This is my first post. I am posting in the hopes that somebody will give me some insight on the problems I'm having (mainly heat) and can advise me on the hardware I am considering.
First, some background. I used to be an avid gamer. About 9-12 months ago I spent around 1800 USD to get by far the most powerful computer I'd ever had. However, I am now finally growing tired of computer games and I'm starting to become irritated by the noise. I had heard of SPCR but had not really read or considering them as a news source until recommended by my new roommate. This site has a great deal of useful information and the professionalism I see in the reviews caused me to order the following:
Corsair HX520W PSU
Antec P182 tower case (gun metal edition)
I also ordered a Scythe "Kaze Master" front bay fan controller panel and a Thermalright HR-05 IFX northbridge heatsink.
I used these parts to replace some items in my original purchase from Newegg. The system I ordered and was using until these three parts started arriving on Friday. This was the system I used up until then:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q6600 (SLACR/G0)
Zalman 9700 LED CNPS - controlled by Zalman Fanmate
Intel D975XBX2 motherboard
4x1GB G.Skill DDR2-800 (Micron D9GMH)
OCZ OCZGXS700 700W PSU
eVGA 8800GTX (removed stock HSF after a couple months and replaced with Thermalright HR-03 Plus & 92mm fan controlled by Zalman Fanmate
150GB WD Raptor X
500GB Samsung Spinpoint
2 Samsung 204B 20" LCDs set at UXGA
Two PATA DVD+/- RW optical drives
I am using Windows XP Pro SP3.
I recently got tired of the noise and started to identify the components generating the noise. It turns out the PSU fan is by far the most loud (I do not own a meter but perhaps 40-45 decibels) component. I resolved to replace it.
I also purchased this system with the strong intention to overclock and found that I could achieve a rock solid (24hr Prime95, small FFTs, 4 cores) stable clock of 3.0 GHz (333x9). I was very happy. With my Zalman 9700 I could run all fans on low in the case and just run the HSF at around 80% max speed with the Fanmate and still be around 50 C at 3 GHz with my standard stress test ((24hr Prime95, small FFTs, 4 cores). I also tried my best using guides available to calibrate Speedfan to display the correct Tjunction readings.
However I noticed that the northbridge temperatures increased quite a bit. I should say at this point that I still intend this system to be my primary computer for another 4 years or so, so I would like to keep my components cool while also keeping them quiet. So I ordered the HR-05 IFX from FrozenCPU on Wednesday for this reason. But it doesn't fit properly because of the GPU's PCB and the size of the Zalman 9700. It is actually a little worse performing than the aluminum heatsink that shipped on the board because there is no space to mount the 80mm fan I ordered on the new heatsink. Not a big deal to me (I only spent 30 dollars on it, and can likely use it for something else) but I wondered if anybody has an suggestions on how to keep it cooler. My best idea is to remove the new one and put an 80mm fan above the old one somehow.
I would like to run 3.0 Ghz around the clock as I did for months when I had my Antec 900, although if I means I have to run noisy, high RPM heatsink fans then I will leave it stock. Since I am very pleased so far with the new Corsair PSU (extremely quiet compared to the one it replaced, even with the Antec 900 my system was far quieter the minute I installed the new PSU) I would like to continue my quest towards building the perfectly adjusted system for my primary system for the next few years.
My two main difficulties at the moment are as follows:
1. now that I have transplanted all my parts into my new P182, the CPU runs at 73 C average with 100% speed on the 9700CNPS using my standard stress test. My personal attitude is that I should be keeping this CPU at or below 60 C. This is with an ambient of 26.5 C, all P182 fans on low, no fans installed in the front, removable hard disk cage removed, and good cable management. I do have two new LG DVD drives but they are in the very top and should not be interfering with airflow. I did have to rotate the 9700CNPS 90 degrees because I could not fit the tall new northbridge heatsink otherwise. I also cleaned off the heatsink and IHS and added new thermal paste (I always use Arctic Silver 5) using the line and credit card method. What am I doing wrong? Am I simply out of practice when it comes to applying the paste? Does changing the orientation obstruct airflow somehow? Must I run the case fans on fast, although even if I do it barely makes any difference? Or is this problem caused by the other problem I'm having:
2. My 8800GTX aftermarket HSF has the fan pushing air down the case and away from the card. However, due to the design of the P182 as opposed to the 900, the air is not sucked into the PSU as it was in the 900, and simply appears to be circulating in the case a few times before finally caught and exhausted at the top two fans. This brings me to my last question. I am only really playing Quake 3 now (a favorite for a long time). I'm no longer playing Crysis, Supreme Commander, CNC3, et cetera. The 8800GTX seems overkill. I am now seriously considering selling it and replacing it with this:
ZOTAC Zone Edition (ZT-95TES2P-HSL) GeForce 9500 GT 512MB 128-bit GDDR3 PCI Express x16 HDCP (passively cooled)
As a passive GPU, that supports dual-link DVI, dual monitors, uses Nvidia (for better Linux drivers) and sports 512MB GDDR3, it is very appealing to me. The much smaller shader count should be more than enough for Q3 and CompizFusion, while also requiring far less power, therefore generating far less heat, and not to mention having a much smaller PCB. I have not heard much of Zotac but the card seems to be exactly what I need: silent, more than enough processing power for what I need, and uses a maximum of 50 watts.
These are my two main concerns. Right now I am seriously considering also selling the 9700 and replacing it with a Thermalright HR-01 Plus as per the review on this site and also buying a air duct to direct the air directly out of the case, and then ordering at least 3 Scythe S-FLEX SFF21E.
I will use one for the front bay to draw in more air, one for the rear outtake, and one to push air into the HR-01 Plus. I may also add a fourth fan to the otherside of the heatsink for a push/pull configuration. I am also going to go to the effort, if I choose to replace the heatsink with what I mentioned above, of lapping down the CPU IHS and heatsink base to as flat as possible, and I will even measure it using a precision tool. My goal is to get any generated heat off the die, through the IHS and heatsink, off the fins, and directed immediately out the case as fast and quietly as possible. Most of my work on this system will require a fast quad core CPU so I would very much like to run 3.0 GHz without worrying about northbridge or CPU temps exceeding 60 celsius under heavy load.
I apologize for such a long post. I wanted to explain my setup as clearly as possible so that there is no confusion. Thank you very much in advance to anybody who can share their knowledge and advise me these dilemmas I have.
Thank you for reading,