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 Post subject: Cheap, quiet, one fan, micro-ATX PC. *update*
PostPosted: Fri Aug 04, 2006 11:35 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 2:42 pm
Posts: 606
Location: UK
Not a very new rig but i never got round to posting it...
My cheap, quiet, small, ghetto-modded, passive stock AMD HS, Sempron64 PC :)
Image
Specs:
-AMD sempron 3000+ e6 (754) (£60)
-Biostar Tforce 6100 (£60)
-2x1GB hynix ram (£105)
-250gb Samsung p120 (£70)
-FSP300-60GLS (£35?)
-case: JNC MJA-007 (£10 :P )
-Cooling:
--92mm ebuyer extra value fan (£1) (+ the outer edges of 2 80mm fans)
--Stock heatsink, passive!
+wifi (b) and TV card which i already had.. the TV card (althou the most basic winTV go!) i got for either £25+del with a 1.5v tbred B 1700+ and an MSI KM2M COMBO-L (which i wanted specifically at the time, for its mATX, onboard gfx and sdram+ddr) a couple of years back.. talk about deal of the century.

The case
The case was the first thing i got, (it housed my KM2M before it broke).. At the time i was looking around at loads of mATX cases. i wanted one like the Dell optiplex or something. slim, stylish. unfortunately, despite me being happy to suffer mATX psu and half height PCIs, that didn't really exist, and still doesn't. And most cases were expensive and had terrible airflow, with 1x60mm fan being common. So when i saw this come up on ebuyer for a tenner, with two 80mm spaces at the rear, not too wide, front USB and audio, and looked ok (the picture on the website makes it look as if the bezel matches the rest of the case..), i wasn't going to say no. even if it was crap.. not a whole lot lost.. oh, and it came with a matx PSU too, not too shabby either (don't get me wrong, it was no name.. but quiet-ish, and didn't blow up), and had a 80x15mm fan; which alone could easily set u back £10. Both the fan and the psu broke, IIRC it was my fault.. definately the fan atleast.
When it came, it was a little bashed (which i was expecting as a possiblity from the reviews), and the door was a couple of mm off of being flush to the bezel at the top. but, it was small, looked decent (other than the aforementioned colouring issue) and all the edges inside were rounded, it was also nice and light (due to the thin steel..), which was good.. and still strong enough to sit on, not that it would need to be..

Modding the case:
The 'exhausts' were about the most restrictive i've ever seen;
Image
All the airflow was being directed downwards. so the first thing i did was to get rid of them and put a couple of 80mm wire fan guards in their place. despite my amateur cutting, with no suitable tools, with the chrome fan guards it actually looked better IMO.
Image
And of course 5v'ed the fans.

PSU
Then, i got to the stage where my (FSP) PSU was the noisiest component..
So i decided to remove the top fan, and let the PSU get fresh air from the outside via a duct. again, not having any suitably 'proffessional' tools, i set about using scissors, cardboard, and tape. it was actually pretty difficult to work out all the dimensions of each section of card, as it was working in tight conditions near the HSF, and had to not only move air upwards towards the top of the case, but towards the motherboard side also, as the PSU fan was more central than the rear case opening..
I didn't want to trust the PSUs fan speed circuit, as they always work on the side of caution.. So i opened it up, luckily it didn't have a warranty sticker on, but unfortunately, it was (IIRC) soldered to the MB, so, i had to cut it. Then i stripped a cm of the wire and twisted it with the mobo connector-side of an old noisy fan which i retired, and used some tape, insulating and securing it. So now i could connect it to a fanmate. after a while, i wanted adjustability, so i plugged it into the CPU fan header, which let me set the speed with PWM and and vary with CPU temp, which, in this system, was effectively going to be proportional to the load. It also let me adjust the fan speed in windows, and if it felt hot i could give it a blast on full speed for a bit.
The 'housing' for the PSU fan which came with the case now forms part of my PSU intake duct (a regular 80mm fan would block part of the intake of the PSU, and make the angle considerably tighter). I have left the PSU (fairly restrictive) fan grill as it was, as i want to keep open the option of selling the PSU (pico PSU appeals every so often!). if i could figure out a way to suspend the fan in the right place without the casing then i would probably ditch that part of the case..
The PSU fan starts as low as 3v and once going will carry on spinning at almost 2v!! It gets considerably quiter as it gets very close to the start up voltage. I run the PSU with the minimum speed possible, as..
1) As http://www.silentpcreview.com/article15-page1.html has shown, its not that far off to run a normal PSU passively
2) i used to run a verryy old 200w PSU with the fan removed for quite some time.. it was fine.
3) from CPU cooling (and doing it passively), i'm aware of what a huge difference there is in cooling between 'NO' airflow, and 'very little' airflow.
so, atleast there is 'some' airflow then i am happy. whilst in the early tweaking phase i have had the fan not start (and me not notice).. and the PC would shut down after a while. so i'm happy that its safe too.. it goes up 1PWM value (out of 127, starts on ~32) per *C over 40*C.. but i think i may increase the temp it ramps up at as it does get noticeable when it goes up even a bit.

'Main-chamber' airflow
I read a post that said wire fan grills can reduce airflow by up to 30% (sorry can't find it).. so, bye bye fan grill. Then i decided to reverse the direction of the fan, so that the rear case fan would act as an intake supplying fresh air to the CPU, hdd and NB. I didn't do a proper testing of temps, but i'm sure it was no worse. Later i thought keeping the airflow separate (ie, cool) as long as possible would help, so i gutted another 80mm fan and used it like a duct. This had the added benefit of placing the moving fan deeper inside the case. With the wire grill thing in mind, i wondered how much airflow the four bits of plastic connecting the fan hub to the frame were restricting airflow... so, i cut 2 out. This worked fine for a while, again i didn't do any proper testing, but it couldn't be worse. after a while it started to lightly clip the edges however; making it noticeably noisy.
I had a spare 92mm fan.. and the setup wasn't far from directly cooling the CPU.. so i decided to extend the duct idea with a 92mm fan at the end. So i cut a corner off the now-noisy(er) 80mm fan.. and used it to extend the duct, filling in the gaps with tape; in the middle, only the bottom corner nearest the cam is 'fan', the rest is tape.(see top)
Image
This is something i've done very recently. The fans direct airflow now clips the edge of the stock HS, so.. i tried taking off the fan (which, was a little too noisy with 2 fan mate (clones) in series... noisier than with the pwm header). @ 1.8ghz/1.3v, running P95 for quite a while, it seemed to max @ 54*C, low 40's idle. Whilst its clearly not as cool as with the fan, its quieter, and cool enough. i haven't delt with OCing or UVing in a while as its a bit of hassle and i've been quite content, but i'll get back round to it sometime.. it does OC to 2.8ghz (stable) so is no slouch, but i'd doubt it would semi-passively. 2.3 (the 'happy medium' speed) would probably be OK semi-passive like now.

Other...
The hdd sits on some foam on my WinTV Go card.. the sata power connector wont reach to have it at the bottom-front, but it works OK there, until i decide to get a x1 or x16 card anyway. Below that is my wifi card. its 1/2 height and the backplate is removed, so airflow can escape out there;
Image
..not exactly bluefront-quality ducting, but it does the job, and u don't see it..
For peripherals, i have a labtec keyboard, which has laptop-style keys and is querty-compact layout; which is very good and not particularly wierd like many shrunken layouts. And a 17" flat screen CRT, which seems to work best at 1440x1080, and i use my familys old '93 Sony mini system (w broken CD drive) for sound.. standard optical scroll mouse. and i don't use an optical drive, nor usually a floppy drive.

software
aswell as of course setting the AAM, i have PortableFirefox, and many temp/cache DIRs in a small ramdrive, which loads at startup. I have put a small pagefile within this too, as it doesn't seem to reliably delete completely. This means i can browse for a while without having the hdd spin up..

The future..
i'm not sure whether to block off the parts which don't need airflow to force the air where i want it; :lol:
Image
or to make the front less restrictive;
Image
Image
i'd need to cut out a bit on the bottom (underside) of the bezel to get any notable air intake. i'd like the SB to get a bit more air.. but, it is OK temp wise.. so maybe its not needed. also not sure about anything to deflect the airflow into either the HDD or the CPU/NB
unfortunately that floppy drive cutout is moulded to the case. i've been intending to spray the body silver so that it matches for a while, but haven't got round to it yet..
the plan has been to retire this as an HTPC when i decide to next do a total upgrade.. i'm thinking of getting a digital TV card (or usb dongle) soon.. and once i get a kill-a-watt and test my monitor, i might find i want to get a WS LCD (more).. (and as they keep on getting cheaper..)

Sorry if i rambled on a bit :lol:

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Last edited by mb2 on Wed Aug 23, 2006 1:01 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2006 2:16 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 04, 2005 11:16 pm
Posts: 65
Location: Sydney, Australia
WTF... you have your HDD sitting on top of your PCI cards?? :shock:

Look at all that space at the front... this is a prime candidate for an Alleycat HDD Enclosureâ„¢ if there ever was one!

Nice modding though :-)

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2006 6:29 am 
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Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2004 7:50 am
Posts: 1705
Location: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Awesome job! The use of a gutted 80mm fan frame is similar to a fan soft-mount technique I've used.

One suggestion--flip the hard drive so that the PC board side is up. Besides the possibility of static electricity with the foam, it's the side which you'd rather keep cool. The solid metal side of the hard drive is just a flat slab of metal which isn't directly touching any of the hard drive's components.

What's the story with the compact flash card?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Aug 05, 2006 11:38 am 
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Posts: 1608
Location: United States
Pretty impressive IMO, at least considering what you had to work with. Good job. :)

EDIT: You've inspired me mb2. I think I'm going to buy this cheap Linkworld case and see how quiet I can make it. :p

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 4:43 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 2:42 pm
Posts: 606
Location: UK
jb_ wrote:
WTF... you have your HDD sitting on top of your PCI cards?? :shock:

Look at all that space at the front... this is a prime candidate for an Alleycat HDD Enclosureâ„¢ if there ever was one!
I was considering coolpacks a while back but after bluefronts problem (and the fact it was winter and they weren't avaiable so much) i put it off.. but the enclosure is something i'll look seriously into.. but it will be one hell of a tight fit to fit a coolpack round both edges, and the Al, and not have it touching the sides (or atleast fit something to insulate it), the drive is fairly snug width-wise already as u can see.. if the SB hs wasn't there then it would be easier.. but if i can find a box slim enough to fit in the case, and wide enough to fit the hdd, then i'll give it a go..
i suppose mounting it sideways is an option, but not prefered.
Originally i had a fan in the front mount (although rarely on), so the HDD wouldn't fit. the sata power cable is also a tiny bit short for it to lie flat on the case floor (w/ foam), but.. with the added height from a coolpack and Al, it might just reach.. With no fan at the front, the HDD is better off where it is.. unless i can work a DIY enclosure

frostedflakes; nice to have inspired u :cool: be aware that (although that case came up when i selected mATX cases with 80mm fans on newegg), those rear ones are both 60mm. you might be OK if you are planning on using ur DC-DC PSU, but for most people, the enermax venus would seem a better pick. a bit more expensive, and a bit thicker, but comes with a mATX enermax psu (and cheap considering that), and space for dual 80mm fans at the back.

IsaacKuo wrote:
One suggestion--flip the hard drive so that the PC board side is up. Besides the possibility of static electricity with the foam, it's the side which you'd rather keep cool. The solid metal side of the hard drive is just a flat slab of metal which isn't directly touching any of the hard drive's components.

What's the story with the compact flash card?

I suppose i could flip it, but i'm never sure about the HDD bearings and stuff. it might not be touching any of the HDD components, but it certainly gets hot, and transfers heat away..
As for the CF card, it dates from when i was doing the w98/ramdisk thing and is a bit redundant ATM, hence i didn't mention it.. the card is only 128mb.. unfortunately the board doesn't support '98, so i've been trying to find a way to fit a version of NT on it (ie 2000>).. either that or a may build a p4-m system for it.. or if i find a particularly fast, cheap card then i might upgrade and put NT on it..

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Aug 06, 2006 6:18 am 
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The plan is to use a PicoPSU and replace the stock PSU with a 120mm fan. Case is 5.3" wide, so it should fit (just barely). :)

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 Post subject: bit of an update..
PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 12:55 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 2:42 pm
Posts: 606
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As i thought the PSU could still be quieter/cooler, i started thinking about how i could improve it.
I first intended to take off the part of the psu case which held the fan, and then re-mount the remaining PSU, putting the fan onto the case hole and ducting it. Then i saw (and remembered) this;
Image
One of the heatsinks had a bit of thermal paste on it, connecting it to the PSU case. So i figured just moving the fan and removing the (first) restrictive grill could possibly make the cooling on this (presumably vital) part worse rather than better.
So i started thinking about bigger fans. i knew a 92mm fan could fit, but the only one i had handy was the one in the 'duct' which i didn't especially want to pull apart. Then i picked up my 120mm fan and noticed it was almost the exact width.. :twisted:
Image
The fan, again, was an ebuyer extra value one, costing somewhere around 60p, which i got just for the hell of it when i ordered some other stuff. The black plastic one was out of stock when i ordered, and in the reviews people had mentioned it pushed less air (and therefore queter) than the black one. I cut the wire for the LEDs (nasty) and 5ved it. it starts reliably and spins very slowly, but no 3pin connector so no rpm value. i can now (if i try) hear the motor, so if/when i enclose the hdd, then i may switch to a yate loon (relatively expensive here), or mount it to isolate it more- if that would make any difference. i'm sure i couldn't hear it atall before @ 5v from more than 2 feet away (using cf card and out of the box). maybe it happens through wear? [looking for an answer please?]

It just fitted inbetween the PSU, motherboard, PS/2 connectors, side and the HS lever. meant to be?
well, not like that. without the original cpu 'duct' too anyway. Unsuprisingly the HDD temp went up significantly, and the sb got hotter (no temp sensor, afaik). the fan was originally blowing towards the PSU; switching it improved things.. [note: i did this several days ago, i noted down a couple of temps and its not 100% clear which refers exactly to what, but the timeline is correct, and general trends].. after reasonably brief p95 testing, it seemed to stablalise at 50/51*C, and peaked briefly at 53*C. after the heat had built up, the HDD rose to a consistant 53*C :shock: not liking that, HDD hotter than the CPU..
Then i added a guide to the fan pointing air to the CPU; (note: it goes down the side as far as the HS too)
Image
This helped quite a bit. cpu: 48-49*C, peaking @ 50. hdd =51*C (both the back 'holes' were closed for this i think). much better, particularly the HDD where it mattered. still wasn't too happy with it. So i tried a few other things; closing only the top hole rose temps by 1*C all round, i put some card through the middle which sealed the 'left' (ie all the bits with hot stuff) from the right. i can't remember whether temps were a bit up or down, but it was within the margin of error i think.
Then i got rid of the card at the 'exhausts', and extended the guide from the psu>cpu to seal that section off [sorry no pictures for now]; with the air exhausting out of 60% of the top hole. The HDD, NB, SB ram and PCI cards now had no heat from the CPU, PSU or (presumably) VRMs. but also had no airflow atall. So i took out the middle divider to give the largest amount of air volume; and 2 1/2 of the pci slots were open aswell as the one + 40% of exhaust holes it had access to...
i also had a play with the bios and undervolting. the biostar tforce always tends to undervolt what u select in the bios a bit.. these were the minimum voltages i could get stably at each interval and their subsequent cpu temperates (idle/prime95):

1.05V, 1.8ghz, 38/42*C
1.075v, 1.9ghz, 42*C
(load, short test.. didn't really let it cool down from the previous test)
1.125v, 2ghz, 38-40/42-43

unfortunatley, it wouldn't go to 2.3ghz with this setup; i assume the voltages aren't stable enough- at bios 1.125 CPU-Z was reporting 1.088-1.104, and whatever voltage or memory timing i'd select it wouldn't work. I may have to get a bit of aluminium sheet, drill a small hole into it and screw it to that heatsink with the thermal paste on. Anyway, 2ghz is fine for the most part; the only time i really notice CPU speed is when converting songs in iTunes to lower bitrate AAC, which i only do occassionally to take on portable devices. With CAD, photoshop, gaming; memory or hdd speed is the bottleneck. Actually 1080p would also work with a higher clockrate and doesn't @ 2ghz. but i have no access to 1080p anyway for now other than the "alexander" trailer from the MS website. theres not even a significant amount of HD broadcasting in the UK right now (and therefore don't have anything to recieve it).
Being as i was sticking with the 2ghz @1.125v, i gave it a bit more testing. The cpu temp does rise very slowly over a long period of time if it is kept at 100% load, after it appears to have stabiilised. the test above was somewhere between 5 mins and 1/2 hour ..after 'few' hours of P95 [guess: somewhere around 3?], it was at 47*C. after nearly 15 hours (on another occasion) it had risen to [argh, lost where i wrote it down; i think:] 51*C. and it had 0 errors so pretty happy that its stable. As it drops about 4*C immediately when there is no load, i'm sure it wont ever reach this under normal use.

The hard drive temperature is quite consistant; 45-47*C, which is something i'm now happy with. An enclosure is still not out of the question, and would surely improve both temperatures and noise further. i think it would have to stand on its side however, which i don't really like.
The NB and SB are subjectively similar, the NB being a bit hotter i suppose. nothing to be alarmed about however. [note: can anyone with this motherboard get readings for them? if so, how]
And the PSU is cooler than it was with the first setup posted, but the case above/beside the psu [note: direct contact only occurs at the back] is a little 'less cool' than the front-top of the case. Its fine going into S3 standby (ie fan turns off).

Sitting here now, playing iTunes and having written all this, its at 28-30*C [guess; ambient=20*C]. and the hdd is at 45*C. u'd think sempron754 + ninja + picopsu + onboard gfx could be done quite easily with no fans eh? irony being a ninja is more than half the price of the cpu thou i suppose.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 1:31 pm 
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Quote:
these were the minimum voltages i could get stably at each interval and their subsequent cpu temperates (idle/prime95):

1.05V, 1.8ghz, 38/42*C
1.075v, 1.9ghz, 42*C (load, short test.. didn't really let it cool down from the previous test)
1.125v, 2ghz, 38-40/42-43


Are you sure you've got an E6 Sempron? They normally won't go below 1.1V (Vcore lock).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 23, 2006 3:01 pm 
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Location: UK
ImageIt actually undervolts below that (ie below what is selected in the bios); atleast, according to the readings. its at 1.024 half the time too. I knew there was a voltage lock but i just assumed in my head that it must have been 1v, and that selecting 1v in bios would have made the actual value be lower.. it doesn't boot anything below that though @1.8ghz; which u'd expect if it had no vcore lock. off to try reducing the multi and see if it will boot any lower..

edit: @ (semi-arbitrary) 1GHz, it works @ 1.025v, it loads the windows bootup 'image' but then BSODs straight away, and @9.75v it requires a cmos reset. so a 1v lock :?:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Sep 11, 2006 4:19 pm 
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Posts: 379
Location: maine
the ductwork is excellent if you tune it in like you are doing with heatsink. The best luck I have had yet. Good luck on your setup, I bet it goes well.
check out my thread here
it is same ideas. Mine is going on 6 months with full ATX. The microatx is a fav of mine, and may have one again soon with ideas like yours.

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 Post subject: Update
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 7:10 am 
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Joined: Sun Jun 06, 2004 2:42 pm
Posts: 606
Location: UK
Brought this out of retirement a few months back...
mb2 wrote:
u'd think sempron754 + ninja + picopsu + onboard gfx could be done quite easily with no fans eh?
Turns out, a ninja is complete overkill.

Added an AC Freezer 7, and a pico psu (120w)+ Dell 150w power brick; the fan is no longer required. The HDD was also enclosed in an 'alleycat'-style enclosure (basically, on a coolpack inside an Al box). of course an SSD could easily be substituted for 0 moving parts.

The result is, i can overclock to 2GHZ (whilst undervolting around 1.125v), and barely break 60*C under stress testing (CPU temp sensor, i used the 'max temp' setting on prime95). The rest of the board works fine with no additional cooling either. (I have been running it like this for months now.. and no parts get crazy hot to the touch).

I can do pics or speedfan temp graphs if there is interest.

It pulls around 60W under load from the wall with 1 3.5" HDD.

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 Post subject: Re: Cheap, quiet, one fan, micro-ATX PC. *update*
PostPosted: Sat May 21, 2011 6:40 pm 
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Posts: 42
A hard drive on top of a pci card.. congratulations this truly is some of the most ghetto modding i've ever ever seen.


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