 7V trick that SebRad mentioned to feed 5V or 7V to your Antec Tri-Cools via their molex connector instead of 12V. It would probably be necessary to set the speed switch to middle to get the fans to start, however. They will make even less noise this way but won't blow much air either. .

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Main PC (E5200, G31, Lian Li Q07) | Gaming PC (E6850, X38, 5870 Vapor-X, P182) | HTPC (4850e, 780G, 3450, NSK2480B)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 2:04 am 
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Hi Jamie

I am now saving for fans and spent my first couple of hours on my now quieter pc doing searches and reading about fans. I'm thinking of doing exactly what you suggest - a slipstream for the rear and an s-flex for the top - just don't have the £25 quid to spare yet..... what speeds do you recommend and should I get a couple of Zalman fanmates (or RC56's) to tweak the speeds?

Thanks again.

Of course after that I'll want a new bigger, quieter harddrive and I'll be thinking about quieting the graphics card :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 23, 2010 5:04 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
I'd go for a S-Flex E 1200rpm + zalman fanmate at 5V to 7V for the top exhaust, and either a Slipstream 1200rpm or 800rpm + another fanmate for the rear.

The SPCR review of the S-Flex D 800rpm noted that the fan ticked when it was undervolted, although other users have had good results so YMMV.

Unless you really feel like you need the extra airflow potential to keep your components cool enough at high load, I'd go the 800rpm Slipstream. Personally, I'm using a 1000rpm Nexus fan as a rear exhaust with good results, but I find the Slipstream 1200rpm I have mounted as a front intake in my P182 to be too noisy at much more than 5V, which is the lowest setting on a fanmate.

Oh, and the silencing process never seems to end! Welcome to the start of a long road ... :lol:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2010 4:30 am 
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Strangely, my temps have risen significantly again since I installed the Scythe. When I first installed it, it was running at high 30's with the fan at 3-400 rpm.

It's now running at 50 (at idle) again with the Scythe fan running at 1000rpm - fortunately it's a quiet fan as it's not too loud - I just don't understand why the temps are so much higher. Idle temp has risen by 10 degrees c in a week on the Scythe and fan speed from say 400 to 1000.

Is there something I might have done wrong? I used the artic silver cleaner to remove the old thermal paste and am using Arctic Silver 5.

Thanks for any advice.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Feb 14, 2010 4:05 pm 
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Another quick update - today I changed my top and rear tri-cools for an S-Flex 1200 rpm and S-Flex 800 rpm respectively. On the 1200 on top I also used a Zalman fan mate to take the voltage down to 5v. The 800 rpm in the rear vent is running at 12 volts. The machine is noticeably quieter and the PC is idling (web surfing etc) at about 35c which I'm very happy with. I can still hear noise though - but it's much quieter. Without opening up the case I have a feeling it's disk whirring noise. So I'll check out hard drive enclosures (for the future - not for right now). Thanks again for all the help.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:51 am 
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I swapped my 5 year old Maxtor boot drive for a new Samsung F3 1Gb and a lot more noise disappeared. Now the loudest noise in my PC is my Corsair power supply.... but it's still pretty quiet. Very happy with the improvements thanks to all for your contributions - much appreciated!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 12:49 pm 
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sounds like a scythe thing, when i first installed my katana 3, the idle temp was around 47~50c, the next morning it sits below 30c


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Mar 27, 2010 5:32 pm 
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my antec p180 has had its top fan hole closed up ever since day 1. It does not provide enough extra cooling to justify the amount of noise that escapes from it.

Im using the Yate Loon fans currently with good results, a single fan in the back at ~600 rpm. It is also able to suck air through the CPU Cooler.

Make sure you are also using the Cool n'Quiet for the CPU or perhaps try underclocking-undervolting it to reduce its heat output.

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