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 Post subject: Budget game PC in Antec 300
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 6:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:30 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Finland
I wanted to build a budget gaming PC, balancing with price, performance and noise. The price went beyond 1000 euros and the performance is just about acceptable. Noise level is well within my tolerance but not anyhow comparable to my totally silent HTPC build.
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Main parts:
- CPU: AMD Phenom II X3 720
- Mobo: Gigabyte GA-MA790XT-4UDP
- RAM: OCZ DDR3 PC3-12800 1600Mhz Platinum XTC dual channel 2GB
- Case: Antec Three Hundred
- GPU: Gainward NVidia GTX 275 896MB
- PSU: Corsair HX50W
- HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F1 1TB SATA 3.0
- Optical: Samsung SH-S223F/BEBE (SATA)
- O/S: Vista Home Basic 32-bit OEM
- Fans: 700, 800 and 1200 RPM Noctua fans
- Pump: Laing 12V DDC-1T + EK-DDC top
- Radiator: NexXxos Xtreme III 360
- Water blocks: Zalman ZM-WB5 and MCW60-R
- 10/8 mm pipes and related accessories

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To keep the price low, I decided to use AMD CPU, a single GPU and budget case. I had couple of Noctua fans waiting to be used and I intended to use air cooling. However, I soon found out that the GTX 275 card makes way too much noise with air cooling. Therefore I ended up cooling the GPU and CPU with simple water cooling, with just two cheap water blocks and no reservoir.

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In my opinion, using water allows reasonably quiet cooling, but already the pump is so noisy that extreme silence is impossible to achieve. Therefore I did not bother to make much effort for silencing the HDD either (just eliminating the vibration still leaves both seeking and spinning sounds). Building the water cooling as silent as possible is easier when using big enough radiator, which is external from the computer case. This article contained great ideas, which I used in my design: http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/diy-water-cooling-101,1055.html

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The noise of the system contains steady quiet swoosh and sharp ticking when the HDD seeks a lot. Any sound from the speakers easily hides all that. The noise level remains steady, as only the PSU fan is thermally controlled. Others are permanently slowed down to minimal speed. Of course the optical drive is terribly noisy when it spins at full speed, but that never lasts for long time.

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All the moving parts are isolated from the resonating materials using elastic cord. The water pump and the HDD are in the HDD area of the case. The HDD is attached sideways. The external radiator and the two attached fans hang by thick cords behind the table. Some sound dampening material is attached to the case, especially around the pump.

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The Gainward GTX 275 card has custom layout and full cover block is therefore out of the question. Instead I used a cheap universal GPU block, cooling the RAM and other additional circuits with heat sinks glued to original aluminium plate. Those heat sinks are taken from trashed computers. The two intake fans are both directed toward those heat sinks.

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The air cooling of the case consists of 2 intake fans (side and front) in the lower part of the case, and two exhaust fans: PSU fan and yet another Noctua at the top of the case. No need to modify the case, as the Antec 300 offers such versatile set of fan mounts (there are still two unused).

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The gaming performance is achieved with 3 core CPU, NVidia GTX 275 card, modern low-end motherboard and reasonably fast DDR3 memory. It is enough for full HD gaming, possibly excluding the most power hungry games. With Flight Simulator X I get nice 50 fps with ultra+ details. Later on I may try some overclocking. When DDR3 memory prices drop, I will possibly buy some more and faster memory. For now 2GB is well enough.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 6:41 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:11 am
Posts: 540
Location: Massachusetts, USA
interesting build..I probably would have done A LOT differently, but to each his own I guess.

you're into cable management huh?

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The Rig: Asus P5Q, e8400 O.C.'d to 3.6 Ghz w/ Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, MSI GTX460 768MB, 4x1gb G.Skill@1066Mhz, 320gb WD & 500gb Samsung suspended, Corsair 520W PSU, Windows 7 Professional x64


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:04 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:55 am
Posts: 41
Location: Rijeka, Croatia
total mess :D

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 Post subject: Yes, a mess
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:42 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:30 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Finland
RoGuE wrote:
you're into cable management huh?

No, I'm not into cable management, extra LEDs, colored pipes, case windows etc. things.

I highly respect people who make their PC projects visually appealing, but all I'm offering to see is this simple set of silencing solutions and a reference for budget set-up.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 7:54 am 
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Joined: Mon Feb 26, 2007 9:20 am
Posts: 3141
Location: Missing in Finnish wilderness, howling to moon with wolf brethren and walking with brother bears
That top duct is quite brilliant ^^ Ghetto-brilliance I'd say. Coolputer has good Sharkoon 140mm 900 RPM quiet fan. Its perfect IMHO for 300 since Finland has 0 Supply for Yate-Loon 140mm's...

But I like it. The mess makes it look like my room and I feel so comfy looking that cable mess. I cannot criticize it ^^

Good job so far. First stepts taken ^^

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Maturity is just not experience in life but also ability to make compromises.


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 Post subject: Re: Yes, a mess
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 8:44 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:11 am
Posts: 540
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Vidicio wrote:
RoGuE wrote:
you're into cable management huh?

No, I'm not into cable management, extra LEDs, colored pipes, case windows etc. things.

I highly respect people who make their PC projects visually appealing, but all I'm offering to see is this simple set of silencing solutions and a reference for budget set-up.


I dont consider cable management in the same category as flare such as LEDs and lights and windows etc.

Cable management is functional..it reduces turbulance in airflow and makes the fans have to do less work to move air in and out of your case. (yes, cables in the middle of the case can affect both the front and rear exhust fans). This is obviously a very complex thing to quantify or model with fluid mechanics. Fans that have to do less work are quieter, happier fans. Therefore, many non-flashy builders (like myself) are "fans" of cable management.

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The Rig: Asus P5Q, e8400 O.C.'d to 3.6 Ghz w/ Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro, MSI GTX460 768MB, 4x1gb G.Skill@1066Mhz, 320gb WD & 500gb Samsung suspended, Corsair 520W PSU, Windows 7 Professional x64


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 Post subject: Re: Yes, a mess
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 9:23 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:30 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Finland
RoGuE wrote:
Cable management is functional..it reduces turbulance in airflow and makes the fans have to do less work to move air in and out of your case.

I totally agree on that, but it isn't that significant when the air pressure is very low. My fans spin between 300 and 700 RPM and the turbulence is therefore inaudible. Even if there is some turbulence because of the cables, it might be even preferable, possibly directing some air to otherwise dead spots.

Although the pictures don't really show it, the messy cables don't prevent the airflow anywhere as much as the HDD and the graphics card with the heat sinks do. It is often a bit excessive to get a few thin cables far away from a fan, which anyway forcefully pushes all the air through a sink or a grill with small holes or even a filter. :D

thejamppa wrote:
That top duct is quite brilliant ^^

Thanks! A 14 cm fan is of course preferable when needing greater air flow. Otherwise I recommend silent 12 cm fan with 2 simple pieces of cardboard and some elastic cord attaching them.

BTW: the cable mess in the first picture around the computer looks more visible that it actually is. That PC is between two others and the camera flash just made sides of the other computers reflect the cables behind.


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 Post subject: Re: Yes, a mess
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:18 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:00 am
Posts: 2131
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Vidicio wrote:
I totally agree on that, but it isn't that significant when the air pressure is very low. My fans spin between 300 and 700 RPM and the turbulence is therefore inaudible.

Although the pictures don't really show it, the messy cables don't prevent the airflow anywhere as much as the HDD and the graphics card with the heat sinks do. It is often a bit excessive to get a few thin cables far away from a fan, which anyway forcefully pushes all the air through a sink or a grill with small holes or even a filter.


Actually, the lower the pressure, the more significant the impact of impediments are. The point is that any cable(s) in the way will affect airflow by deflecting it and reducing its velocity. How much will depending on your layout and fan speed. It's not the noise of the turbulence that causes the problem, it's the fact that with excess impediments, you need to compensate by running fans faster.

The 300 give you a nice place to store excess cabling, on the back side of the HDD cage. You can use zip-ties or whatever to pin them to the loops built-in.

I would have stuck with air-cooling, personally. With an aftermarket cooler, you could run a couple low speed fans on the heatsink itself, or perhaps use a chamber design (with some cardboard or foamboard) to use the front to back airflow with the intake fans.

My 300 uses just this method to isolate the PSU from the rest of the components, keeping it cool, and as a result quiet. You could create another one for the GPU using the top fan and some open PCI brackets to create a second straight airflow path, avoiding the side fan (and blocking off the side vents). Then you'd have the rear fan as an intake for the top exhaust with a standard passive CPU cooler.

Please post temperatures of your setup at idle and load, as that would better show whether we are all a bunch of obsessive fools or if there's room for improvement in the setup.

_________________
HTPC: OrigenAE X11|Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H|Phenom II x3 740BE w/AC Freezer 7|150GB Velociraptor|Corsair VX450
Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
WHS: DF-85|P8H67-M Pro|I5-3450S/Hyper 212+|Corsair AX650|Sandisk Extreme 240GB, 2xWD20EARS, 2x WD15EARS, WD15EADS


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:09 am 
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Joined: Mon Jul 13, 2009 7:55 am
Posts: 41
Location: Rijeka, Croatia
I can run my sistem ( signature ) with just the CPU fan and the 140mm running.The VGA is not exactly cool, but it performs about the same as the original cooling ( leadtek ).

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 Post subject: Re: Yes, a mess
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 11:53 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:30 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Finland
jhhoffma wrote:
I would have stuck with air-cooling, personally.

Just like all my friends who have lately built similar rigs. I guess I have a somewhat lower noise level target. My house is in extremely quiet area, with cars passing by only rarely and even then driving slowly. Most girls visiting me for the first time ask me to play some music just because the total ambient silence is so disturbing. I tried air cooling GTX 275 with stock fans replaced by bigger Noctuas, but it was still way too loud for me.

jhhoffma wrote:
With an aftermarket cooler, you could run a couple low speed fans on the heatsink itself, or perhaps use a chamber design (with some cardboard or foamboard) to use the front to back airflow with the intake fans.

I get the point and for low-end HW I do prefer air cooling. My HTPC is air cooled with two slow fans and it is extremely silent. It has a cardboard duct for directing the air through the CPU heatsink and then directly out of the case. With that build I learned never to attach a fan directly to heatsink or the case.

jhhoffma wrote:
Please post temperatures of your setup at idle and load, as that would better show whether we are all a bunch of obsessive fools or if there's room for improvement in the setup.

I got readings from 3 temperature sensors: CPU, GPU and one in somewhere at mobo. In addition I have tried running on heavy load and then quickly opening the case and checking the temperature of various components just by touching them. Nothing alarming yet (degrees of Celsius on idle and full load):
- CPU: 30, 43
- GPU: 38, 45
- Ambient: 39, 44

Enhancing the case air flow wouldn't anyway affect the CPU or GPU temps as they are water cooled. The critical airflow goes through the external radiator and I think I have done everything possible to make it flow smoothly. No wires hanging there.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:44 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:00 am
Posts: 2131
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
No, I would agree that you don't have any glaring issues, your temps are very good. The only thing I would check is the HDD temp. Other than that, it doesn't appear you have much of an airflow problem.

As for noise, however, you have 3 fans in your setup, 2 in the radiator, plus one in the PSU. You even said yourself that the pump was "so noisy that extreme silence is impossible to achieve" and that you still hear the HDD. I don't think you'll be looking to replace the HDD for a SSD with your budget, but removing any components (like the pump) that generate noise and heat are a good idea.

But to each his own. You've got a nice running system and if you are pleased with it's operation, then you've got no reason to change it. I think within about 6 months, though, the cable management bug will have bitten!!

_________________
HTPC: OrigenAE X11|Gigabyte GA-MA785GPMT-UD2H|Phenom II x3 740BE w/AC Freezer 7|150GB Velociraptor|Corsair VX450
Main: Antec 300 (SlipStream @ 800rpm/140mm @ 5v)|Asus M4A88TD-M|Phenom II x4 945 (Mugen2 pass.)|Asus EAH6850|Samsung 830 128GB|Antec TP750
WHS: DF-85|P8H67-M Pro|I5-3450S/Hyper 212+|Corsair AX650|Sandisk Extreme 240GB, 2xWD20EARS, 2x WD15EARS, WD15EADS


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:54 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 25, 2006 1:19 am
Posts: 489
Location: Australia
ooohhh... a wc setup, certainly rare in these parts.

looks fine to me, but i am a little surprised by the amount of fans in your case. with your 2 hottest components being externally cooled, do you really need 3? i would consider removing the top exhaust, and just letting convection and the pressure created by your intakes to take over.

your ghetto external radiator is awesome 8)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:54 pm 
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Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:30 pm
Posts: 21
Location: Finland
jhhoffma wrote:
No, I would agree that you don't have any glaring issues, your temps are very good. The only thing I would check is the HDD temp.

It doesn't feel anyhow warm to touch. No wonder, as it is hung sideways behind the front intake fan (by elastic cords), with lots of space for air to flow everywhere around it.

porkchop wrote:
looks fine to me, but i am a little surprised by the amount of fans in your case. with your 2 hottest components being externally cooled, do you really need 3? i would consider removing the top exhaust, and just letting convection and the pressure created by your intakes to take over.

Right, the top exhaust is most likely unnecessary for cooling but I have have a few reasons to keep it there. The new Noctua fans running at slow RPM (and attached this way) are extremely silent. I don't hear the difference when shutting it off. The intake fans should do less work when they don't need to create overpressure in the case. Main reason is that if the PSU gets hot, its' fan may try to exhaust all the little air blown in by the slowly running intake fans, thus leaving insufficient air flow for mobo circuitry and RAM.

porkchop wrote:
your ghetto external radiator is awesome 8)

Thanks! I did the sewing of the duct myself. A girl I've been dating insisted doing it for me, but I had doubts on her ability to get the measurements right as she only has experience on sewing clothes and curtains. The fabric was once part of my favorite pair of jeans. 8)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 2009 1:48 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 29, 2007 10:30 pm
Posts: 116
nice try thanks for sharing


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