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 Post subject: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 8:19 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:46 pm
Posts: 96
Hi everybody,

I have been lurking for more than a year now, thanks for all the good information on this site!

My build was done from scratch in 09-2012, in the meantime I changed a few things (will mention the original part in brackets):
  • Antec Solo II
  • Seasonic X-400 FL (replacing a bequiet! Pure Power L8-CM 430W, which replaced an L7, both started whining under load)
  • Gigabyte GA-970A-UD3
  • AMD FX-8120 125W, 8x 3.10GHz, boxed
  • Noctua NH-U14S (replacing a be quiet! Dark Rock Advanced C1, which handled the 8120 nicely; the NH-U14S is a bit better under high CPU loads)
  • Corsair Vengeance DIMM Kit 16GB (2x8GB), DDR3-1600
  • Samsung SSD 840 EVO 250GB (replacing an Intel X25-M G2 Postville 80GB, which I took over from my very old build)
  • Seagate Barracuda Green 5900.3 2TB, SATA 6Gb/s ST2000DL003
  • Sony Optiarc AD-7280S DVD Drive
  • ASUS GTX760-DC2OC-2GD5 DirectCU II OC (replacing a fanless ASUS ENGT520 SILENT/DI/2GD3)
  • Noctua NF-P12 PWM as rear exhaust (moving the Antec TrueQuiet 120, 1000rpm to the front, which came with the case; it's nice in the "low" setting, but barely moves any air)
  • 2x Noctua NF-S12A ULN 120mm, (right, the Antec fan is out of work for the moment)
  • Scythe Kaze Master II (to dial down those front fans when idling)
  • BenQ GW2460HM 1920x1080, 24" (replacing a Samsung SyncMaster 226BW, 22", now sometimes used as secondary screen; it's humming quite awfully)
  • win7 pro 64

Use cases next to the usual office and online activities are Lightroom, Sigma Photo Pro (to handle RAW files from Sigma DP Merrill cameras, it's quite resource hungry), Handbrake, VirtualBox, and a little gaming once in a while (but then I like all the eye candy I can get). ATM 1440, EtherOne, Osmos.

The CPU and exhaust fan are controlled by SpeedFan, which does a much better job than the BIOS of this board.

The PC used to be placed on the floor right of my desk, which happens to be a room corner, so I always could hear the exhaust fan. At the moment it is sitting under the desk, which makes it inaudible when idling, but it does restrict my leg & feet space (the desk having drawers left and right). I live in a quiet neighborhood, at night it is dead silent. Ambient temp in this room is about 20-23°C throughout the year.

As you can maybe already see, I like tinkering, so here are a few observations:
  • The Noctua CPU cooler sounds different, the bequiet Dark Rock Advanced had a very gently signature, even at max RPM, however, the Noctua can take higher loads without ramping up (and thus staying inaudible) and it also improved the "Temp2" reading (in SpeedFan).
  • The Seasonic PSU is a blessing.
  • Ever since I mounted the Barracuda HDD in the rubber suspensions, it is quite good, there is a little airborne noise coming from there. I tried the rubber grommets in all three HDD trays, they all sounded different (the lowest being the worst).
  • The front fans hardly make any difference at all for temps (1-2°C when gaming), but still create a lot of whoosh when dialed up all the way.
  • The NF-P12 in the back is very efficient but very well audible when ramping up. I got used to it's sound signature, but don't like it too much.
  • I once turned the bequiet PSU so, that it sucked air out of the case. This improved temps a lot. However, the PSU itself would heat up after a while and start whining
  • Handbrake ramps up the CPU fan a little, but it is not disturbing
  • Temps when gaming: CPU ~58°C, GPU ~68°C
  • Power consumption when gaming: ~320W (reading a Voltcraft Energy check 3000)

Now there are two considerations:
1. The loudest part is of course the GPU. It is absolutely inaudible when idling but under load it is plain loud. Reading the forums I can see, that some ppl replace the GPU fans & shroud with 120 or 140mm fans. The heatsink of this card seems to be not so bad. Is there anybody around here, who replaced the fans of a recent ASUS Direct CU card and got better results?
Another possibility would be to replace the whole cooler with something like an MK-26, but does it even fit this card, being a non standard design?

2. As much as I like the Solo 2, it has only one 120mm exhaust. When gaming there is a lot of heat, which needs to get out of this case, so the NF-P12 will ramp up to 100% eventually (not that it matters much at this point, the GPU fans already being hysteric). I am eyeing an R4, everybody seems to be so fond of, but wouldn't I just get a lot of openings , so the CPU fan and HDD will be audible even when idling?

Sorry for this long post, thanks for reading.


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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:59 am 
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Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:12 am
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Location: ITALY
Have you tried Afterburner to cook a custom fan curve, in order to (try to) lower the graphics noise level at load?

Have you tried to undervolt the CPU, in order to lower the load temps (even if I suspect a Gigabyte is not uv-friendly)?

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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 1:47 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:58 am
Posts: 30
I wouldn't bother with the stock cooler on "custom" cards. You can try strapping those NF-S12A's to see how temps go, but MK-26 is the preferred way to go. It should fit since there is good clearance.

I would suggest open case (test bench), which is nice and compact while having completely unrestricted airflow which means fan can spin very low but provide much better cooling. There are some people who can't have a build like that though (pets, small children, clumsy owners, etc).


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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 12:45 am 
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Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2012 9:44 am
Posts: 95
vishcompany wrote:
Another possibility would be to replace the whole cooler with something like an MK-26, but does it even fit this card, being a non standard design?
Mounting the Mk.26 is not a problem, as it will fit on almost anything. But squeezing it into a system is another matter. On my 6950, it stands a smidgeon taller than my Hyper 212, takes up all but the last slot on my mobo, and makes the GPU sag quite alarmingly when in a tower configuration.

It's fantastically effective, but I kinda regret buying it, because it is extreme overkill for my purposes. Right now, I've got a single TY-143 just leaning against it (it's a long story), and according to MSI Afterburner, during several hours of gaming, the fan never spun up past 719 RPM and my mildly overclocked 6950 never went past 51C.

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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 6:01 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:46 pm
Posts: 96
Thanks for your input guys! :)

Here is what I did so far:

quest_for_silence wrote:
Have you tried Afterburner to cook a custom fan curve, in order to (try to) lower the graphics noise level at load?
Have you tried to undervolt the CPU, in order to lower the load temps (even if I suspect a Gigabyte is not uv-friendly)?

I never touched the voltage or clocking of any CPU yet, so I'm hesitant about it, don't want to mess anything up. There are some settings in the BIOS of this board and I will start experimenting eventually. The main culprit for now is the GPU.
So I downloaded and installed MSI afterburner . It's pretty similar to "ASUS GPU Tweak" but the fan curve interface is much nicer. It misses a temp target slider, the beta version comes with this, so I will try that later on, if I feel the need for it. Made a custom fan curve for the GPU, allowing for a little higher temps.
Additionally I revised my SpeedFan settings, adding a second curve for the rear fan, linking it to the GPU.
The result of this first step is a much better balance. At 60% GPU power (this is the max load of 1440 on this card) the GPU temp settles at 75°C and the GPU fans stay at around 60% (above that and they start howling). The CPU temp is now even better at 55°C and the rear fan settled at about 75% (it gets annoying at 80%).
So that's already a success! But now my curiosity was taking over...

ohhgourami wrote:
I wouldn't bother with the stock cooler on "custom" cards. You can try strapping those NF-S12A's to see how temps go, but MK-26 is the preferred way to go. It should fit since there is good clearance.

I would suggest open case (test bench), which is nice and compact while having completely unrestricted airflow which means fan can spin very low but provide much better cooling. There are some people who can't have a build like that though (pets, small children, clumsy owners, etc).

Well, about the open case suggestion: I guess I am one of these people. The reason being a lack of space on the desk.
I left the NF-S12A's in place but strapped on a bequiet silent wings 120 and the Antec true quiet. No howling any more, but quite a bit of whoosh. Enough cooling capacity for 60% GPU power but at about 75% GPU power the temp hits 80°C and the thing starts throttling.

Irrelevant wrote:
Mounting the Mk.26 is not a problem, as it will fit on almost anything. But squeezing it into a system is another matter. On my 6950, it stands a smidgeon taller than my Hyper 212, takes up all but the last slot on my mobo, and makes the GPU sag quite alarmingly when in a tower configuration.

In order to unplug the GPU fans I had to take off and reseat the heat sink anyway and realized that it is not such a big deal. So I will get the MK-26. The Hyper 212 is 5mm shorter than the NH-U14S, I guess the MK-26 will fit in the case. The other slots are free and I will tie it up with some wire or string to keep it straight.

Irrelevant wrote:
It's fantastically effective, but I kinda regret buying it, because it is extreme overkill for my purposes. Right now, I've got a single TY-143 just leaning against it (it's a long story), and according to MSI Afterburner, during several hours of gaming, the fan never spun up past 719 RPM and my mildly overclocked 6950 never went past 51C.

I like overkill! I am way beyond reason anyway. Looking forward to those amazing temps!

I will post an update, once the MK-26 is installed, thanks for now!


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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 5:38 pm 
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Posts: 3386
Location: Guatemala
vishcompany wrote:
2. As much as I like the Solo 2, it has only one 120mm exhaust. When gaming there is a lot of heat, which needs to get out of this case, so the NF-P12 will ramp up to 100% eventually (not that it matters much at this point, the GPU fans already being hysteric). I am eyeing an R4, everybody seems to be so fond of, but wouldn't I just get a lot of openings , so the CPU fan and HDD will be audible even when idling?
Case fans dont have as big impact as direct fans like GPU/CPU heatsinks fans on the temperature of each component, think of the case fans help inside fans get fresh air and get hot air out, and while higher rpms still net a gain on temperatures, the gain is not as high, for example in my setup having the 4x Noctua NF-A14 PWM at 1k rpms nets around 5C on all cores coparaed to having them at 650rpms, but the changes on noise a dramatic, so much that i gladly give up that 5C, now the CPU fan for me going from 1100rpms to 700rpms increases temps more than 10C on all cores, and this is a single fan, and given that its not in a on an exit or entrance its not as noticeble as the Noctua (case fans), but this is something that you have to play with and find what works for your case and hardware.

For me a very easy quiet build can be done with Fractal Design Define R4 + Antec True Quiet 140s + Asus FanXpert2 motherboard, the fans tonally are very good, and a FanXpert2 motherboard can drop them to 200rpm on idle (on cha_fan headers). But it can also be achieved with other setups, just is so simple with that combo, but you also have to take into account that those fans are so low rpms will cool very little, so really depends on your needs.

vishcompany wrote:
1. The loudest part is of course the GPU. It is absolutely inaudible when idling but under load it is plain loud. Reading the forums I can see, that some ppl replace the GPU fans & shroud with 120 or 140mm fans. The heatsink of this card seems to be not so bad. Is there anybody around here, who replaced the fans of a recent ASUS Direct CU card and got better results?
Another possibility would be to replace the whole cooler with something like an MK-26, but does it even fit this card, being a non standard design?
MK-26 is a very versatile cooler, mostly it needs that the holes for the mounting around the GPU are standard that the memory is not so close that touches the pipes, but i seen it install in a lot of gpus. While this is not the same as yours, its worth checking as its DCUII GTX670 on mk-26, Malik Asus GTX 670 DCU II with Prolimatech MK-26, weather it fits the asus gtx760 idk. One warning that i give you is that in my GTX780 i coudlnt control the fans with the mk-26 PWM adapter, but i blame nvidia design on that card, was not only me, but a lot of reference gtx780 owners had this issues, but i still like to warn people just in case it happens.

Btw the fans that i would use on the MK-26 are the Prolimatech Ultra Sleek Vortex 140mm x 15mm Slim Profile PWM Fan, decent PWM range as long as you can control it with the card, at 450rpms imo they are quiet and still move a lot of air, and you should have sub 50 temps with it at those rpms, im guessing maybe below 50s. Prolimatech also sells the clips to attach it to the MK-26, Prolimatech Ultra Sleek Vortex 14 Fan Wire Clip Set - MK-26 Series. I leave you a graph of the fan bieng tested on FanXpert2, for you to check the range of operation under PWM,

Image

NF-S12A PWM would be my second choice, really nice PWM range, although not all cards will allow it to go that low, unless you use software or mod the vbios.

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:21 pm 
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Currently using NF-S12A on my MK-26. Very happy with the noise and performance. But I'm using a Gigabyte GTX 670 that lets it drop to 400rpm.


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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Mon Apr 07, 2014 11:58 am 
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Posts: 96
update:

the heatsink arrived today, looks really nice!

It does not fit this card though, at least in my opinion, the reason being the "DIRECT POWER" thing on the backside of the card. I know it's not a bug, it's a feature, but just have a look at this:

Image

Image

I was hoping, that the rubber spacer would be thick enough, but alas:

Image

I'm afraid, that even when cutting the rubber spacer, this would be just too dangerous. I guess, that the screws are grounding the cooler construction (a lot of moving air is bound to create electrostatics), so as soon as the backplate touches the direct power bridge, I would shortcircuit big time. Unless this label is not metal, but some kind of plastic (I will check and update)

Image

Image


Additional info:

The GPU chip only touches the inner two heatpipes of the ASUS heatsink.

Image

I still proceeded and pseudo-mounted the MT-26 to this card, just to check, if it fits inside the case. It does:

Image

Image

Image


What do you guys think, am I being overly cautious, or would you also rather not mount this cooler to this card?


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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 1:26 am 
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update #2:

Reading some web review stating that the second layer of the Direct Power thingy is some kind of isolation made me a bit bolder, I also checked with a voltmeter, there is no current getting through to the PCB. Thus, after another good night's sleep I proceeded:

The rubber spacer needs a little cutting.
Image


Just to be extra safe, I added a small piece of cardboard, cut to shape and glued on with a tiny blob of thermal goop.
Image


The rest of the procedure is pretty straightforward. I like the fact, that this card is so small, leaving a big area of the heatsink unrestricted.
Image


I did not trust completely in this construction. I still have a disused but functional old PC in the basement, which acted as a guinea pig. (Not all connections are done yet in this photo)
Image


(I would not have been able to close that case...)
Image


Nothing bad happened in a test run, so I thought, I would give it a try in my main rig. Mounting the fans first (NF-P12 PWM and NF-S12A ULN)
Image


At long last, the card found it's way into the case.
Image



It works and I'm happy, that I did not have to sell off the card, just to get another one, which fits the cooler.

PWM does not work with standard PWM fans. I put a PWM splitter on the sys fan header, which is now running the exhaust fan (bequiet silent wings) and the NF-P12 on the video card. The NF-S12A is connected to the fan control and dialled down to 600 RPM. I like the silent wings fan a lot as an exhaust fan. It's pushing enough air but does not have this droning hum, when ramping up.

So, how does it all work?
It's great. :-)
In idle the loudest part of the rig is now the HDD. It spins down, when not accessed for a while, after that, it's inaudible, even at night with no noticeable ambient noise. Changing the exhaust fan was a good idea, the PC is now standing in it's original place with it's backside close to a solid wall and for the first time ever, I just can't hear it at all.
When stressing just the CPU (P95), there is a very gentle whoosh.
When stressing the GPU (furmark), the whoosh becomes substantial (coming from the CPU and exhaust fans, which cover the noises of the GPU fans), but well, the fans have to get rid of all this heat somehow. Compared to the jet-engine sound of the Asus fans, this is very, very good.

Some numbers of synthetic testing: (stating temp-PWM percentage-RPM; power draw in W; please note that GPU PWM and RPM also apply for the back fan)

idle: CPU 32°-40%-328RPM GPU 33°-37%-521RPM
GPU only, power limit 60%: CPU 50-60-813 GPU 60-56-792
GPU only, power limit 80%: CPU 51-63-860 GPU 67-60-843; 320W
GPU only, power limit 100%: CPU 49-58-803 GPU 73-68-945; 355W

GPU 100% CPU 3 cores p95: CPU 53-69-930 GPU 73-69-968; 428W

Adding more cores resulted only in more power draw, the temps stayed in that region. The PSU (Seasonic X-400) could stand 440W (furmark + 7 cores P95). When I added the last core to P95, things got sort of unstable, the system limiting the GPU power.

In real world scenarios everything is fine. I let Unigine valley run for a while: power draw is around 320W, the temps are in the low to mid 50s for both CPU and GPU with just a gentle whoosh coming from the fans.

This is, how I wanted this system to be all the time, I'm a happy camper finally! Thanks again everybody for your input!

edit: typo


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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 5:49 am 
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Is 600rpm the least that the asus gpu allows you to take down the pwm fan?

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 Post subject: Re: Improving an already pretty quiet build
PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2014 6:43 am 
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The Asus GPU seems not to work with regular PWM fans. With it's own fans I could take them down to 29%, but when I connected the NF-P12 through the Prolimatech connector, it just ran at full speed.

I will take out the card and apply additional cooling to the RAM chips later on (there were none with the Asus cooler, so I did not bother for the moment). At