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 Post subject: My NSK3480 Pride And Joy
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:40 am 
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Joined: Thu May 28, 2009 1:48 pm
Posts: 19
Location: UK
Hello all.
I thought I'd share my first PC build result, here in the gallery.
The NSK3480 as many will know, is a petite mATX tower. I felt this would place well with the accompanying AV equipment.
Here it is fully deployed:-

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It has taken a few knocks along the way :oops:
It is connected via HDMI to a Onkyo TX-SR507 AV receiver, then onto a Samsung 6 series 46" panel. :wink:

Nvidia GT250 And Accelero S2 VGA Cooler
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At the expense of optimal cooling, the fan was placed forward to allow use of the PCI slot (e.g. tuner card). See below.
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A Scythe 'Kaze Maru' 140mm fan is used to gently pull air through the VGA cooler and exit the bottom of the PC case. The fan is rubber mounted to reduce transmitted noise.
The manual fan speed controller (top right) is used for both the VGA cooler fan and the side panel mounted CPU fan (also 140mm). The fan controller is a Zalman Fan Mate 2.

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Extended rubber feet ensure better airflow from HTPC without cooking the floor! :P

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Here is the side panel mounted CPU fan (rubber coupled then bolted). It makes use of the existing vent holes (created by Antec) to pull air in from the outside.

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The airflow is directed onto the all copper Nexus XIR-3500 CPU cooler (minus original tiny fan). In hindsight a cooler with fitted 120mm fan would have been easier. :lol:

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The airflow is then pulled through the PSU and exits out the back.
The rectangle hole had to be cut out of the NSK3480 to allow for this.

Why do it this way? Well okay, the PSU cooling is less efficient due to CPU warmed air entering it instead of cooler clean air, but I didn't want to risk the noise of airflow being sucked through the vents at the top of the NSK3480 which is more 'line of sight' to my seating position. Also, the push/pull effect of airflow across the CPU cooler seemed like a good idea! :)
In the left hand side of the picture you will see the unconventionally mounted 2.5" 250Gb hard drive (main library storage). This is actually the back of the NSK3480 case.

The 'Acoustically Clamped' HDD
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Foam backed sanding pads were used to further reduce the rotation noise of the 2.5" drive (WD2500BEVT). The HDD mounting plates from the NSK3480 case were used for this purpose. :D

With the DVD drive removed, the solid state drive (SSD) can be seen.
It is a Samsung 64Gb and is used for the Ubuntu operating system.
Image


The PSU: Fun And Games

Having decided that the Antec supplied PSU was too noisy for my requirements, I settled for a Nexus *ahem* 'Real Silent' NX-8050 replacement.
Sure it was quieter, but not silent or quiet enough for me (seating @ ~ 2m distance). **I took radical action, not to be recommended. Very dangerous DC voltages exist!**
I removed the fan from the PSU and used the NSK3480 TriCool 3-speed fan, rubber mounted, in it's place.
This gives me additional manual fan speed control on the PSU. Much monitoring of heat dissipation followed, around the PSU and NSK3480 case.
As I had arguably void my VGA card warranty, I though one more wouldn't hurt! :twisted:
One year or so later, all is still well.

Slight Problem:-
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Unfortunately, I didn't allow for the extra 10mm depth of the NX-8050 PSU. It was now impossible to connect the power connector to the DVD drive, as this caused the drive to stick out at the front! Doh. :x
The cheapest and most convenient solution was to snip a power connector off a spare unused PSU and solder it to the DVD drive. :wink:

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This meant that I could now 'fold' the connection underneath the DVD drive, allowing the PSU and drive to fit back to back unhindered. Phew..

That pretty much covers the mess I got my self into. :D
I have certainly learned a lot about resourcefulness and expectation, not to mention my eager impatience to get the job done.
Was it worth it? Absolutely, you bet! I've now got one superbly quiet system. 8)
I have also learned to never underestimate HD video playback requirements again. Even my choice of Core2Duo E8400 CPU with Nvidia GTS250 (think 9800 GTX+) just about scrapes it in my opinion.
For instance, I can watch BBC HD shows on iPlayer and for the best part it is very watchable, but I might upgrade parts again in a year or so's time all the same...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 8:07 am 
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I find the power connector mod on the optical drive to be most interesting as it costs almost nothing and opens up the possibility of using some different PSU's in the cramped NSK3480 upper chamber. I am not intimately familiar with Ubuntu, but you might investigate if your system is using the gpu to decode high definition video. The codecs shipped with windows 7 use the gpu resulting in very low CPU usage while playing back high def content.

I would also consider enlarging the intake to take full advantage of the 140mm fan.

Finally, I am wondering if you have tested the PSU with the fan drawing through the top vents to see if it works better or worse. The fan should be connected to the PSU controller for that test as it would indicate if the PSU is heating up more, depending on its orientation. Using a fan that is connected directly to a fixed 12v line would mask that.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:05 am 
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Haha, nice DVD drive molex mod, and the extended feet are a nice touch too! Kinda like a sub. I'd be tempted to put a filter on that fan, though, but then again, you may not have as much dust...

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:15 pm 
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Location: UK
diver wrote:
I find the power connector mod on the optical drive to be most interesting as it costs almost nothing and opens up the possibility of using some different PSU's in the cramped NSK3480 upper chamber. I am not intimately familiar with Ubuntu, but you might investigate if your system is using the gpu to decode high definition video. The codecs shipped with windows 7 use the gpu resulting in very low CPU usage while playing back high def content.

I would also consider enlarging the intake to take full advantage of the 140mm fan.

Finally, I am wondering if you have tested the PSU with the fan drawing through the top vents to see if it works better or worse. The fan should be connected to the PSU controller for that test as it would indicate if the PSU is heating up more, depending on its orientation. Using a fan that is connected directly to a fixed 12v line would mask that.


Yes. The molex mod does open posibilities. However, I did modify (cut away) the metal plate slightly, to avoid short circuiting through the extender cable when putting the cover back on. For simplicity I accepted this as a void warranty (again! lol). An even better solution would be a slimline optical drive. These are both quieter and not so deep either. :)
Also, I must correct a error that crept in here. The molex connector is NOT from a PSU but a spare 80mm Antec fan I had lying around. It was for connecting the fan directly to the PSU, controlled by its in-line 3 way switch. A PSU molex would of course be the wrong gender! :oops:

I am indeed considering enlarging the side panel air intake (CPU fan) to take greater advantage of the fan diameter.
At the time my main concern was that I'd screw up the symmetrical look of the grill by drilling extra holes. Not to mention that the grill consists of punched square holes to boot. But I might go ahead at some point. :)

Regarding video playback. It is generally very good but mostly drops on Flash player. Nvidia binary driver support is very good on Linux. The 'PureVideo' acceleration is supported using VDPAU implementation to reduce reliance on CPU decoding. The GTS250 is based on the now old G92 core, so doesn't have the latest (VP4) iteration of 'PureVideo'.
I deliberated for ages over 2 or 4 core CPU choice. I chose higher core speed over number of cores. In hindsight I should have chosen quad core... :x

Regarding the PSU. Well I had briefly orientated it the correct way up, but changed my mind. The fan in the PSU is still connected to the fan controller of the PSU, just as before. The only differences are that I swapped the grub mounting screws for rubber mounts and that the replacement fan has a simple in-line 3 speed switch for additional control.
But yes, interestingly (not surprisingly) the PSU fan controller does try to over compensate at times, due to the externally reduced speed of the fan.
I really, really wished I was braver at the start of this project and purchased a Silverstone 450W Nightjar fanless PSU... :x

Still, overall I'm quite happy with my first attempt. :D


hybrid2d4x4 wrote:
Haha, nice DVD drive molex mod, and the extended feet are a nice touch too! Kinda like a sub. I'd be tempted to put a filter on that fan, though, but then again, you may not have as much dust...


Yep. I did think about a filter, or at least a fan grill. Those poor but fat, well fed spiders do such a great job too...
My only concern I had with adding a filter though, is potentially added blow(VGA)/suck(CPU) noise and reduced cooling for given fan speed.
The extended feet were from my local B&Q DIY store and glued on to the existing rubber feet. :lol:
:x


Last edited by infrasonic on Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 2:50 pm 
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Yeah that DVD drive mod is brilliant, great way to fit longer PSUs in that case.

And definitely either enlarge that side panel intake, or use a smaller fan that fits the perforations. First of all, it's probably hard on the fan's motor with so much of it blowing straight into metal like that. Also creates a lot of turbulence and noise.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 3:15 pm 
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frostedflakes wrote:
Yeah that DVD drive mod is brilliant, great way to fit longer PSUs in that case.

And definitely either enlarge that side panel intake, or use a smaller fan that fits the perforations. First of all, it's probably hard on the fan's motor with so much of it blowing straight into metal like that. Also creates a lot of turbulence and noise.


No, it's not hard on the motor in the slightest. It is designed to push air around regardless, that's it's job. In any case, the fan speed is very low (reduced airflow noise, remember :wink: ).
Increased panel intake benefits are a given (as noted), but in the meantime the wider surface area of the fan will still provide a nice broad coverage of moving air inside the box.
I did mount the fan some 10-15mm away from the inside panel, to allow air through the entire diameter of the fan, even though the side panel inlet is not yet optimal. The fan is not sealed against the inside of the panel.

Additionally, the use of such a large fan hopefully increases air movement around the Northbridge and other surrounding areas on the motherboard. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 7:55 pm 
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Hi,

Did you try it with air moving into the bottom fan and out the side fan? I think that the large fan on the small grill must be making some additional noise; than the fan in free air, or with a grill opening that is the same size as the fan.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 10:15 pm 
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NeilBlanchard wrote:
Hi,

Did you try it with air moving into the bottom fan and out the side fan? I think that the large fan on the small grill must be making some additional noise; than the fan in free air, or with a grill opening that is the same size as the fan.


In the beginning I experimented with both the positioning and airflow direction of the bottom (VGA cooling) fan.
Primarily this was to determine the best cooling efficiency, its noise and speed, whilst still allowing access to the bottom PCI slot.
My observations (according to Nvidia temp readout) suggested better results by extracting air upwards and outwards from the GPU, rather than blowing air towards it,
probably because the warm air has nowhere to go except hitting the VGA circuit board before dispersing outwards in all directions.
This disrupted exit of warm air in my opinion, would appear to reduce cooling efficiency. The VGA board would act as a natural barrier for air travelling towards the exit fan and side panel grill, blocking any effective removal of VGA warm air. :o
As a result I have treated the two fans as two separate cooling systems within the case overall.

I agree with you about the extra noise on the side panel due to differing fan/grill sizes. This might be akin to the 'venturi effect' coming into play as the air struggles (even at low speed), to funnel through the grill.
Enlarging the grill size would be a winner all round. :D


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 Post subject: NEAR SILENCE: THE PRIMARY CONSIDERATION
PostPosted: Fri Jan 01, 2010 11:02 pm 
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Joined: Thu May 28, 2009 1:48 pm
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Location: UK
At this point I should just clarify something. Cool running temps of system components isn't my primary objective.
The decision to use uncomplicated manual fan control was borne out of a desire for acoustic consistency, i.e. under varying system loads.
The VGA card, in summer, typically ran at about 49 to 55 oC during non-3D accelerated use. When playing FPS game Nexuiz the GPU temp would rise anywhere from high sixties to mid/high seventies degrees Celsius (oC). The VGA cut off temp is around 100 or so degrees Celsius (AFAIR).
Central positioning of the GPU fan (giving up the PCI slot) would have improved the situation, but I settled for this trade off. I can always raise the fan speed if desired. Funnily though, if it is too hot for my GPU, I found it too hot for me also, to play FPS game in high ambient temperatures! :lol:
The CPU hovered anywhere between low/mid forties and sixty odd degrees Celsius (AFAIR) depending on load... (I don't have lmsensors set up at the mo)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 5:25 am 
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Nice ideas. Was the setup running hot with only a single intake fan?

Btw. are these Wharfedale Diamonds 10.1s?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:38 pm 
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Location: UK
Cistron wrote:
Nice ideas. Was the setup running hot with only a single intake fan?

Btw. are these Wharfedale Diamonds 10.1s?


For the VGA card, temps would run too high without a fan when using openGL applications (3D). The CPU wasn't so bad. It would only get particularly hot if encoding video for instance.
It is possible that I might not have done the best job with the available sachets of thermal compound at the time of installation. :shock:
I haven't entirely ruled out upgrading the CPU/GPU, so I'll probably revisit this aspect at some point. Next on list will certainly be the grill mod. :lol:

As for my Onkyo speaker pairing you are very close! They are in fact Wharfedale Diamond 9.1's. Got them from 'Richer Sounds' at £100 a pair. I also bought a pair for the rear surround and a KEF centre speaker too. I already had the Eltax active sub from a few years back, not hugely powerful now, but perfectly adequate for my small flat. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 2:52 pm 
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infrasonic wrote:
Regarding video playback. It is generally very good but mostly drops on Flash player. Nvidia binary driver support is very good on Linux. The 'PureVideo' acceleration is supported using VDPAU implementation to reduce reliance on CPU decoding. The GTS250 is based on the now old G92 core, so doesn't have the latest (VP4) iteration of 'PureVideo'.
I deliberated for ages over 2 or 4 core CPU choice. I chose higher core speed over number of cores. In hindsight I should have chosen quad core...


quad core would only be beneficial if the software you are using is multi-threaded, which i doubt it is(?).

the latest 10.1 flash player now has better support for gpu playback, especially on nvidia systems; also check to see if any new nvidia drivers have been released for your card.
http://www.anandtech.com/video/showdoc.aspx?i=3678&p=2

fortunately you can try overclocking the cpu, to see if that helps the playback any.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:22 pm 
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danimal wrote:
quad core would only be beneficial if the software you are using is multi-threaded, which i doubt it is(?).
the latest 10.1 flash player now has better support for gpu playback, especially on nvidia systems; also check to see if any new nvidia drivers have been released for your card.
fortunately you can try overclocking the cpu, to see if that helps the playback any.


You might well be right. However, based on the CPU load when using Flash player at full screen, *both* cores are up at around 80%. On that basis I reckon an extra two cores should help. :D
The latest version of Flash for Linux is: 10.0.42.34*
I have the latest stable Nvidia driver also: 195.30*

I've tried over clocking both CPU/GPU. The benefits are very minimal for potential heat/instability issues.
On a good note, the native media player backend does a noticeably better (not perfect) job at video playback, than Adobe Flash.
Flash player is slowly but surely improving though, so who knows in another years time.. :)

* At the time of posting.


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