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 Post subject: Antec SLK2650-BQE Review and NewCastle Undervolting
PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:58 am 
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Preface:
For almost an entire year, I left my silent rig virtually untouched, hardware-wise. Someone suggested I get myself checked out for leaving something untouched for such a long length of time. Having assembled that machine from already dated components, however, it became inevitable that I would seek to make changes sooner rather than later, so in December, I made the move to upgrade my silent rig to something higher spec without increasing noise. Number one on my list of items to change was the system's enclosure.

The primary reason why I needed to ditch the old case so badly was simply a matter of form factor; microATX is too constraining, with most of the boards unable to even undervolt. Certainly I would have a very difficult time finding a microATX board that had the plethora of integrated hardware and BIOS options that I'd been seeking for my primary use machine for so long now--by making my 24/7 machine more capable, I will have less need to fall back onto my less quiet computers when I need heavier duty tasks to be completed. A full ATX form factor case would be just the solution!

While it's true that my silent rig had remained untouched for that length of time, the rest of my stuff was far from stagnant during the time since the silent rig was first completed. I decided to take all the knowledge I've learned since joining SPCR (which was around when I finished Sigma One) and apply as much of it as I can to assemble the new silent rig. Build a faster machine, capable of heavier duty use, without increasing noise over the old build. Looking into it more, I realized that my older build was already quite good, actually, so rather than start completely from scratch, I decided to take that configuration and simply take it to the next level.

After quite a bit of deliberation, I finally settled on the Antec SLK2650-BQE. It most closely resembled the In-Win enclosure that the older build was based upon, and it was cheap. SLK3000B wasn't as readily available at the time, and I like the smaller stature of the SLK2650-BQE. Since I would be sealing the front intake, it didn't matter to me that it's only 80mm in size. I decided to utilize undervolting to help me achieve higher performance for the same or less heat output as the older P4 build, which was limited to stock voltage, and an upgrade to passive XP-120 from the SP-94 would also prove to be a substantial improvement, in conjunction with the 120mm exhaust.


Antec SLK2650-BQE:
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According to Antec, the SLK2650-BQE is a, "Thermally Advantaged Chassis," (TAC) for use with Prescott P4, due to the, "Chassis Air Guide," (CAG) on the side panel. Also included with the case is a single fan 350W SmartPower that I immediately placed aside. The stock 120mm fan that is included with the case is the usual Antec specimen, rated for 1200rpm with ~39cfm output at a supposed 25dB(A), believe it or not.

Antec includes a thin, but vital selection of goodies with this case:
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WYSIWYG:
1. Ever-so handy installation guide
2. Fold-out instructions for connecting the USB headers, magnifying glass not included
3. A pair of thumb screws for tool-free handling of the (one) removeable side panel
4: Hardware for mounting of drives and motherboard
5: Power cable for the included PSU


Exterior:
Okay, on with the actual case! Let's peel away at the case in layers, beginning from the outside...
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From the Toyota Camry School of Design: unassuming and unoffensive for wide appeal.

The 2650-BQE's design is very similar to the 3700-BQE's. The only difference is that the 2650 has six rounded intake slots, while the 3700 has seven. Multiple LEDs are included for those with multiple drive controllers with activity indicator connections.

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Drive rails on just one side? Don't worry; it makes sense once we get inside...

Behind the door, things look a little different. While the 3700s both have a plain, flat interior bezel, the 2650-BQE's plastic bay covers are held in place with a single tab and can be removed directly from the front. A single notch for each bay provides access to the locking tab for the drives. It is is still necessary to open the side panel to remove the drive, thus preventing drive theft as long as the side panel is locked. On the lower portion of the front bezel beneath the door are two USB ports. There are no IEEE1394 or audio ports.

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Not-too-free-flowing intake, common with SLK3700-BQE.

The front intake leaves a lot to be desired, with no dust filter and narrow pathways. Also, little in the way of modification can be done to the plastic bezel due to its relatively shallow design.

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Prescott life-preserver?

Here, we can see another departure from the design of the 3700s: No side panel latches, and the introduction of an Intel-spec, "Chassis Air Guide." This side panel duct allows Antec to mark this product as an Intel-certified, "Thermally Advantaged Chassis," helping to bring cool outside air to the CPU. It is this specific component that marks the greatest departure from SLK3700-BQE/-AMB. The vent is fairly free flowing, but unfiltered; I happen to live in a fairly low-dust environment, but for those who don't, this can be quite bad.

The thumb screws for the side panel allow tool-free access to the interior, and a padlock hasp is provided for security. The side panel is awfully tight, however, taking a great deal of force to get it to slide back for release, and the small notch towards the rear doesn't help much. Presumably, it will become loose over time with many openings and closings.

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Hardware box, panel lock tab and relatively open exhaust grill are fairly thoughtful, if not very useful touches.

Antec's low impedance rear grill from the 3700-BQE is implemented on this model. One difference from the two 3700s is that the fan is mounted via screws with silicone washers for dampening of fan vibrations. The stock fan includes silicone washers attached to it, but changing to a quieter fan will lose you nothing; the washers are much too stiff to do any good in the first place.

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Flanged fan screws with silicone washers—too stiff to do much good, though.

Another change is that the I/O shield and expansion slots are flush with the back face of the case, with the ledge for securing expansion cards protruding out of the case. Normally, this type of design creates a slight security vulnerability by leaving the expansion card screws out in the open for easy access by screwdriver-wielding do-badders, but Antec's designers put quite a bit of thinking into this, as well. They came up with a black plastic tab-lock shroud-cum-hardware box that cannot be removed without access to the case interior, and even numbered the expansion slots in industry-standard order.

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So that's where my darn screws went!

Interior:
Next, let's unmask the face of SLK2650-BQE and see what we find...

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Vibration- free, tool-free rail retention, good. Breakaway bay shields that leave sharp points, bad.

Getting the front bezel of SLK2650-BQE off isn't that difficult, considering only one side panel comes off. Antec implemented an all-tabs, tool-free system for the bezel. That the side panel (which can be secured with padlock) must be removed first is a welcome degree of security. The spare drive rails latch onto the metal bay shields securely enough that the rails do not rattle from vibration. However, the twist-n-break metal shields each leave two sharp points in an otherwise safe case from getting cuts and scrapes. The grill on the 80mm intake is not as free flowing as it could be, particularly considering the more open exhaust grill. Another offset grilled opening above the intake seems almost an afterthought.

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Antec's take on the Intel-spec, "Chassis Air Guide," flares out for better coverage of coolers with up to 92mm fans.

On the inside of the side panel is the item of focus, an intake duct to the CPU area. While the 3700s rely solely on the front intake to bring cool air into the system for all components, this design allows for much cooler air, unwarmed by other system components, to be used for cooling what is normally the hottest part of a modern PC, the CPU.

The duct is actually a two-piece system, comprised of a flanged bucket that screws in behind a stamped grille on the side panel, and a flared conical piece that is free to extend as much as ~1.25" into the system to deal with coolers of varying height; however, I would've preferred the duct to reach a tad farther in. The way the duct flares out works well for non-stock coolers implementing >60mm fans, and for dealing with varying positions of the CPU on different mainboards, but a flaw in Antec's design leaves a total of 16 side panel holes improperly lined up to the duct's flange, possibly reducing airflow and increasing turbulence. The duct is also extendable as much as ~1.25" to deal with coolers of varying height The other minor flaw is that the adjustable, flared portion is too loose on the flanged bracket, with a potential for the entire adjustable piece to fall off in transit if extended to the limit, but this is easily dealt with using some duct tape. Testing will focus on the effectiveness of this component.

Finally, let's look inside and see what else we can find...
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Tool-free drive latches are secure and leave no slack at all, eliminating, "rail rattle!"
Large plastic rounded sleeve safeguards against sharp trailing edge of the 5.25" bay, another thoughtful touch.
This also acts as the bumpstop for the drive latch rails.


One innovation on the SLK2650-BQE is the system for mounting half-height components. The tool-free rail system is comprised of a plastic rail that latches very securely to one side of the drive with a metal clip, and a plastic sliding rail on the other side. Once the component and rail are slid fully into position, the cage-mounted rail is slid back until it locks in place by squeezing against the component; the rounded black sleeve acts as a bump-stop for full engagement.. It secures the device from theft when the side panel is locked, and eliminates annoying, "rail rattle". The only flaw is that the system is almost completely incompatible with components that do not have screw holes in the standard locations, primarily 5.25" bay fan controllers. Antec would've done better to implement this system on two or three bays, while leaving at least one bay with standard screw holes.

The removable 3.5" drive bay is also quite different from the removable bays in 3700-BQE and 3700-AMB. The 2650-BQE has a single removable cage with two secure slots for screwing in external 3.5" components, and two rubber grommeted internal bays underneath that. If Antec had aligned the 80mm intake fully with this removable cage, this arrangement would be optimal. The design is highly suitable for suspension of drives bay taking advantage of either the rubber o-rings, or the openings for them, and the wide open space underneath the cage. It's too bad that intake is a relatively restrictive, off-kilter 80mm fan cage.

The plastic cage itself is typical: restrictive of airflow, unfiltered against dust and likely to be prone to rattling, as is with all tool-free fan cage mounts. A flaw in this particular enclosure's design has the fan cage misaligned with the drive cage by over an inch, too. Luckily, it IS removable and no modification is needed for full elastic cord suspension of hard drives drives. It is better, at least in this regard, than the 3700-BQE/-AMB.

Image
Tight, but still clear enough to work in, case lacks removable mainboard tray;
the fact that the mainboard must come out for PSU installation/swapping exacerbates the issue.


The fact that the front fascia has one less intake slot than SLK3700-BQE is evidence of this case being less tall and tighter to work in. In order to fit the 120mm exhaust, Antec had to push the power supply up past the side panel latching lip. The end results is that to install or remove the power supply, the motherboard must not be installed. A removable power supply mounting plate (of the kind used in the Silverstone TJ06, for example), would allow for access to the PSU from the outside of the case. The shorter design also means there's not enough space for a 120mm intake fan without sacrificing a drive bay, which I felt would have been wiser.

An Antec SL350S power supply unit is included with 2650-BQE. Sold only with Antec enclosures, the SLxxxS models are SmartPower units modified by the removal of the bottom intake fan for lower noise. Efficiency of this somewhat aging design is only about average, as past tests have shown to be around 65-68% at average power draw levels (100-150watts) reaching up to around ~74% in the units', "sweet spot" at about 2/3 of maximum power. Because of the lower efficiency, this PSU gets warmer than the newer, more efficient units, which now run at or close to 80% even at modest power levels. The PSU fan speed regulator tends to ramp more than we PC silencers like to hear.

My own listening tests revealed that the 80mm fan in this sample is smoother than the than the 80mm Super Red unit in a Seasonic Super Silencer, which has a more ragged sound to it, but has to spin faster (and thus, louder) to deal with the lower efficiency. The 120mm Yate Loon fan in the Super Tornado, however, is smoother and quieter than the 80mm fans in either the SL350S or the Super Silencer. For the purposes of the acoustic and thermal testing on this enclosure, I opted for the popular Seasonic Super Tornado unit, a common unit for members to swap out the stock unit for. It is not likely that the average PC silence seeker would settle for the acoustic performance of the stock SL350S.

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Grommets and screws: they might have worked—were they not stiff as stone.

The included 120mm exhaust fan is no different than those provided with Sonata or SLK3700-BQE cases. It is a model that is quieter than the majority of fans included with competing enclosures, but still no match for SPCR's gold standard, the orange, Nexus-labeled Yate Loon 120. The difference is in the way it is mounted: unlike the annoying fan cages on 3700-AMB or the nice, soft grommets of Sonata or 3700-BQE, 2650-BQE's fan comes screwed to the case using o-ring isolated screws and additional o-rings attached to the fan with glue. Antec chose such a stiff rubber/plastic material that it makes no difference compared to screwing the fan directly to the case. It seems to be midway between the two 3700s; it won't rattle and doesn't take drilling to properly grommet-mount the fan, but it doesn't come isolated to satisfaction, either.

Testing:
I felt it wise to go ahead and test this case out in a more conventional configuration before assembling my final system in it, both to be sure things will work out as I expect, and to bang out a quick review in the process. The primary focus of this testing was the effectiveness of the CAG (Chassis Air Guide) in keeping a fanless XP-120 cooled NewCastle K8 running safely.

Key Components in SLK2650-BQE & Fanless XP-120 Test Bed:
AMD Athlon 64 3000+ NewCastle core—AMD-specified MDP 89.5Watts
Antec SLK2650-BQE midtower ATX enclosure—stock fan swapped for Nexus silent 120, controlled via software
DFI LANParty UT nF3 250Gb mainboard—nVIDIA nForce3 250Gb chipset, on-die CPU thermal diode monitoring
Thermalright XP-120 CPU HS—fanless, relying on side vent and back exhaust fan for sufficient air flow
eVGA GeForce2 MX400 PCI graphics adapter—passively cooled
Generic DDR SDRAM—one stick, 256MB
Maxtor DiamondMax 9, 6Y060L0—7200rpm, 3.5", 60GB PATA HDD with one platter and two heads
SeaSonic Super Tornado 400—Revision A3, unmodified from stock
Arctic Silver V thermal compound

Test Tools:
CPUBurn load-induction software—To test at maximum thermals
Prime95 load induction and stability testing software—In-Place Large FFTs Torture Test was utilized
ITE Smartguardian system monitoring and fan control software supplied with motherboard
Motherboard Monitor 5.3.7.0 system monitoring software
Seasonic Power Angel AC level power monitoring tool

Procedures:
The heatsink was cleaned and the thermal interface material was allowed to properly set by cycling between completely off and full load several times over 24 hours. All stress tests were run a minimum of 25 minutes to allow stabilization of temperatures, with 20 minute cool down periods between test runs.

AC power consumption was measured, and temperatures of the HDD, CPU, MOSFETs and chipset were recorded. The exhaust fan was connected to the motherboard CPU fan header, which was regulated during all tests by the ITE Smartguardian software. The fan was set to spin down at 40°C and lower. Spin up was set for 55°C, and maximum spin rate was to occur at 70°C.

The system was tested in three different states of operation: Idle, Prime95 with In-Place Large FFTs, and finally, CPUBurn for maximum CPU stress.

The PSU fan speed was also monitored with the RPM lead connected to a motherboard header. It never left the range of 620-630rpm during all testing, so it has not been indicated in the charts. It is the only fan operating in the system during a much of the testing.

The CPU voltages utilized were the lowest stable voltage for the tested clockrate. Undervoltability will vary from sample to sample. The test results show the possible yields when undervolting a Newcastle-core K8 chip, as well as how underclocking and undervolting affect the overall power consumption of the system as a whole. Let's see how much heat, in conjunction with a relatively powerful cooler, Antec's little TAC can handle, and how well the case performs, from an acoustic standpoint...

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* This test is a combination of overclocking from the chip's stock speed
of 2000MHz and undervolting from the stock setting of 1.55V.


Several things are notable in the results gathered:

-When idling, the CPU's power draw has a virtually negligible effect on the overall AC consumption. It is not until 1800MHz and 1.125V that the CPU power draw adds noticeably to idle power draw.

-The hard drive temperatures are still within acceptable levels (Maxtor states 55°C max), even without direct airflow, or conduction to the chassis as it is mounted via the stock rubber o-rings. It appears that there is sufficient air coming in from the front of the case to cool the drive, just from the negative pressure produced by the PSU fan, which remained at ~625rpm during all tests.

-All temperatures are within perfectly safe levels.

-The acoustic performance of the system during all the IDLE tests was, with the exception of hard drive whine, best described as inaudible, or, "virtually silent." Considering no modifications were done to reduce drive acoustics, these results are quite good.

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* This test is a combination of overclocking from the chip's stock speed
of 2000MHz and undervolting from the stock setting of 1.55V.


At first, the results at the 1800MHz and higher speeds seem peculiar, until we see that the Nexus 120mm case exhaust has finally kicked in as a result of the CPU hitting 55°C...

-Subjectively, the Nexus 120mm does not add noticeable noise to the system from a range of one meter when spinning at a leisurely ~600rpm, even with the relatively low ambient noise level during late night testing; the stock mounted hard drive remained the primary noise source.

-Hard drive temperatures also drop a fairly decent ~5°C across the board once the fan spins up, and this can further improve by taping shut any openings that do not directly flow into critical components, thus allowing negative air pressure to further increase flow across components in the remaining air streams.

-AC power draw finally breaks into the triple-digit territory for this system at the 2200MHz mark; so much performance for so little heat and power!

-Thanks to the 120mm exhaust fan, spinning at a very nearly inaudible ~600rpm, temperatures easily remained with acceptable bounds.

Image
* This test is a combination of overclocking from the chip's stock speed
of 2000MHz and undervolting from the stock setting of 1.55V.


Several differences are noticeable between Prime95 and CPUBurn results...

-Temperature is up across the board except for the hard drive, confirming that CPUBurn as the best choice for CPU loading and heat production.

-The fan actually exceeds 700rpm during the overclocked testing, reducing the hard drive temperature further; the fan was only barely noticeable at 730rpm, but still more than acceptable for all but those seeking absolute, dead silence. The HDD is still the loudest part of the system, by far.

-The increased AC power draw is also indicative of how much additional, "juice," it takes to drive CPUBurn as compared to Prime95. Several SPCR forum members have mentioned that Small FFTs place a heavier load on the CPU than Large FFTs, but Large FFTs loads the RAM, which, neither Prime95 Small FFTs, nor CPUBurn manage to do. In testing for undervolting stability, it is useful to also load the memory, because the K8 memory controller is on-die, and possibly affected by undervolting or overclocking. Even at such a heavy thermal load (CPUBurn is a much heavier load than any normal usage would ever apply), the SLK2650-BQE's design allows for perfectly acceptable temperatures when utilized in conjunction with an undervolted K8.

In addition to those acoustic properties previously mentioned, I just want to add a couple things:

-One minor acoustic flaw was that the the stock-mounted hard drive conduct enough vibration into the case to make the 5.25" drive bays covers rattle slightly. Some foam or cotton to damp the bay covers from behind, or better yet, suspending the hard drive, completely eliminates this acoustic annoyance.

-The side duct/vent did not leak much noise; this is the advantage of using components that make little noise to begin with. In fact, careful listening tests from various angles revealed that more of the HDD whine leaked out through the front of the case than from the side duct.

Conclusions:
While the SLK2650-BQE does not seem much different from Antec's better known models, a closer look reveals many details that are unique to this model, with one particular design element proving to be quite critical, the, "Chassis Air Guide."

Considering the HS on the CPU didn't have a fan mounted during testing, and very few modifications were made to improve airflow, an undervolted K7, K8 or Pentium-M system would be perfectly suitable for this enclosure. This is despite the front vents looking a bit too small, almost as if to take better advantage of the side intake. However, the lack of dust filters for any of the vent openings will bother some users.

A Nexus 120mm fan mounted directly to the XP-120 cooler, especially if well-aligned with the side duct (dependent on the choice of mainboard), will be capable of dealing with the heat produced by almost any CPU on the market at stock clockrate, including Prescott-core P4s. However, the only issue might be a hotter graphics subsystem. Without a fan attached to the CPU cooler, the heat from a warmer graphics card should also prove to be less of a nuisance, because it can be evacuated without being distributed around the system.

For those who don't mind making minor modifications to achieve that last bit of silence, the Antec SLK2650-BQE is a fairly decent choice. Tape up all openings except for the front and side intake ducts, and suspend a quiet 2.5" or cooler running 3.5" drive; then, with a Seasonic PSU or other similarly quiet PSU and the Thermalright XP-120 HS used here, it is quite easy to achieve a system that is virtually silent.

More extensive modifications that may be necessary for the SLK3700-BQE / AMB, such as drilling out fan mount holes or cutting/drilling out drive cages, aren't necessary on this enclosure. Masking tape and bungee cord are much simpler compared to drills, rotary tools and tin snips.

In my opinion, the Antec SLK2650-BQE is a decent case for a low noise system designed to take advantage of the, "Thermally Advantaged Chassis," design. It is likely that the SLK3000B will prove a better choice for many people, if not at the least because it doesn't force you to pay for a power supply you probably won't use, but unlike the 3000B, 2650-BQE doesn't require permanent modification to achieve the same level of acoustic performance.

-Ed

Postscript: I plan to post a thread in the gallery in the future with the actual final build, not this test platform. Much of it has already been done, and can be previewed by seeing this thread, however.

EDIT: Change to thread title.

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Last edited by Edward Ng on Mon Feb 21, 2005 7:51 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 7:46 am 
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Wow, a nice review, Ed (though I suppose that's to be expected from an official SPCR reviewer).

One question that I have. How exactly did you go about measuring the Mosfet temperatures and how meaningful do you think that information is?

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 7:50 am 
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Thanks!

PWM temps were reported by ITE SmartGuardian; I cannot judge just how accurate they are, given the fact that I do not know the precise location of the sensor taking these readings. It could be directly underneath a MOSFET (hottest spot) or it could be a good centimeter or two away from a MOSFET, which would likely read as much as 30C shy of the truth. :?

I merely included it sort of as an FYI piece.

-Ed

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 9:26 am 
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Nicely done ed.

did heat from the xp-120 and fanless vga cause the psu to ramp up when the exhaust fan was not on?


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 9:39 am 
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DryFire wrote:
Nicely done ed.

did heat from the xp-120 and fanless vga cause the psu to ramp up when the exhaust fan was not on?


Nope; as I said, the PSU ran at a stable ~625rpm during all tests, so it never ramped.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 21, 2005 6:21 pm 
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Nice job Ed, Thanks.

This tempts me into trying something similar when I finish A64 3500+ Digi Darkroom system. Somehow my passive Pentium II email & forum browser isn't fast enough anymore, since I put the A64 system online :)

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 22, 2005 4:44 am 
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Nice review. Looks like just the kind of system I intend to build during the summer.

It's good to see that the A64 can passively cooled at decent clock speeds.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2005 12:49 am 
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Great job Ed. Can the same setup run on the 3000-B case? If so, how much would you think temps would change? Since the 3000-B is about 2" taller, the exhaust fan, power supply, XP-120, and graphics card (or the VM-101 you used in your other rig) would no longer be bunched up that closely anymore.

I would like to build a similar system and upgrade my 2600+ Sonata . But the Antec 2650 is not too pleasing with only one panel coming off (harder to hide wires for better airflow) and its front intake with only 6 air slots and 80mm fan (harder to cool my 2 samsungs), and no dust filter.


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PostPosted: Sat Feb 26, 2005 5:51 am 
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len509 wrote:
Great job Ed. Can the same setup run on the 3000-B case? If so, how much would you think temps would change? Since the 3000-B is about 2" taller, the exhaust fan, power supply, XP-120, and graphics card (or the VM-101 you used in your other rig) would no longer be bunched up that closely anymore.

I would like to build a similar system and upgrade my 2600+ Sonata . But the Antec 2650 is not too pleasing with only one panel coming off (harder to hide wires for better airflow) and its front intake with only 6 air slots and 80mm fan (harder to cool my 2 samsungs), and no dust filter.


Probably, but you'll want to experiment with sealing off different portions of the lower intake on the side panel, to reduce noise escapage and to improve airflow via the Chassis Air Guide. In my VM-101 machine, which has much more GPU heat, but less HDD heat, all openings except for the rear panel opening and the CAG are taped completely shut, which promotes a great deal of air flow. The objective is to achieve balance--you're using negative air pressure to pull cool air in from different openings and depending on which devices need more cooling, you have to hand-balance the flow bandwidth.

Other issues to consider, of course, are dust intake (which may or may not bother you, depending on how dusty your environment is and your willingness to blasty or vacuum out the machine periodically) and PSU ramping. Also, you'll want a very efficient PSU and you'll need to swap the fan to reduce ramping; this can be worrisome. Remember that the PSU has to do its share of promoting negative pressure, but at the same time, the more heat you're trying to deal with, the more that PSU will heat up and want to ramp. Rely on the exhaust fan of the case as much as you can, but, of course, if you rely too heavily on it, you'll have it spinning audibly fast soon enough. This is all quite a balancing act, really.

One thing I didn't do in this or the other machine was to further dampen all non-air-flowing surfaces with acoustic mass--i.e. because all the openings except for a couple are sealed, anyway, it makes it much easier to seal up almost the entire front of the case with acoustic barrier foam. An advantage to the SLK3000B is that all panels come off--you can apply acoustic barrier to almost every possible square inch of the case, since you can actually reach those parts, unlike in SLK2650-BQE/Sonata. Of course, if you'll be relying on the front intake to cool a 3.5", 7200rpm hard drive, then you can't seal it all up...

-Ed

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CompUSA had these cases on sale for a good price after rebate, and they're less than a mile from my house. So I got one and set up a computer using some older parts, plus a few additional pieces from NewEgg.

One of my older parts was an Athlon 2500, so I bought a fairly inexpensive motherboard for it (amazing the way prices drop in a couple of years!) I picked the ECS KT600-A, which got a lot of good reviews on NewEgg.

I'm impressed with the motherboard, it performs really well, but there's only one problem with it that isn't mentioned anywhere...it only has two fan connectors! One for the CPU, and one for a case fan. But that doesn't really matter, because the Antec case fan only has connectors for 12V anyway. So I tried out the Antec fan as is.

I don't know how Antec can possibly claim their fan is "remarkably quiet"! It was the noisest thing in the case! I immediately swapped it out for a Nexus...huge difference, even running at 12V.

I'll try to get by Radio Shack and pick up a rheostat, that should slow the Nexus down some.

Overall, thanks for the pointer on the case, it was a good deal and pretty easy to build in.

Jeff


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 09, 2005 6:18 am 
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SPCR Reviewer

Joined: Thu Dec 11, 2003 9:53 pm
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Location: Scarsdale, NY
Glad to be of service... :)

-Ed

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