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 Post subject: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 5:23 am 
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So I'm getting different feedback from different people and hoping I can settle this once and for all.

I'm wondering if it would be worth it to watercool my current gaming PC. It's fairly basic - just a 4770K and two 780Ti's. Storage is fully solid-state - four 1Tb Evos. CPU fan is a singled-out NH-D14, chafans are also Noctua under mobo control. PSU = Seasonic X1050. The whole thing currently lives in a Define XL R2.

By 'worth', I only have two metrics:
- Visuals & general aint-it-cool points
- Noise

Visual-wise, well I'll be going all out for glowy orangeness if done but this is something I don't need help with. This is a key factor, but if it results in a noisier system I am not interested.

And therefore, noise is a bigger factor. Where this PC is, is in the 'me room' - which is deathly quiet, by design. Right now, the deskside operator measurement in an uncontrolled environment but with a calibrated meter for the rig in idle config reads the same as a 2013 iMac in idle - which I can hear in the room - so by that token we can a) assume background noise is not a major factor in the reading and that b) the ISO 9296 declaration for the iMac (15db @ operator) can be applied to the current DIY.

Can a WC rig (full loop) be quieter (i.e. can radiators be made to spin large fans even slower, and are pumps silent) in a 900D or similar case in idle? Obviously not worried about load since I'll have the speakers going or be on a headset.

I talked to a custom builder about this but they were unable to give me any certain info - they just said 'it'll be ridiculously silent' without being able to give me any figures. Ridiculously silent in what environment is the question. They're obviously ready to do the work and take my money, but aren't willing to guarantee the requirement that it be at the very least as quiet as it is now.

The only comparative tests between WC and I can track down are for my main workhorses - the HP Z820's running air and CPU-only Asetek (and as a result of the quantified results of the comparo, most of my systems have WC). But in this case the air coolers aren't exactly a paragon of silence to begin with - and with the gaming rig, we're comparing with what I think might be among the best of class.

Has there ever been a test where someone has built two identical rigs, one full loop and one on quietest air? Any general insights into my main question?

Thanks


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 8:27 am 
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It's the gfx cards making all of the noise. You'd have to make them much quieter to hear the other fans.

What's the 780Ti make/model?
What's your mobo and how are the gfx cards positioned? (can you upload a picture?)

In general, SLI leads to one of the gfx cards being starved for air -> higher fan speed -> louder. Unless your mobo allows for the cards to have wide spacing.

If you don't have wide spacing, then a water cooling solution can certainly lower the noise level. If you do have wide spacing, then aftermarket air cooling might be quieter.

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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Fri Feb 07, 2014 9:53 am 
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Maybe I didn't phrase the explanation properly.

I'm asking about a potential WC build, and whether it can be made at least as quiet as the existing setup - which is, as pointed out, very quiet.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 12:21 am 
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superlongcat wrote:
Has there ever been a test where someone has built two identical rigs, one full loop and one on quietest air?

Depends on the pump. I had a watercooling setup once with a decoupled (i.e. not screwed to the case) Eheim 1046 aquarium pump, which is the basis for some modern watercooling pumps like the Aqua Computer AquaStream.

That Eheim 1046 was dead silent in a case. Though sometimes a few drops of air remained in the loop and every couple of minutes one would pass through the pump and make a sizzling noise - quite calming actually.

On the other hand pumps like popular Laing are not silent. They will be louder (on idle) than a well-done aircooling setup. On load a high performance rig is probably quieter on average with wc.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 5:01 am 
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Thanks. I as I probably said though, load noise is not a big deal (unless it sounds like a tractor). It's the idle noise that's the biggest deal.

I could swear I posted a reply to the first replier but it seems to have got lost. I wasn't asking for recommendations on cooling my existing setup - it's quiet as I like it, My question was whether a watercooling setup (generally available) would be capable of at the very least matching it for idle noise.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:55 am 
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superlongcat wrote:
My question was whether a watercooling setup (generally available) would be capable of at the very least matching it for idle noise.


I think tim851 has answered you: mostly depends of the pump.
I would add that -as you may know - current AIO systems (All-In-One, with integrated pump) won't be able to be as quiet as your current CPU cooling setup: so at first glance you may need to look for a convenient pump, like the Eheim or the more expensive Aqua Computer ones quoted by tim.

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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:13 am 
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Yes. As I said one of the major factors of going WC will be the cosmetics, so it will be a custom full loop.

Also I won't be doing it myself. But before I get the guys I'm looking at to do it, I wanted as near a guarantee as possible that I wouldn't be facing a noisier system on any level (i.e. no whines, etc as well as fan / motor noise being controlled to at the very least the current level).

I'll see if they're aware of Aqua Computers. Could anyone suggest a full loop configuration with the above two priorities (i.e. cosmetics, noise - both equally a priority)?

I'm also not stuck on a 900D to house it, if anyone has - again, a cosmetic/noise orientated - case suggestion I'll look into it.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 11:54 am 
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superlongcat wrote:
I wanted as near a guarantee as possible that I wouldn't be facing a noisier system on any level (i.e. no whines, etc as well as fan / motor noise being controlled to at the very least the current level).

How the heck is anybody supposed to predict this?

We don't know what your system sounds like. You say it's comparable to an iMac's rating of 15dB, but we don't know how the iMac was measured or how you measured your system.
15 dB is pretty quiet, but we don't know what you do in your "me room" when the computer is idle. The most silent solution is to just turn it off if you don't need it. If by idle you mean surfing the web, you seem to have enough money to get a complementary MacBook Air - a fully custom wc loop installed for hire will not be cheaper.

I did tell you that I couldn't hear a decoupled Eheim 1046 and the AquaStream is advertised as being quieter.
The 780ti with reference cooling gets fantastic idle sound measurements though.
Whether or not an improvement will be heard depends on how loud exactly our SLI config is, which nobody but you can answer.

Laing pumps or the Aseteks used in many AIO coolers are definitely nowhere near silent.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:15 pm 
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Not sure why you'd single out the Air, but I digress. In the case of home use I'm after having only one system on/around the desk, hooked up to a Surround setup. So it has to be a bit of a do-it-all.

If I wanted to hedge, sure I could probably secrete an ITX / NUC system and use a display switch for when I want to switch to productivity duties - but it needlessly complicates things IMO.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 1:25 pm 
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A bit off topic, but I run a dual setup - fanless main system and fanned gaming system. I have a monitor with two inputs (DVI and Display Port) and use an old USB pseudo automatic switch for switching control of the monitor USB hub between the two. Mouse and keyboard, both USB, connected to the monitor USB hub. Audio is toslink, via an automatic toslink switch. Works surprisingly well actually.

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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 3:49 am 
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No as I have said I have considered it, but I'd want all three monitors active on each PC either way - not willing to compromise for productivity or gaming. That makes switching a chore (especially since we're talking DP/DVI-DL on all monitors) and I don't want to fiddle with the monitor controls or multiple monitor switches each time so I'd rather not deal with it.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 5:16 am 
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superlongcat wrote:
By 'worth', I only have two metrics:
- Visuals & general aint-it-cool points
- Noise

Watercooling might not be the answer.
- Visuals (& general aint-it-cool points) -> NZXT Hue
-Noise
If the pump is inaudible you still have fans. The ones you already have are the best you can buy the only thing left to optimize is their speed. I would buy an electronic fan (and pump) controller first that can turn off the fans if the computer is idle, to see if that meets your noise goal. If you upgrade to WC it can use it ti control your pump(s). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
Watercooling reduces load noise far more than idle noise.

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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 09, 2014 6:37 am 
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boost wrote:
superlongcat wrote:
By 'worth', I only have two metrics:
- Visuals & general aint-it-cool points
- Noise

Watercooling might not be the answer.
- Visuals (& general aint-it-cool points) -> NZXT Hue
-Noise
If the pump is inaudible you still have fans. The ones you already have are the best you can buy the only thing left to optimize is their speed. I would buy an electronic fan (and pump) controller first that can turn off the fans if the computer is idle, to see if that meets your noise goal. If you upgrade to WC it can use it ti control your pump(s). [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]
Watercooling reduces load noise far more than idle noise.


Hue = Coloured LED lights alone don't do anything for me.

And this is kind of the problem, that half of the people tell me it would be worse going WC, and half tells me that going WC is better, and it's been really hard to gauge their level of relative experience in terms of acoustics. The one guy I know who does know something about it who has actually listened to the existing rig said "That's pretty hard. Not sure if it's possible", adding that it's the quietest gaming PC he's ever heard and that he wouldn't know where to start. But then although he's built WC rigs, they aren't what I call in the showcase league - and his air-cooled system is pretty noisy. Not exactly sure what it has under the hood but I bet I could do a better job of it.

Maybe I was expecting too much but I was kind of hoping someone would jump in saying "It's easy, just put these bits together, guaranteed silence" and list the bits and I can just feed that to the builders. I want the glowy tubes... :?


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 4:50 am 
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A passive radiator is completely silent. I don't knpw how big it has to for your system.

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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 7:24 am 
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boost wrote:
A passive radiator is completely silent. I don't knpw how big it has to for your system.


Hmmm. So in this case (assuming there's enough cooling - which I kind of doubt) the only noise would be from the pump?


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 10:39 am 
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The only aspects where water-cooling has even an theoretical possibility of being quieter than a good air set-up are CPUs with raised voltages, and high-end GPUs. And that's only under load. GPU fan noise under load is the common problem of the two, because it isn't really possible to have a high-end GPU be silent under load using a dual-slot air cooler. If you've got the space, bolting on a Prolimatech MK-26 should make pretty much every GPU available inaudible even under load, but seeing as you're running a SLI set-up I don't think that's possible. What water-cooling facilitates is moving those large radiators with large, slow fans away from the space-constrained PCI-E slots, meaning that with enough radiators you'll be able to cool your GPUs with as slow fan-speeds as you want. Well that, and some really snazzy, clean interiors:

Attachment:
phpThumb_generated_thumbnailjpg.jpg


Personally, after running both an active and a passive water-cooling set-up, I'm not convinced that it's worth the hassle. But if you consider it as more of a hobby than from a strictly utilitarian stand-point, water-cooling certainly has some merits.


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Last edited by Jon-R on Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:23 am 
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I hate it when sense gets in my way :?

As I mentioned the only merit point is the visuals. I wasn't prepared to go mega-overboard, but a few thousand to do it on top of the existing rig was fine. I wanted a standout computer in my den - nothing monstrous but a tastefully done setup. But, as I also mentioned, not at the expense of noise. The existing setup is essentially silent in most cases, unless I start a game and it automatically goes into high-perf mode - even a two-drive fanless Thunderbolt enclosure on the desk on sorbothane mounts makes way more operator-perceivable noise.

The more I look into it, the more it seems to me that it's a better idea to continue to run my existing system the way it is, and forego the visuals...?


Last edited by superlongcat on Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:29 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:28 am 
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To be 100% clear, a good water-cooling loop will not sacrifice noise, it will simply not be able to improve over a good air-cooling set-up at idle, because a good air-cooling set-up is inaudible at idle. Both a good air-cooled and a good water-cooled system will be inaudible when idling. If you want to have a water-cooling set-up for other reasons, be it quieter GPU load noise, or just for the heck of it, then higher noise will not be a issue.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:32 am 
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Jon-R wrote:
To be 100% clear, a good water-cooling loop will not sacrifice noise, it will simply not be able to improve over a good air-cooling set-up at idle, because a good air-cooling set-up is inaudible at idle. Both a good air-cooled and a good water-cooled system will be inaudible when idling. If you want to have a water-cooling set-up for other reasons, be it quieter GPU load noise, or just for the heck of it, then higher noise will not be a issue.


Ah OK - so there's a chance it could work. I thought you meant it couldn't go as silent as a silent air setup.

I don't suppose there's anyone willing to map out a silent setup for the stated parts, is there? (And I forgot, mobo is a Z87-Deluxe/Dual - though if this is inconvenient I can sub it with anything else)


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 2:12 pm 
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The only part that produces noise outside of the normal in a water-cooling loop is the pump. Make sure that you get a quiet pump, and you've got what you need to build a silent water-cooling set-up. After that, the only thing that matters is choosing silent fans focused on static pressure, and enough radiator area to keep your loop cool. Go for radiators that have a low fin-per-inch ratio, so that you don't need fast fans to push air through them. Then just get good block for what you want water cooled, which should at minimum be your GPUs.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 3:06 pm 
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OK - thanks. I guess an 'approach with caution' in general then. I'm going to have to see how this can be accomplished to my satisfaction especially with someone else doing the work.

Many thanks for the general feedback - much appreciated.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 10, 2014 11:41 pm 
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Without knowing what parts are available to the builder you're thinking on using, giving exact advice becomes difficult.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 5:53 am 
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I think that's definitely an issue. Word from the builder is that basically it's EK or nothing since they're not comfortable using anything else. I'll talk to other people and see how things go.

It may just well be that this is something I've got to look at doing myself over the longer term if I want it badly enough. Thing is, this is one of those types of things I'd rather pay other people to do well than figure it all out myself, as I don't think it's a good use of my time.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Tue Feb 11, 2014 7:03 am 
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EKWB makes quality products. The EK-DCP 2.2 pump is able to be run quietly, especially if undervolted and decoupled. Their radiators have low FPI, so they're well suited to low fan speeds. Their blocks are so good that it doesn't make any difference. And their pricing is fair, at least in Europe. So it all just comes down to the builder using the weaker pump, choosing suitable, slow fans, and building the system properly. Just make sure they don't use the 4.0 pump or the PE series radiators, as neither is really suited for a silent build. If money is no problem, either a D5 Vario on low settings or a DDC 3.2 PWM that has its speed controlled by your BIOS should be even better.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 12:31 pm 
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Jon-R wrote:
EKWB makes quality products. The EK-DCP 2.2 pump is able to be run quietly, especially if undervolted and decoupled. Their radiators have low FPI, so they're well suited to low fan speeds. Their blocks are so good that it doesn't make any difference. And their pricing is fair, at least in Europe. So it all just comes down to the builder using the weaker pump, choosing suitable, slow fans, and building the system properly. Just make sure they don't use the 4.0 pump or the PE series radiators, as neither is really suited for a silent build. If money is no problem, either a D5 Vario on low settings or a DDC 3.2 PWM that has its speed controlled by your BIOS should be even better.


OK - I guess I'll see what they come up with. Thanks again.


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 Post subject: Re: WC gaming rig, noise?
PostPosted: Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:12 pm 
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Jon-R wrote:
Their radiators have low FPI, so they're well suited to low fan speeds.
Wondering into how low do manufacturers design this rads for, can the be ran effectively between 300-500rpms and still be worth?

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