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Really quiet gaming PC (Antec NSK 2480)

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 9:25 am
by Modo
I wanted my new rig to be a quiet one, good enough for gaming and sitting in a HTPC enclosure. Most enclosures were either too big (i.e. tower cases turned to lay on one side) or too small (which means loud fans). Fortunately, Antec thought of me ;) and made a HTPC enclosure that fits 120 mm fans, and provides good cooling for all components. Here's what I put together last fall:

Case: Antec NSK 2480-EC
I knew from reviews that the Tri-Cool fans aren't very quiet, so, after trial and error, I settled for two Scythe S-FLEX, model SFF21E. They run at 650 rpm at idle (inaudible), and ramp up to 1200 rpm under heavy load. I cut the original fan grilles, and replaced them with ones that are less obstructive. This reduced fan noise when above 650 rpm, and added some airflow at all speeds (effectively reducing CPU temperatures by approximately 5 C). Before mounting the hard disk, I removed the mounts, leaving only the metal frame. I also put sound dampening foam on the sides and on the cover around the hard disk area. The bottom works as an air intake, so it only got an air filter (reusing a protective mesh that came with the motherboard).

PSU: Antec Phantom 500
I sold the EarthWatts PSU that came with the enclosure. Yes, I know I could have just swapped the fan, but I don't like voiding varranties. The PSU gets almost no airflow in this case, but the reserve fan didn't start even once so far. EDIT: I noticed during the summer, that the PSU fan actually works. It starts sometimes on hot days (over 25C room temperature, after some gaming), but it's inaudible. I only found out while rerouting some cables with the PC on—felt the little bit of airflow it creates.

Mobo: Gigabyte GA-G33M-S2H
Had to be mATX because of the enclosure. I couldn't find a P35-based motherboard of this form factor. Are there any?

CPU: Intel Core 2 Duo E6550
I aimed for a powerful CPU with a low clock. In retrospect, maybe it wasn't the best choise, but it's doing well. The CPU works at stock speed, undervolted from 1.35 to 1.1V.

Heatsink: Thermalright SI-128 SE (no fan)
I honestly don't know why not a Ninja Mini, but it does it's job very well, so no big deal. :)

Graphics card: Gigabyte GV-NX86S256H (GeForce 8600GTS, 256 MB of RAM, passive cooling)
It was the fastest graphics card with out-of-the-box passive cooling available in Poland at that time. My second Gigabyte with passive cooling.

RAM: 2 x 1 GB Geil Ultra 800 MHz CL4
Doesn't really run at CL4, since the motherboard doesn't allow precise tweaking of RAM values. Ah, well, I'll be more thorough with my research next time.

Hard disk: Samsung HD501LJ 500 GB
Picked a quiet model, of course. I suspended it on the metal frame, and managed to keep vibrations away from the enclosure. It's the loudest component of the system. Next year, I'll consider switching to something really quiet, line an SSD or laptop drive.

Sound card: Creative X-Fi Xtreme Gamer
Games, remember? :)

Maximal temperatures (real values are usually 1-3C lower), with a room temperature at around 20-22C:

CPU: 35C
GPU: 45C

CPU: 50C
GPU: 60C

The load temperatures never both reach this level at the same time, because a CPU stress test will always lower the capabilities of a GPU stress test and vice versa. At 50C or 60C respectively, the fans spin up, effectively stopping any additional heat up.

Some pics. Sorry about the crappy cell phone quality:
Image Image Image
Image Image Image

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 6:07 pm
by porkchop
so are you crawling under the desk to use the dvd drive often? :D
putting your case under the desk really reduces the noise, but getting to the usb ports and dvd drive is a real pain- my burner is easy enough to reach, but the usb ports require some effort :(.

Posted: Fri Apr 25, 2008 8:44 pm
by Modo
porkchop wrote:so are you crawling under the desk to use the dvd drive often? :D
Nah, I can reach it with my hand when sitting in the chair. It's not very comfortable, but I hear some stretching is good for you. ;)
porkchop wrote: putting your case under the desk really reduces the noise,
Well, the noise is reduced compared to having the PC on the desk, however the chamber this setup creates slightly amplifies sounds, so it's not as good as I would like. Not enough space to put the PC a couple meters away—not until I move to a new place.
porkchop wrote: but getting to the usb ports and dvd drive is a real pain- my burner is easy enough to reach, but the usb ports require some effort :(.
Well, the ones on the back of the case are permanent connections (keyboard+mouse, monitor hub, printer, webcam). The others are fairly accessible. The USB hub on the monitor is most useful.

"Christmas" upgrade

Posted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 12:30 pm
by Modo
This was planned for December, but other stuff had to go first, so here we are. :)

I did a simple upgrade to keep up with modern games: More RAM (upped to 2 x 2GB), more CPU power (switched from undervolting by ~20% to overclocking by ~20%), and a more powerful graphics card (upgraded to a factory-overclocked Radeon HD 4850 1GB).

The card from Gigabyte is a weird animal. Some say it has a really bad cooling solution, others have good case airflow. ;) It fit the NSK 2480 just a little bit better than the previous Gigabyte I had in there—the clearance to the top cover is a fraction of a milimeter bigger.

The new temperatures (ambient temperature near the rig was about 20C):

Idle (with fans at 650rpm):
CPU: 42C
GPU: 47C

CPU: 70C (with variable fan speeds up to 1000rpm)
GPU: 76C (with fans at 1000rpm)

I call this a very exact fit:
Image Image Image

Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:59 am
by aztec
sorry to bump the thread....but I'm just curious. can you mount a 120mm fan on the SI-128 and still cose/cover the case?


Posted: Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:05 am
by psiu
Heh, I miseed this first time through. Looks nice, and powerful for a sedate looking system. What are your HD temps like? Looks like you blocked the bottom intakes?

Posted: Mon Sep 14, 2009 9:44 pm
by grandpatzer
Would this setup work with a passive 4850 or a 8800gtx with fan?

passive 4850 GV-R485MC-1GH ... uctID=2900