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 Post subject: Fanless i5-680 system in Zalman's TNN500AF case w/ pics
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 9:48 pm 
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Location: Memphis, TN
Greetings fellow silent PC enthusiasts! I'd like to share my completely fanless i5 build that I completed this past weekend. Fastest PC I've ever used and performance is seemingly instantaneous. Oddly, even browsing the internet is noticeably faster than on my previous Intel 2.4 GHz Dual Core system. This fully loaded case weighs a ton (approximately 90 lbs) but I'm thoroughly impressed by its genius design and high quality, it's a shame Zalman discontinued production:

Image Image Image Image

The case I used was last produced in 2004, the TNN500AF from Zalman of South Korea.

The passive cooling performs remarkably well, sporting lower #s than I had anticipated...
Ambient temperature (room temp): 24°C
CPU low 20°C shortly after boot, mid 20°C idle and lower 30°C @ full load after an extended period (1+ hour of gaming).
GPU high 20°C shortly after boot, mid 40°C idle and upper 50°C @ full load after an extended period (1+ hour of gaming).

My goal was to build the most powerful work station and green friendly PC that I could come up with while utilizing the latest technology and also being completely 100% silent. I cherry picked the parts based on what would yield the highest performance on low thermal properties and low power consumption, but the most important attribute above all was to achieve long lasting system reliability and stability (easily obtained when there are no moving mechanical parts such as fan motors and magnetic spinning HDDs, all of which are doomed to failure). Other perks include dust free internals, a permanent system life cycle, and a recyclable aluminum case. The case will function just as well 1000 years from now as it did when it was manufactured 6 years ago, as that's all it is, a hunk of metal which serves as a massive heat sink.

It took a couple weeks longer to assemble as more parts were required than were initially anticipated but all were necessary to meet the requirements of the motherboard. The 1st time I attempted to boot the system, the machine wouldn't even post (bios screen didn't load). I was a bit paranoid, thinking it could have been anything from a bad motherboard (that would have been a nightmare) to a grounding issue, but apparently the bios of the motherboard did not support the latest CPUs and possibly lacked compatibility with the memory I had chosen. The solution was connecting a laptop to the motherboard by USB to update to the latest bios remotely! I didn't even know it was possible to update the bios of a motherboard without being able to at least power the system on, that was quite an interesting trick that this high-end motherboard supported. Bios was updated remotely and all of the following boots have been successful.

I welcome any advice or critiques on how I can improve this system. For example, I've been considering installing optional 120mm case fan(s) for use during gaming to insure a long lifespan for the components, set to kick on when the CPU reaches 30c. Is that even necessary?

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Totally silent and passively cooled i7 build: Zalman TNN-500AF Fanless case | ASRock Z77 Extreme9 | Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge | 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz Kingston HyperX Genesis | HIS Radeon HD 7750 iSilence | four 120GB SATA III Kingston HyperX SSDs in RAID 10 for OS | two 420GB Fusion-io ioFX PCI-E SSDs for applications


Last edited by NeoGeo on Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:56 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:58 am 
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... 8) ...
Sweet !!

A fan ? with 50°C temps at load ? Why bother really ?

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 5:00 am 
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I highly doubt there will be an issue with the CPU or GPUs overheating, but I'm using a tweaker/overclocker motherboard, the Ferrari of LGA 1156 motherboards if you will, and while it was designed for high voltage settings, the manufacturer likely expected it to be mounted in a case full of fans. The ASUS Maximus III Extreme does have 8 (eight) fan connectors and the manual does state, "Insufficient air flow inside the system may damage the motherboard components."

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Totally silent and passively cooled i7 build: Zalman TNN-500AF Fanless case | ASRock Z77 Extreme9 | Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge | 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz Kingston HyperX Genesis | HIS Radeon HD 7750 iSilence | four 120GB SATA III Kingston HyperX SSDs in RAID 10 for OS | two 420GB Fusion-io ioFX PCI-E SSDs for applications


Last edited by NeoGeo on Sat Nov 06, 2010 12:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:49 am 
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Well, I don't understand why details of a years-old case design is posted as if it's news... and why a new forum member would post a link to a review outside of SPCR when we've covered this case (and others in the series) so extensively?

http://www.silentpcreview.com/Zalman_TNN-300_Fanless
http://www.silentpcreview.com/Fanless_U ... EndPCNoise
http://www.silentpcreview.com/VoodooPC_ ... n_TNN-500A

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:29 pm 
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Whoops! I didn't mean to divert any of your thunder away from the site, sorry about that. I've read your reviews multiple times and they are a large reason why I'm such a hardcore fan of Zalman's TNN series cases. I realize that this case is ancient in terms of computer technology, and sadly, it's impossible to find new anymore (I searched thoroughly for months and emailed dozens of vendors to no avail), so I felt fortunate to have found one used in such well maintained and complete condition off craigslist.

While there are plenty of quiet rigs that are light-years beyond my setup in terms of bleeding edge performance and acoustics, this was my very first system build and so I really wanted to share the results of my project in the General Gallery of this site and possibly pick up some pointers along the way. Who knows, there may be others out there who would enjoy knowing that this years-old case design still has some life left in it.

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Totally silent and passively cooled i7 build: Zalman TNN-500AF Fanless case | ASRock Z77 Extreme9 | Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge | 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz Kingston HyperX Genesis | HIS Radeon HD 7750 iSilence | four 120GB SATA III Kingston HyperX SSDs in RAID 10 for OS | two 420GB Fusion-io ioFX PCI-E SSDs for applications


Last edited by NeoGeo on Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:37 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
Well, I don't understand why details of a years-old case design is posted as if it's news... and why a new forum member would post a link to a review outside of SPCR when we've covered this case (and others in the series) so extensively?

This strikes me as a strange reaction to a brief and informative gallery post about an interesting and fairly unique project. Have I missed something?


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:10 pm 
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alleycat wrote:
MikeC wrote:
Well, I don't understand why details of a years-old case design is posted as if it's news... and why a new forum member would post a link to a review outside of SPCR when we've covered this case (and others in the series) so extensively?

This strikes me as a strange reaction to a brief and informative gallery post about an interesting and fairly unique project. Have I missed something?

Mebbe I'm just being grouchy in the heat... and the OP first linked to a review of the TNN500 elsewhere. I see that he's quietly changed that link to SPCR's own review, so now I look like a total crank. :twisted: :lol: :wink:

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 7:05 pm 
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@NeoGeo: As a note, i'm not much knowledgeable nor experienced. But, anyway,
here is my comment:
It looks nice, although (...)(or am I missing something?) EDIT:(I was missing something), but anyway, I guess I can say you seem to have done a good job for a first build.
but... that takes me to...

I don't get this:
Quote:
this was my very first system build

Quote:
Previous system was Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40 GHz in Zalman's TNN300 fanless case, built February 2007

:shock: :!: :?

My suggestions:
:arrow: If you really fear that some "non-cooled and unmonitored" component might be getting too hot, I think you could check it for sure:
You could get an appropriate thermometer(those with a wire with a probe in the end - example ; or a "fan controller&monitor"... ) and "stick" the probe on the component. But it's beyond my knowledge if it is possible to make a short circuit or not (I think "not" if the probe has the plastic "clothe" intact).
And you would know for sure... and then could decide about the fan possibility.
But, as far as my limited knowledge goes: those components should be able to stand well the temperatures you reported for CPU and GPU, so unless those components themselves generate more heat than that (I suspect they don't), I think there should be no problem. But better be safe than sorry, so you could maybe try my suggestion or any better alternative that might come up...
But as we say here in my country, "...it doesn't die from the desease, it dies from the cure..."... But I understand, because I too worry too much sometimes.

:arrow: Another suggestion is to add more RAM if you can afford it... I mean, 4GB of RAM seem really too little in comparison to the other components and the amount of money spent.

:arrow: Are you going to leave those 3 monitors on that table, like they are in the photo? they go pass the table's edge a fair bit, aren't you afraid of knocking one over while passing by?


One last thing:
It's ridiculous to put several thumbnails that link to the same page (that has a tracker/counter)... If what you meant was to get many "hits" in your page, then my comment is again "you seem to have made a good job for a first build - wait, now I remember..."

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Last edited by OddSilence on Thu Aug 05, 2010 12:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:29 pm 
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Quote:
It looks nice, although your project seems mainly to just have used that "super&special case" (or am I missing something?)


I agree that the case is super & special, but this project was more than just the case and was not limited to what the 6 year old manual of the case instructed. The TNN500AF was only made to support socket 478 & 775, so some slight modifications had to be made to accommodate the clip support and the socket's back plate that is also proprietary to the TNN500AF's cooling system had to completely omitted. I suspect that there are very few TNN500AF i3/i5/i7 builds out there. Then again, there are virtually no TNN500AF cases to be found anywhere and yet this is quite possibly the best passive cooling case ever designed. It's the high price that killed the market for it as $1259.95 for a case limits the demand. For example, a local friend asked if I would build him a silent PC as well and I said sure. I explained that I wouldn't charge him a penny for labor, all he had to do is pay for the components and I would assemble him an impeccable build (I'm sure most of the DIY enthusiasts here can relate, I'm a perfectionist that takes pride in his work and will strive for absolute top tier quality). When he learned of the $600 price for a new in box TNN300 case he quickly changed his mind.

I did optimize the passive cooling features:
Doubled the real mount thermal blocks (sourcing that part was quite a feat on its own) and since the thermal blocks lacked their original adhesive pads I improvised with a non-electrically conductive adhesive with high thermal transfer properties from Home Depot (a tube of silicone rubber). However, it was more than just that, I created double sided pads using the Theragrip Thermal Tape, which can be found on the list of components from the link provided, then applied these custom made pads to the top and bottom of each rear mount thermal block. Next I placed a small bead of the silicone to firmly attach the tape to the block. Waited 24 hours for a full cure and then added a bead to attach the block with the pad to the motherboard. Flipped the motherboard over to rest on the thermal blocks and temporarily loaded the motherboard with the components for additional pressure and let another 24 hours pass for a full cure before installing the motherboard into the case. If you read the reviews of the TNN300 & TNN500, these blocks were the biggest complaint because they had a tendency to fall off simply from gravity alone, not to mention they would easily brush off while attempting to install the motherboard into the case, and each time they fell off they would lose adhesiveness as the manual warned. Using this method outlined above, the blocks were soundly secured in strategic locations and will remain so without a doubt.

Although this specific use of the memory heat sinks was never mentioned on the packaging or the case manual, I decided to install 9 memory heat sinks on various exposued chips of the motherboard when those parts were originally intended for cooling VGA memory. This was a passive solution to help insure the life of the motherboard, and if the optional fan(s) are installed then the heat will be more effectively removed from the areas of the motherboard that possess a memory heat sink.

And of course this would be a unique system build based on the combination of components that were selected. These weren't just any components, they were absolute premium components. However, if someone can recommend any components that could be upgraded and would remain low power and low heat, such as faster SLC SATA III SSDs (doesn't exist yet to my knowledge) or a faster 32nm CPU with an equal or lower TDP than 73w, then I welcome such critiques. Now I do plan to upgrade the 69w GT 240 to the 70w GT 430 once it's finally released, and will implement the VGA cooling system of the case for that install.

And finally, why this project was more than just a case, at least from my perspective, is that this was my first total system build.

Quote:
I don't get this:
Quote:
this was my very first system build

Quote:
Previous system was Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40 GHz in Zalman's TNN300 fanless case, built February 2007

:shock: :!: :? :roll:


In my experience, I've worked on nearly every aspect of a computer other than changing out the motherboard, so this TNN500AF build that I'm sharing was my 1st complete system build. My previous system, the E6000 in TNN300 micro-ATX case, was ordered from endpcnoise.com and they were the ones to build my previous system. I probably would have had them build my current TNN500AF system for me as well but they were sold out of the cases. While they still have new TNN300 cases in stock, I wanted to use a full size ATX motherboard and I knew the older TNN500 supported up to 100w TDP CPU while the TNN300's only supported 70w maximum. I even asked them if they had a used TNN500AF or if an employee or customer would want to part with theirs, but no luck so I resorted to building on my own once I finally sourced a used TNN500AF case. The benefit was a savings of around $1200 in markup and labor, I was able to use the premium components of my choosing, and I have peace of mind and pride in knowing that the assembly was top notch.

Quote:
:arrow: Are you going to leave those 3 monitors on that table, like they are in the photo? they go pass the table's edge a fair bit, aren't you afraid of knocking one over while passing by?


That's not my computer desk and it's not even my office. The PC was assembled in the kitchen since that room has plenty of countertops for the parts, the best lighting of any room in this house and plenty of snacks. I haven't even switched my data over to the new system yet, that's a major multi-day project in its own but I'm waiting for MS Office 2010 Pro and an order of various length SATA II cables with latches to arrive before I begin to backup and transfer my files from the TNN300 to the new TNN500AF build. However, while on my computer desk, the displays are even more vulnerable to tipping than what you see on the breakfast table. They never tip though, so not much of a concern, and even if I did they are easily replaceable, unlike the computer system.

About thumbnails:
There's no plot to accumlate click throughs, the page is add free (except for linking back to this site). I merely want to share my silent machine project with those who have a similar passion. I wanted viewers of the thread to have something to look at but I didn't want to spam the full version large pictures. My thought was that if the thread viewer managed to click just one of the thumbnails then they would be taken to the page where they could view the full version anyways. Sorry for the confusion.

About the RAM:
While the RAID 10 array provides redundancy and speed benefits, it also provides storage I will actually utilize. Memory wise, I almost never use more than 2GB while I'm working so would I really benefit from having > 4GB? At the moment I have 8 web browsers open, four programs, and I'm only using 1.5 GB of RAM. From my understanding, the more RAM you have the greater the latency. Just like the large 12MB L3 cache sizes for CPUs are reported to have higher latency than their smaller L3 size CPUs of a similar generation. Furthermore, having two empty DIMM slots translate to lower heat and lower power consumption. Notice how the two sticks have a nice space in between them in the photographs. Now I thought about spacing out the video cards to achieve better heat dissipation by placing the GT 240 in the top slot (slot 1), and the 7200 GS in the middle slot (slot 3), but the motherboard manual recommended the configuration I have in order to achieve x16 lane performance.

About optional fan(s):
The motherboard actually came with these temperature monitoring wires that you mentioned so perhaps I will pursue this solution. The theory is that the fans would only kick on when I'm gaming, at which point the fan noise won't be as noticeable since the speakers will be in use. That probably won't be an issue until Diablo 3, at which point the system may actually be pushed.

Thanks for your feedback!

_________________
Totally silent and passively cooled i7 build: Zalman TNN-500AF Fanless case | ASRock Z77 Extreme9 | Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge | 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz Kingston HyperX Genesis | HIS Radeon HD 7750 iSilence | four 120GB SATA III Kingston HyperX SSDs in RAID 10 for OS | two 420GB Fusion-io ioFX PCI-E SSDs for applications


Last edited by NeoGeo on Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:12 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 11:50 pm 
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Quote:
this project was more than just the case

I understand now, sorry, as I don't know the case, I wrongly assumed it was all part of it. Nice work :)

Quote:
since the thermal blocks lacked their original adhesive pads I improvised with a non-electrically conductive adhesive

I don't know if it would suit your application, but there are computer thermal adhesives on the market, both pads and a stuff more similar to the TIM usually used on CPUs (for example, there are other brands, but one I have tried was from ArticSilver, but it's a definitive atachment, once is "glued" it's "glued" forever - it has the advantage of not falling down, though :) ).

Quote:
About thumbnails:

Ok, sorry, although the way you did it was prone to that interpretation.
I suggest you could link the thumbnails to their respective big images, and add a text link (example:"more information") to link to your informative webpage.
Quote:
My thought was that if the thread viewer managed to click just one of the thumbnails then they would be taken to the page(...)

Yeah, but dumb people like me, just "open in a row" all thumbnails in BrowserTabs in order to view the pictures then. :P (so, i opened 4 equal webpages :wink: ) :lol:

Quote:
About the RAM:

- I don't know if there would be a redundancy penalty, maybe other people can inform you.
- About the power consumption, I think it wouldn't be much diffrent (if i'm not worng it's just a couple of watts), either ask someone else to confirm it, or you can use(in case you've never used it): A powersupply calculator.
- Concerning the amount of RAM, today you use 1.5GB, but my guess is a system like that, you'll want to use it for several years, not just 1 or 2, so it would be a future-proof thing. Of course you're free to have how much RAM you want, you could just have 1GB and it would work, and if you were happy, that is what is important. I just stated that it seemed to me (although as I said other people might know more than me) that your configuration seemed a bit unbalanced in terms of RAM compared to the other components. Also, a few years from now, if you want to add more RAM then, you might not find exactly equal modules, etc. But that's my way of seeing it. Each person has it's own view about things. I can only give my opinion... And as you say, with the SSD you might notice less a lack of RAM.

Quote:
About optional fan

- I understand your intention, and, to my eyes, it wouldn't diminuish your project to have a, let's call it, "emergency fan".
- How would you hold it at "0 RPM" at normal use? (if that is your intention); I guess with a switch or with a fan controller (a few let turn the fans off i think)...
- Reminder: I think the fan(s), specially if it would spin fast, might generate a new problem for you: dust.

A question
I have tried to find this, but don't see it either in your posts, nor on your webpage, although i have read a good amount, i haven't read all, and I might just have missed it: What PowerSupply are you using?

Another question (and remember my disclamer :wink: )
Why so many SSDs for OS ? An SSD is already very fast :P, and wouldn't be better to just put one of them with "PageFile+TempFiles" as its only job? (in order to restrain a good part of the "wear" to one drive, so you could just replace that one, and not 4 of them...) [please don't go running to buy an additional SSD because of what i wrote ! :shock: ]

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:02 am 
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Thermal adhesives:
I probably invested 4 or 5 hours into researching the best adhesive for these thermal blocks and none of the pads seemed to be sufficient as the surface of these blocks are just too polished and smooth. I wanted a nonpermanent yet firm adhesive that could be easily removed. The silicone is not like super glue. Once it has cured it's a flexible solid. It was quite the ideal material. It's transparent and easily peels off without any potential chipping to the motherboard or the thermal blocks.

RAM:
If I thought there would be a speed benefit instead of a hindrance, I would install more memory. It seems that I should wait until I'm using at least 80% of my available memory before I upgrade though. If I can't find matching modules when the time comes then I'll just replace what I have with two DIMMs but larger capacity, say 4GB x 2. As it is now, 4GB total is overkill and 3GB would still leave ample headroom. I'm concerned more about the quality of the memory than the quantity.

Power supply:
The case has a built-in proprietary 400 watt power supply. FYI, all TNN500AF cases were produced with this same power supply by Zalman. It's totally silent and has an entire side of the case to itself. Being mounted to the opposite side of the motherboard, the heat is being pulled away quite effectively. While the system was on and the case was open, I put my ear right up to it, not so much as a tiny hum, just dead silence. Quite remarkable that they accomplished such a silent design and 400 watts is probably twice what I will pull at full load even though I'm using two graphics cards. Since society is moving towards a greener future, I suspect that we will see more powerful components that use less energy so 400 watts should be plenty any for seeable future builds within this case.

Four 64GB Intel x25-e SSDs in RAID 10 for OS:
I'm paranoid about losing my data and I'm bad about doing backups. Since RAID 10 is a mirror + RAID 0, only half the storage space of the 4 drives is available. I went with RAID 10 so that if two drives fail then the logical drive is still intact and yet it's faster than RAID 5 or RAID 1. While there is wear leveling technology for the reads/writes, SLC will last 50+ (perhaps 100) years at the level of use they are seeing. If these were the more common MLC SSDs that the vast majority of consumers use then I would be more concerned. But I do have other SSDs sitting around and one could serve as the PageFile+TempFiles drive. I'm not familiar with this setup though, any tips? Would it benefit performance or simply reduce the wear leveling the main array? If it's a performance benefit then I'm all for it. Thanks!

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Totally silent and passively cooled i7 build: Zalman TNN-500AF Fanless case | ASRock Z77 Extreme9 | Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge | 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz Kingston HyperX Genesis | HIS Radeon HD 7750 iSilence | four 120GB SATA III Kingston HyperX SSDs in RAID 10 for OS | two 420GB Fusion-io ioFX PCI-E SSDs for applications


Last edited by NeoGeo on Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:01 am 
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NeoGeo wrote:
Thermal adhesives:
Power supply:
The case has a built-in proprietary 400 watt power supply. FYI, all TNN500AF cases were produced with this same power supply by Zalman. It’s totally silent and has an entire side of the case to itself. Being mounted to the opposite side of the motherboard, the heat is being pulled away quite effectively. While the system was on and the case was open, I put my ear right up to it, not so much as a tiny hum, just dead silence. Quite remarkable that they accomplished such a silent design and 400 watts is probably twice what I will pull at full load even though I’m using two graphics cards. Since society is moving towards a greener future, I suspect that we will see more powerful components that use less energy so 400 watts should be plenty any for seeable future builds within this case.


Hey, you are lucky to have TNN 500 AF! Congrats for your choice. I also do have it. Now running with sicky noisy PSU since original PSU just broke week ago. :-( I've moved machine from one office to another and while switching it on laud *crack* sounded and I was w/o power on +5V line. Fortunately zalman did good job in designing PSU so no other component was affected by PSU dead. :-) I ordered SilverStone ST40NF as a replacement and hope that it'll do the job and I'll dive again into complete silence.

Cheers,
Karel

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Previous: Zalman TNN 500 AF + Asus A8V Deluxe + Winchester 1.8 GHz + 1GB Mushkin Black Level II Version 2 + Hitachi Travelstar 5K80 80GB + 1x 5V 5W light-bulb to keep PSU running!


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:20 am 
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Those integrated fanless PSUs are probably the weakest elements in the TNN cases. They were already a bit behind the transition to majority 12VDC reliance when released; the 400W unit was closer to ATX12V v1.3 guide rather than the v2.0 that was current in 2005-6, with only 216W max on the 12V line. Not sure who the OEM was -- Zalman never made their own PSUs.

As for your replacement Silverstone fanless PSU, where/how will you mount it? At the top/back looks like the only real option... and you'll have to do some cutting.

Too bad you couldn't wait a little longer -- the fanless 80+ gold Seasonics are coming.

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 Post subject: silent power supply for TNN500AF
PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:27 pm 
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SilverStone's ST40NF 400W power supply looks like the best and most modern silent PSU on the market. I'd be curious to hear and see how you install it into your TNN500AF case as well since I'll probably face the same fate inevitably.

Alternatively, I know that Zalman sold the TNN500AF power supply separately as a replacement as I've seen the listings, but sourcing one that is actually in stock may be impossible. Or, what about taking the 350-watt PSU from a TNN300 case, wouldn't that be the closest match for an ideal fit with our case?

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Totally silent and passively cooled i7 build: Zalman TNN-500AF Fanless case | ASRock Z77 Extreme9 | Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge | 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz Kingston HyperX Genesis | HIS Radeon HD 7750 iSilence | four 120GB SATA III Kingston HyperX SSDs in RAID 10 for OS | two 420GB Fusion-io ioFX PCI-E SSDs for applications


Last edited by NeoGeo on Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 3:35 pm 
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@NeoGeo: About using another drive for the Page&TemporaryFiles, I had the idea and do it, but probably other people do it too. This is how I see it: If the drives were HDDs, it would mean a performance improvement, but in your case with SSDs no, it would only protect your main drives from wearing (which as you've well said shouldn't be a problem since they are SLC) because of the random-access nature of the SSDs.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 4:43 pm 
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I opened this thread becuase I've always liked the look of these cases and the way they work. So when I saw the topic I looked at it.

But my delicate sensibilities were unsettled by your first reply Mike. It turned the post into a justification for being keen about posting. The gallery, surely, is there so that people who are keen about their systems can show them off. Even if they are old. I don't think there's any rule that gallery stuff has to be the latest and greatest is there? Man, it doesn't matter what it is, it's a gallery!

And what's wrong with linking to a review somewhere else? You've made it clear that you don't like it, but you have not set up a forum where speech is restricted only to stuff contained here.

Of course you've acknowledged that you were in a bad mood (as opposed to being sorry about it). But because this stuff counts when it comes from you, I still wanted so say I think you should be careful. When someone keen puts up a first post and the site admin says to the world "this is old and not news", well, someone is going to feel bad. I felt bad reading it. You cut down a guy who's keen, has read all the right stuff on spcr, has bought a machine from one of your sponsors (endpcnoise) and he's giving you free content. Jeeze.

The link is gone, but it looks like the real problem is that he linked to something that is in competition with spcr.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:07 pm 
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potsy wrote:
But my delicate sensibilities were unsettled by your first reply Mike.... I think you should be careful... The link is gone, but it looks like the real problem is that he linked to something that is in competition with spcr.

Mebbe you should stop being so sensitive, too? I did laugh at myself -- and sure I was annoyed that the poster didn't link to SPCR's own articles on the case, especially when our work on them is quite extensive, and far more acoustics-focused than any others. I certainly didn't think my comments would stop NeoGeo from continuing to interact here, as he's quite proud of his work -- and he obviously hasn't stopped. My intention with the links was to allow newer forum participants to know that SPCR has indeed covered the TNN cases in quite a lot of detail... and give them a chance to read the articles which the OP admits, he also "read your reviews multiple times and they are a large reason why I’m such a hardcore fan of Zalman’s TNN series cases."

Besides, everyone can be a bit grouchy sometimes. :lol:

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:41 pm 
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I'm a guest here, like anyone else other than staff, so I'm just happy my thread hasn't been deleted or edited by the powers that be. The original link to the review of the TNN500AF case was simply the first Google result that came up, but I could have put more consideration into my link before posting. Btw, it's nice to see that this < 2 day old thread has already made it to the 1st page out of 172,000 results for TNN500AF:
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=TNN500AF

Older but better:
I marveled at the design of the newer TNN300 that I've used for years and I wanted something even better this round. The TNN300 only supports micro-ATX, so having 3 or more PCI-Express x16 slots was impossible and I need 3 minimum. As it turns out, older was better in terms of cooling, features (wheels & handles), power, and internal space. Plus, the case was nowhere to be found, which made it even more desirable. It's funny how that works.

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Totally silent and passively cooled i7 build: Zalman TNN-500AF Fanless case | ASRock Z77 Extreme9 | Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge | 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz Kingston HyperX Genesis | HIS Radeon HD 7750 iSilence | four 120GB SATA III Kingston HyperX SSDs in RAID 10 for OS | two 420GB Fusion-io ioFX PCI-E SSDs for applications


Last edited by NeoGeo on Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:20 pm 
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Mike, I agree! I'm not sure why I found the time to write all those words. I used the phrase "delicate sensibilities" to poke fun at myself for having them. I didn't mean criticism or offence really, just a raised eyebrow. Which you already emoticonned anyway. So, sorry about that.

I'll stop cluttering this thread with blah now and get back to what I should be doing! But first, I forgot to say thanks for posting NeoGeo! It's not going to happen at my place, but I still lust after that case anyway. Nice build.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 26, 2010 4:35 pm 
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Hi NeoGeo.

A great project.

I have two TNN 500AF machines and have been looking at ways to upgrade the motherboads for some time.

I wonder if you could possibly explain in a little more detail what you had to do to fit the Zalman processor heat sink to the mother board. I was under the impression that the 775 Zalman mounting kit was incompatible with the 1156 motherboard mounting holes.

Many thanks


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 12:04 pm 
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The holes will not align on their own but with some elbow grease you can make it work without damaging any components. The upper support clip has enough flexibility to be physically stretched so that the holes do line up. However, the matching back plate cannot be stretched so it cannot be used. Instead, use a screw to remove the nuts from the back plate by screwing in slightly and then wedge the nuts out. I took one of the screws to Home Depot to find the correct size neoprene rubber washers and fiber washers. The larger rubber washers go on first, then the smaller fiber washers were placed above the rubber washers, then the nuts were installed and tightened.

Now with the Socket 775 Clip Support that I used with the Asus Maximus III Extreme motherboard, I had to physically stretch the corners until the mounting holes were aligned, but all 4 holes did align. This process requires one screw installation at a time along with a generous amount of pressure to stretch the plastic so you must be careful not to bend the motherboard or squeeze capacitors loose. Once installed it looks natural but be aware that not all LGA 1156 motherboards will have the same mounting hole dimensions.

I rebuilt my Zalman TNN300 fanless case this previous week and I used Gigabyte's GA-H57M-USB3 which is also socket LGA 1156. The holes varied slightly from the Asus motherboard in my TNN500 build and I was only able to align two holes simultaneously, so I went with the diagonal corners. I chose the corner with the socket lever slot and the corner adjacent to the level slot. Even with only two screws installed, the clip support was as firm as imaginable. Also, even though it was a micro ATX motherboard I used 14 real mount thermal blocks and 12 ZALMAN ZM-RHS1 VGA RAM heatsinks to cool every exposed chip on the motherboard.

For the TNN300 rebuild I used the following components:
Gigabyte GA-H57M-USB3
Intel Core i5-670 (bought for only $165.50 off eBay)
4GB DDR3 1600 MHz Kingston HyperX T1 Series ($116.99 from Newegg)
Intel 80GB X25-M Gen2 SSD ($169.95 off eBay)
NVidia 7600 GS (reused from previous build & utilized the full TNN300 VGA cooling kit)
Windows 7 Home Premium ($50, from 3 system family pack upgrade)

TNN300 booted to bios on first attempt, zero blue screens or lockups since, crazy fast and also zero decibel noise.

I'd love to buy another TNN500AF case btw. Please PM me if anyone has one complete and in top condition to sell. Will pay $800 used, $1300 for new and I'll cover shipping expense.

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Totally silent and passively cooled i7 build: Zalman TNN-500AF Fanless case | ASRock Z77 Extreme9 | Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge | 16GB DDR3 1600 MHz Kingston HyperX Genesis | HIS Radeon HD 7750 iSilence | four 120GB SATA III Kingston HyperX SSDs in RAID 10 for OS | two 420GB Fusion-io ioFX PCI-E SSDs for applications


Last edited by NeoGeo on Sat Nov 06, 2010 1:03 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 30, 2010 4:27 pm 
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Many thanks for the detailed response - it was much appreciated.

I recently upgraded one of my TNN machines with a Gigabyte 775 motherboard and 8500 processor but based on what you say I will try the other with a 1156.

I don't know whether you've seen it but Zalman do make a 1156/775 converter (ZM-CS5B) for some of their heat sinks and although it doesn't say it is suitable for use with the TNN it looks as though it might work.

I'll let you know if I have any success.

It is a shame in way that Zalman abandoned the TNN just before the low power processors and graphics cards started to appear. Had they waited a little longer and updated their compatible component lists they would probably have sold a lot more units.

The next problem will no doubt be the power supplies !

Thanks again for your help.


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PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:15 pm 
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tnnuser wrote:
It is a shame in way that Zalman abandoned the TNN just before the low power processors and graphics cards started to appear. Had they waited a little longer and updated their compatible component lists they would probably have sold a lot more units.

Trouble is, now that there are so many efficient components around and excellent air-cooling options for any heat-generating part, this case seems redundant. You could safely build a totally passive system in many cheaper cases, there really is no need anymore for a 500€ behemoth with such a complex design. For example, you can get a P183 (or any other case with top and bottom openings), strap off its fans, add a Seasonic X-400, some i3 cpu with a Scythe Orochi on it, and a HD5670 or lower with an Accelero S2 strapped on it and you're done. You could even consider cheaper ones with side grills as there's no need to muffle inside noises.

Still, the TNN is a beauty to behold!

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PostPosted: Wed Sep 01, 2010 2:40 pm 
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I'm in general agreement w/ Parappaman -- because core components are so much more energy efficient than before, and with so much development of big heatpipe-based coolers over the years, there's hardly any need for the TNN cases.

This is least true for high end gaming video cards which remain anachronisms, in a way. A whopping 120W on our test HD4890 card -- and it's far from cutting edge. ~190W on the HD5970... It might be possible to cool one of these passively in a TNN500 -- but only with a truly industrial-strength heatpipe conduction path to the case/heatsink. It might still be a stretch.

My guess is that serious interest in the TNN500 today would come from only 3 groups: extreme silencers, specialized lab applications, and silent gamers.

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PostPosted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 2:43 pm 
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And the odd person like me who just loves the engineering and design


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 2:40 pm 
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You're not odd: I, too, love the industrial design behind this behemoth! Still, from a practical point of view, it's no longer the Holy Grail of fully passive computing. And it always had an insane price tag...

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 3:28 pm 
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Hi Parappaman

I am sure you are right. I bought the TNN's after spending almost as much if not more on a series of specialist cases, so called "silent" fans, heatsinks that weighed a ton and were made of solid silver, fan voltage regulators, resorators, and supposedly silent power supplies. All of which promised the earth and delivered nothing of the sort.

The TNN was a revelation - it just worked. No noise, nothing to fiddle with and no anxiety on hot days that the machine was going to overheat. I fully accept that it was no solution for the over-clocker or the avid gamer but for the average user it was unbeatable.

As you say things have certainly moved on since then but mostly because the performance per watt of the average processor has improved so much.

Hopefully, by the time the TNN's finally expire we will be well into the next generation of even cooler chipsets.


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 12:11 pm 
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Thanks for sharing NeoGeo. Yesterday I ordered new components for building a brand new computer, including a new Fractal Design Black Pearl case, and I was wondering what to do with my old TNN500AF when I stumbled upon this post.

I have now cancelled yesterdays order, and I have ordered the following components instead (for half the price of yesterdays order):

Gigabyte GA-H55-UD3H
i5-670 (got a 30% discount on this one, otherwise I would have chosen a cheaper one)
2 x 4GB Corsair XMS3 DDR3

I will use the integrated GPU on the CPU instead of a dedicated graphics card because as this computer will mostly be used for image editing. I just hope the CPU heat sink will fit the motherboard...


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PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2010 2:15 pm 
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qdos wrote:
I will use the integrated GPU on the CPU instead of a dedicated graphics card because as this computer will mostly be used for image editing. I just hope the CPU heat sink will fit the motherboard...


Hi qdos

If you have trouble with the heat sink you might try the Zalman 1156/775 converter (ZM-CS5B) I referred to above. I haven't used it yet with a 1156 board but it looks to me as though it is going to fit.

Likewise, I am using a GeForce GT240 (with the fan removed and the Zalman heat pipe) in the case without problem if you want to try discrete graphics

Good luck.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 07, 2010 6:04 am 
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Thanks tnnuser. I just ordered one now to be sure, and so that I do not have to wait several days if I find out it doesn't fit :)


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