CM Elite 340 microATX Build

Show off your quiet rig.

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CM Elite 340 microATX Build

Post by AndrewD » Fri Jan 11, 2008 10:48 pm

I recently posted in the cases forum about the Cooler Master Elite 340 microATX case. I've completed the build, and thought I'd share some photos and results for anyone interested.

My main goals were simple:
- general purpose and gaming usage
- very quiet - not totally silent, but unobtrusive
- reasonably low power consumption - (< 90W idle, < 200W load)
- small!

My previous rig was based on the Antec SLK3000B case and my first attempt at a quiet PC. It was somewhat successful, and has lasted me almost 3 years. But it wasn't as quiet as I'd hoped it would be, and the case was too large. But at the time of completing the build, it was 'good enough' and I'd spent more than I wanted to on it, so I decided it wasn't worth pursuing further improvements.

So it was time for an upgrade. I've been looking at numerous case options over the last 6 months, starting with the Solo, but that wasn't much smaller than the 3000B, and everything else I looked at was larger. So the only options left were the SG01/03, TJ08, NSK3480/4480. I checked out all the SFF cube style cases too, but most of them have fairly large footprints and didn't really seem like great options. I even considered a Shuttle, but while the size is nice, the price and proprietary board/psu/cooling were too much of a compromise.

The SG03 was appealing, but on further thought, for the sake of saving a few extra cm's of depth over more traditional mini-towers, it required too many compromises. So that left the TJ08 and 3480 as the main contenders. Then I stumbled on the CM340 and found it had the same internal layout as the TJ08, but 1/2 the price, and I liked the aesthetics better than the others.

My old PC only ever contained 1 card for graphics, so in retrospect, full ATX was overkill. But there weren't many good microATX boards around back then. Recently, I keep reading positive comments on the Gigabyte G33M-DS2R, and I've been really keen to try it out, so it seemed like a good time to try a smaller build.


Case: CoolerMaster Elite 340
CPU: Intel E6750 2.66ghz
MB: Gigabyte GA-G33M-DSR2
GPU: Powercolor HD3870
RAM: Crucial Ballistix 2GB
PSU: Seasonic S12-430
ODD: Samsung SH-203B DVD/RW
HDD: Maxtor DM10 200GB HDD (AAM enabled)
Monitor: Samsung 226BW 22" LCD

Thermalright XP-120 HS + LGA775RM kit + Nexus 120mm
2x Scythe Sliptream SL12L (800rpm) intakes
1x Scythe S-FLEX SFF21F (1600rpm) for the PSU
Arctic Cooling S1 passive
Thermalright MX-2 paste

XP Pro SP2
Catalyst 7.12

The XP-120, Nexus, HDD and Seasonic are from the old PC. Since I don't plan on extreme overclocking, I decided to get some more use out of the XP-120. I only had to buy the LGA775RM mounting kit to use it with the new m/board.

The HDD is the weakest component performance and noise wise, but I haven't decided what to replace it with yet. It's not especially quiet and runs hot, but with AAM enabled, seek noise is much improved. I recently bought a WD5000AAKS for my media center PC and I've been disappointed with that from a noise/heat perspective, and I don't think its much quieter than the Maxtor either. So I don't want to buy another HDD until I find something I'll be much happier with.

I tried a positive pressure setup for this build (2 intakes, no dedicated exhaust), just to try something different and because the CM340 case with the mesh bezel, and with the drive cage removed, lends itself to this. I removed the intake grill and the area below the 3.5" drive opening with tin snips and soft mounted the 2 slipstreams.

My Seasonic had an Adda fan and it was fairly quiet, but had some bearing noise and didn't sound smooth. I swapped in the S-FLEX, using the 1600rpm model as it was the closest match to the Adda.

The Gigabyte board only has 2 fan headers - so I'm running both intakes off the 1 header using a home-made splitter cable with RPM monitoring on the upper fan, and the CPU fan off the 2nd header. Auto fan control turned off in the BIOS, and both are SpeedFan controlled. It would be ideal to control each intake fan independently, but is probably no great advantage since SpeedFan can't monitor GPU temps.

I'd planned to suspension mount the HDD under the 5.25" drive cage, but for the moment have it resting on some thin foam at the bottom of the case. This seems ok and provides enough isolation.

I've covered both vents on the side panel so the airflow doesn't short-circuit. I've thought about partitioning the upper and lower halves of the case, effectively creating 2 air tunnels, but I haven't tried this yet. At extended use at heavy load, the top of the case and PSU become very warm, so the lack of a dedicated exhaust fan seems to be causing heat to build up there. I'll try the partitioning idea and see if that helps since most of the heat is coming from the video card. I may end up just adding a slow exhaust fan - a Nexus or Slipstream at 500rpm should be enough.

I'm using CrystalCPU to undervolt the CPU: 8x (2.66ghz) - 1.10v, 7x (2.33ghz) - 1.00v, 6x (2.0ghz) - 0.95v.

SpeedFan is configured to run the 3 fans at 500rpm (45% for the Nexus, 40% for the slipstreams), and go up to 700rpm at load (70%). At 100%, the slipstreams run at 900rpm.

The hard drive is the major noise source. With the fans at 500rpm and sitting at about 1m from the case, it's the only sound I can hear distinctly. Stopping all 3 fans doesn't noticably affect the noise signature. I can't hear the PSU since swapping in the S-FLEX. At load with the intake fans at 700rpm, they arn't silent, but the sound is smooth and not intrusive.

Stability and performance are excellent. Everything has worked flawlessly, and the compact size and reduced noise are a nice improvement over the old PC. I was a bit concerned going with the HD3870 after reading of driver issues etc, but with Catalyst 7.12, it's been perfect - I've tried Crysis, COD4, NFS Prostreet and Carbon on it so far and no problems with any of them.

To determine the best balance of noise/cooling, I tested GPU load temps under several different fan speeds:

Slipstreams at SpeedFan 40% (~520rpm)
CPU Core0/1 - 44/degC/45degC
GPU - 77degC
Chipset - 46degC
HDD - 44degC

Slipstreams at SpeedFan 70% (~700rpm)
CPU Core0/1 - 45degC/45degC
GPU - 68degC
Chipset - 44degC
HDD - 41degC

Slipstreams at SpeedFan 80% (~800rpm)
CPU Core0/1 - 42degC/43degC
GPU - 67degC
Chipset - 40degC
HDD - 41degC

Slipstreams at SpeedFan 100% (~890rpm)
CPU Core0/1 - 39degC/41degC
GPU - 65degC
Chipset - 38degC
HDD - 41degC

The 70% setting seems to provide the best balance and is what I've settled on.

At idle, with the Slipstreams at 40%, the GPU temp sits at 45degC. CPU temps range from 38degC at idle to 50degC at load.

The S1 cooler made a huge difference to the GPU temps, especially with the intake fan blowing across it (load temps with the stock cooler were up to 89degC - and the intake fan didn't help due to the enclosed design of the cooler). At load, the entire card and heatsink do get very hot.

Power Consumption:
Idle - 78W
Load (Orthos) - 114W
Load (Orthos+RTHDRIBL) - 168W
Load (RTHDRIBL) - 158W
Load (Crysis GPU Benchmark) - 168W
(total usage measured from the outlet)

Better than I was expecting! The HD3870 is fantastic at idle. I haven't tried more aggressive undervolting but I doubt there's much room for improvement.

The E8200/8400/8500 has just been released here - I'm trying hard to resist getting the E8400 - but my E6750 is less than 1 month old :-(.

The HIS HD3870 IceQ3 has also arrived out here. That's the card I wanted but it wasn't available last month :-(. I'm curious to see how the IceQ cooler performs compared to the S1. Definitely tempting, but the video card was the most expensive item in the build, so I can't justify replacing it already.

Hope this helps anyone considering something other than a Solo or P182 :wink: . Overall, I'm happy with the build and consider it a success. But I need to find a good replacement for the hard drive!















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Post by Shemale » Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:21 am

Nice air path in that case. :)
I see on the metal plate in front where are two 12cm fans, it have holes, and the air is escaping without cooling any components. I suggest some duct tape to block the air. The wires for front panel could use one hole, not two, in idea to obstruct one more hole.
If it is more than 1cm between the graphic card radiator and the lid of the case, a thin sponge, or something similar stick to the lid above the graphic card and pci slots for preventing the air flow to avoid the radiator.

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Post by AuraAllan » Sat Jan 12, 2008 3:42 am

Nice build Andrew.

Wow that fan "grill" in the back is super restrictive. Thank god you dont have to use a fan there.

As i mentioned in your thread about the CM 340 im gonna build a comp for my girlfriend in a CM 340 soon so this thread is very useful to me.

How is the build quality? Especially the front panel. Does it feel cheap?

Have anything to complain about regarding the case?

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Location: Australia

Post by AndrewD » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:35 am

Thanks for the feedback :) .

I haven't done anything to optimise the airflow other than blocking the 2 side vents, so I can definitely try a few things. Thanks for the ideas on the front panel.

There's about 2cm between the top of the S1 cooler and the side panel so there's scope to do something there.

I think the overall build quality is very good given that's its an inexpensive case. As discussed, the side panels are thin, but that seems to be normal on smaller cases. The front bezel is nicely done, it's solid and looks great. I like it a lot. I'm also finding the side mounted switches and ports convenient, as I have it sitting on the left hand side of my desk.

The main negative aspects are the restrictive grills and the 3.5" drive cage - if you plan to use it for HDD's, it seems to be a tight fit with some boards and larger CPU coolers, just because of the short depth of the case. But fortunately, it's removable.

No complaints at all. Actually, I'm planning to buy a 2nd one in a month or so for another build.

Glad to hear this helped!

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Post by AuraAllan » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:53 am

Hi and thanks again Andrew.

Good to hear about the build quality.

The build im about to do uses onboard GFX, so a short case is no problem.
The HDD will probably be suspended with StrechMagic in the 5.25" bay.

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