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 Post subject: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 6:51 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:34 am
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Dear all,

My question is short and simple: Which micro-ATX case would be the simplest, easiest to build a truly quiet midrange gaming PC in? By midrange gaming I mean Haswell CPU, one NVIDIA 960 GTX, and one SSD & 2½" HDD.

I guess the answers would be either Fractal Define Mini, or perhaps Cooler Master Silencio 352. Are there better choices?

Thank you very much for the help :) :)


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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 7:44 am 
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Location: Guatemala
For buidling a micro atx silent or inaudible machine, my advise is persue one with 120mm fans, as there are a lot of good option of fans out there.

Personally i really enjoyed my TJ08-E, a very well design case that can be made quiet, but not fully inaudible unless you do change the frontal fan, and the options are limited to some phobia 180s and silverstone AP182 with a good motherboard that can undervolt. But this isnt simple or easy to achieve, but its doable.

Now if you want simple go with the Fractal Design define mini R2, which should give you a very good overall case for a quiet setup, what i dont like about it, is if im going into a smaller factor.... i want it to be able to see that my end product is much smaller, given that micro atx is just 3 pci slots less.... on a friends build seem a lot bigger than what i expected, almost the same as atx. Where areas that the Silverstone imo does give you the feeling of a smaller factor, at least from what i felt on the TJ08-E, but for the 180mm fan marriage, i would steer away from it, specially for someone looking for a simple solution, so i would suggest you look into PS07, which has the same overall design, but comes with 120mm fans instead of the 180mm, it wont cool as good as the TJ08-E, but it should as good as any other 120mm fan case, and to me would give you the smaller feel that i expect out of downsizing to a smaller factor, and should be pretty simple, i personally didn't like the 120s that came on it, test them before changing, but if you do, i would suggest to consider Nexus Basic 120s or Scythe Gentle Typhoons or Noctua Redux NF-S12B or Noiseblockers M12-S1/2.

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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 11:07 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:54 am
Posts: 22
I would go with the Fractal Node 804.
It's well built with quality panels, it has a thick top dust filter and a front cover which helps dampen noise.
The secondary chamber will allow for a fanless PSU because it would sit horizontally and there's the rear and top grills to let warm out.
The SSDs/HDDs go in the right chamber as well.
I would bring the rear/right chamber fan to the front and so have 2x front intakes/1x rear exhaust, that would coll a single GPU at very low rpm.
The case can also be easily striped of the outside covers for hassle free installation.

Image


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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Fri Jan 30, 2015 3:52 pm 
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Joined: Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:59 am
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I did build an inaudible PC inside the Define Mini, and I like its sturdiness and very high quality finish (much better than the Silencio). Consider the following though:

1) It failed to hide the noise of a 7200 RPM hard-drive (even on elastic strings), so go for a 5400 one or full SSD if you want inaudible.
2) The default fans it comes with are no good. Replaced them with three Scythe Slipstream PWMs, that start at 200 RPM and are inaudible up until 400. They are clicking a bit though, so you need rubber screws plus a good motherboard for temp controlling them or a $3 Arduino.
3) Cable management can be very unpleasant in this case, as there is very little space behind the mobo tray, and the cutout is also quite small.
4) Front fan filters are not removable, and the fan grills look super restrictive.

If I had to build another PC I would seriously consider the Define R5 instead.

1) It isn't a lot bigger on the outside. Check the dimensions and consider this seriously. The extra space means all the difference when it comes to cable management and airflow.
2) The fan grills are a lot nicer, more open, and the front filters are removable.
3) According to the SPCR review, you don't need to replace the standard issue fans.

After all this I'm not sure about Micro-ATX and silent gaming anymore. It isn't that much smaller, but definetly requires compromises. However now that I managed to nicely build and silence the Define Mini, I love it, but it took a bit of effort.


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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 6:46 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:34 am
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@Abula, @Joxx, thank you both very much for your excellent replies. :)

The Fractal 804 looks like a great case to build silently in. Unfortunately it also exemplifies something I personally don't want: MicroATX cases that have a volume close to that of full-size ATX cases. If my case is going to be nearly as big as full ATX, then I might just jump the shark and get the Fractal Define R5.

I'm currently leaning towards the TJ08-E. Haven't quite finalized my thoughts yet, but while it may be a bit harder to build in, it is at least an appropriately small case for a mATX build. :)

Thank you both. :) :)


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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Sat Jan 31, 2015 10:08 am 
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Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:22 pm
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Location: Guatemala
MortyNO wrote:
I'm currently leaning towards the TJ08-E. Haven't quite finalized my thoughts yet, but while it may be a bit harder to build in, it is at least an appropriately small case for a mATX build. :)
If you are interested in the TJ08-E, my suggestion is you check the OCN Silverstone TJ08-E Owners Club, you will get tons of information there, like any cooler or fans that are on the market are in there... more than 200 pages of builds, questions and tests. There are builds there that even after two years still amaze me, specially some watercooled builds.

Now my suggestion is to also consider the PS07, its very similar to the TJ08-E, the changes are the frontal fan from an 180mm to 2x 120mm fans, the frontal mesh is swapped for a plastic door with intakes on the sides (similar to R4 or an Antec P183/280), the power and rest buttons are other places but no practical difference here. The inside is the same, dimensions and construction. Fans like Noctua Redux NF-S12B, Scythe Gentle Typhoons, Noiseblockers M12, or Nexus Basic 120s will work very well with this case, specially with a motherboard that can control fans, like Asus with FanXpert2. Here is a picture of my old TJ08-E build and one that did for a friend on PS07,

Image

Now if you are set on the TJ08-E, my suggestion is get a motherboard that can control the AP181, any Asus H97/Z97 will come with FanXpert2 that should allow you to drop it to around 420-450rpms on idle (samples vary) and to achieve this be sure to switch the fan controller to low and to connect the AP181 to a CHA_FAN, then ran the FanXpert2 tuning and it should test the fan and allow it to drop that low.

Image

That said, on very quiet environment the fan is still audible, part of it is because of the frontal mesh of the TJ08-E, as i tested outside and its very quiet at those speeds, but thats one of the things that differs on the PS07, no mesh and frontal door that somewhat dampens the frontal fans, its more like mini R4 kinda.... if you get what i mean. Either way for a more quiet scenario, i would suggest the PS07, while it wont cool as good as the TJ08-E, you will have tons of options with 120mm fans to make it virtually inaudible, this can be done on the TJ08-E but will require more work, specially switching the frontal fan for AP182, dropping the knob to min, and do the same fanXpert2 routine. Personally i like more MSI motherboards, for example MSI Z97M-G43 or MSI H97M-G43, their Bios fan control for more minimalistic (no software), if you prefer this route check Taming the beast, Silverstone AP182.

For either the PS07 or TJ08-E, be careful choosing the CPU cooler, a cooler like a Noctua NH-D15 will overlap with the first PCIe slot, so in case you going with a dedicated GPU, keep this in mind. Coolers that i would recommend for this are Thermalright HR02 Macho (only the black/white as the fan drops lower), Scythe Mugen 4 and Kotetsu, above this imo the price goes up and you don't gain that much, but in case you want other options, Thermalright HR22 or Thermalright Silver Arrow IBE, both are asymmetrical design making it not overlap with the first PCIe slot, but i still recommend you more the before and saving some $$$.

Image

One last recommendation, get low profile memory, Crucial Ballistix Sport Very Low Profile 8GB Kit (4GBx2) DDR3-1600 1.35V UDIMM 240-Pin Memory Modules BLS2C4G3D1609ES2LX0 is what i have used on 5 builds now, on Asus and MSI motherboards and no issues at all, they will allow you to use any CPU fan as they don't even go above the latches of the memory slots, so you will have a ton more flexibility into whatever you chose now or in the future.

If you have any questions let me know, good luck with the choice and build.

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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 8:52 am 
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Joined: Mon Apr 07, 2014 1:34 am
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@dr_traktor, you hit the nail on the head. I'm thinking very much along the same lines; whether building in mATX is worth it vis a vis the size difference between 'good' mATX cases versus full-ATX cases like the Define R5. :| Thank you very much for your observations on your build! :) :)


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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 2:14 pm 
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Joined: Sat Dec 28, 2013 3:21 pm
Posts: 46
Abula wrote:
if you do, i would suggest to consider Nexus Basic 120s or Scythe Gentle Typhoons or Noctua Redux NF-S12B or Noiseblockers M12-S1/2.
Having used the NF-S12A PWM in that case, for Noctuas (which are far cheaper in the U.S. than Noiseblockers), the NF-P12 PWM is the way to go for the intakes. It's too restrictive for the S12 fans. With 2 S12A PWM intakes, Prime95 alone could bring my E3-1230V3 past 90C, and had to run at max RPMs for that, at which point they are very noisy, since the noise is pretty low in frequency. The NF-P12 PWM don't even need to break 600 RPM to keep my CPU around 75C in Prime95, and only rarely get to 700 RPM when gaming, with a GTX 970. By 600 RPM, they are audible, but they do the job very well, and only need to get audible under extended load (and, in the U.S., at least, Noctuas can typically be had for 1/2 or less the cost of a Noiseblocker :)).


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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Sun Feb 01, 2015 6:30 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 13, 2008 11:45 am
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With your requirements, I'd definitely go Mini-ITX. Bitfenix Prodigy or Fractal Node 304. Both accept large tower heatsinks (i.e. Thermalright HR-02, champion of quiet coolness) and both feature dedicated air intakes for PSU and GPU.
For the graphics card, you'll want an MSI Gaming (a.k.a. Twin Frozr), Asus Strix or EVGA ACX. These cooling solutions have all been judged quiet under load and they all remain passive below 60c.

The 304 is my personal favorite. It is a bit picky on the PSU though. Basically, you can choose a Silverstone Strider Gold PSU (550w/650w) and have a modular unit, or you try and find a decent non-modular PSU (Antec has a 80Plus Platinum certified one).
Alternatively, there's a new form-factor in town called SFX-L. The only available product is currently one from Chieftec that is reportedly inaudible - though admittedly a lot of people have weird definitions of that word...
Silverstone is working (rather: has been working for almost a year) on their own version, which is alledgedly (company propaganda) designed to be silent. It appears to be the same OEM as the Chieftec one, so I'm really baffled that it's taking them so long to choose a different fan.

Anyway, I have built two 304s with GTX970/980s and the Silverstone ST55F-G and I deem them SPCR-worthy.

The Prodigy is definitely the easier (and bigger) build, but the quality of the case -i.e. the handles- is a bit disappointing. It's not really a horrible case, but definitely not something you'd call rock solid.


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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 1:25 am 
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Location: London, UK
The reason why I would choose mITX over mATX: there are hardly any (or none, I couldn't find any) mATX boards with built-in WiFi/Bluetooth, miniSATA or .m2 slots. So if you'd want to add features you'll just end up using the empty PCI slots, likely interfering with GPU cooling.

I a bad case scenario -- say CPU cooler interferes with the PCIe slot -- one could always shift the GPU with PCIe ribbon cable. And once it's time to retire the PC, it may serve in a small NAS case.


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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:14 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:10 am
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Cistron wrote:
So if you'd want to add features you'll just end up using the empty PCI slots, likely interfering with GPU cooling.

A network or sound card is unlikely to interfere with cooling. mITX boards are usually more expensive and more cramped.


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 Post subject: Re: Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?
PostPosted: Sat Feb 07, 2015 9:42 am 
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Joined: Tue Oct 04, 2005 6:10 am
Posts: 434
MortyNO wrote:
Easiest, simplest micro-ATX to build silent PC in?

Silent requires no moving parts and no electronic noise. Did you mean quiet? ;)
How quiet should it be under full load? And how quiet at idle?
You should start with component selection, for example what HDD and what GTX 960 will you be buying (hint: Asus Strix)?

BTW, I agree that there's a sore lack of compact ATX and mATX cases. Even compact mITX cases that still accept an ATX PSU is low.
Lots of mITX cases are also much wider than 'normal' mATX cases.


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