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 Post subject: Arctic Cooling Silentium T2 review
PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2005 9:36 pm 
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Devon and I tackle a review of this innovative little case & integrated PSU from the masters of really good quiet cheap gear (meant as a high compliment!).

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Last edited by MikeC on Tue Feb 01, 2005 11:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:31 pm 
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Wow, I'm impressed. It looks like an excellent example of a brilliant design with some cut corners. Sturdy up the plastic, replace the PSU with a more passive design (a la Zalman's TNN-500 PSU perhaps) and maybe make it a bit bigger and you'd have a winner.

Bravo to Devon and Mike for another great review.

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:48 pm 
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I personally wish that the PSU could be changed to ANY PSU. Stronger base, and you got a winner.

PS> I want one of those AC fans! They look spiffy!!!!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:13 am 
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Arctic Cooling Arctic fan 3 at Newegg. Not even expensive at $3.99 each.

Seb

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 11:18 am 
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An interesting article on an interesting case. Many features really are well thought out, though others makes you wonder if the same engineers made the manufacturing specs for the whole case. I think the make or break point for this product is the mentioned factor of who will be using the system. Joe User, sure why not? Eager upgraders and most other techies, never.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 1:41 pm 
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Nice Article.

I wonder how a dedicated VGA card would impact airflow. The intended airflow also makes it impossible to use a VGA cooling solution that exhausts the air out the case e.g. Arctic cooling VGA silencer.

You really should upgrade the test environment to something more modern. An AMD 64 on the 939 platform would be a good choice I think.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:37 pm 
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Live wrote:
Nice Article.

I wonder how a dedicated VGA card would impact airflow. The intended airflow also makes it impossible to use a VGA cooling solution that exhausts the air out the case e.g. Arctic cooling VGA silencer.

You really should upgrade the test environment to something more modern. An AMD 64 on the 939 platform would be a good choice I think.

Not at all -- the VGA Silencers would work fine. The CAD drawing from AC actually shows one in place. Because the intake airflow is pretty much passive, the active exhaust of the VGA Silencer's fan would push the heat out easily. Whether that gets drawn back in, and whether it impacts tmeps if it does -- these are reasonable questions.... but that would have made the review another couple thousand words long. It was long enuf already. :lol:

Regarding the test CPU/board, the only thing we need to do with cases is check for thermals & noise. It's the only thing that really counts. The P4-2.8 actually generates MORE heat than most A64s in most conditions. I'd prefer to use a hotplate if I could -- would certainly simplify testing.

In fact, Intel sells a thermal simulation "motherboard" with fake CPU and VGA/PCI cards that lets you dial in the heat for each item. This is for testing HS, cases, systems... mostly for developers. I think their price is something like $2~3000. :lol:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 2:43 pm 
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SebRad wrote:
Arctic Cooling Arctic fan 3 at Newegg. Not even expensive at $3.99 each.

Seb


Does anyone have any experience with these fans? I've heard that they are very quiet, but do they only work as exhaust fans since you can only mount them facing one direction??

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:04 pm 
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Great review!

Can the PSU be easily replaced with another?

I'm thinking along the lines of changing the psu with a quiet atx psu and then reversing the fan and duct the hot air out of the 3.5in bays. This means it will suck the cool air from the bottom and throw the hot air out ithe drive bays.

Would this be a difficult mod to do?

Mike, what do you think?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:30 pm 
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Courtesy of Mr. Chin:

Quote:
Lousy. ;p

Their ceramic bearing is not great. Too buzzy. The open frame can be useful in reducing turbulence, but it also decreases directionality and pressure. It seems best when stuck INSIDE a HS fins -- like the Zalman 7000/7700.

m

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:54 pm 
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Well they're trying I guess.... :?

But tell me why they have the two upper exhaust fans right above the intake opening? A large amount of airflow bypasses everything, and goes into and out of the case without cooling anything.....just making more noise.

A non-removable right side panel ?

A left side panel that needs the base removed to open it up?

A hard drive de-coupling solution that restricts you to one drive?

A case not deep enough to hold many std mother-boards?

A propriatary PSU?

No attempts at any air filtration?

A fragile base that apparently breaks easily?

Don't get me wrong....I appreciate non-standard case/cooling solutions. But I have to wonder....


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:56 pm 
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PassiveMan --

If you are a modder, then every case is a challenge to your skills, another peak to be conquered. :wink:

You could do all kinds of things here. We didn't do any mods, because our basic philosophy is that reviews should tackle products as they are -- or modded only if the mod is a simple one that anyone can do. (The removal of the HDD cage in the SLK3000B, is an example of a simple "mod" that allows more a complex mod -- HDD suspension.) There are no such simple mod options here.

What you're suggesting can be done, I am sure, but if I were modding this case, the first thing I'd do is get at the PSu fan leads -- which means taking out the HDD Muffler and the PSU -- and then simply try padding down the voltage feed to them so make them run slower. Then listen at high loads and also check for high exhaust temsp from the front. If both are satisfactory, you've got a quiet case.

And acaurora quotes me out of context -- compared to a good Panaflo it is buzzier. However, against fans in general, the AC fan is a pretty quiet fan, It has a basic limitation: It can only be mounted on the "suck" side of a panel.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 3:58 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
And acaurora quotes me out of context -- compared to a good Panaflo it is buzzier. However, against fans in general, the AC fan is a pretty quiet fan, It has a basic limitation: It can only be mounted on the "suck" side of a panel.


uhh... OOPS? :lol:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 4:08 pm 
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Would it be simple to solve the problem of the PS fans by replacing them with some L1As (or similar fan)? I can't imagine that that mod would be too difficult to do. If this was done would this case meet SPCR standards?


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 Post subject: PSU not moddable
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 4:12 pm 
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Just to make it quite clear (if it's not in the review), the PSU is not changeable without at a good week's worth of work.

The PSU is physically a part of the case; it's a non-standard size with non-standard mounting. In addition, the exhaust fans are connected inside the PSU itself ... not sure if there's a fan header or if it's hardwired. Also, the AC cable is not located in the usual place, since this would mean plugging the PSU in from the bottom of the case. Additionally, the AC cable and the internal cables both come out of the same end of the PSU.

Access to the PSU requires removing the HDD muffler, which is not a simple task. The muffler is screwed directly to the PSU, so replacing it would require further modifications to the new PSU.

Assuming you can get this far, putting a new PSU in would require cutting out the bottom grille, modifying the base to give enough clearance for the power switch, drilling new mounting holes, and, in all probability, designing and producing a mounting bracket to allow the HDD muffler to be replaced. Something would need to be done about the location of the AC outlet, which most likely would mean modifying the actual electrical components of the PSU.

If you're planning on putting in a 120mm PSU, you're looking at dremelling out both the bezel and the front of the case. I challenge you to do this in a way that doesn't ruin the front appearance of the case.

Assuming you get this far, you will now need to decide how to route the cables (and there's nowhere to put long ones if you're using the CD/Floppy bays). Your airflow will be severely limited by the fact that your new PSU will be longer (taller) and by the cables that are now coming out of the "top" of the PSU. You also need to decide where to plug in the exhaust fans, since you now need two new fan headers on your motherboard. Depending on how it's wired inside the case, you may also need to buy and install the actual plugs.

Hopefully I've got my point across ... you're better off finding a way to undervolt the fans rather that trying to move the PSU. The PSU is not bad other than the noise it makes, and the fans are quite benign at lower voltages.

CactusInvasion: We did not mess with the voltage on the fans because this would require disassembling the PSU to unplug the fans, or splicing a resistor or fanmate directly on to the wire. If you try this, let us know how it works! This would be the first mod I would consider.

Devon


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 4:29 pm 
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Thank you for another excellent and very detailed review.

I think the case would be better if the motherboard was moved up to the top of the case, perhaps with the two exhausts vertically aligned. This would put the CPU more directly into the fans airflow and result in less wasted space in the case.

Moving the motherboard up would allow the PSU to be placed at the bottom-rear (similar to the P180); a PSU with only a bottom intake could then be used, drawing air through the base and letting it rise through the case. This would have the added benefit of allowing the user to choose almost any atx PSU – reversing the usual exhaust fan if necessary. The bottom-front area could then be better utilised for another HDD enclosure. If they were horizontally aligned, there would be enough space for one or two bottom-fed fans, drawing air from the base (where the PSU exhausts in the airflow diagram) and blowing onto the lower hard disk.

I believe these changes would give a cooler running and quieter PSU, as it would be pulling cold air up and not pushing warmer case air downwards. They would also allow for a choice of PSU to be used, the disadvantages being that unless the exhaust fan was reversed, the air intake around the PCI slots would pull in the warm PSU exhaust and either way, the PSU heat would be dumped into the case. This could be countered however by the addition of the bottom intake fan but this does mean one more fan to add more noise I suppose.

These changes would make the case a much more attractive investment. The increased ability to use a different PSU would be a benefit to most people, especially in the long term (what happens if this proprietary PSU breaks in 3 or 4 years time?).
There would also be the value addition of two suspended hard drive bays. Having only one would mean many people will immediately discard this case I should think.

I still think with the changes I’ve mentioned, the airflow path and quiet potential of the Antec P180 and Lian-Li V1000 are far greater.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 4:55 pm 
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Nice innovations in airflow, but why oh why won't they use panaflos or yate loons?!? I could forgive it if they'd let us change fans. All that work and they tripped at the finish line.

No filters? on a bottom intake system? And it's made for people that don't usually open their cases? I smell something burning....

And no way I'll be buying a case that breaks apart after the second hardware install...

Oh, and I'd like more than one HD thankyouverymuch.

So a case for extremely careful acoustic deviants with surgically clean floors?

More like an opportunity missed...

(If you put some more powerful fans in it and put it on wheels, it might make a nice hoover... :lol: )


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 7:34 pm 
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Great review guys, wow your testing methodology continues to improve with the MP3 files and now the 3D spectrum analysis graphs. I don't think anyone stumbling across this site for the first time could be in any doubt about the emphasis you place on the acoustic properties of the equipment you are reviewing. It's definitely unprecendented in the online and mainstream press.

As for the case - another great attempt at thinking outside the box to design a quiet case that actually pays attention to airflow - much like the Temjin TJ06 (although different in execution).

However it seems such a shame they've gone to the all the effort of providing an excellent hard drive suspension mounting system, which is effectively rendered totally pointless by the noisy PSU fans! :cry: It seems yet another case 8) of modular design that doesn't take into account the bigger picture (although it's better than most).

But it's a great first effort. I'm sure after a few iterations AC, Temjin and the likes of Antec will have some awesome quiet cases that take every noise source into account.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 7:35 pm 
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Bluefront wrote:
Well they're trying I guess.... :?

But tell me why they have the two upper exhaust fans right above the intake opening? A large amount of airflow bypasses everything, and goes into and out of the case without cooling anything.....just making more noise.

A non-removable right side panel ?

A left side panel that needs the base removed to open it up?.............


Aaaah, Bluefront, you're a hard man to please! :wink:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:20 pm 
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My friend has his T1 stay with me for upgrade and based on my observation to supplemt Mike's comments

Quote:
Loud PSU fans


My friend's T1 is very quiet. From my experience with Arctic Fan 3 they are very quiet as well. From Mike's review for SS4 Ultra TC, he also please with the quiet level, as both fans based on the ceramic bearing, so the word "faulty" come to my mind.

Quote:
Cheap plastic

Its depend, and I am O.K. with T1!

Quote:
No filters!

Yes ! But will filter reduce the inflow air? Anyway clean it bi-monthly!

Quote:
HDD installation a bit clumsy
Quote:
I like the quality of the HDD muffler.I also break "one leg" of the cap. But still O.K. with three legs!


Quote:
Poor base / chassis integration

It depend, someone will say the base is stylish! Furthur I also stick "four round pads" under the base, this provides a "soft" interface between the base and floor (wood).

Quote:
Short front panel cables

Yes, you cannot complete remove the front panel with the cables connect on socket! 10cm more is good!


Other observations:
Exhaust fans
Mike's from your photoes, your two exhaust fans is Arctic Fan 3, while my friend's one are Arctic Fan 3 TC. So my friend's case may even quiet!

Removal of PSU
Just remove two screws under bottom, and two under the front panel, then remove the two black rubber bands, and pull them out GENERALLY!

PSU fans
I don't suggest to replace them - very quiet! They are just the Arctic Fan 3 (80mm) from AC, so you can replace it by remove two screws on left and two on right. Then you can open the PSU, and then unplug the white socket (3 pins).The hard part is AC combine two fans wires to one. So I suggest you cut in middle of the cables instead from the socket!


:p :p

Kingcow

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 12:38 am 
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POSCRIPT to article expanded....

Quote:
It's normal for writers to go over their work after it has been published. Devon and I did just that, and we discussed the issue of how much the placement of the Silentium T2 on the somewhat resonant table top affected our perception of its noise. This required another setup and another round of listening along with a few more SPL measurements.

Placed on the floor, the overall noise IS reduced by about 3 dBA at full load. This brings the SPL down to about 29 dBA/1m at full load with the fanless Freezer 4 heatsink -- but it does not change the basic character of the sound, the broad humming in the mid-band that annoyed both of us. However, in normal use and at idle, the overall level dropped down to about 24~25 dBA/1m.

The reduced volume of noise in normal use persuaded us to soften our overall verdict of this case; web publishing gives us this privilege:

The Silentium T2 is a good case for someone seeking a simple base for a quiet computer. In this regard, it can be compared to the similarly priced but far more conventional Antec Sonata case, which has been wildy successful by offering a noise-reduced package that allows for quieter than typical systems. In fact, for airflow management, component cooling, HDD silencing and the quality of the PSU supplied, the Artic Cooling Silentium clearly beats the Sonata. That comparison helps put this product into better perspective: There are many PC users who would find the system we assembled in this case perfectly quiet. Given the modest price, the cooling and acoustic performance offered is quite good, and the range of innovations offered is impressive.

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 Post subject: I've just bought one - comments to follow shortly
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 1:25 pm 
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Fantastic in depth review and great reading. I especially like the mp3 sound clips.

I'm currently running an old Antec KS282 rig with no silent features whatsoever and a QTEC gold 450W PSU - its safe enough to say that this PC is really noisy - I don't have a sound meter, but I estimate well in excess of 35dBA - probably more like 40 dBA!!!!

I've been searching for a quiet case for months now - I was thinking about a Acousticase with a Seasonic quiet PSU - but that would set me back >£150 in total.

Now the rub of iti is that the Silentium T2 cost me £70 including VAT and next day delivery!
That is a fantastic bargain, and for me (personally) the unique features really set is apart.

I'll leave some more feedback once I've re-housed my components.

P.S. I'd be interested to hear if someone is sucessful in fitting an inline resistor or a fanmate!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 4:30 pm 
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Great review, the new 3d sound images are as much beautiful as meaningful.
But you can not complain all of the time that "everthing's quiet BUT the psu fans are not" then not trying anything to shut them up. The rest of the case is good, the psu is hard to change... looks like a mandatory mod to me, either changing the fans or downvolting them... they do not bite ! (with power off at least)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2005 4:45 pm 
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davide_casarin wrote:
Great review, the new 3d sound images are as much beautiful as meaningful.
But you can not complain all of the time that "everthing's quiet BUT the psu fans are not" then not trying anything to shut them up. The rest of the case is good, the psu is hard to change... looks like a mandatory mod to me, either changing the fans or downvolting them... they do not bite ! (with power off at least)

It's not a question of PSUs biting anyone, davide, :roll: ... one of the first articles posted at SPCR was the one I wrote about modding a noisy Enermax by opening it up and moving or replacing the thermistor. It's just that serious modding does not belong in any product review. It's been our position for 3 years. But that does not stop any one from trying.

We also didn't complain about anything, really, we simply described our perceptions as accurately as we could, and if that includes terms like "annoying", well, that's part and parcel of our report -- our subjective preception included that reaction. We did the job of showing you what the off-the-shelf product is, what it does, and how it performs, typically, in great detail. That's what a SPCR review should do.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 6:37 am 
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Thanks for a really good review of an interesting product. People (including myself) want to know what the product would be like with the modified psu fans because

1) the review showed clearly that this was the major sonic flaw with the system

2) the rest of the review showed that this case provides an interesting integrated solution (at a very good price) with a number of minor flaws and some promising innovations. If the case had been rubbish nobody would be interested.

Its a credit to the reviewers and the product that we want that little bit more - not a critiscism, they and Artic have done a good job.

Finally it is a good thing if product reviews can do a bit of follow up in response to forum input if this is possible.

All best

AndyP

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 9:00 am 
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I agree with MikeC that Reviews of commerical producst should not include modifications. The Manafacturer should give MikeC an average sample and MikeC should test it as-sold.

However it would be sesnsible for somebody who has tested one of these things(maybe MikeC?) to mod it and write a seperate article or forum post and then link it to the reivew:)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 10:46 am 
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I read a complaint somewhere saying there can be problems (or at least awkwardness) mounting S-ATA drives in the muffler, because the cable needs to make a 90 degree turn in the limited space between the muffler and the side panel. Thoughts?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 12:45 pm 
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Somebody at dirkvader.de had that problem with the SATA connector. He solved it by using a SATA cable with an angled connector.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2005 6:29 am 
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I've just realised that my CPU heatsink is rated at 30dBA, so it looks like I need to change the CPU heatsink to get the best from the T2 case.

I have a Athlon XP Throughbred 'B' 2600+

If 68W is the max power for this processor - could I fit a copper zalman flower without the fan? Would the excellent airflow properties the T2 case provide enough air movement?

If anyone has any other recommendations for fanless heatsinks I'd be grateful.

Thanks


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