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 Post subject: The impact of motherboard layout on silent computing
PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 12:18 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2007 6:38 am
Posts: 45
Location: Belgium
Can anybody explain why motherboards are as they are (regarding their layout I mean) ?
The reason for this is that for a silent pc, the layout does not seem optimal.

The thing that got me going was my old Silverstone ft-02 case. Silverstone was on to something there.
Let’s take a look why that case is both cool & quiet:

Cool: the case has a perfect airflow straight from the fan onto the GPU & CPU. There are no HD-cages or other items to block/disrupt the air coming from the fans & going to the components.
Furthermore: heat from the GPU is not blown towards the CPU & vise versa. It’s almost like having 3 separate wind tunnels: one for the HD’s, one for the GPU & one for the CPU.
This is unlike most cases where you possibly have several intake & outtake paths that interfere with each other, making airflow less efficient.

Quiet: the intake fans are placed at the bottom, so when placing the case on the floor, the distance between case & ear is maximized. This also allows for completely closing of the front & side panels (no holes for sound to escape) and to add sound-damping materials without impacting air intake capabilities of the case.
The outtake fan on the top seems optional (in my setup, there barely was a temperature difference between my scythe outtake fan at 0 rpm & 1200 rpm) and I’d like to to some tests with sound damping the top cover in order to create a “tunnel”, allowing air only to escape at the back of the top cover.

The only downside on this concept (not the case itself !) was the fact that most aftermarket coolers for the GPU seemed to struggle with this layout due to the placing of the heat pipes
More info about that can be found here

So rather than to change the case layout: why not change the motherboard layout ?
Imagine a “traditional” mobo in front of you. PCI slots are at the bottom left, cpu in top left-center & ram is next to that. This means that an intake fan at the bottom could never blow air to the CPU without first passing by the GPU.

I see 2 possible options to make a mobo “ft-02” compliant (main constraint is that PCI-slots need to be placed on the left):
1. Leave PCI at the bottom left & move cpu to the top right, placing the ram in the top left-center.
2. Place CPU at the bottom right & move PCI to the top left

The advantage of setup 2 would be that it would be a lot easier to use a 1-fan or passive CPU heat sink due to the intake blowing right at it at very close distance. Disadvantage would be the longer GPU cards interfering with the optical drives at the top of the case; so some relocating there would be needed.
But then again: In setup 1, the CPU heatsink could interfere with the optical drives too (CPU heat sinks can be large), so either way: those optical drive locations need to change :)

General result in such a setup would be cooler components & better airflow, meaning that slower/less fans can be used, even for more gaming-oriented rigs, and thus giving us more silent pc’s.

I’d very much like to hear the opinions of the experts here on this matter :)


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 Post subject: Re: The impact of motherboard layout on silent computing
PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 4:29 am 
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Joined: Tue Jul 08, 2008 4:53 am
Posts: 1312
Location: CT
I'm no expert but I don't see why it couldn't be done... if it wasn't for the ATX standards ;)
see page 12 : http://www.formfactors.org/developer%5C ... atx2_2.pdf
(Expansion Slot connector locations is a requirement, not a recommendation, see page 11)

I really like the ft-02 layout, and the power of the design IMO is that it works with the existing standards while providing very good cooling.

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 Post subject: Re: The impact of motherboard layout on silent computing
PostPosted: Tue May 21, 2013 7:36 am 
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Joined: Sat May 11, 2013 8:33 am
Posts: 106
With things like the NUC we are moving closer to module computing, like legos for computer.

I suggest if you are going to change things, create an entirely new paradigm instead of trying to fit a few sub-optimal systems together.

Along those lines I would try to find a way to mount a GPU behind the motherboard where it will not interfere with CPU cooling and you could centrally mount the board to divide the case in to two "wind tunnels".

Throw in a new PSU form factor and with proper component selection, single (PSU mounted) fan cooling could work, drawing cool air over the CPU and GPU heatsinks, then up and out through the psu, all in a small package.


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