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 Post subject: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 12:28 am 
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(I'm sorry that I haven't contributed anything before asking this advice.)

I'm intent on building a simple HTPC with basic server capabilities. I've read through some of the articles and reviews, and I've scanned the forum to some extent to come up with this configuration:

Configuration

    Motherboard: Intel DH67GDB3 H67 S-1155 M-ATX
    CPU: Intel Core i3 2105 3,1 GHz
    Memory: 1 x A-Data 4GB 1333Mhz DDR3 RAM (1.5 V)
    SSD: Intel 320 2.5" 80GB SSD (for the system)
    HDD: Western Digital WD20EARX Green 3.5" 2TB SATA (for storage)

Some comments about the configuration:

After reading the SPCR review of the i3 2100T and the i5 2400S, I decided to go with the i3 2105 CPU rather than some "low power" CPU (such as the i3 2120T) as their advantage in power consumption at idle seems to be negligible. I have also been considering an i5 CPU, but I reckon that the i3 should provide enough power for my purposes.

There are definitely faster SSD drives o the market, but I've decided to go with Intel, because it seems that their disks are the most reliable, and that is more important than speed to me.

I don't know to which extent RAM produces heat and noise, so I chose some random brand. Does it matter?

Purpose

I plan to use my machine for:

    Watching films, including HD material
    Listening to music via an external Hifi system
    Surfing the web and using other internet services
    Possibly as mail server for personal use

Because I want to be able to use my machine as a simple mail server, it would have to run 24/7, why energy efficiency is important. Since I live in a two room apartment, keeping the noise levels to a minimum is primary.

On a side note, I'll be using a stripped down version of Debian Linux, so the OS won't require much in the way of resources.


Advice

1. What do you think about my configuration. Is it too much? Not sufficient for my purposes? Better choices?

2. Could you please recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my configuration? I've read some of the SPCR articles and reviews on the subject, but it's still hard for me to decide what would be best for my config.

Thank you!


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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 6:41 am 
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1. I like it alot.

2. I would top it off with either a
Noctua NH-L12 dowdraft cpu cooler, with one or both of its stock PWM fans, or
Prolimatech Samuel 17 cpu cooler with an undervolted Nexus fan

3. In a small case such as:
LIAN LI V351 W 10.98; H 10.31; D 14.69;
APEVIA X-QPACK II W 11.25; H 9.00; D 14.50; low cost (but don't use the factory power supply)
SUGO SG02F W 10.6; H 8.30; D 15.50; low cost
ANTEC NSK1380 W 10.60; H 7.90; D 13.20;
ANTEC NSK 3480 W 7.87; H 13.78; D 13.98;
ANTEC NSK 3300 W 7.80; H 13.80; D 13.80;
ANTEC NSK 4400 W 7.80; H 16.50; D 16.60;
ANTEC NSK 4480 W 7.80; H 16.50; D 16.60;
LIAN LI A05 (looks like it has been replaced by the PC-A04) W 8.27; H 15.00; D 19.29; at $100 for a nice aluminum case not so bad for Lian Li quality
ANTEC ELITE 341 W 7.28; H 14.37; D 15.75;
LAN-GEAR.COM W 11.4" X H 8.6" X D 14.6

I would try them with the stock fans before switching any of them out. Either 500 or 800 rpm Scythe fans are good, or undervolted Nexus fans are good.

4. I personally don't like those green drives any more... to many start stop problems. If low power and low noise are important to you, consider 2.5 inch HDDs, they come in up to 1T sizes now adays.

5. RAM is no longer important... so long as it is compatible. Make sure whatever you get is on the mother board manufacturer's recommended list.

6. As for PSUs
(a) The Seasonic 650 X models, with the fan are good. They are silent until you get up to 20% load and the fan turn on... and even then they don't make any noise. That fan is a nice safety factor.
(b) Good no fan options are the Seasonic X-400 (a fanless version of the fanned Seasonics) and Kingwin STR-500 (about the most efficient on the market)
(c) You can probably get away with a fanless Pico PSU.
(d) If cost is an issue, I have been very pleased with the FSP 300-60GHS-R 300W I own. It can mount as either a ATX or SFX power supply. It's small size is a very important advantage with many of these small cases. It is quiet. Provides stable power. I paid $50 for mine. It is now on sale for $40:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817104075

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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 8:48 am 
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You could save some money by buying a dual-core Celeron or Pentium CPU. The CPU should definitely be powerful enough for your needs, but perhaps the Intel HD 2000 is not good enough for HD content?

RAM: just choose whatever is cheapest (and from a reliable brand). I prefer 1x4 GB over 2x2 GB because it's easier to sell when DDR4 arrives, so I'm glad you've chosen 1x4 GB.

You'll also want to suspend your HDD to quieten your system ever further. The WD Green doesn't vibrate much so perhaps soft-mounting the HD will be sufficient.

PSU: Seasonic X, Kingwin, some of the PSU's from Enermax are very quiet. Nexus also make quiet PSU's.

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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 9:04 am 
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With components of that kind of power consumption and no graphics card, you could consider a PicoPSU. You're looking at 100W max power so I would think a big ATX power supply will be wasted on this system and inefficient. Dropping the big PSU for a PicoPSU will also mean you can use a smaller case.

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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sat Jul 21, 2012 11:36 am 
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edh wrote:
Dropping the big PSU for a PicoPSU will also mean you can use a smaller case.
Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think that is so with a Micro-ATX board. Pretty much any case that takes a Micro-ATX board is going to have room for either a traditional ATX or SFX PSU.

I can think of only one expensive fancy finned "artisan" case that would constitute an exception (forgot the brand). There may be others, but not to my recollection anything at anywhere near a reasonable price.

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"Aristotle calls man the rational animal. All my life I have been seeking evidence to confirm this" Bertrand Russell
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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 5:56 am 
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Thanks for all your help!

@ces: The Noctua CPU fan seems a good choice, thanks! About the cases and the PSUs, see below.

@kuzzia: Money isn't really a big issue here, but if an older CPU is considerably more energy efficient and cooler, it might be worth it. I'll look into it. I had hoped that soft mounting the HDD would be enough since it will "sleep" most of the time anyway. Some minor noise while watching movies and listening to music is ok.

@edh Very good point! So good in fact that I'm now considering using a mini-ITX mobo instead (see below).

I looked through the cases that ces recommended. The Lian li-cases in particular seem to be of high quality. However, most of the cases are a bit on the big side, or rather, they provide a lot of space that I don't really need; I'm not likely to ever mount additional hard drives, a graphics card or even an optical unit. Many of the cases also include several fans; do I need that with my setup?

Additional questions:

(Ah, these questions might be a little silly or their answers a little obvious, but I want your opinion based on your knowledge of noise reduction, an issue that is rarely at the forefront of say articles that you find on the web.)

1) I didn't even consider it before but would a similar setup on a mini-ITX board in a smaller case with fewer fans and a PicoPSU be a good option, or would it become too hot/noisy?

2) What are some of the pros and cons with using mini-ITX over M-ATX in this context?

3) How many fans, in addition to the CPU-fan, would be ideal for my setup?


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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 6:58 am 
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mrFergo wrote:
1) I didn't even consider it before but would a similar setup on a mini-ITX board in a smaller case with fewer fans and a PicoPSU be a good option, or would it become too hot/noisy?

Not necessarily if you stick with a CPU that doesn't consume too much power.

Note that depending on your locale, this type of build can be a good bit cheaper if you select a case which includes a fanless power-supply. This is usually very cost effective compared to importing a pico and saves you the trouble of finding a suitable brick. The efficencies of these budled components might not be the best however. This can even make mITX cheaper than uATX for some types builds and locales.
Also note that there are some barebones including fanless power supplies (but, Atom and Ontario excepted, they expect you to use a CPU heatsink fan).

Also note that DH61AG could be an attractive motherboard if you intend to use a case which does not include a fanless power supply (the cases you can obtain might lack room for a 3.5'' HD). It takes DC from a brick.


a general comment: an expensive SSD might be overkill for this build... why would you need it for besides a faster boot time (don't shutdown: problem solved)?

kuzzia wrote:
You could save some money by buying a dual-core Celeron or Pentium CPU.

+1 (the G530 would be overpowered for you unless perhaps you're talking about uncommon "HD material" or "Internet services")


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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 7:14 am 
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mrFergo wrote:
I looked through the cases that ces recommended. The Lian li-cases in particular seem to be of high quality. However, most of the cases are a bit on the big side, or rather, they provide a lot of space that I don't really need; I'm not likely to ever mount additional hard drives, a graphics card or even an optical unit.
The Aprevia is a small Micro-ATX case.

But I think you should consider a mini-ITX. Take a look at the LIAN LI PC-Q11B Black Aluminum Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811112297
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811112296

Consider as a CPU cooler, the NH-L12 with the fans reversed to move air upwards towards the UPS. Also consider the 300-60GHS-R 300W PSU, it mounts as an ATX PSU but is actually smaller and will give you some extra headroom in there.

That should leave you with a very nice system. Also the Lian Li hard drive mounts are perfection... with just the right amount of resilience... not too much and not too little.

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"Aristotle calls man the rational animal. All my life I have been seeking evidence to confirm this" Bertrand Russell
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former" Albert Einstein


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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:27 am 
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ces wrote:
But I think you should consider a mini-ITX. Take a look at the LIAN LI PC-Q11B Black Aluminum Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811112297
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811112296


Given that my setup uses few components (1 hdd, 1 ssd) and that the system as a whole shouldn't require much power (< 150W?), I think I should be fine with rather small a case, right? The PC-Q11 looks great and all, but isn't it unnecessarily big? I don't need all those drive bays. What about the Sugo SG05 for example? It has just enough bays, a 120 mm fan and is much lower than the PC-Q11. Edit: Reading the SPCR review I realize that you can't control the fan speed on the SG05 though.. too bad :()

I woudn't mind an even smaller case, like the Antec ISK 310-150, but I worry that the relatively small 80 mm would be noisy compared to a larger fan. Are there any small cases like that but with a larger fan (and preferably with a fan-less power supply); I can't seem to find any.

HFat wrote:
Note that depending on your locale, this type of build can be a good bit cheaper if you select a case which includes a fanless power-supply. This is usually very cost effective compared to importing a pico and saves you the trouble of finding a suitable brick.


Yes, something like this sounds very interesting. Any suggestions?


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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:22 am 
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Location: UK
mrFergo wrote:
Edit: Reading the SPCR review I realize that you can't control the fan speed on the SG05 though.. too bad :()


If you replace the stock fan this is no longer a problem.

There is also now the Silverstone FT03-mini, very different from the FT03:
http://www.silverstonetek.com/product.p ... 33&area=en

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Last edited by edh on Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:08 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:21 am 
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mrFergo wrote:
1) I didn't even consider it before but would a similar setup on a mini-ITX board in a smaller case with fewer fans and a PicoPSU be a good option, or would it become too hot/noisy?
The size of the case is not relevant, what counts is the quantity of air coming in and out - which carries the heat with it.

Though admittedly this airflow is potentially easier for a case designer to accomplish using a larger case.

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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 6:54 am 
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mrFergo wrote:
ces wrote:
But I think you should consider a mini-ITX. Take a look at the LIAN LI PC-Q11B Black Aluminum Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811112297
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811112296


Given that my setup uses few components (1 hdd, 1 ssd) and that the system as a whole shouldn't require much power (< 150W?), I think I should be fine with rather small a case, right? The PC-Q11 looks great and all, but isn't it unnecessarily big? I don't need all those drive bays. What about the Sugo SG05 for example? It has just enough bays, a 120 mm fan and is much lower than the PC-Q11. [i]Edit: Reading the SPCR review I realize that you can't control the fan speed on the SG05 though.
1. The Q11 does not have a lot of HDD bays. I think you might be referring to the q08 which larger with 6 HDD bays:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811112265

2. The Sugo SG05 is nice but has no room for a CPU heatsink. The Lian Li Q07 is smaller than both the PC-Q11 and the Sugo SG05.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811112227

3. The Q07 will accept a 3.5 inch hard drive plus a loose 2.5 SSD (which I keep in a soft silicon sleeve protector) like this one:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6817998046
Though I don't think the protector is really necessary

4. If you use the Q07, you really need to equip it with the FSP PSU. For why, see:
FSP Group FSP300-60GHS-R 300W SFX12V 80 PLUS Certified Power Supply
viewtopic.php?p=562759#p562759

5. In my Q07, I have cut fan holes in the top and the bottom for ventilation, but I don't think that is necessary. I am using a Prolimatech Samuel 17 with an undervolted Nexus fan. It works well, but I think a Noctua NH-L12 with the fan direction reversed would work better.

6. If I were doing a Q07 or Q11 today I would remove the fan on the FSP, cut as large of a fan hole as I could into the PSU casing, and cover that hole with a fan grill. Then use a NH-L12 with the fan directions reversed.

I don't think I would then feel the need to cut holes into the case for ventilation. And if it were the Q11 I think it would be able to handle anything up to a slightly over clocked high end Intel quad core Ivy Bridge.

I don't think there is any configuration of the Sugo SG05 for which you could say that.

7. Take a second look at the configuration referred to here by Mikewu:
viewtopic.php?p=562759#p562759

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"Aristotle calls man the rational animal. All my life I have been seeking evidence to confirm this" Bertrand Russell
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former" Albert Einstein


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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:13 am 
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With the SG05 and many other Sugo designs you can use a heatsink height of up to 82mm. I have found the ideal fit is a Scythe Zipang. When the PSU is installed to pull air through the heatsink this works sufficiently but even when the PSU does not (and in my system with an X-400, there is no PSU fan), you can still successfully feed cool air from the front through the heatsink using parallel fin alignment and out the back. It may take a bit of ducting and some select blocking of exhausts but it can work very silently. My SG03 runs with just 2 120mm fans running positive pressure and with the Mini-ITX SG05, this could be managed with just a single fan.

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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 12:54 pm 
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Hello again!

I've done some further research, reviewed my approach and reached the quite possibly mad conclusion that a fanless build might be a good idea.

To those of you who have some experience with or knowledge of fanless setups, what do you think about this?

Streacom FC8 fanless chassi
PicoPSU 150 W
Intel Desktop Board DH67CF H67 S-1155 Mini-ITX
Intel Core i3 2105 3.1 GHz (intergrated HD3000 graphics)
1 x Corsair 4 GB DDR3 1333MHz
Intel 330 2.5" 120GB SSD
Western Digital WD20EARX Green 3.5" 2TB SATA


Yes, maybe an i3 cpu with HD3000 graphics is a bit over the top given intended usage, as some have pointed out. However, as long as the case is able to keep the i3 sufficiently cool, I think it's worth it; maybe I'll need the extra power down the line; I tend to keep my computers for a long time.

120GB for the SSD is obviously overkill, but I can get it as cheap as the less capacious versions, so why not. I'm not sure about the WD drive though, as it seems to have some (solvable) issues under Linux...


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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2012 11:58 pm 
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Regarding the cpu choice:

ces mentioned viewtopic.php?f=28&t=64800 (win8 and DX11)


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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:22 am 
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edh wrote:
You're looking at 100W max power so I would think a big ATX power supply will be wasted on this system and inefficient.

Why can't / don't they put the pico PSU and brick components inside a standard ATX PSU form factor?


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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 9:42 am 
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Olaf van der Spek wrote:
Why can't / don't they put the pico PSU and brick components inside a standard ATX PSU form factor?


No reason you couldn't try this yourself. I have seen a blanking plate with a pre-drilled hole for the DC input but I don't think anyone makes anything for putting the power brick inside.

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 Post subject: Re: Recommend a PSU/case/fan setup for my config
PostPosted: Sun Jul 29, 2012 11:08 am 
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Olaf van der Spek wrote:
Why can't / don't they put the pico PSU and brick components inside a standard ATX PSU form factor?


Probably because there's very little market for 80 to 150W power supplies today, except for miniITX systems where a full sized PSU couldn't fit anyway.

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