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 Post subject: Going back to air cooling, need a VERY quiet case now
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 3:08 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 2:27 am
Posts: 774
Location: Quebec, Canada
Hi there,

It's been a while since I've posted on SPCR... I'm currently in the process of changing some parts of my current setup, and most of all, going back from watercooling to air cooling.

I need some advices to get a very quiet case with decent airflow, which will replace a heavily modded Zalman LQ1000 liquid cooled case (that was too noisy for my taste when I first got it). The power supply and the video card will also be replaced at the same time. Before i go any further, let's have a look at my current config:

  • Zalman LQ1000 with dampening material added, tubes replaced and HDD case removed
  • Rear fan replaced with a Nexus 120mm, with a silicone gasket installed
  • Side fan replaced with a Xigmatek 200mm (low profile fan) (the stock fan was a Zalman 230mm)
  • Pump replaced with MCP350 with EK custom top (acetal), installed on a (UN)Designs Infinite pump bracket
  • Asus Maximus III Formula (ROG) motherboard with SupremeFX PCIe sound card
  • Asus EAH5850 DirectCU TOP (HD 5850) with a EK full cover block (acetal)
  • Intel Core i7 870 with EK Supreme HF (acetal)
  • Western Digital Black 1TB in a NoVibes III with a Nexus 120mm at 5V
  • Seasonic X-850 modular power supply (80+ gold)
  • DVD+-R/W drive


Now, here is my intention:

  • Sell the HD 5850 with its block, and replace it with two Asus fanless HD7750 DirectCU in CrossfireX
  • Sell the Seasonic X-850 and replace it with a Seasonic Platinum Fanless 520W
  • Get the quietest case I can find with decent airflow to securely cool all the components
  • Keep the motherboard and the CPU, and use a massive tower cooler (haven't decide which one yet, probably a ThermalRight Ultra-120 or something similar)
  • Keep the HDD and the NoVibes III kit (except if the new case can do a better job at killing the HDD vibrations)
  • Probably keep the DVD drive (I also have an external Asus DVD+-R/W USB drive that I can use)


So far, several cases have caught my attention, and most of them are recommended by SPCR, but I have a hard time to decide which one to get. I'm open to any other suggestions and I have no problem to do slight case modding to improve noise and temperatures.

Here are the contenders:

  • Fractal Define R3
  • Fractal Define R4
  • Corsair Obsidian 550D
  • Cooler Master Silencio 550
  • Antec Solo II
  • NZXT H2

Price if not an issue. The only problem I have is the limited space of my computer desk compartment. The maximum height of the case has to be under 19 inches (and 2 inches less if it comes with top ventilation holes). My initial choice was the Silverstone Fortess FT02 but it's too tall (depth was not a problem, only its height). I've also looked at NoFan products, but I have no intention to use their massive cooler so I'll pass.

Which case would be enough to properly cool TWO fanless HD 7750 in CrossfireX, a Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB and a Core i7 870 (no overclocking at all), with minimal noise and safe temperatures? With watercooling, I've never reached 50C at full load with all fans and pump at 5V, but with fanless parts and no watercooling, it's a whole different story. Right now, the only irritating noise come from the Seasonic X-850 who can be noisy at load. It will be replaced with the fanless Seasonic 520 watts platinum, which is largely enough to power all the components.

My current HD 5850 TOP has a TDP between 151 and 165 Watts (slighly overclocked version of the 5850). The HD 7750 has a TPD of only 55 watts (110 Watts combined for both). The i7 870 has a TDP of 95 watts. So at the end it's not a beast to cool and with a well designed case, I should be able to keep the system cool and quiet, paticularly when gaming... The noisiest part of a gaming system is the video card most of the time. Both of the HD 7750 cards are fanless and will not add noise at load, but the problem is to find a case that will adequately cool them. These cards in CrossfireX beat my HD 5850 with a lower power consumption and have latest AMD optimizations.

If I could find a very quiet case (with fan at 5 or 7V when gaming if possible) and keep everything cool at the same time, I'd be more than happy. What's your recommendation?

Thanks in advance.
Slaugh

_________________
Zalman LQ1000 liquid cooled case + dampening material + PVC tubes + MCP350 with EK top (acetal) and decoupling kit + Nexus 120mm + Xigmatek 200mm + HDD cage removed | Asus Maximus III Formula (ROG) | Intel Core I7 870 + EK Supreme (acetal) | 8GB Kingston | AMD Radeon HD 5850 1GB O/C + EK full cover block (acetal) | Western Digital Black 1TB + NoVibes III + Nexus 120mm (5V) | Seasonic X-850


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 Post subject: Re: Going back to air cooling, need a VERY quiet case now
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 8:31 am 
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Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Posts: 4740
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Slaugh wrote:
Price if not an issue. The only problem I have is the limited space of my computer desk compartment. The maximum height of the case has to be under 19 inches (and 2 inches less if it comes with top ventilation holes). My initial choice was the Silverstone Fortess FT02 but it's too tall (depth was not a problem, only its height). I've also looked at NoFan products, but I have no intention to use their massive cooler so I'll pass.


Is this compartment well ventilated? It would be a shame to build a great silent/well cooled PC and then have it bake/be noisy due to it's placement.

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 Post subject: Re: Going back to air cooling, need a VERY quiet case now
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 9:05 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 17, 2008 1:49 pm
Posts: 1243
Location: UK
Slaugh wrote:
[*]Sell the HD 5850 with its block, and replace it with two Asus fanless HD7750 DirectCU in CrossfireX


I wouldn't go the Crossfire route. It isn't efficient in terms of price/performance, noise/performance or power/performance as you never get double the performance and rarely anything close. Better to put your money into one card and put an Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 Plus on it. By reducing the amount of hardware you also free up enough space to drop from ATX to MicroATX, hence resolving your space issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Going back to air cooling, need a VERY quiet case now
PostPosted: Mon Dec 17, 2012 10:48 am 
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Joined: Fri Jul 02, 2010 4:41 am
Posts: 709
Location: Denmark
I don't see the need for you to change the PSU. The one you have is a quality product. Since your components are quite power-hungry you'll need a case with a good thermal performance. This rules out the NZXT H2. I also don't consider the R3 a contender if you can get your hands on the R4. The Cooler Master Silencio 550 has some noise dampening material on the side panel behind the motherboard tray which, according to the SPCR, makes cable routing awful. The dampening material also restrains the maximum height for CPU cooler severely restricting the number of CPU cooler able to fit in the case. That leaves us with the Fractal Design R4, the Corsair 550D and the Antec Solo II.

If you want to upgrade the GPU to a quiet and powerful unit, then SPCR just handed the ASUS Geforce 670 GTX the Editor's Choice award:
http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1325-page6.html

For a powerful GPU like this, it is really quiet, but if you don't need all the GPU power then you can definitely find quieter solutions.

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Cooling: AC Alpine 64 Pro, rear exhaust Scythe Slipstream 800 rpm @ ~5 V


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 Post subject: Re: Going back to air cooling, need a VERY quiet case now
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 7:22 am 
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Joined: Thu Dec 02, 2004 2:27 am
Posts: 774
Location: Quebec, Canada
CA_Steve wrote:
Is this compartment well ventilated? It would be a shame to build a great silent/well cooled PC and then have it bake/be noisy due to it's placement.

Yes it is, but when I fist got that desk a few years ago, I had to make a few modifications to improve airflow. The back of the compartment is now completely open and is not against the wall, with about 5.5 inches clearance for good ventilation. Also, both sides of that compartment have now ventilation holes, and I never close the front door when the system is turned on. There's no chance to bake a system in this compartment. I've made these changes a few years ago when I built a watercooled system using a Reserator 1. Pictures of the desk can be found in this old thread. The dimensions of the compartment are (W x H x D) 14.25" x 19.5" x 23 ".

kuzzia wrote:
If you want to upgrade the GPU to a quiet and powerful unit, then SPCR just handed the ASUS Geforce 670 GTX the Editor's Choice award

Now we're talking! This card should be enough for a long time and would probably run cooler than two fanless HD 7750 installed side by side. My goal is to get a maximum of 25dbA with the system at full load, and this card looks like a winner. I looked at other reviews and they all came to the same conclusion: it's a powerful card that is very quiet at load and that stays cooler than other similar cards. Thanks for the suggestion! :)

kuzzia wrote:
I don't see the need for you to change the PSU. The one you have is a quality product.

I know, but for some reason, the fan has an irritating high pitch sound at load (not a coil buzz, it's coming from the blades). I've built many systems with other Seasonic X serie PSU (but with lower wattages) and their fans were quieter than mine at load. I don't want to swap the fan, and a friend is willing to buy this power supply. The fanless platinum one is 520 Watts, which is enough for a powerful system with a single card, and I'm not interrested in overclocking.

kuzzia wrote:
That leaves us with the Fractal Design R4, the Corsair 550D and the Antec Solo II.

Forget about the 550D, I've checked the specs and it barely fits inside my desk compartment. I think the best one is the Fractal Define R4, and it has enough room to fit the GTX 670 without removing the drive cage. How is the HDD mounting system in this case? Is it effective to properly kill the vibrations of a Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB? If not, I'll remove the upper HDD cage and put the hard drive in my NoVibes III.

edh wrote:
I wouldn't go the Crossfire route. It isn't efficient in terms of price/performance, noise/performance or power/performance as you never get double the performance and rarely anything close. Better to put your money into one card and put an Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 Plus on it. By reducing the amount of hardware you also free up enough space to drop from ATX to MicroATX, hence resolving your space issue.

I'm keeping my Asus Maximus III Formula, which is a big ATX board with 3-way SLI/CrossfireX and that use a discrete sound card similar to the X-FI (PCIe-X1), so a smaller case wouldn't fit the motherboard well and ensure enough ventilation. The crossfire route was not my first intention but a way to lower the overall noise at load. It does not double the performance of a single card, but according to the benchmarks, it's about 80-90% faster than one single card. However, you have to rely heavily on drivers and tweaks, as the HD 7750 only supports software CrossfireX (without bridge). To be honnest, it was just the price to pay for silence, until Mike published a very good review of the Asus GeForce GTX 670 DCU II, and that's probably what I'll choose. It costs more than two fanless HD 7750 but it's surely a much clever choice.



... So, this is probably what I'm going to do:

  • Replace the X-850 with a Seasonic Platinum 520 Watts fanless
  • Replace the HD 5850 video card with an Asus GTX 670 Direct-CU II 2GB
  • Replace the LQ1000 case with a Fractal Define R4

Which leaves me with only one part to decide, the CPU cooler. What's the best cooler right now for a Core i7 870 (95W), that can be cooled with a single fan at 5 or 7V, in a Fractal Define R4? A ThermalRight Ultra-120, a Prolimatech Megahalems, or something else? And what's the best fan to use with it? I still have an old Nexus 120mm somewhere (the orange one) and a spare Fanmate that I've never used. I've checked online, and I have a hard time to find any ThermalRight coolers in Canada right now (B/O or discontinued at NCIX, Newegg and FrozenCPU).

Thanks again!
Slaugh

_________________
Zalman LQ1000 liquid cooled case + dampening material + PVC tubes + MCP350 with EK top (acetal) and decoupling kit + Nexus 120mm + Xigmatek 200mm + HDD cage removed | Asus Maximus III Formula (ROG) | Intel Core I7 870 + EK Supreme (acetal) | 8GB Kingston | AMD Radeon HD 5850 1GB O/C + EK full cover block (acetal) | Western Digital Black 1TB + NoVibes III + Nexus 120mm (5V) | Seasonic X-850


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 Post subject: Re: Going back to air cooling, need a VERY quiet case now
PostPosted: Tue Dec 18, 2012 9:46 am 
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Joined: Mon May 16, 2011 11:23 am
Posts: 684
Location: Germany
Since you do not plan to oc, even a CoolerMaster H212 Evo would be enough to cool your i7 with the Nexus at 7V. Take a Mugen or one of the Noctuas or any other spcr listed tower style cooler. Going with a dual fan cooler only makes sense imho if you could run those fans at 5V under load. A single fan at 5V would be better, of course.


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