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 Post subject: Nearly Silent System - Better with WC?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:29 am 
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Hello!

I’m currently planning my first water-cooled system, and I’d be very grateful for some input from you people.

My goal is to build a reasonably fast, future-proof system (CPU i5 750, a Radeon 5770, MB with USB 3.0, Intel X25-V for OS and programs, 2T hard drive for media storage). No need to specify this here, but OC-ing is not a point. It's all about silence. have a quiet air-cooled system now, and my wife is complaining.

Usage: Light gaming (I want to take Settlers 7 for a spin), but I’m more interested in perfect HD playback – including whatever filters and playback enhancements are available – and running DVD quality material through ffdshow+avisnyth filters to get optimal big screen playback on an HD projector. And it doubles as the family office computer with file indexing turned on, fast account switching and anitvirus turned on (I have two teenagers in the house).

Case & PSU: Right now I’m thinking about using a Fractal Define R2 case and a NesteQ ASM Xzero PSU – though I would also consider an Antec P183 with one of those special Antec PSUs. However, I would look at a bigger case if that would give me a better cooling/noise situation. Again: the point is noise.

I’d like to cool the CPU and GPU with a watercooling set attached to a passive radiator. I would also consider a water-cooled, sound insulated HD enclosure for the 2T drive. However, maybe I need to supplement that with an active rad that would switch on during more demanding stuff. (In those situations, a little extra noise would be OK.)

Right now I’m thinking about buying a kit from Innovatek (?) with their ultra-size passive radiator and a 120 or 240 active backup regulated by that fan-o-matic thingy. I expect I could get all the kit, plus a waterblock for the 5770, from aquatuningDOTde. (I live in Switzerland.)

How does this look to you guys? What aspect would you do differently to get that performance at an absolute minimum level of noise?


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:02 am 
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next year will bring socket 1155, one pin less then current 1156 and these 2 will not be compatible nor are the CPUs. Current CPUs will not work in s1155 boards and vice versa.
there are no "future proof" computers. If you want to be able to uppgrade in 1-2 years there is only one intel socket to go for, namely s1366.

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/cpus/2 ... next-gen/1


Air cooling, done properly is in my opinion always quieter then WC.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:52 am 
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I'm a little surprised now: are you saying that, all things considered, the system will be quieter using air cooling - maybe like the R2 plus an after-market CPU cooler and a that Sapphire Vapor-X version of the 5770? I though WC would get me lower noise.

Ach - I didn't mean that I want to upgrade the parts. In fact, I really don't.

What I meant is that I want a system that is powerful enough to keep running pretty nicely for the next 3-4 years, excluding the very top of the line games. I don't like the upgrade game. I've played it in the past and it seemed like I would have done better to stick with a decent system fora few years then go for something completely new.

(E.g., right now I have Northwood 2.8ghz system with 2gig Ram and a Radeon 9700 and a 300gig hd. It can't handle new games, but it's fine for the stuff my kids like to play, and it runs Windows XP on 1080 monitor without any problem. The one thing it can't handle is HD video.)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:27 am 
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mikegray wrote:
I'm a little surprised now: are you saying that, all things considered, the system will be quieter using air cooling - maybe like the R2 plus an after-market CPU cooler and a that Sapphire Vapor-X version of the 5770? I though WC would get me lower noise.



Yes, that is exactly my point. Decent CPU cooler and a decent fan will do the job quietly. Read "recommended" section here on SPCR.

mikegray wrote:
(E.g., right now I have Northwood 2.8ghz system with 2gig Ram and a Radeon 9700 and a 300gig hd. It can't handle new games, but it's fine for the stuff my kids like to play, and it runs Windows XP on 1080 monitor without any problem. The one thing it can't handle is HD video.)


Easy and cheap way to solve HD issue would be to buy newer videocard. Most of them handle HD on their own, without need for faster CPUs. For instance an Atom CPU (very, very low performance) paired with a decent graphic card will do Full HD with no issue at all.
Good and cheap AGP card that will do Full HD is HD 4670. That is just an example, there are many more cards that will do the job out there and they are a cheap and great way to extending life of that Northwood system.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 10:56 am 
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Now, I know the plug-and-play WC systems (like that little Corsair thing) don't really cut it, but I've always heard that a good water cooler - particularly with a passive rad - is about as quiet as you can get.

No?

On the Northwood system: It's time for a new system anyway. The thing has some really weird USB issues I was never able to iron out (even a motherboard swap didn't solve them), and it's showing other signs of age (despite redoing XP every six months).

I'd like to pass it on to one of my kids, and get something with a little more horsepower as our new family central system. It would be nice to keep file indexing going, use fast user switching, maybe try a modern game or two.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:46 pm 
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mikegray wrote:
Now, I know the plug-and-play WC systems (like that little Corsair thing) don't really cut it, but I've always heard that a good water cooler - particularly with a passive rad - is about as quiet as you can get.

No?

No. Never has been -- I'd say SPCR enthusiasts' top air-cooled systems have been cheaper, quieter and simpler than equivalent WC systems for at least 5~6 years. If you're talking about maximum cooling capability, then WC with a powerful pump and huge radiator is better, but never for quiet operation.

Components now are more energy efficient, coolers are better all the time. WC is essentially irrelevant for desktop PCs as a quiet option -- perhaps not for total overclocking of extreme gaming rigs. ProCooling, a huge WC enthusiast site for some years, posted this requiem in 2006: Water Cooling - Where has the magic gone?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 2:20 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
mikegray wrote:
Now, I know the plug-and-play WC systems (like that little Corsair thing) don't really cut it, but I've always heard that a good water cooler - particularly with a passive rad - is about as quiet as you can get.

No?

No. Never has been -- I'd say SPCR enthusiasts' top air-cooled systems have been cheaper, quieter and simpler than equivalent WC systems for at least 5~6 years. If you're talking about maximum cooling capability, then WC with a powerful pump and huge radiator is better, but never for quiet operation.

Components now are more energy efficient, coolers are better all the time. WC is essentially irrelevant for desktop PCs as a quiet option -- perhaps not for total overclocking of extreme gaming rigs. ProCooling, a huge WC enthusiast site for some years, posted this requiem in 2006: Water Cooling - Where has the magic gone?

I agree on all MikeC's opinions - water pumps are often noisier than today's best air cooling equipment. If decent HD playback is enough for you, you can even do it without either active cooling.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 14, 2010 6:09 pm 
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Where WCing comes into its own, is when you want to OC and/or run very hot components, and still have some quiet. WCing also allows you to put the noisy components elsewhere (ie you could stick the pump and radiator outside your window, or in a closet, or another room or whatever, and just run the tubes to your computer). None of this is worthwhile with a low power system however.

FWIW my highly overclocked CPU and GPU run very cool, and my system is very quiet -- but I do have 8 fans running at about 600 rpm, so its far from silent, and some people may not even find it quiet, however, in my apartment, its mostly inaudible (my laptop is noisier).

So really, it depends on exactly what you are trying to achieve, but the cross-section of overclockers and quiet computing enthusiasts is small, as is shown by the limited activity in this section of the forums!

Oh, and lastly, WCing is not cheap. Especially if you want to do it quietly.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 2:20 am 
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ascl wrote:
Where WCing comes into its own, is when you want to OC and/or run very hot components, and still have some quiet. WCing also allows you to put the noisy components elsewhere (ie you could stick the pump and radiator outside your window, or in a closet, or another room or whatever, and just run the tubes to your computer). None of this is worthwhile with a low power system however.

FWIW my highly overclocked CPU and GPU run very cool, and my system is very quiet -- but I do have 8 fans running at about 600 rpm, so its far from silent, and some people may not even find it quiet, however, in my apartment, its mostly inaudible (my laptop is noisier).

So really, it depends on exactly what you are trying to achieve, but the cross-section of overclockers and quiet computing enthusiasts is small, as is shown by the limited activity in this section of the forums!

Oh, and lastly, WCing is not cheap. Especially if you want to do it quietly.


+1, im 1 on the people who like overclocking , but hate noise,

i went water, because by the time i had a decent oc on my cpu, i had to have the fan full speed to keep it cool at load (folding) , if your water cooling , and want it to be quiet, you need to pick you fans, radiator and pump carefully.

if you really want to get in to water cooling, you can ask over at ocforums.com (im registered as markp1989 over there) they're quite noob friendly, thats were i got most of my info about water cooling, they know a lot about it :)

my wc loop when i first set it up ( cpu only) was £170, now i have added both gpus to the loop, its proably at about £220, and its still quiet.

best thing to remember for quiet water cooling is the get a bigger radiator then you actualy need, that way you can have more fans on it, but have them running at a slower speed.

My water cooled system is practacly silent, only thing i can hear is the psu fan, and that isnt very loud, just anoying.

if your not ocing, then a quiet system can be done cheaper and easier on air, my htpc , with an e5200, is slient, with a mini ninja,and 1 fan at teh back exausting air out (its a mini itx build, so thte fan at the back take up most of the back panel)

if you see here http://www.silentpcreview.com/forums/vi ... hp?t=58201 about 3 posts down i added pics, since that pic was taken i have replaced the fan it in with a Artic cooling 120pwm, that i controlled by the motherboard. keeps folding at home temps on the cpu below 40C

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 5:23 am 
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If you like the latest power hungry components and don't like noise (Folding on one or multiple GTX285 for example), water cooling is about the only thing that will keep the noise down.

That being said, if you keep your loop simple, you can get a very very quiet setup using something like a d-tek db1 (may be EOL now?), or even a Laing DDC3.2 undervolted to 7V, paired with a large non-restrictive radiator like a Thermochill PA120.3 and 500 RPM fans.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 6:13 am 
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While the various posts by WC-savvy folks are valuable, given the components and goals listed for the OP's new system, WC is completely unnecessary.
Quote:
My goal is to build a reasonably fast, future-proof system (CPU i5 750, a Radeon 5770, MB with USB 3.0, Intel X25-V for OS and programs, 2T hard drive for media storage). No need to specify this here, but OC-ing is not a point. It's all about silence. have a quiet air-cooled system now, and my wife is complaining.

The heat sources are: i5-750 - tdp 95W; Radeon 5770 - max load power ~80W in 3D gaming (as per xbit labs).

Both of these are easy loads for aftermarket coolers to keep cool silently. Example: HIS HD 5770 Silent is passively cooled. Almost any tower HS ranked 9 on the http://www.silentpcreview.com/Recommended_Heatsinks list inside a good mid-tower case would cool the CPU silently -- for best value, just pick the one with the quietest stock fan. No way is WC worth the trouble, expense or extra noise over optimized silent aircooling.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 9:39 am 
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Huh?? Is there a passively cooled 5770 out there? I haven't found it. All I've been able to find on google is a passively cooled 5570 and, I think, a passively cooled 5750.

Anyway ... since I'm already veering away from WC-ing:

Given this exact setup - using a Sapphire Vapor-X 5770 and a CPU with a Mega-Heffalumps (or whatever it's called ... ) with your reference fan - how would these two cases compare:

- A Fractal R2 - with a quiet 140mm on the side, separately throttled over the MB and best-case-scenario replacements for all the stock fans, also all throttled by the MB. (My thinking on the side fan would be to link its speed to GPU temps.)

- A Silverstone FT02 with stock 180mm's (who else even makes those things??), a replacement 120mm in front - all also running off the MB.

I have to say though: WC-ing would have been a cool project. I love the way those things look. But if there is simply no benefit at all, I can't justify the expense, even if I'd love to spend the time.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 10:01 am 
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You really should read through the fine details of the acoustic and thermal analysis in our reviews of those cases... but I'd choose the Silverstone FT02 assuming $ is no object -- it is considerably pricier. The latter's side fan is not great -- in fact, none of its fans are outstanding, while the fans on the Silverstone are pretty good all around. The FT02 has a bit better cooling all around, with less noise.

You might also try a very modest straightforward gaming case -- like maybe an Antec 300 -- and replace all fans with high quality/quiet ones. As long as the vents are nicely open and well placed for good airflow, and the case is reasonably sturdy, it's the components that determine the noise -- not the case.

(sorry about the erroneous info on "HIS HD 5770 Silent" -- tons of references to the same bad info; it's actually a 5570.)

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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 1:40 pm 
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CPU cooling shouldn't be an issue, the biggest tower CPU coolers are now very effective with a quiet fan, its the video card that's more difficult.

On the video card front I suggest an ATI card for which you can get a Thermalright VRM cooler.
But maybe the HD5770 doesn't need VRM cooling?

There are quite a few good options now for the VGA GPU cooling, Arctic Cooling Accelero still as good as any and cheap. See SPCR reviews.

Regards, Seb

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 20, 2010 2:15 am 
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Air is very competitive for quiet systems if you're not folding or running power hungry overclocked kit. If you have the time and money is not an issue, watercooling and air are equivalent.

Otherwise, air is more cost effective. Just keep your case fans running under 750rpm and your internal fans, such as the CPU and GPU fans, running at or under 800 rpm. If you're going with a 1156 and a mid-range card like the 5770, you should still be able to implement a mild overclock.

As for the 5770, when people call the vapor-X "quiet", they're not talking SPCR quiet. To me, the noise level is unacceptable. If you go for a mid to high end card, you must replace your GPU cooler with a 3rd party alternative ideally running quiet 120mm fans. You don't need the TR vram cooler if you're not overclocking your GPU a lot.

(and the FT02 is a nice case; and that "little Corsair thing" H50 is not good for either cooling or noise levels

On a slightly seperate topic:
I will disagree with is that air cooling, done properly, is "always" quieter than watercooling. Yes, for low end, low energy kit that is not especially desirable air is more quiet. Or when compared to poorly designed watercooling.

But when you get to the mid-range, it's about the same as you will be be able to run the fans at slower speeds than equivalent air (e.g. 550 to 600 rpm rather than 750 to 800rpm) assuming you use large radiators, and there are ways to minimize pump noise (unless you get a zalman in which case, you're stuck with what they give you). A well designed watercooling loop that doubles up some of the case fans as radiator fans, and properly isolates the pump, will beat poorly designed air cooling. But even here, air cooling is preferable since results are similar, but with less hassle, less expense. And, unfortunately, someone who can design a good, quiet watercooling loop will almost certainly be able to setup good air cooling. I'm on this forum because I'm trying to find a reason to go back to watercooling and I can't.....

(For high end highly 'overclocked' kit, water is superior for noise.)


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:21 pm 
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I've just switched back to air from WC, so I can give some first-hand advice/perspective on the issue!

The key advantage with WC is cooling high-end, high-heat parts. CPU air coolers are really superb today, and even with an overclocked CPU you can get away with a high-end air cooler to keep it at reasonable temperatures. That said, if you want to step up the overclocking (and start putting out serious heat in the process) WC will be the answer.

More importantly though, high-end graphics cards put out a phenomenal amount of heat, and development of decent (quiet!) air cooling solutions is more limited. If you're planning on building and overclocking a system with an i7 & a 5970 or two, then there is no such thing as a quiet air solution. Water will give you the best result in this case.

The limitations of WC are cost; pump noise (there are silent ones, but you have to be lucky as well as careful in your purchasing); & space. I stopped using water for the last reason more than anything else, because I wanted a much smaller case.

For the specs you want, air will be fine. The GPU will still be a PITA and probably need an aftermarket cooler, but otherwise it should be easy enough to make a quiet system. It should also be cheaper to do air than WC.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 9:35 pm 
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Yeah - this is where I've pretty much ended up: The money I was going to spend on a pretty complex WC system, I'm investing in a very nice case (Silverstone Fortress FT02) and some very nice after market air coolers - and still saving money.

But the GPU is going to be tricky. I actually considered using a single rad WC cooling solution only for the GPU, but right now I think I'll just go for a Thermalright HR-03 Rev.A.

Only, who knows how well the thing ends up fitting the card I buy ... The WC community seems far better informed about which WC GPU kits fit exactly which versions of which (Radeon) cards. With the Thermalright it looks to be a bit of a crap shoot - buy your stuff, hope for the best and have that Dremel handy ...


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 10:56 pm 
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Tenoq wrote:
The limitations of WC are ... space. I stopped using water for the last reason more than anything else, because I wanted a much smaller case.
Now there's a matter of definition.
When it comes to space WC adds (compared to heatpipes) the volume of a pump, some tubing and (usually) a reservoir.
While heatpipe cooling requires the heatsink to be near the heat source, WC provides the flexibility to have the radiator(s) (and pump and reservoir) mounted wherever you have the space available.
If the computer case is very small with no room for a decent heatsink, there's no problem having most of the WC system outside the case rather than inside it.

I do admit though that there is a middle way where regular heatpipe cooling can be used efficiently and use less space than WC.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 5:26 am 
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Redzo wrote:
If you want to be able to uppgrade in 1-2 years there is only one intel socket to go for, namely s1366.

In case you missed it from the article you linked to, Sandy Bridge isn't going to use LGA-1366. They've got a new socket for the high end (LGA-2011).


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 9:26 am 
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echn111 wrote:
Air is very competitive for quiet systems if you're not folding or running power hungry overclocked kit. If you have the time and money is not an issue, watercooling and air are equivalent.

Otherwise, air is more cost effective. Just keep your case fans running under 750rpm and your internal fans, such as the CPU and GPU fans, running at or under 800 rpm. If you're going with a 1156 and a mid-range card like the 5770, you should still be able to implement a mild overclock.

As for the 5770, when people call the vapor-X "quiet", they're not talking SPCR quiet. To me, the noise level is unacceptable. If you go for a mid to high end card, you must replace your GPU cooler with a 3rd party alternative ideally running quiet 120mm fans. You don't need the TR vram cooler if you're not overclocking your GPU a lot.

(and the FT02 is a nice case; and that "little Corsair thing" H50 is not good for either cooling or noise levels

On a slightly seperate topic:
I will disagree with is that air cooling, done properly, is "always" quieter than watercooling. Yes, for low end, low energy kit that is not especially desirable air is more quiet. Or when compared to poorly designed watercooling.

But when you get to the mid-range, it's about the same as you will be be able to run the fans at slower speeds than equivalent air (e.g. 550 to 600 rpm rather than 750 to 800rpm) assuming you use large radiators, and there are ways to minimize pump noise (unless you get a zalman in which case, you're stuck with what they give you). A well designed watercooling loop that doubles up some of the case fans as radiator fans, and properly isolates the pump, will beat poorly designed air cooling. But even here, air cooling is preferable since results are similar, but with less hassle, less expense. And, unfortunately, someone who can design a good, quiet watercooling loop will almost certainly be able to setup good air cooling. I'm on this forum because I'm trying to find a reason to go back to watercooling and I can't.....

(For high end highly 'overclocked' kit, water is superior for noise.)


I agree with that. Watercooling needs a pump so will likely make more noise than a very low powered air-cooled system.

But if you want high end hardware +/-overclocking then air cooling becomes the far noisier option, particularly on the gpu.

Though many may be happy with one, I don't want an intel atom powered machine with an anaemic gfx card. I'm not willing to make that much of a sacrifice in performance for the sake of a few decibels. I cannot hear my pc(link in sig) above ambient from 1m. I accept my case isn't commercially available, but wc loops using lots of innovatek konvekt-o-matik/alphacool cape cora tubes can get a similar level of performance.

I can't imagine an air-cooled system can come close to the low noise levels of a passively cooled watercooled high-end pc using a quiet pump.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 10:44 am 
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mike, the problem is that after getting Fortress 2, you may still want to have a water cooled system! I got myself one of those cases and after a close inspection I noticed that the HDD cage is actually removable (well, not without some work). It gives you three kick-ass 180-mm fans. Setting a half-meter long radiator on top of them makes it more than perfect for WC. I cannot stop thinking of WCing it every time I glance at those fans.

Isn't it possible to sound-proof a pump somehow? Like a silent HDD enclosure, but for a pump? Or undervolt it?


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:11 am 
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When I saw the title "Nearly Silent System - Better with WC?" I thought you meant replacing the noisy radiator and fan combo with the WC.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 11:14 am 
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It's probably worth considering what the real differences are between WC and typical heatpipe heatsinks.

1. The primary function of the water in WC and the trapped liquid in a heatpipe is the same: To move the heat from the source to somewhere else -- that somewhere else being large-area fins for fans to transfer the heat into the air.

2. What propels the movement of water/heat in a WC system is the pump. That's the only thing. What propels the movement of liquid/heat in a heatpipe is the heat -- in general, the more heat at the source, the more efficient the heatpipe gets. With AC, how much heat is transferred depends entirely on the flow rate produced by the pump (and other details of the tubing system) -- This is ignoring the role of fins and fan airflow on them for now.

This is the key difference.

3. With heatsinks that have 10/12 "heatpipe paths"* into the fins, I think they actually move more heat more quickly than most WC systems -- except the most high end ones that use huge tubes, very large reservoirs (ie, a lot of water) and, naturally, very powerful pumps. Can such pumps be as quiet as heatpipes? (That's a rhetorical question).

*I use the term "heatpipe paths" because of the common misconception and confusion about U-shaped heatpipes -- a 10" heatpipe shaped into a U, bonded to the base at its middle, works exactly like 2 5" heatpipes. It's the number of pipe runs through the fins that matters for heat transfer, not the number of unbroken heatpipe runs. So a tower heatsink with 6 u-shaped heatpipes is best descried as having 12 heatpipe paths.

For cooling a single CPU in a PC, I think WC is completely outclassed by the best heatsinks. There's no contest for efficiency, cost, noise or even performance.

Where WC still has an edge is in cooling GPUs, mostly because of the sheer amount of heat the most powerful ones produce these days, and their awkward placement on a slot card. However, if a heatpipe/heatsink maker worked closely with a case maker, so that multiple heatpipes could be run from the GPU to fins mounted on the outside of the case like a water radiator, I'm sure an air-cooled heatsink could match a high end WC system -- without the noise of the pump.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 1:31 pm 
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While I generally agree with Mike, I am going to have to respond to some of these points as they are incorrect, at least when applied across the board.

MikeC wrote:
3. With heatsinks that have 10/12 "heatpipe paths"* into the fins, I think they actually move more heat more quickly than most WC systems -- except the most high end ones that use huge tubes, very large reservoirs (ie, a lot of water) and, naturally, very powerful pumps.


The size of the reservoir makes no difference. The amount of water in the system does not effect the cooling ability at all (it does obviously increase the amount of time to reach equilibrium, but does not effect the maximum heat load) -- okay technically with very large reservoirs with a large surface area it will, but in any sane sized system...

The size of the tubing makes a small difference at best, when we are talking about anything above 3/8" -- Cathar showed this a long time ago, the tubing size makes very little difference to flow -- again, technically using extreme sizes this is not true, but for the commonly used sizes, very little difference.

Flow rates above a certain rate (typically 1-1.5gpm) make very little difference. The item in the loop that is most effected by flow rates are the CPU/GPU blocks, and Skinnee's testing shows that there is massively diminished returns beyond 1-1.5gpm, and this is easily achievable with todays pumps, without needing the over sized pumps of yester-year.

MikeC wrote:

For cooling a single CPU in a PC, I think WC is completely outclassed by the best heatsinks. There's no contest for efficiency, cost, noise or even performance.


This statement.... what can I say? performance with water cooling FAR out classes air cooling. I'll give you cost and efficiency, I've said so myself above. Noise is somewhat debatable, as it depends on what you are trying to cool. Slow moving fans over a radiator are quieter than Delta's on a heatsink. That said, for a normal to low power system, yes, AC is quieter. But performance? no way. Not even close. The sheer surface area of a 140x3 radiator allows a much greater cooling ability than any AC heatsink -- I guess technically you could make an AC heatsink that large, but it would be impossible to manage. Water gives you flexibility that you cannot have with air.

MikeC wrote:
Where WC still has an edge is in cooling GPUs, mostly because of the sheer amount of heat the most powerful ones produce these days, and their awkward placement on a slot card. However, if a heatpipe/heatsink maker worked closely with a case maker, so that multiple heatpipes could be run from the GPU to fins mounted on the outside of the case like a water radiator, I'm sure an air-cooled heatsink could match a high end WC system -- without the noise of the pump.


Sure, a custom case with a massive passive heatsink may be able to keep up. But 2 (or more!) GTX 480s pump out nearly 600 watts... which is a huge heatload, and would require a very large passive heatsink. The guys with reservators typically max out their heatload at 300 watts ish.

Mike you have focused on the efficiency of heat pipes, but left out the surface area. While its possible that a heat pipe is more efficient than a modern WC block at heat transfer (and I'd question this anyway, modern water blocks are pretty good), the surface area available to WC is always realistically going to be much more than available for AC.


EDIT: Links for anyone who cares:
Effect of tubing size on performance:
http://www.xtremesystems.org/forums/sho ... p?t=147767

Effect of flow rate on CPU block efficiency:
http://skinneelabs.com/i7-blocks-2.html


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:01 pm 
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ascl --

There are lots of fine details I don't know about WC, for sure. I don't care about absolute cooling performance, because mostly it's a joke, a time waster for obsessive geeks... but just for something to do, here's a challenge: Prove me wrong. :wink:

1) Take a top Intel or AMD CPU system with measurable power draw, set up on an open bench platform (for ease)
2) Overclock it 30% -- or whatever -- to get the power way up. Do whatever needs to be done with Vcore to make it stable.
3) Run Prime95 (or whatever)...

Compare the CPU temps achieved with Noctua 14 (with stock fans at 12V) vs a custom WC up to 3x the cost of the Noctua, cooled with whatever fans w/ similar noise as the Noctua.

Is that a reasonable contest? Not really, with a 3x $$ difference, but....

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:13 pm 
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I have acknowledged in basically every post I have made on the topic, that WC is not cheap. Its hard to argue value for money compared with AC.

But your test case is easy. My system is a Q6600 overclocked to 3.6Ghz, with appropriate vcore (I'd have to check). Using AC (a Tuniq Tower + stock fan, which isn't the highest performing heatsink, but its not too far off... I did try with San Ace fans too btw), I cannot hit that clock speed and maintain stability, it gets too hot, temps hitting 95c+ before crashing. And the noise!

My WC system keeps it stupidly cool (yes its over kill), CPU doesn't hit 50c at load -- which means I could likely OC more if I wanted to, and the 700 rpm fans are barely audible in my, admittedly, noisy room. Oh and my GPU is also in the loop so doesn't make extra noise either.


And my system is fairly low power compared to whats available these days.


But please, don't ask me about the cost... :)


There is no question in my mind that WC vastly out performs air cooling in terms of sheer performance.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:02 pm 
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Acsl has given an excellent reponse already, but just a few other details to add: the limiting factor to heat dispersal from the cpu ihs is usually the fins. Whilst the area of the heatpipes to the fins is a point where the case is the more the better (more heatpipes) the limiting factor is the fin surface area.

Radiators have both greater contact area between (flattened) pipes containing the heated water and the fins, even in a single 120.1 radiator, but use a better thermal conductor (copper rather than aluminium used in almost all air-coolers.

Even a 120.1 radiator performs on par with the best AC. The difference widens considerably with larger radiators. Simply put, to say the best AC can cooler as well as a large radiator is incorrect.

To perform on a par with such a large radiator an AC would need very narrowly-spaced fins and high airflow as at high heatloads the total contact area between the heatpipes and fins becomes a limiting factor. There's only so many heatpipes that can fit on a CPUs IHS so the onl.y way to overcome this is to fit more fins into an area that realistically can only have a cross-section on a 14cm fan.

With such tightly spaced fins it requires a very high rpm fan to overcome the airflow impedence and provide high static pressure, and so an aircooler becomes much much noisier than watercooling.

Watercooling is bulky, costly and fiddly. But for high heatloads it is a much quieter option. I feel that often people use the fact it is less practical to avoid this conclusion.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 8:31 pm 
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You know, one thing kind of sticks with me: on the system I described at the beginning of this thread I'm definitely going to stick with AC on the CPU. But I'm going to keep considering a relatively simply WC solution on the 5770 - maybe a 2x120.

I'll need to see how that fits my case, though. (Silverstone Fortress ft02)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:44 am 
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mikegray wrote:
I'm going to keep considering a relatively simply WC solution on the 5770 - maybe a 2x120.

I'll need to see how that fits my case, though. (Silverstone Fortress ft02)

See this thread for how easy it is to passively cool the 5770 without active air cooling or water cooling.

I'm also using an Asus CuCore 5770 (aka. non-reference design so that the heatsink fits without bumping into the rear of the case) with an Accelero S1. With a room temp of 23c it tops out at 84c in Furmark, and 65c in games. Idles in the mid-30's.

And this is in a stuffy P182 case with door closed and a slow spinning 120mm fan blowing over it. The airier FT02 could only provide you with better results. :)


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:54 am 
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Hm. Which card did you buy, exactly? The confusion about different layouts on Radeons has me a little worried here.

Oh - and I just remembered: do you lose your other PCI-e slot? Since I want to add a few other cards (not GPUs - other stuff) to this rig, I'm a little worried about losing slots.


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