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 Post subject: My Virtually-Silent Ivy Bridge PC
PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:35 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:28 am
Posts: 26
Location: Pasadena, CA
My goal was to build a solid modern PC, fast but not ultra-fast or exotic, with a video card that wouldn't choke if I threw a game at it. With Silent PC Review as my guide, how silent could I get?

With newer components delivering more PC power for less energy, wattage could be minimized. Fewer watts in the box meant I could get by with less air flow than before.

Start with the Antec Solo II case and the Seasonic SS-400FL. The Solo II, aside from being generally quiet, is optimized for a fanless power supply, since the power supply mounts at the top with a vent above. Aside from being silent, this means any heat from the power supply doesn't end up inside the case. So we're well on our way to silence and a box that doesn't need much cooling. The 400 watt potential will be far more than enough.

I got a mid-level Z77 motherboard and a 65-watt-max Ivy Bridge quad-core CPU. Add an SSD. There's the heart of a system, and it will idle at very few watts. (Feeling extreme? Get a 45-watt max CPU. I didn't go quite that far, and I didn't see the 45-watt models available as I went to market.)

For silent mid-range graphics, add a fanless video card, the Sapphire Ultimate Radeon 7750. (I see PowerColor just came out with a similar fanless "Go! Green AX7750".) These will draw something like 40 watts max, and idle at a few watts.

With so few watts in the box, I dare to mount the slowest, quietest fans. My choice: Noctua NF-S12B ULN, using the ULN resistor. It doesn't move much air at its lowest setting, but then there's not much heat to eject. Can barely tell if these are on. I mount two of them on the front intake, then I remove the very good exhaust fan that came with the Solo II and replace it with a NF-S12B ULN. With two fans blowing in and one blowing out, I should be getting positive pressure in the box; that's good in that the components will be cleaner. The entering air will pass through the intake filter in the case front, and will push out through other openings (better than sucking in air and dust through those openings).

It's complete overkill, but I stick a Noctua NH-D14 heatsink on the CPU. This is a fan favored by overclockers. Attached to a low-power CPU, a huge heatsink like that could probably do the job passively based upon air moving through the case. But, setting aside the included fans, I stick another NF-S12B ULN in the center. This fan doesn't push much air and it's not intended for this purpose, but I'll use it anyway. (Seems that the Noctua fans aren't the favorite of Silent PC Reviews. Could be you can do better. I've been okay with Noctua in the past, and they give their fans a 6-year warranty and claim a big MTBF number. I doubt I'd ever try to collect a warranty on a fan, but that's a statement of manufacturer confidence.) By the way, I found the NH-D14 easy and relatively fool-proof to install, and I'm a bit thumb-fingered.

For bulk storage, I added a Western Digital Green 2TB disk. The WD Green drives are cool and quiet; not the fastest, but fast enough for me.

So, bottom line is my system idles in the 30-40 watt range (about 70 watts lower than my last PC) and has four NF-S12B ULN fans. I've pretty much achieved my goal; can't tell whether it's even on unless the room is silent and I get close to the PC. I guess the only thing keeping this PC from being perfect is I haven't found a pair of silent speakers.

When I put the PC to work, the power draw rises. May have seen it touch 100 watts. Still should be okay. I've been watching the temperature monitors; they idle in the 30's or 40's and I haven't seen anything rise above the 60's. (Useful program: HWMonitor, from http://www.cpuid.com/softwares/hwmonitor.html; it knows about Ivy Bridge.) Haven't yet tried a torture test, but I don't really torture the machine much in real use; I just want it snappy.

So I spent extra money replacing good fans with quieter fans and buying an expensive heatsink, and I didn't reach for the fastest CPU or GPU, and I'm not overclocking. But if this works out okay -- so far, so good! -- then I've got my money's worth.


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 Post subject: Re: My Virtually-Silent Ivy Bridge PC
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:42 am 
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Joined: Sat Nov 23, 2002 6:33 am
Posts: 8636
Location: Sunny SoCal
Hello from over in Monrovia!

What board and CPU did you use?

Pics are always nice also! :)

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 Post subject: Re: My Virtually-Silent Ivy Bridge PC
PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 5:11 pm 
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Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:28 am
Posts: 26
Location: Pasadena, CA
Ralf Hutter wrote:
Hello from over in Monrovia!

What board and CPU did you use?

Pics are always nice also! :)
Hi, Ralf, I was too lazy to take pics, and I hadn't listed individual components because there wasn't much difference between options with respect to the factors I was weighing. But for the record...

Mobo=Intel DZ77BH-55K
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813121606&Tpk=dz77bh-55k
Reason: I first look at the Intel board, figuring that this is the reference standard and will presumably be solid and reliable. In the past I've been completely satisfied with Intel hardware, although sometimes their software (BIOS and utilities) has had issues. This particular board had the features I expected to need, and nothing I didn't need.

The standard Ivy Bridge CPUs max out at 77 watts. I said I was looking at the 65-watt models, which have the "S" suffix, and are clocked a tad lower. There's going to be a "T" suffix for 45 watts, and slower still. At this time, there are only two "S" models available, i5-3450S and i7-3770S. I picked the i7-3770S. If my budget had been tighter, I would have been happy with the other one too.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116507
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116503


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 Post subject: Re: My Virtually-Silent Ivy Bridge PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 11:02 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2007 4:41 am
Posts: 36
Location: New Orleans, LA
disappointed that gallery post did not have any pictures, I was looking for a similar configuration

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 Post subject: Re: My Virtually-Silent Ivy Bridge PC
PostPosted: Mon Jun 11, 2012 2:04 pm 
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Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2002 1:49 pm
Posts: 834
Location: Somerset, WI - USA
Nice, I put together a very similar setup recently. I made a couple different choices.

For the CPU I went with the i5-3570K. I've always eye'd the T/S ones. But the only real power savings is under load. And since I was putting a Scythe Mugen II on it, cooling it was not going to be a problem. Idle power is basically the same. Only real reason for the lower-powered ones is if you're working in a small case or something with limited thermal capacity where you want to have a lower max power. Also, the lower-end GPU on the non-K CPUs is quite a bit slower. Not that I'll be using it. But for in the future, it might be useful. (Or if Lucid actually worked :( )

I went with an ASUS H77 board. I had been doing gigabyte for quite a while but was disappointed by the fan control. ASUS seemed to have the best. Although looking back at reviews I see that Intel has a very good fan control as well. Crap. Probably would have saved a couple watts with Intel since it's more bare-bones and would still have the things I wanted. Of course, going with the H77 instead of Z77 means I can't take advantage of the overclocking of the K cpu. But that was never my plan. I got it on sale for less than the non-Ks.

I was a little disappointed in the HD7750 cards and wanted a little bit more out of my video card. So I went with the PowerColor HD7770. If I was more patient, I would have waited for a fanless card to be available. Sounds like Sapphire is coming out with one soon. As it is, the PowerColor is quite enough for me at 20% fan speed. Unfortunately the default controller runs it at 40% idle. Which is just freakin' stupid as it is definitely not quiet and the card is already running way cool. Had to use MSI Afterburner to turn it down to the minimum 20%. Might have to look at getting a big fanless heat sink for it or something.

My system's idle power is in the lower 40s and gets to the mid/upper 30s when zero-core kicks in. Would have been nice to be closer to 30 but still is very nice.


Last edited by BillyBuerger on Tue Jun 12, 2012 5:40 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: My Virtually-Silent Ivy Bridge PC
PostPosted: Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:46 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2009 12:28 am
Posts: 26
Location: Pasadena, CA
BillyBuerger wrote:
...If I was more patient, I would have waited for a fanless [7770] card to be available. Sounds like Sapphire is coming out with one soon...
Oh, really? A moment's Googling and...

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Fanless-AMD-Radeon-HD-7770-1GHz-Graphics-Card-from-Sapphire-274286.shtml

http://www.eteknix.com/news/sapphire-displays-fanless-hd-7770-ultimate-at-computex-2012/

Wow. I might have been tempted to wait for that. Will have to watch for reviews.


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