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 Post subject: Quieting a 3GHz P4 clone system
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 9:22 am 
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Posts: 6
Bought a new computer not too long ago, built up from standard clone parts. Nothing special, and with no attention paid to the noise level. Now I'm looking to reduce the noise somewhat. I'm not as ambitious as some of the people posting on this site, and some noise doesn't bother me, but it does seem like it should be possible to make it less noisy than it is now.

The system has a Supermicro motherboard with an Intel P4 mounted in a generic sheetmetal case. Two 80mm case fans, one 70mm CPU fan (Intel, a rebadged Sanyo Denki) and the 80mm fan in the power supply. Hard disk is hard mounted to the metal rails. A good starting point for making something quieter.

Taking it apart, the only thing that's really making noise is the Intel CPU fan. The front case fan is already pretty quiet, as is the p/s fan. The rear case fan is currently wired to the motherboard's "overheat" connector, and is not spinning, so no noise from that one. But the Intel CPU fan is whirring away and can easily be heard in the next room. The CPU fan is vented out the left side of the case with a plastic duct, which probably serves to increase the cooling possible, but also makes it noisier.

I have been reading and searching this site and others for several days now, doing my homework as much as possible. I think I know what I want to do, but a couple of questions have come up I haven't found answers for so far.

First, I'm looking at using the Zalman 7000 AlCu heatsink and fan to replace the stock Intel unit. Got high ratings for cooling and noise level in the reviews, and seems to be a pretty nice design. It appears that it would fit, physically as well. I like the 7000 AlCu for being under the Intel spec for heatsink weight, as well, even though I only tend to move my machine to replace it.

Reading the reviews of the Zalman and the Thermalright XP-120 left me wondering one thing. The XP-120 review notes that the design allows the CPU fan to be mounted as a "blow" or a "suck". I didn't see, and cannot find, any similar information on the Zalman. It seems to me that I'd want the fan mounted for "suck" to move heat up and away from the CPU and motherboard, but the Zalman design precludes easy fan replacement or flipping over. Which way does Zalman's fan move air?

I read here that Intel are recommending direct venting the CPU fan to the outside of the case, and it appears that the clone case makers are taking this recommendation to heart. I haven't found much discussion of this recommendation on here. A few notes, but not much in depth. The Zalman heatsink looks like it is quite a bit larger than the current setup, so if it should be vented I'll have to make a duct and open up the case hole to fit. So, what's the current thinking on venting the CPU fan to the outside? Is it helpful, even if it raises the noise level somewhat? Or are people ignoring the Intel recommendation and depending on better heatsinks, case fans, and improved airflow through the case to keep the processor cool?

Second, I've read quite a bit about people using various "fan controllers" to adjust fan RPM for the best noise vs. cooling for their setups. I'll confess that I have almost no interest in constantly checking a temperature and RPM display and tweaking the knobs to adjust the fan RPM. I'm planning on putting the machine under my desk, and will not be looking at it much. So, that said, is something like the Kingwin TC-02S or the SilverStone Eudemon a bad choice? They're using PWM, so it will raise the noise level somewhat from what could be achieved with manual controls, but they offer automatic speed reduction from what I'm running now which should serve to reduce the noise level somewhat. A useful tradeoff? A waste of time and money?

My plan, right now, is to swap the stock heatsink/fan for the Zalman 7000 AlCu, hack the case to add a bigger exhaust duct to fit the Zalman, add the Kingwin TC-02S and let it control all three fans, and see if that reduces the noise level sufficiently. I think it will. If not, I'll have to dig deeper and work harder at it, but I'm going for the simple and most bang-for-the-buck approach first. It doesn't have to be "silent", just "less noisy" will do. Any major flaws in my plan here?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 10:13 am 
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Location: Utrecht, The Netherlands, Europe
The Zalman 7000 coolers have a fan that blows down on the heatsink. If you want to change it to suck you can't just flip over the fan because it has no frame. You have to do complicated work like in this article on the main site to use it in suck mode.

AFAIK the standard Intel coolers are blow type coolers too, so the duct in the side panel of your case is more likely an intake duct as an exhaust duct. The most common way to create an direct exhaust duct, is to use a tower type heatsink and a straight duct to the exhaust fan on the back of the case. But there are plenty of silent setups on this site that don't use ducting at all.

If you want control over the speed of your fans, but don't want to change them constantly, then have a look at the Zalman Fan Mate 2. This doesn't use PWM, so your choice in fans is wider. There is already one included with the Zalman 7000B-AlCu.

To summarize: Buy the Zalman 7000. Try it with the included fanmate at its lowest setting. And don't change anything to the case yet.

If that is not quiet enough, come back for more advice. :)
Welcome to SPCR

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 10:45 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2004 9:05 am
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Location: Turkey
The Zalman HSF is designed to blow down - not suck - air onto the heatsink. It works marvelously well in a low-flow case so you really don't need to mess around with CPU ducts, etc. Intel put that spec in because of its superhot Presscot CPU line. Most other CPUs and AMD Athlons don't really need the duct.

The Zalman 7000 with the included fanmate turned all the way down (gives around 5V) will cool your CPU sufficiently without any other modifications.

I personally don't use fan controllers. I like to set my fans at the slowest/quietest level and not mess with them anymore. Sometimes, this means feeding the fans a weird voltage - something other than 5V, 7V or 12V. At that point a fan controller comes in handy if you're not proficient with a soldering iron and/or inline resistors.

PWM controllers have a tendancy to produce a switching noise that is extremely bothering. This is not "slightly increased" noise, it's very noticable, periodic and very irritating. Some allow you tweak the PWM frequency - I don't know about the ones you mentioned. A Zalman fanmate might be a better & cheaper option for you.

A last word of warning: There is no such thing as "some noise doesn't bother me". As your noise level goes down and your ears recover the hearing ability they lost, you'll continually seek lower noise components in life. We call it the "vicious cycle" :)

So

WELCOME TO SPCR !!!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 7:34 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2004 8:22 am
Posts: 6
Thanks for the advice, burcakb and Tibors. I'll try the Zalman first by itself to see how it works out.

Tibors, you're right. I goofed on the CPU fan. The Intel fan is blowing down, too, so that makes more sense now.

Is the Fan Mate 2 significantly better than the Fan Mate 1? The 7000B (with FM2) seems to be out of stock right now, but the 7000A (with FM1) is in stock and $4 cheaper.

burcakb, I know what you mean about being a vicious circle, but I'm not going there. Yet. It's just the *&$%# Intel fan that's annoying me right now. I really actually don't mind some low level of noise. My old system ran three 80mm case fans, the P/S fan, and a CPU fan, plus a couple of non-quiet hard disks and that didn't bother me. There's just something about the particular sound of this Intel fan that's bothersome. Unplugging it, the rest of the system is "quiet enough" for me.

Thanks again. I'll post an update after I get the Zalman installed.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Nov 14, 2004 11:03 pm 
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Location: Turkey
I've yet to see any practical difference between the two fanmates. FM2 might be preferable because it has longer wires, the wires are just on one side and it has a hole to screw the thing securely somewhere in the case. Other than that, there's no application difference.

I used both an A and a B version 7000. there's supposed to be some tiny difference in weight too but you really can't tell. Both are equally good. Go ahead.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Nov 16, 2004 4:38 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 24, 2003 5:02 pm
Posts: 141
Location: Pleasanton, California
Fon't forget the Power Supply. I put a bunch of quiet fans and disks into my system and found that the real source of the noise was the power supply. Replacing it with the SeaSonics 400 did the trick!

jerry


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 9:00 pm 
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Joined: Sun Nov 14, 2004 8:22 am
Posts: 6
Whoo hoo! My order arrived today and I just finished installing the Zalman 7000 AlCu.

1) This thing is *almost* silent. Not quite, but very quiet. I turned the FanMate almost all the way down. I'll keep an eye on the CPU temps, but so far it's looking good.

2) Fit and finish is very nice on this. The included clips fit the Intel heat sink retention thing perfectly. The HS assembly drops right in to place. Two screws and a couple of wires later, and it's done. Very well designed and easy to install.

So, while my system may not live up to your "silent" ideals, it's now *much* quieter than it was. It's way below the usual ambient noise here in my room. I'm happy.

Thanks!


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