Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

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Neocray
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Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by Neocray » Mon Mar 21, 2016 12:38 pm

Hello there.

I have to house the following components: i7-3770k, Maximus V Formula, 580 GTX SOC, 1 SSD + 1-2 HDD, RM650i.
The MVF has a 257 mm width, so it's slightly wider than ATX. So it needs juste a little extra room. But the whole needs a proper airflow.
I don't need a perfect silence, but only something quiet enough to be powered in a bedroom at night. And as small as reasonably possible.

My first shortlist was: Fractal Design Define R5 (~135 €), Corsair Carbide 400C/400Q (~110 €), Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX (~180 €).
The R5 has been reported as very tight to fit even a small E-ATX motherboard, to the point that the grommets have to be forgotten.
The 400Q looks OK.
The Phanteks is very attractive to me, but the pricing is huge. It is not particularly silence-oriented, but it sounds quite silent though. The top exhaust vents have an indirect airflow, which is quite uncommon but very good for silence. And the interior looks perfect, especially for watercooling (not immediately planned, but I may move to it in the future).
A tempered-glass panels version is coming in the end of March. The look is gorgeous, but what would be the impact on the sound? (And the price is still unkown but expected even higher.)

So I removed the R5 and added an other challenger: the NZXT H440 (~125 €) has been reported to fit a MVF without totally blocking the grommets. And it has indirect top exhaust as well. But I am not very fond of the look.

What is your advice?

edh
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by edh » Mon Mar 21, 2016 1:07 pm

Neocray wrote:I have to house the following components: i7-3770k, Maximus V Formula, 580 GTX SOC, 1 SSD + 1-2 HDD, RM650i.
Do you already have these components then? Are they in an existing case and if so what is currently wrong with the existing case? Maybe this is fixable much cheaper than buying a new case.
Neocray wrote:The MVF has a 257 mm width, so it's slightly wider than ATX. So it needs juste a little extra room.
Some ATX cases will do just fine but with a bit of modification to drive bays in some cases to remove a bit of metal out of the way. Your mileage may vary but I would suggest someone with each case may be able to clarify. You could also scale off from some high res images to calculate the space available.
Neocray wrote:I don't need a perfect silence, but only something quiet enough to be powered in a bedroom at night.
Why do you need an i7-3770k and a GTX 580 to run in your bedroom overnight? The quietest computer is one that is switched off.
Last edited by edh on Tue Mar 22, 2016 4:44 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Neocray
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by Neocray » Tue Mar 22, 2016 3:00 am

Thanks for your reply.
edh wrote:Do you already have these components then? Are they in an existing case and wif so hat is currently wrong with the existing case? Maybe this is fixable much cheaper than buying a new case.
In the order: yes ; no.
edh wrote:Some ATX cases will do just fine but with a bit of modification to drive bays in some cases to remove a bit of metal out of the way. Your mileage may vary but I would suggest someone with each case may be able to clarify. You could also scale off from some high res images to calculate the space available.
That's what I did. The MVF fits in the R5 but the grommets are unusable. It fits in the H440 and the grommets are still usable. The Enthoo Evolv and the 400C/400Q are officially compatible with E-ATX 264 mm, so there is plenty of room for the MVF.
edh wrote:Why do you need an i7-3770k and a GTX 580 to run in your bedroom overnight? The quietest computer is one that is switched off.
Does it really matter?
The desktop is in the bedroom. Sometimes I want to play or just use my PC but my wife goes off to bed early or wakes up late in her days off.
With a 5+ kms-long xDSL line, it takes ages to even perform the weekly OS updates. With usually an average of 4 connected active devices in the day, the only practical window to achieve large downloads is often at night.
Should I continue?

EDIT: should I relocate my topic in the "System Advice" section?

edh
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by edh » Tue Mar 22, 2016 6:05 am

It's not a great set of components to start with for a quiet setup as it is a high end CPU and graphics card. I wouldn't expect to get it to the level of noise (or heat output) that I would be happy sleeping in the same room as. What kind of cooling setup do you have? Don't expect miracles from a new case to make it quieter, quietness is best dealt with by stopping the components making so much noise in the first place.

When you say grommets, what do you mean?

If the system is just left on to do updates, I'm sorry but this is not power efficient. You are going to be wasting around 100W with a system of that kind of configuration and that adds up to a significant amount of money and environmental impact if it is on all of the time. If the money does not bother you, why don't you move to a bigger house so that you can put it in another room or get a better internet connection so that you don't need to leave the system on to update overnight?
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by Neocray » Tue Mar 22, 2016 7:51 am

edh wrote:What kind of cooling setup do you have? Don't expect miracles from a new case to make it quieter, quietness is best dealt with by stopping the components making so much noise in the first place.
For now, Prolimatech MK-26 with 2* Silent Wings 2 120 and Prolimatech Genesis with unknown 140 mm fans.
Side by side in open air, it is (by far) quieter than my MSI laptop...
edh wrote:When you say grommets, what do you mean?
The thing helping you to manage the cables:
Image
edh wrote:If the system is just left on to do updates, I'm sorry but this is not power efficient. You are going to be wasting around 100W with a system of that kind of configuration and that adds up to a significant amount of money and environmental impact if it is on all of the time.
The system shutdown itself after the end of the update. I wouldn't talk about environmental impact (more of unwill to open a debate rather than a lacking in knowledge), but the electrical cost of powering on a 100 W system for 2 hours at night in France is around 6 €. Per year.
No big deal, really.
edh wrote:If the money does not bother you, why don't you move to a bigger house so that you can put it in another room or get a better internet connection so that you don't need to leave the system on to update overnight?
That question was half-expected...
I do not want to explain my life in a thread for choosing a case, so the answer will be short: because we can't.
And, by the way, our actual home is expecting a 1 Gbps GPON connection before the end of 2016. In the mean time, so be it.

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by xan_user » Tue Mar 22, 2016 9:08 am

IMO no off the shelf case will silence that rig enough for sleeping in same room.

option a/ build custom case out of wood with well insulated sound baffles
option b/ swap components for ones that produce less heat (thus quieter)
option c/ move pc to next room, run video, sound and usb cables through wall to bedroom
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by CA_Steve » Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:48 pm

I'm not up on E-ATX cases, so can't comment on what'll best fit your mobo. The video card is fairly old. power hungry, and probably your largest noise source...other than potential HDD noise. If you swapped it straight out with a decent GTX 950 for 170 euros, the performance would be similar or slightly better, the fans would stop for idle / 2D loads, and the thermal load is halved for better temps/fan noise for the case.

Bummer about your DSL service. I've been in the same position.
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by Neocray » Wed Mar 23, 2016 1:45 am

xan_user wrote:IMO no off the shelf case will silence that rig enough for sleeping in same room.
As I said previously, this rig IS already pretty quiet in open air. Enough to be barely inaudible. And totally inaudible once my laptop is powered on with its venting tab.

If we just forget the sleeping part, what is your opinion on those cases?
CA_Steve wrote:I'm not up on E-ATX cases, so can't comment on what'll best fit your mobo. The video card is fairly old. power hungry, and probably your largest noise source...other than potential HDD noise. If you swapped it straight out with a decent GTX 950 for 170 euros, the performance would be similar or slightly better, the fans would stop for idle / 2D loads, and the thermal load is halved for better temps/fan noise for the case.
Well, the video card is actually quieter than the CPU. As I already said, it is cooled down by a Prolimatech MK-26 with 2* Silent Wings 2. It even runs perfectly fine with passive cooling in 2D loads. (Once again, in open air, so it may be even better with a constant airflow.)
So even if it's pretty old and power hungry, it outperforms a GTX 950 and can still do a good job for some months. I am therefore more interested in spending 170 € in a case to house it than buying a somewhat equivalent card with no case.
CA_Steve wrote:Bummer about your DSL service. I've been in the same position.
It's not that bad, actually. Once you have spent a year in a german countryside with a 756 kbps connection...

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:00 am

Neocray wrote:The Phanteks is very attractive to me, but the pricing is huge.
What about this other one ?
Regards,
Luca

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by SebRad » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:23 am

Hi, yes at idle the PC will be using a lot of power relative to more modern and modest machines but the 100w or so is perfectly feasible to cool very quietly. Like sleep in the same room quiet, and I can easily believe it is with aftermarket CPU and GPU coolers.

The problem comes when under load and you're in the 300-400w range, then you need a lot of case air flow for quiet operation.
Looking at images of the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX I can't see where the air is supposed to get in/out of the case, the gaps look totally inadequate to me for quiet cooling of a hot PC. Same for the H440.
The Phanteks Enthoo Pro M linked by Luca looks good to me and a reasonable price. Takes motherboard up to 264mm so that's fine.
Support for 2x140mm or 3x120mm intake and roof fans as well as 140mm rear exhaust. The intake doesn't look too restricted either.
If it were mine I'd start with 2 intake fans, rear exhaust and rear most roof fan exhaust and see how that was.
With good fans spun down at idle it can be very quiet even with lots of fans, my PC had 8 fans yet at idle would be all but inaudible. (2x140mm ~300rpm, 5x92mm ~500rpm, 80mm ~650rpm)

Your Asus board will have good fan control of it's own or you can use Speedfan to tune the fan speeds for minimum noise.
MSI afterburner can set set custom fan curves on the GPU fans.
Don't be afraid to trade temperature for noise, the CPU will be fine up to 80°C and the GPU 85°C.
Can also experiment with balance of fan speeds, e.g. faster case fans might bring enough extra cool air in to cool the GPU fans to more than offset their extra noise.

Good luck,
Seb
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by Neocray » Wed Mar 23, 2016 11:46 am

Thanks for your replies, guys.
SebRad wrote:The problem comes when under load and you're in the 300-400w range, then you need a lot of case air flow for quiet operation.
Looking at images of the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX I can't see where the air is supposed to get in/out of the case, the gaps look totally inadequate to me for quiet cooling of a hot PC. Same for the H440.
The Phanteks Enthoo Pro M linked by Luca looks good to me and a reasonable price. Takes motherboard up to 264mm so that's fine.
Support for 2x140mm or 3x120mm intake and roof fans as well as 140mm rear exhaust. The intake doesn't look too restricted either.
quest_for_silence wrote:What about this other one ?
Well, actually the Enthoo Pro M seems quite good, since it's the same chassis as the Evolv ATX, except it has a little smaller intake. The price looks attractive, though not so much once taken in account the minimalist bundle. And, although it is a highly subjective opinion, I dislike the look.

I don't understand why the Evolv would be so bad at cooling, then, while sharing the same frame. The reviews actually show it's pretty good indeed, with quite large intake vents and roof exhausts. And it benefits here from the reviews that showed the poor cooling of the Enthoo Evolv mATX and its too much restricted intake.
That's why it make me think that it would be quite good for noise as well, because of indirect noise path as advised in Basics and Recommandations. A few reviews (not so probing than the SPCR ones, unfortunately) compared the noise of the Pro M versus the Evolv. And the Evolv seems a little better on this particular point.

And what would be the effect of glass side panels?
SebRad wrote:If it were mine I'd start with 2 intake fans, rear exhaust and rear most roof fan exhaust and see how that was.
With good fans spun down at idle it can be very quiet even with lots of fans, my PC had 8 fans yet at idle would be all but inaudible. (2x140mm ~300rpm, 5x92mm ~500rpm, 80mm ~650rpm)
I was actually considering, whatever case used, this suggested configuration showed in Basics and Recommandations: 2 intake fans in the bottom front and 2 exhaust fans (1 top roof + 1 top rear).
SebRad wrote:Your Asus board will have good fan control of it's own or you can use Speedfan to tune the fan speeds for minimum noise.
MSI afterburner can set set custom fan curves on the GPU fans.
Don't be afraid to trade temperature for noise, the CPU will be fine up to 80°C and the GPU 85°C.
Can also experiment with balance of fan speeds, e.g. faster case fans might bring enough extra cool air in to cool the GPU fans to more than offset their extra noise.
Thanks for your advice.
I've already look on some software, but I'll wait to have a case before doing some experiments. :D

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Mar 23, 2016 12:55 pm

Neocray wrote:Well, actually the Enthoo Pro M seems quite good, since it's the same chassis as the Evolv ATX, except it has a little smaller intake. The price looks attractive, though not so much once taken in account the minimalist bundle. And, although it is a highly subjective opinion, I dislike the look.

You don't like the evolv price... you don't like the enthoo look... pick your poison, dude. :wink:

P.S.: Thermaltake has an ample E-ATX offering, maybe you might check it.
Regards,
Luca

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by Neocray » Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:19 pm

quest_for_silence wrote:You don't like the evolv price... you don't like the enthoo look... pick your poison, dude. :wink:
Indeed. It's down to that.
Do you have an opinion about the noise impact of glass side panels?
quest_for_silence wrote:P.S.: Thermaltake has an ample E-ATX offering, maybe you might check it.
Geez, I wouldn't say "ample". It's huge. Fifteen different models. And I'm not counting the color variants.
It's worth taking a look, thanks. ;)

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Mar 23, 2016 2:38 pm

Neocray wrote:Do you have an opinion about the noise impact of glass side panels?

Usually a window increases noise level (it's less sturdy than a solid panel): by how much, YMMV (from slightly to noticeably) on a case by case basis.
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Luca

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by Neocray » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:11 pm

quest_for_silence wrote:Usually a window increases noise level (it's less sturdy than a solid panel): by how much, YMMV (from slightly to noticeably) on a case by case basis.
I'm talking about solid, tempered, 3 mm thick glass, not acrylic.

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by quest_for_silence » Wed Mar 23, 2016 3:31 pm

Neocray wrote:
quest_for_silence wrote:Usually a window increases noise level (it's less sturdy than a solid panel): by how much, YMMV (from slightly to noticeably) on a case by case basis.
I'm talking about solid, tempered, 3 mm thick glass, not acrylic.
I said usually and YMMV.

Said differently: unless it is a security glass, usually density is different (lower than aluminum, which fairly resonates), and that matters, and how the window is hinged to the case also matters; said that, I don't recall to have already used a solid glass panel, so atm I've not a given/specific expectation, that's why I referenced clearly to windowed panels and that's mainly why I talked about an outcome on a case by case basis.
Regards,
Luca

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by SebRad » Thu Mar 24, 2016 1:46 am

Hi, I've looked again at reviews of the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX and they are generally positive about the case and it's cooling abilities, so I may be wrong about it's airflow.
I guesstimated the areas of the intake slits at 300x12mm sides and 230x15mm bottom and this adds up to area equal to 120mm fan. According to my calculations, if you need to cool 400w and can raise the temp of the air flowing through the case by 20°C (say 20 to 40) then you need ~60m3/h (~35cfm) It isn't difficult to get this much flow through that sized hole, so it should be fine.

If it comes to a choice between it and the Pro M I would suggest the Evolv as that's the one you like the look of, you will much more easily forget/ignore the extra money spent than a case you don't like the look of.

I don't think window or not will make any noticeable difference to the noise of the PC, if the components are making that much noise that a window isn't damping it then they're already far too loud!

Regards,
Seb
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by quest_for_silence » Thu Mar 24, 2016 3:41 am

SebRad wrote:I guesstimated the areas of the intake slits at 300x12mm sides and 230x15mm bottom and this adds up to area equal to 120mm fan. According to my calculations, if you need to cool 400w and can raise the temp of the air flowing through the case by 20°C (say 20 to 40) then you need ~60m3/h (~35cfm) It isn't difficult to get this much flow through that sized hole, so it should be fine.
OT: did you take into account the number of the internal fans?
Regards,
Luca

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by SebRad » Thu Mar 24, 2016 6:52 am

Hi Luca, I'm not sure what you are asking here?
I was assuming the case intakes air entirely through the front panel so the number/location of fans inside to achieve this wasn't being considered.
I have just been reading SPCR's review of the Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ITX, and it's not great. They raise exactly the points I've made, not enough air intake to keep the GPU cool so it is forced to spin it's fans up loud to keep cool. Removing the front panel dropped the GPU fan speeds by 500rpm!
They also noted the intake 'slits' as 5mm where I estimated 12mm, this halves my estimate of the available intake area...

The challenge is very much how to make the case attractive and get enough air intake. One good answer, imo, is through the floor, modest feet to raise the case don't impact the looks much. The ultimate expression of this is the Fortress FT02, and I'd really like one!

Seb
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by quest_for_silence » Thu Mar 24, 2016 7:09 am

SebRad wrote:Hi Luca, I'm not sure what you are asking here?

I meant, those 35cfm you pointed out in your calculations will have to be divided among all the spinning fans inside the case (I mean CPU, GPU, other heatsinks): so those 35cfm should also be equal to the sum of those fans flows, otherwise those fans would recirculate hot air.
Is it more clearly understandable?
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Luca

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by SebRad » Fri Mar 25, 2016 2:20 am

I'm suggesting you need (at least) 35cfm of air flow in, through and out of the case to cool 400w with the air being raised (on average) 20°C in the process.
This is independent of what happens in the case to get the heat in to the air. If you have poor heatsinks you will need much more air flow through them (within the box), recycling the air several times, to raise it's temp by the suggested 20°C. On the other hand large efficient GPU heatsink with 85°C GPU could be heating the air by more than 20°C in one pass.

What I was trying to get at is how much air flow is needed through the case, and therefore which of the cases being considered would work quietly.
Of course if you're willing to do some modifications then any case can be made to work. In the case of the Enthoo Evolv ATX this could be making the front intake slits wider and adding ventilation to the floor. Might have to be done by professional person/shop to get a nice finish.

Regards, Seb
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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by quest_for_silence » Fri Mar 25, 2016 3:19 am

SebRad wrote:What I was trying to get at is how much air flow is needed through the case, and therefore which of the cases being considered would work quietly.
As witten my comment was OT, or somehow elliptical, Seb: I was wondering how well the "classical" thermal equations (like 1.76 x power/delta T for CFM, which you can find on some fan manufacturers' sites like NMB or Sunon) may estimate "our" requirements.

Therefore I just thought out loud that maybe: a) volume thermals doesn't account for local, specific cooling needs; b) on the other hand the power draw doesn't equal the heat dumped; c) dust filters eat 30-40% of the incoming airflow easily (and what about the outgoing one?), worsening the heat build up (as seen on SPCR's Corsair Carbide Air 240 / Cooltek W1 tests).
Regards,
Luca

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by Neocray » Fri Jun 24, 2016 12:53 pm

Hi guys,
sorry to have been away for a while without notice.

I've been offered an opportunity last week and jumped in. So my rig is now hosted in the tempered glass version of the case previously discussed (Phanteks Enthoo Evolv ATX).
It looks great, and have rich features, even if the finition isn't as high as expected considering the full price...

The intake slits are definitely wide enough. I almost can slide my fingers inside, and I don't have narrow, womanly fingers. And they cover both sides and bottom of the front panel. Furthermost, the case is slightly lifted onto pads, so the case bottom is around 5 cm above floor.
The airflow is good enough to keep the case fans (which are PH-F140SP models) far under their top speed while gaming.
However, the original fans are definitely not good. They are, at best, barely quiet at minimum speed (around 10% - 250 rpm), noticeable until 15 %, widely present after that, and really loud after 35... If shut down, nothing can be heared, except the HDD.

I can post a couple pictures, if you may be interested.

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Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by quest_for_silence » Fri Jun 24, 2016 10:10 pm

Neocray wrote:The airflow is good enough to keep the case fans (which are PH-F140SP models) far under their top speed while gaming.
However, the original fans are definitely not good. They are, at best, barely quiet at minimum speed (around 10% - 250 rpm), noticeable until 15 %, widely present after that, and really loud after 35

Thanks a lot for sharing, Neocray: which are the rpm figures for the other settings you said?

The PH-F140SP looks like very similar (if not almost identical) to the previous PH-F140TS and PH-F140HP (set aside the frame), known as very good sounding, but from your experience it seems rather a different beast, sadly: that's odd also because the larger PH-F200SP of similar appearance was highly praised by SPCR in the Evolv ITX review.
Regards,
Luca

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Neocray
Posts: 35
Joined: Mon Mar 14, 2016 2:51 am
Location: France

Re: Reduced size E-ATX mid-tower

Post by Neocray » Mon Jun 27, 2016 9:32 am

Sorry, I've made a mistake, 10% is around 710-720 rpm. 15% is ~850 and 35% ~1100.
Here is the curve from FanXpert2 :
Image

I was quite disappointed indeed, for the reasons you speak about. I was expecting fans with similar sound delivery.

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