Silent Midi Tower system

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Silent Midi Tower system

Post by sdc » Sat Nov 07, 2009 12:29 pm

Dear all,

I am in the process of compiling my shopping list for a new desktop system. The goals are:
- silent (hopefully, not more than one fan),
- not use too much power,
- integrated graphics,
- possibility to use a dedicated graphics card later without redesigning everything.

From what I read about the subject, it would look like AMD has the edge for performance/power, so it would look like:

- a midi tower case (Antec Mini P180?)
- a motherboard based on 785G/790GX
- an 45W-class Athlon II (240e/405e/605e for example)
- a reused 160 GB 2.5" HD in the beginning (to be upgraded to SSD later)
- no optical drive (I have an external DVD burner)
If I add a graphics card, it would probably something like a HD 4670 -according to reviews, it can draw up to 60W.

I would assume that running completely fanless won't be possible, so there should be a 120mm fan somewhere.

Here are my questions:
1. Would it be OK to run CPU + graphics card without fan? How much power can the GPU draw before I need extra cooling?
2. Can I get this to work with a power brick, even with a dedicated graphics card later? I cannot find power bricks providing more than 120W, which probably won't be sufficient with a graphics card.
3. Would you rather go for a case fan with a fanless PSU, or can a PSU with a 120mm fan be enough for such a system?

and I of course appreciate any kind of advice about the system.

Thanks for your help!

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Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 10:05 am
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Post by sdc » Sat Nov 14, 2009 4:34 am

No answers on that one?

My case choice is now between Antec Sonata Elite, Antec Solo or NSK 3480/4480.
The Sonata and Solo would be equipped with Enermax PRo82/385, the Antec NSK3480/4480 comes with an Earthwatts PSU.

Would all of these cases offer sufficient airflow to cool a 785G/790GX + 45W TDP Athlon II system + headroom for a GPU up to 50W, with one 120x case fan?

Will I need a CPU fan with that setup, or can I get away with a heat sink?
Would it be possible to find a power brick for such a system? I guess that 200W could be enough, but I am not sure.

Thanks for your feedback!

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Post by loimlo » Sat Nov 14, 2009 5:03 am

First. I'd purchase a Nexus 430 for your mid-range system if you were to add 4670 in the future. Second, a conservative silencer like me would get rid of Sonata Elite and grab remaining two cases as these are experienced, proven cases for silercers. Third, You do need at least one very slow fan rotating at 500RPM for CPU cooling anyway. So myself will use one for CPU and one for rear case for best push-pull airflow implementation. That said, get one or two quality fans including Nexus, Scythe or Yateloon for yourself.

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Post by bendit » Sat Nov 14, 2009 6:31 am

I would get the nsk3480 for your pretty simple system.

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Post by _MarcoM_ » Sat Nov 14, 2009 12:31 pm

Solo with a 120mm fan at 800rpm will offer sufficient airflow for your system, i think it will work even in summer. Of course the nsk3480 will do the right job, too :wink:

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Post by sdc » Sat Nov 21, 2009 2:38 am

Thanks for your answers!

I think I will go for the Antec Solo, as it is the only silencer-oriented Antec case available in local shops. The only other option would be the CoolerMaster Sileo 500, which is 20 € cheaper, and from what I understand easier to work with, but the general consensus seems to be that the Antec Solo is a much better quality case.
I am also looking for a case that can last a long time, not the minimal possible case for just that system.

@loimlo: what would the Nexus PSU bring? The Enermax Pro looks pretty similar in terms of noise and efficiency, and has the advantage that I can get it from local shops.

So, waiting for motherboard availability, my system is now looking like:

Case: Antec Solo (€92)

CPU: Athlon64 X2 240e (€75) or X2 250 (€56)
The X2 250 should be pretty similar to the 240e when underclocked/undervolted.

PSU: Enermax Pro 82+ 385W (€60)
385W should be more than enough even with a separate GPU.

Motherboard: MSI 785GM-E65 (€90) or 785G-E51 (€67)
This mobo seems to be the best for power consumption when idle.
Is the the 785G-E51 just the ATX version of the 785GM-E65? In this case, I would go for that one.

Storage: will keep my ATA Hitachi 2.5" 160 GB in the beginning, waiting to be replaced by an SSD at some point.

GPU: will check if I am happy with GPU performance, if not, something like the ATI 4670 (€60-75). Watching closely how the low-end Evergreens will look like when they are released next year.

Any comments on that system are welcome!

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Post by loimlo » Sat Nov 21, 2009 4:41 am

Nexus is definitely quieter than Enermax, but you've to own a very quiet computer to perceive the difference in the beginning. That said, I guess Enermax is fine if you don't pursue absolute silence.

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Post by boost » Sat Nov 21, 2009 5:26 am

Here's a good example of a completely passive system very similar to your specs (in German): ... opic=31937
With a Pico PSU 150W you should be able to run a HD 4670.

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Post by sdc » Sat Nov 21, 2009 12:16 pm

@boost: Thanks for the link! With a 150W picoPSU and a HD 4670, it might work, but for sure, I will have very little headroom.
120W picoPSUs I know about are supposed to run 40W max on average, so for a 150W, will it be 50W? I think that the HD 4670 under full load might reach that.

By the way, the article writer is mentioning that he chose some memory brand that has very good power usage - does memory really make a difference?


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Post by sdc » Tue Dec 22, 2009 7:51 am

Now for some results - the end system looks like:
- Antec Solo
- MSI 785GM-E65
- 4 GB DDR3-1066
- Athlon 64 X2 250 + stock cooler
- Enermax Pro82+ 385W
- my faithful Seagate Barracuda IV 80 GB (most of my data is on a 2x250 GB NAS anyway. I see no point in buying a new hard disk before going SSD)
- Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit (some Linux distro will come eventually)

With Cool'n Quiet on and according to my cheap power meter, this is using 9W on standby, 47W idle, 84W under FurMark, 97W under Prime95, and 103W under Prime95+FurMark.
So it indeed should have worked with a 150W PSU with an extra GPU, especially if I switch to SSD. Not much headroom, though.

According to SpeedFan, the voltage is at 1.05V most of the time, sometimes jumping up to 1.4V.
I was unfortunately unable to undervolt: the corresponding BIOS settings
are grayed out, even though I have the latest BIOS installed. I will try flashing when a new BIOS comes out, but I'd be interested to know if there is a way to activate voltage settings.

Regarding noise, fans and temperature: I am running with the case fan at 5V on the low setting - it is way too noisy at 12V.
The motherboard BIOS offers a minimum CPU fan speed (12.5% increments) and a target CPU temperature setting which are very useful. The fan ramps up gradually and never suddenly switches to 100%, which is quite nice regarding noise.

The stock CPU fan reaches 3300 rpm max.

With the stock CPU fan off, the CPU idles at 51C. Any moderate use takes the temp to 60C which is the highest possible target CPU temp.

With a target temp at 55C, similar temperatures are obtained with various CPU fan settings:
12.5% (1275 rpm): 36C idle, 55C Prime95 (max 2800 rpm)
25% (1535 rpm): same temps, but for some reason, I find the fan noise to be more comfortable than at 12.5%
37.5% (1800 rpm): same as above, but the fan never needs to go faster than 2100 rpm.

The maximum system temperature reached was 45C according to SpeedFan.

Regarding noise, the Enermax fan is the loudest fan unless the CPU fan reaches 1600 rpm. The system is nearly silent to me, although I would really like to slow down the Enermax fan a little.

Feel free to ask any questions you would have about the system - and let me know if there is some way to activate voltage settings that I might have overlooked!


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