The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

PSUs: The source of DC power for all components in the PC & often a big noise source.

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rkidday
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The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by rkidday » Thu Jul 07, 2011 5:11 am

I’m building a new HTPC and would appreciate some input from anyone with experience of this kind of system. My main query is with the PSU.

Things I have:

Moneual 320 Case
HDD - 1TB Western Digital Green
SSD - Intel 40GB 320 Series MLC 2.5" 25nm

Things I am thinking about buying:

Intel Celeron E3300 Socket 775 2.5GHz 1MB (65W TDP)
Asus P5G41T-M LX G41
Crucial 2GB DDR2 800MHz/PC2-6400
Radeon 5450 (half height)
Blue-ray optical drive?

Would I be able to get away with a PICO PSU, and if so could I use a fanless power brick?
If not a PICO then I’ve been looking at the Nexus Value 430 or Corsair TX650 – both around the £65 mark. Has anyone got experience of these or could suggest a better alternative for a similar price? I had made up my mind on an Enermax ESS500AWT but they seem to have stopped selling them!

Silence is obviously a main priority! Thanks.

boost
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by boost » Thu Jul 07, 2011 6:34 am

Why would you want buy a Socket 775 system?
Take a look at SPCR's LLano review.
Comparing a low-end Sandy Bridge 2100 dual core to a high-end LLano 3850, Intel wins raw CPU performance and power consumption, AMD wins 3D performance. Either one will be better than your current list and neither requires a separate GPU for HTPC tasks.
For extremely quiet cooling I would choose the i3-2100. Add a nice H67 mAtx board like the MSI H67MA-E35 and a Scythe Big Shuriken. This can be a very quiet HTPC setup.
You can power this system easily with a Pico PSU, maximum power draw shouldn't exceed 90 watts.
It will be a little more expensive than your current list, but not by much, since you don't need a graphics card. I would suggest 4 GB of ram since it's very cheap atm.

kater
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by kater » Thu Jul 07, 2011 11:00 am

Well, if you want to cut initial cost and buy 2nd hand/heavily discounted 775 gear then it seems an ok idea. Otherwise getting some new generation mobo+cpu would be more sensible - both in terms of performance and power consumption. Although a properly set 775 gear is definitely power frugal and strong enough for any HTPC task.

Look at my sig - an HTPC I've had for some time now. No need to add a discrete VGA. CPU handles everything OK, mobo undervolts nicely, RAM is big enough (can't really see why you'd need 4 GB in HTPC), but my system's HDD is its weakest point. Any SSD would make this system fly. PicoPSU will be more than enough for such a system. Depending on your location you could also get one of Electrodacus' PSUs (if he still offers them, that is). Or, just get a decent quality 300W and put some SPCR approved 80/120 mm fan in there, hardwired at minimal RPM. The watts you'll be drawing are not going to required anything more than 5V on the fan.

Abula
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by Abula » Thu Jul 07, 2011 12:01 pm

I would wait for Intel DH61AG, here is a mini review, MissingRemote First look: Intel DH61AG Thin Mini-ITX Media Series Motherboard, one good thing about it is comes with Mini Sata port, so you could even use a Intel 310 Series 40GB mSATA, depending on your needs, an Intel HD 2000 might be enough for HTPC, if its just for playback i would go with Intel Pentium Dual-Core G620T (comes with low profile cpu cooler) for memory go cheap something like CORSAIR 4GB 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1333 , for a small case probably M350 Universal, PSU just need to get 19V laptop power brick, according to JonnyGuru picoPSU roundup, the best brick was FSP120-AAB (but check the intel mobo what connector it uses). For storage the case only accpets 2.5 drives, the biggest 2.5 laptop drives (still 9.5 standard) are 750GB, like Hitachi 5K750, probably by the ends of the year we will 1TB 2.5 laptop drives.

HFat
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by HFat » Thu Jul 07, 2011 1:35 pm

Abula wrote:(comes with low profile cpu cooler)
Be careful if you have no backup plan: that heatsink is not appropriate for cases with poor airflow and boards which can't make its fan spin at 1600-1800 rpm or less. It gets really noisy at higher speeds and higher speeds will be needed if you have no case fan and conditions aren't ideal.

boost
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by boost » Fri Jul 08, 2011 12:06 am

I would recommend against the Intel DH61AG.
The CPU placement is odd and the CPU cooler might interfere with an optical drive in the Moncaso 320 case.

DumpALump
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by DumpALump » Sun Jul 10, 2011 6:06 am

If you go the Picopsu route, you might have to do some modding. If I wasn't going with 4 3.5" HDs and possibly a 5th then I'd have purchased something like the Seasonic X-400 (if I didn't want to mod, though I always want to mod :)) or the Dell RM112 from this thread viewtopic.php?f=6&t=57238 .

I believe there is another maker of small/quiet/efficient PSUs here. Forgot his name.... Someone chime in! Basically he has made a PSU that also regulates the 12v power as the picopsu does not. I measured the 12v out from my power brick all the way to the picopsu and it sits around 12.3v unloaded, so I'm well off, though I did do a bunch of soldering.

There is one downfall currently with the i3 2100 without a discrete GPU (found this out after making the purchase :(). That is XBMC does not currently support DXVA2 or hardware acceleration via the intel graphics. XBMC was my original front end I was going to use. I believe all other front ends work, so as long as you're not planning on utilizing XBMC then the i3 is a good choice.

If you are planning on buying an i3 2100 then you do have to look at cost of items, what you're going to use it for, and cost of electricity. On my system with an i3 2100 with 4 3.5" drives spinning I sit at 43watts idle (have 4 fans that raise the wattage). If I run it 24/7 year round that cost is ~$53 a year or $4.41 a month. So even if you were to get a less efficient setup the cost might only be an extra $1-2 a month. How long would it take you to come out ahead with the more efficient setup?

fwki
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by fwki » Sun Jul 10, 2011 1:27 pm

Forgot his name.... Someone chime in!
Electrodacus....he has a 120W psu powered by 19V brick and you can use 2 with a large brick for 240W. The 12v is clean and dirty 12V is the biggest shortcoming of pico psu because they just pass through from 12V brick....Mike reviewed it here not long ago and now I have 2 in operation in my PC jukeboxes.

rkidday
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by rkidday » Tue Jul 12, 2011 6:40 am

Firstly thanks very much for all your input, keep it coming!

I seem to have two issues.. one regarding the core system and the other the PSU.

Core System:
My reason for going down the socket 775 system route is value for money. Where it would be nice to go for an i3 / H67 setup it will cost me £200+ for CPU, mobo and RAM whereas I can get CPU, mobo, RAM and GPU for £120 if I opt for the older socket. I may be wrong but I don't think I'd need/use the extra performance that comes with the i3 and will there be much of a difference in power consumption? I'll mainly use the system for HD video and music play back (via XMBC) as it will sit along side my sky+ box.
I've also just spent £330 on an i5 2500K, Asus Gene-Z and 4GB Ram due to my old Athlon 2800+ system finally biting the dust - so I'm trying to be frugal!

Power Supply:
I like the idea of going with either a PICOpsu or the suggested Winmate DD-24AX (from Electrodacus) - would 130W be enough to support the socket 775 system???
It seems like there were a number of good quality very quiet PSU's available at a reasonable price (£60-65) a year or so ago, but they are very difficult/impossible to get hold of now and I'm not keen on paying out £100+ for something like a Seasonic 400-X. I think I can justify ~£60!
Perhaps if someone could point me in the direction of a good 'How To' for using/installing a PICO or the Winmate DD-24AX I'd have the confidence to buy one of these. Also how available are these in the UK??

HFat
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by HFat » Tue Jul 12, 2011 7:00 am

rkidday wrote:Where it would be nice to go for an i3 / H67 setup it will cost me £200+ for CPU, mobo and RAM
The cost for me would be about 130£. I expect it'd be a bit more for you and less for people in the US. Post your selected parts and people may suggest cheaper ones.

rkidday
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by rkidday » Wed Jul 13, 2011 1:43 am

HFat wrote:The cost for me would be about 130£. I expect it'd be a bit more for you and less for people in the US. Post your selected parts and people may suggest cheaper ones.
MSI H67MA-E45 Intel H67 - £72 (SPDIF would be nice to have for AV receiver)
Intel i3 2100 3.1 GHz- £89
Corsair XMS3 2x1 GB 1333 MHz ( PC3-10666 ) - £21
Total - £182

Ok so it's £20 cheaper than expected but still ~50% more than the s775 system - unless anyone can suggest better value parts?

kater
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by kater » Wed Jul 13, 2011 2:09 am

i3 2100 is IMHO way too much for a media player. My puny E3200 handles all HTPC affairs just fine. I don't really monitor it during playback, but never hear its cooler ramping up so I'd assume it just idles for most of the time.
So I guess a G620 - a much stronger CPU compared to E3200 - will handle your HTPC needs more than fine. G620 should be about 60% of the price of i3 2100 - at least that's the relation where I live.

HFat
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by HFat » Wed Jul 13, 2011 7:27 am

G620 if you don't need Quicksync or some other feature that's disabled in the cheapos, definitely.
If you're going to use the stock heatsink, be aware the G620 comes with the standard one and the G620T comes with the low-profile heatsink so be sure to get the right one for your case.

Cheaper RAM like a single 2G Kingston Value DIMM.

A cheaper board like an ASRock unless you want to pay more for efficency.
Note that the cheapest ASRock available here can spin the stock fan down to 1500 rpm. Make sure whatever board you get can do the same if you're going to use the stock heatsink because it's noisy at higher speeds.

rkidday
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by rkidday » Thu Jul 14, 2011 3:19 am

Let me know what you think of this revised selection:

Intel Desktop Board DH67VR Media Series - £65
Intel G20T 2.2GHz - £59
Kingston Value 2GB 1333Mhz CL9 - £10.50

Total = £134.50 (I think I can live with the extra £14.50!)

Where can I find out what the minimum CPU fan speed is for this board? Intel spec only highlights that there is processor/chasis fan speed control, is this enough?

HFat
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by HFat » Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:21 pm

I'm not familiar with that board but SPCR has reviewed other Intel boards and is of course particularly concerned with fan control options.

I'm not familiar with your case either but I urge you again to make sure that the larger heatsink of the G620 wouldn't more be more appropriate. If there's not enough room for comfortable operation of the regular heatsink, so be it. But be aware that the low-profile stock heatsink/fan is especially noisy at high speeds. But you can always replace it with a third-party heatsink/fan of course.

I wouldn't bother myself but you might want to make sure the RAM would be compatible with the Intel board. It works with the ASRock board and there's no reason it wouldn't work but if you want to be safe, double-check.

Abula
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Re: The quest for a silent HTPC PSU

Post by Abula » Thu Jul 14, 2011 12:35 pm

rkidday wrote:Where can I find out what the minimum CPU fan speed is for this board? Intel spec only highlights that there is processor/chasis fan speed control, is this enough?
This probably wont help much, but on Intel DH61, there is an option to leave it auto or to override it, even to set the % both max n low (from what i remember), i did toy with it some, as my top fan was spinning at 300rpm, i wanted to reach 500rpm, and i manage to reach 451 by tweaking the numbers, but one thing that made me return was that the fans always start a full rpm until the bios is loaded (maybe 2 secs), but after tweaking the fans % on the bios, the fans start again 100% upon turning on, and then stay like that until Windows loads, in my case takes like 40sec, didnt like this, so i went back, the difference in temps was nothing, front case fan moves so much air that it forces air out of the holes all around the back n bottom of it. If its anything like my mobo, you will be able to at least tweak with %, but nothing as fancy as Asus fan controls.

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