Stepping from quiet to silent.

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Hate
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Stepping from quiet to silent.

Post by Hate » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:22 am

I've already been lurking for quite a while and this far I've been happy with the articles and the search button. Now, however, I find myself in a need of more specific advice from the experienced silencers to further develop my system.

First, the specs:
- Antec P150
- NeoHe 430W
- Athlon 64 X2 4200+ (939)
- Scythe Ninja
- Asus A8N5X with Zalman heatsink
- Samsun P120 250G
- Radeon X300SE

And second, a photo of the system.

As you can see from the photo, there's a 120mm Nexus blowing at the ducted Ninja, and a 92mm one cooling the HD. The green line is a wall that tries to separate the PSU from other system. Both the duct and the wall are made from acryl. What you can't see that easily, is that the HD is suspended with the stock rubber o-rings and that all the metal plates covering the 5 1/4" expansion slots are removed for a bit more free airflow. The 120mm fan is controlled by QFan and spins under 670 when idle and ~900 at full load and the 92mm one is at constant 5 volts.

The system is reasonably quiet as it is, but still not silent - I can easily hear it from a couple of meters. The main source of noise is my HD, making a massive whoosh of airflow, and the second place is held by the PSU and its more tonal whooo that sounds like noisy ventilation pipes in public buildings. Stopping either, or both, of the fans does nothing for the noise, even without HD spinning, so I think they're effectively inaudible.

I think the PSU could be dealt with a proper duct with a layer of noise absorption foam and a noise barrier inside it, but what about the HD? Is getting one of those enclosure boxes the only way to make it silent or is there some other tricks I could try?

Also, how can I know if my components are as silent as they should be? As I've understood, P120 and NeoHE are supposed to be the best class in silence, but my items actually sound quite noisy to my ear. My NeoHe also emits sharp electric buzz that can only be heard at very close distance, but that's normal as PSUs need to have electricity transformers, right?

So, what would be your next moves in stepping from reasonable quietness to inaudibility and silence?

MikeC
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Post by MikeC » Mon Dec 04, 2006 11:46 am

You've obviously done all the right things, chosen the right components. ;)

You're right that enclosing the HDD is probably necessary to go any quieter.

Here's what I'd do... assuming it's a SATA drive.

1) get a Smart Drive enclosure (still the best of the lot, imo)
2) get an eSATA port & 2 meter cable
3) put the enclosed HDD in the farthest empty desk drawer (or similar)... ideally, a close-to-floor drawer with a slot open near the front bottom and another slot open on the high side of the back, to encourage convection airflow. Pad the drawer with some soft foam all around.... maybe even suspend the enclosed HDD in the middle of it with bungy cords, clothing elastic, or whatnot.
4) you'll need to make a long custom HDD power extender... there are some unique power extension options at the site I linked to above.

Also, before all of the above you could try installing your SD enclosed drive in the case. Perhaps the SD could fit in the P150 HDD cage with all the trays removed, and with the middle elastics removed, between the top and bottom elastics. Some creativity here might make it work. If it does, you will have the benefit of enclosure + elastic decoupling + the cooling airflow in that position. And no messing with external stuff, which can be messy (even if potentially quieter).

len509
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Re: Stepping from quiet to silent.

Post by len509 » Mon Dec 04, 2006 8:25 pm

Nice looking CPU duct.
Hate wrote:As I've understood, P120 and NeoHE are supposed to be the best class in silence, but my items actually sound quite noisy to my ear. ...So, what would be your next moves in stepping from reasonable quietness to inaudibility and silence?
The NeoHE is one of the best fanned PSU's. So if it is audible to you, it's probably best if you upgrade to a fanless power supply.

nici
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Post by nici » Tue Dec 05, 2006 12:04 pm

Is the PSU loud when you start the computer? It should really no be ramping up at that load... Though i would not be surprised if you can hear it, at least once you get the HDD quiet. The NeoHE 430 is the loudest part of my system even at idle, and i dont think a fan swap is reasonable on this PSU. The Neo is louder than my 500Gb WD or 7900GTO with the fan on 25%.


As for the HDD, what Mike suggested sounds reasonable, only that the closest place to get he Smart Drive from is the UK, and it's not cheap. I have too many enclosures, and use the homebrew one, so i could probably sell you a Scythe for something like 15€ plus shipping. It has some scratches and stuff, but it works just fine :) Since you don't seem to use any PCI slots, you could mount the enclosure there. It would be further away from the front intake as well.

Adding some damping might also be a good idea once you get your system that quiet. If you dont care too much about looks, go to Biltema and get some of that really heavy foam/barrier thing with a white coating. It's better than acoustipack, but it doesn't have glue and it might be too thick to fit in some places. The foam would also decouple the enclosure from the case.

Hate
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Post by Hate » Wed Dec 06, 2006 4:07 am

Actually my P120 is a PATA drive as I needed to use it in my old setup that didn't have SATA support, so I guess I'm going for the enclosure only. Besides, unfortunately I do care somewhat about looks, and I'd rather have all my components in one case if at all possible. I'd be glad if you sold me that Scythe, Nici (PM sent).

The PSU isn't ramping up, it's just constant airflow noise as soon as I turn on my computer. I'd rather not go for a fanless PSU because: 1, they're expensive and I'm a poor student, 2, what I've understood is they're not as reliable as fanned ones, and 3, I really, really like the modular design of NeoHe. If someone made a reasonably priced PSU with modular cables, massive heatsinks and a just-in-case silent fan, I'd gladly give it a go. Anyway, I think I'm trying a PSU duct first.

As for the damping material, that's probably the Biltema foam you recommended, Nici. It seems very capable, but 30mm is quite thick. Maybe that's what you made your homebrew enclosure from?

So, the plan looks like this:
1. HDD enclosed and decoupled
2. PSU ducted with noise barriers and thin soft foam inside to absorb noise.
3. Maybe some case damping
Does it sound reasonable or do you have something to add?



One thing that concerns me with my current setup is whether my motherboard is running cool enough. At idle, PC probe tells that it's running at 37°C, but when trying the heatsink, I find it quite hot so that I can touch it no longer than a second. CPU is running at 38-40° and the Ninja feels only a bit warm.

So, how reliable are those temperature readings and do you think a touch of more air for the MB chip would be needed?

MikeC
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Post by MikeC » Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:17 am

Don't worry about those temps.... perfectly fine.

Thomas
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Post by Thomas » Wed Dec 06, 2006 8:19 am

Hate wrote:2. PSU ducted with noise barriers and thin soft foam inside to absorb noise.
I think you should try somehow to determine if the PSU noise escapes from the front or from the rear.

A way to do that, could be to simply put a pillow or something similar, to the rear exhaust. Of course, only use the pillow for a very short time, so you dont hurt your PSU. But you probably already figured that yourself :wink:

If the noise comes from the rear, that super-duper-duct wont help much...

If the rear of your PC is close to a wall, then the wall might reflect some noise. So maybe some sound dampning material on the wall could help. Or simply increase the distance between the wall and the PC.

If you make a duct with sound barriers, then I suggest you monitor the PSU fan speed - if possible. Because if you increase the air resistance too much, then the fan might need to speed faster, ending with... status quo, noise wise.

Thomas

ultrachrome
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Post by ultrachrome » Wed Dec 06, 2006 12:11 pm

Maybe I missed it but where is the intake of your PSU duct?

From your picture it appears that it pulls air from inside of the case instead of pulling cool air from the outside via an open 5.25" bay.

Also, wouldn't your CPU duct be more efficient with the fan mounted on the case pulling instead of pushing air toward the back? It doesn't look like the top of the ninja (facing the viewer) is enclosed.

Hate
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Post by Hate » Thu Dec 07, 2006 4:37 am

MikeC wrote:Don't worry about those temps.... perfectly fine.
Maybe. It just bothers me that the heatsink on the motherboard chip feels more like 60° than 38° to me, and much hotter than Ninja tough the CPU is running warmer.
Thomas wrote:I think you should try somehow to determine if the PSU noise escapes from the front or from the rear.
I hear it from the front rather than the back if I try to listen from different directions. I also tried that pillow trick in the back and it had no effect. I suspect the PSU intake grill might be restricting the flow as it sounds like air blowing through a vacuum cleaner tube, though in a lesser scale, even when the case is open. I'd rather not mess with it though, as it propably voids the warranty, so I'll try what I can do with the duct.
ultrachrome wrote:Maybe I missed it but where is the intake of your PSU duct?
It's not so clear in the picture indeed. Its air comes from the top 5.25" bay above my optical drive. That green line is an acryl plate separating the PSU from rest of the case and blocking airflow from there. I'm propably going to move the drive one bay lower to get more space for the new duct.
ultrachrome wrote:Also, wouldn't your CPU duct be more efficient with the fan mounted on the case pulling instead of pushing air toward the back? It doesn't look like the top of the ninja (facing the viewer) is enclosed.
That's propably right. For some reason, most likely just by chance, I decided to leave it open. I might try different versions at some point, but it's not on the top of the priority list as I have the HD and PSU to silence first.

ultrachrome
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Post by ultrachrome » Thu Dec 07, 2006 8:49 am

Hate wrote: That's propably right. For some reason, most likely just by chance, I decided to leave it open. I might try different versions at some point, but it's not on the top of the priority list as I have the HD and PSU to silence first.
I'm guessing here, but that hole in your cpu duct could be short circuiting you airflow. With the fan trying to push air out of the case a portion of that hot air will be pushed through that gap back into the case. If your PSU duct isn't airtight maybe that hot air is infiltrating the PSU duct.

But I was under the impression that the main benefit of ducting was achieved when you had a PSU -or- CPU duct. If you CPU is ducted properly, your PSU should not be seeing that much heat.

I have a similar system. It's a Sonata with a 3500+, SeaSonic S12-380 but the big difference is that I have an overclocked 7900GT in it. Case mods include suspended hard drive, some panel damping, and a CPU duct.

I cool the case with a VF900 on the 7900, a Nexus 120mm in the duct, and the SeaSonic PSU. Even during gaming, my SeaSonic fan never becomes audible at least not that I've noticed. I'm confused as to why yours seems so noisy.

I wonder if your PSU would still make the same noise if you ran it out of the case. Ducting might not be the issue. It might just be noisy to begin with.

I also have the same Zalman on my A8N5X. My little IR thermometer shows mine to be running at 55C. I don't know if that is safe either but the machine has been running 24/7 for months without fail.

autoboy
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Post by autoboy » Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:25 am

You must have a very quiet room. I would try some eggcrate foam on the back wall. That will cut down on some of the sound reflections coming from the PSU and CPU fan. It is cheap and easy. A pillow on the back wall will not help as much as the eggcrate. You might have a bad fan in the NeoHE. You could try swapping it for a quiet 80mm medium speed fan.

jackylman
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Post by jackylman » Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:29 am

I think it's time to go 2.5" :wink:
How much of the 250GB are you using?

ultrachrome
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Post by ultrachrome » Thu Dec 07, 2006 9:52 am

jackylman wrote:I think it's time to go 2.5" :wink:
How much of the 250GB are you using?
I was kind of wondering that myself. Is the cost of a silent HDD enclosure better allocated to a newer, quieter drive? Of course, you can always reuse the enclosure for future drives.

Hate
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Post by Hate » Sat Dec 09, 2006 12:22 am

I do have a quiet room indeed. I live in countryside so there's little noise from traffic and the house is quite big so fridges and freezers and other noisy household machines are too far away to hear. The only noises I have are the tiny tick of a small alarm clock and an occasional distant groan of the heating pump.

I have considered going for 2.5", but unfortunately I need the capacity of 3.5" as I do digital photography. Currently I use ~100GB, and that's not going to decrease, so I'd need to get at least two drives as I can't find any bigger than 120GB. That'd be ~200€, which is far too expensive to me at the moment. I bought that Scythe box from Nici, so I'll give it a go first.

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