Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

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Cigaras
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Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:35 am

Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

Post by Cigaras » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:58 am

Hello there, first time here, willing to share my idea build and hoping to get some feedback and advices.

As the title says, semi-passive 12l build with a discreet GPU, a living room HTPC-server combo, the idea is to have it on for 24/7 with Plex or Media Portal server (or both), MySQL, Apache and similar stuff running in the background and completely silent, and sometimes to be able to run Plex or Media Portal or Kodi client to watch movies or TV shows (local and streams) and play some games on medium settings with some silent cooling if needed.

So without further ado, quick list of all the components that I think should do the job: Totaling at about 800$, later might add 2.5" drive or two for extra storage.

The most important parts of this build are the case and the CPU cooler:
ImageImage

Sharkoon CA-I case has 105mm of CPU cooler clearance if used with ATX PSU, I am going to use SFX-L PSU what should give me at least 11mm of additional clearance totaling at around 116mm, just enough to fit an 113mm tall NoFan CR-80EH, if still not enough I will try to make a custom bracket to position PSU closer to the side giving up to 127mm of total clearance.

Also CR-80EH cooler has diameter of 155mm and as Asus Z170i CPU socked is not centered so I will not have 25mm for the top fan, that is why I am going for 15mm thick Prolimatech Ultra Sleek Vortex, also I might leave the top empty and mount the fan on the bottom of the case to pull cold air from the outside, but I think GPU will obstruct the airflow, unless I put there a bigger fan but 25mm thick fan will not fit (source), so I neet one up to 20mm but I can not find any good 180x20mm 4-pin fans except for Silverstone FW181 which I do not like at all, any suggestions?

If it gets really hot in there I might cut a hole in the front panel for a 140mm intake fan, but again will get obstructed by the GPU as it will leave only 10mm of clearance because Asus Strix GTX 750 Ti is 196mm long and Sharkoon CA-I is 213mm in length and can fit cards up to 207mm, so if cutting a hole I need a shorter GPU or mount the fan on the outside what would ruin the looks of the case. Or I need a bigger case, like Jonsbo U2, which is a bit narrower but much higher, gives plenty of room for CPU cooler (up to 175mm) but the PSU is positioned over the CPU cooler and all the heat with go directly into the PSU potentially forcing the fan to spin.

About the CPU, I can not decide between i3-63x0(T) and i5-6x00T, I want it to be cheap, but not sluggish, I do not think that I need Turbo mode, but I need high multitasking capabilities, I also do not understand the benefit of Trusted Execution, but if I am not mistaken Hyper-Threading is no where close to having dedicated physical cores. It kind of bugs me to pay extra 50$ only for two additional physical cores and still get lower frequencies, is it worth it? Shouldn't i3-6320 outperform the i5-6600T on most games? Also if I stick with i3, should I take 47W version or 35W version? Are extra 0.5GHz worth the extra heat, would I feel any difference?

And a few more questions:
• Should I get the 4GB Strix 750 Ti version, is it worth the extra 40$?
• Prolimatech Ultra Sleek Vortex has 4 pin connector so it has PWM, is it possible to turn it off using Asus FanXpert?
• And finaly, what do You guys think, am I out of my mind, or is it possible?

QUIET!
Posts: 238
Joined: Sat May 11, 2013 8:33 am

Re: Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

Post by QUIET! » Wed Sep 16, 2015 11:24 am

First about CPU TDP, that's not really about how hot it will run but about when it will throttle itself. A low TDP CPU will just throttle with less load.

I think it is an interesting question to think about two cores vs four cores both with four threads when power throttling. My gut instinct is that an i3 won't be much of a disadvantage because it's got half of a lot of things to keep powered on so the clocks might remain higher longer with similar TDP.

Going ~passive, you have to worry about thermal throttling too, what you are trying has a high degree of difficulty.

CA_Steve
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Re: Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

Post by CA_Steve » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:11 pm

Welcome to SPCR. Interesting build.

Your stressed load power is roughly CPU TDP + Gfx card TDP + ~30-40W for the rest. If using a 47W CPU, then 47+60+40 = 147W. Actually heavy gaming load is closer to 85% of peak = 125W. Let's say the PSU is 90% efficient at this load, so another 12W of heat for 137W total while gaming.

With the top fan as exhaust and the PSU fan as a side exhaust, the majority of intake is from the bottom. As your gfx card fans face the bottom, this is ok. You don't want to occlude the bottom air flow with SSDs...and with the tiny feet, you really don't want this case on the floor (dust and fur collector).

PSU - the fan turns on around 40C. Hard to say when this'll happen in your case, load-wise. With zero airflow, Jonnyguru saw the fan turn on somewhere between 50 and 100W load. So, you should only see the fan spin while gaming.

Cooler and case fan: slimline fans just don't push a lot of air compared to 25mm ones. You'd end up with higher fan rpm/louder solution. Plus, it looks like you are going through a lot of contortions to get the NoFan to fit in there. I'd lean toward the Noctua NH-L12, if it'll fit. Or, the Scythe Big Shuriken 2 Rev B with a replacement 25mm fan. Run them at low fan speeds and they'll be inaudible. Another possibility is the Noctua NH-D9L.

CPU: Server and streaming tasks will take negligible resources. Games typically run well with two fast physical cores. Some make good use of 4 cores. I wouldn't cripple your gaming with a low speed CPU. The 47W i3-6300 looks pretty cool. 3.8GHz dual core with hyperthreading. If you want to spend more, the 65W i5-6600 looks good. All the CPUs of the same class (i3, for example) follow the same voltage vs frequency profile. So, at idle and similar load, the T and non-T parts use the same power...and you have the benefit of more horsepower when you need it with the non T parts.

Gfx card: At 1080p, stock games won't make use of more than 2GB. If you like to download high quality texture packs for Skyrim, etc, then you may run into the need for 4GB. But then, that's not medium quality gaming, eh? Also, Take a look at the GTX 950. It slots between the 750 Ti and the 960 and is just a few bucks more than the 750Ti.

QUIET!
Posts: 238
Joined: Sat May 11, 2013 8:33 am

Re: Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

Post by QUIET! » Wed Sep 16, 2015 1:59 pm

I think your actual power draw will be lower than that.

According to my Kill-a-watt, my i7-6700k draws about 134 watts at the plug in Prime 95 and less than that in Furmark with a GTX750 (non ti). I have a Rosewill Capstone 450m 80+ gold PSU, nothing too fancy.

That's still high for passive cooling but with a lower TDP i5 or i3 it might be under 100 watts.

From what I can gather, my motherboard isn't exactly the most power efficient but not bad so there might be a few watts to save there. My numbers shouldn't be hard to reproduce.

Cigaras
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:35 am

Re: Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

Post by Cigaras » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:20 pm

Thank You very much for answers, lots of useful information.

About the CPU cooler, I am not aiming for inaudible experience, I want a PC with no moving parts on idle, hybrid cooler would be super great, like with a fan that spins only when specific temperature is reached, but I want it to have good enough passive capabilities for all the services running on idle, and most coolers have very dense plates and are unable to cool off with no airflow or are huge in size like Deepcool Lucifer at 163mm in height or Prolimatech Megahalems at 159mm height, and still NoFan CR-80 performs better at passive, but of course if I add a silent low speed fan on any of those monsters I'll get much better thermals...

Same for GPU, if I use GTX 950 case is too small, I need at least Jonsbo U2 and event there I might have to squeeze the GPU in (U2 fits cards up to 220mm in lenght and Strix 950 is 22cm long), however I could fit here almost any CPU cooler. And as I mentioned before, the PSU is over the CPU cooler and natural convection will push all the heat directly into PSU, I am kind of afraid of that.

I want to fit the case on a 300mm deep shelf, and apart from Sharkoon and Jonsbo I can't find anything reasonable, except Lian-Li PC-Q33 and Raijintek Metis that have no holes for intake and do not look suitable for fan-less operation at all. So, any more suggestions? :)

Cigaras
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:35 am

Re: Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

Post by Cigaras » Wed Sep 23, 2015 4:35 am

I have one more idea about the cooler, the Silverstone NT01-PRO, using SFX PSU this should something like this on the motherboard:

Image

There should be enough space for flat modular cables like Silverstone PP05-E, only one thing I am concerned about is the passive performance of the said cooler, and I am unable to find any reviews out there that would test it in passive mode...

Cistron
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Location: London, UK

Re: Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

Post by Cistron » Wed Sep 23, 2015 2:27 pm

That's an interesting idea. You might even be able to bend the heatpipes a little further for more room.

Cigaras
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed Sep 16, 2015 12:35 am

Re: Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

Post by Cigaras » Wed Sep 23, 2015 9:45 pm

Continuing on that note, Silverstone claims that NT06-PRO can also work in passive mode with CPUs up to 65W TPD, of course it would work better in horizontal position but still looks like a viable solution at only 82mm height, Would be great to have NT01-PRO and NT06-PRO combined like Prolimatech Genesis or Titan TTC-NC55TZ, that would be my dream cooler :roll:

fastturtle
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Re: Semi-passive 12l build with a discrete GPU

Post by fastturtle » Sat Nov 07, 2015 1:13 pm

Been a while since I've visited but here's my take:

For the motherboard, I'd go with the Z series over the H series for many reasons - most of them being the more extensive options in the firmware. Also avoid any board with Asmedia SATA chips as they tend to include features such as USB3 and lots of other garbage that's flaky. I just wish my Biscuits were as flaky as the Asmedia offerings.

On the CPU - Definately go with the i5-6400 at the performance is quite a bit better overall even though slower. Where the difference comes in is in Single Thread Performance as the i3 actually outperforms the i5 there by 400 points. Fairly close but if you're doing something core intensive (MySQL qualifies) and it's the only thing you're doing, then the i3 would be the better choice.

For the GPU I'd start looking at what game. If it's something like Guildwars 2, then the onboard GPU is the better choice as it's enough to handle GW2 at 1080 on Medium settings. If you're looking for a dedicated that's going to be cool, I'd start looking at things like the GTX730 Fanless models - They tend to be very cool and can handle GW2 at 1080 on Medium settings fairly easily. Don't know if it'd save you any money but it does get rid of the fan.

One area I suggest you don't skimp is system memory. According to Asus, both options support 32GB of memory and in the long term the system will perform much better with that instead of the cheaper 16GB option - In other words get the most memory the system supports as long term you wont need to upgrade it.

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