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 Post subject: Passively cooled, powerful, stylish: A Game of Compromises
PostPosted: Wed Dec 26, 2012 2:53 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2012 4:26 pm
Posts: 4
I've spent a good few hours trying to piece together a desktop computer using the following criteria (arranged in order of importance). I've come up with two options that look promising (on paper, anyway), but which are compromises when it comes to my wishes - I have questions regarding them. I've also began working on piecing together a third, but got stuck.

Completely silent (passively cooled, no moving parts).
Powerful enough to play high-end games (I don't really game much any more since I don't have time for it, but would like to have the option).
Stylish. This is subjective, of course, but to give some examples, I think the Streacom FC5 WS and the Fractal Design Define series are stylish. Simple, clean, black, no fuss, almost no buttons and LEDs, optical drives, etc.)
Small. (M-ITX, if possible. M-ATX also possible. As you'll see, the second option completely drops this criteria.)

The completely silent criteria is the only one I'm not open to compromises on. Powerful... well, I understand I won't be able to get the most powerful system in the world, but at least middle-of-the-road.

Option 1: Powerful, stylish, small-ish.
This might well be my choice, my main question here is, will all the parts fit together?
It's hard to tell without having them on hand, and I don't want to order parts I have to send back because they wouldn't fit.
Also, what's the best thermal paste out there, these days? When I built my last computer (almost 5 years ago), it was Arctic Silver 5. It has since fallen from grace, apparently.

Case: Silverstone Fortress SST-FT03 Mini
PSU: Silverstone ST40NF
Motherboard: Asus P8Z77-I DELUXE
CPU: Intel Core i5-3570K
RAM: Corsair Dominator DDR3 1866MHz 16GB
Graphics card: Asus Radeon HD 7750
SSD: Samsung 840 250GB
CPU Cooler: NoFan CR-95C (Though I can't find anywhere to buy it, here in Norway. Alternatives are Silverstone NT06-E and Cooler Master TPC 800).

Option 2: Powerful, stylish, but quite big
This one might give the most bang for the buck, though it's annoying that I can't get a smaller case (eg. the FC5). At least, the advantage here is that I can use a full-sized ATX board, plus the CPU cooling is already taken care of.
My main concern here is the power supply, will it be able to feed the components properly? They assume one wants to use a 150W power supply, but that would be greatly insufficient.
Would it be possible to use the Silverstone ST40NF (link above), possibly making room for it if one were to forego installing an optical drive (which I have no intention of installing, in any case)?

Case: Streacom FC10
PSU: Same PSU as in option 1
Motherboard: MSI 990FXA-GD80 - seems to have enough clearance for the heatpipes.
CPU: AMD FX-4300 - the most powerful one I could find with 95W TDP, which the cooling supports.
RAM: Kingston HyperX Beast 32GB 2400MHz
Graphics card and SSD: Same as in option 1
CPU cooler: Built into the case
Flexible PCI-E riser from eBay.

Option 3: Small, stylish, silent, powerful - but no room for CPU cooler
This might well have turned out to be my favourite choice, if not for one big problem: The PSU in this case is awkwardly placed, meaning I can't use any particularly tall CPU coolers - which pretty much precludes the use of passive ones. Would there be a way to make one fit, eg. using a smaller than ATX power supply (again, the same Silverstone mentioned in option 1), or possibly yanking out the hard drive cage and putting it there (since I need no hard drives)?

I haven't gotten anywhere with piecing together components yet, as I've been trying to find ways around the PSU location problem - but, in general, I would probably use many of the same as in the previous two options.
Case: Lian Li -PC-Q25

Can anyone see a way around the PSU location problem, aside from having the PSU hanging outside of the case?

I also tried to piece together something with the Streacom FC5 WS case, but the problem there is I couldn't find powerful components that fit together, and that it doesn't seem to support a proper power supply. I'm open to corrections, of course.

I'm also open to other suggestions regarding cases, fans, whatever you think might be helpful. Many thanks in advance for any assistance, and when I do find the components and decide to build one of the computers, I'll post all the photos and information I can.

 Post subject: Re: Passively cooled, powerful, stylish: A Game of Compromis
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:51 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:40 am
Posts: 29
Location: Norway
Hi, it's a good list of criteria you have put up that I think a lot of people share, and when you aim at a graphic card like the HD7750 I think it should be possible without any compromises. I will just list up some suggestions:

-HDPlex H3 with internal graphics (if this could do it). Internal graphics are developing every year so I really think these are the most interesting cases for future upgrades. In this thread I have given some more information:

-Streacom FC5 with HD7750 and Picopsu 160XT+ 192W powerbrick. Look at this thread for the use of Picopsu and descreat graphics card: He has eaven used a CPU with 77W tdp and the pc seems to work fine. In the FC5 you need a riser card of good quality (although the demands will not be the same for a HD7750 compared to the GTX660ti) like I used in my own project that I presented here: I see the HD7750 you have chosen is a passive card, but I would really doublecheck if the heatsinks is good enough for no airflow in the case. If not I would recomend a heatpipesett like this: Drill some holes in the heatsinks to mount the plates and the moding should go fine. Just check how much cooling the VRM on the HD7750 needs (probably not much since the tdp is only 55W), maybe you need to put on a mosfet heatsink on the graphic card since it's no airflow, just to be shure.

To use a passively cooled HD7750 with the stock heatsinks I would consider a case where the card will be mounted standing up because of the upward hot airflow, maybe the Streacom FC8 if it's high enough.

-Streacom FC10: This case is only needed if you want a more powerfull graphic card than the HD7750 (if the Picopsu above dose the job). I have explained how I think this case can be moded with a passive internal PSU and a GTX660ti or eaven a GTX670 in this thread: To build this PC you will need a bit of moding, so the PC's above will be alot easier to build.

Last edited by Highfi on Mon Dec 31, 2012 4:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

 Post subject: Re: Passively cooled, powerful, stylish: A Game of Compromis
PostPosted: Sun Dec 30, 2012 1:18 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 25, 2012 4:26 pm
Posts: 4
Thanks for your reply! Your solution with using heat pipes on the left side of the case to cool the graphics card looks intriguing, I might go for a similar solution myself! Hell, it might even enable more powerful graphics cards, assuming their heat production doesn't go above 95W TDP.

However, I have a whole load of questions (no surprise, eh? :P ).

You have an external heatsink, as well as PSU, both behind your computer. This I can't say I fancy, it takes up far more space than I really wish to use, plus it makes things less tidy. Is there a solution where all the components are internal?

The HDPlex H3S looks good, might be another option - though, frankly, I think the Streacom looks more beautiful. Not that that makes the HDPlex be out of the question - I would gladly live with it. Internal graphics I don't want, though. I know AMD have some good offerings, but I would really prefer the greater horcepower of a discrete GPU.

Would it theoretically be possible to place the power brick and the PicoPSU both inside the case (possibly glued into place)? So that only a cable goes out of the case.

At the risk of sounding ignorant (which, to be honest, I am, when it comes to noiseless computing), I don't really understand most of what you wrote in this sentence:

"Drill some holes in the heatsinks to mount the plates and the moding should go fine. Just check how much cooling the VRM on the HD7750 needs (probably not much since the tdp is only 55W), maybe you need to put on a mosfet heatsink on the GPU when there is no airflow just to be shure."

Also, a slight update: I found another case which would fit my needs, though it's a bit ugly (mostly due to the handles): Bitfenix Prodigy. I would still prefer the Streacom, but it's a nice backup option.

 Post subject: Re: Passively cooled, powerful, stylish: A Game of Compromis
PostPosted: Mon Dec 31, 2012 5:35 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 4:40 am
Posts: 29
Location: Norway
It may be enough room to place the powerbrick/adapter inside the Streacom FC5, since you don't build it with a bluerayplayer. If you really should do it will depend on how much heat the adapter generates. The black plastic box is meant for external use, it don't take that much space and maybe it will look tidy enough.

At a late stage in the building of the FC5 the FC10 came out, and I considered changing the case. For my use the low profile of the FC5 is better and I saw it as a bigger challenge to get the potential out of the FC5 case with a powerfull graphic card. If I was to start the project today I may have chosen the FC10 because you can put an ATX PSU inside and the bigger heatsinks, which is why I recomend it for others who want a fanless PC with a powerfull GPU. The Streacom FC10 will give the most stylish and tidy solution for a powerfull graphic card.

If you don't need that much horsepower the HD7750 in the FC5 will be smaller and just as stylish, and I think the FC5 case is more interesting for later upgrades since low power GPU's is getting better every year. If you can put a graphic card with 95 tdp in the FC5 depends on the power from the Picopsu 160XT, maybe if you combine it with a low power CPU...

The sentence you question is about mounting the heatpipes to the Streacom case, since the heatpipes is meant for HFX cases. About the VRM/mosfets (google it), the GTX660 has heatsinks mounted on the mosfets but the HD7750 has not. Maybe the mosfets on the HD7750 will be ok without any airflow over them, but just in case you could mount some heatsinks.

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