Though I have been following SPCR for more than a month now, this is my first post. Now I am 'living' on SPCR - I just hope that I soon manage to get my PC *practically* noiseless and then I can return to a more normal life
Anyway, thanks to all of you for your great work.
I'd like to ask a few questions, but before that, let me summarize my story so far.
I used to have an Athlon 1400 system with 2 Seagate HDDs in a Chieftec case for 3 years. One of my main purchase criteria at that time was to be low noise. Even so it was terribly noisy. About 2 months ago I told myself: ENOUGH! I had never opened a PC case before myself, but I collected some courage and started my journey...
I use my gear for normal word processing, Web browsing, image and video processing and as a PVR (this is new). For image processing (photography is my hobby) I need a powerful machine. This is also true for video editing, but no matter how strong a config is I will need hours for DVD production (family videos), so top performance is not required.
On the other hand I want to use this as a PVR as well, that means I need low (idle) power consumption, since it will be on for extended periods of time.
BTW: My PC sits under a wooden desk on wooden floor, no carpets under the desk.
I purchased some stuff:
- Abit A8n Ultra MB (heatpipes for cooling the hot stuff on the MB!),
- A64 3000+,
- Arctic Cooling Freezer 64
- Seasonic S12 430.
- 2 * 512 MB Kingstone DDR400 (the originally purchased no-name RAM just didn't pass the tests)
- low end PCIe VGA card with passive cooling (Sorry, I don't know the exact data, I am away from home right now, just this is the first time I happen to have time to write this down)
- 250 G SATA Seagate HDD
I reused my 3 years old 40GB WD, and 1 year old 120G PATA Seagate HDD and floppy.
I installed all these stuff into the Chieftech case. Dramatic improvement! However, after a few hours I felt again, that this is still loud. HDD temp went well over 50C since the 3 HDDs and the floppy were toucHing each-other. - I got rid of the old WD drive (= reinstall XP
) and the floppy, then temps went down a bit bellow 50C.
Then I got an Arctic Cooling T2 case (at that time I was not yet reading SPCR). Things (other then HDDD temp) didn't improve much if at all.
BTW: the AC case was a pain to install stuff into, when removing my HDD later I broke the suspension system. Great idea, but crappy implementation.
Now I started reading SPCR. So the next step was:
- Antec SLK 3000B,
- rear Tricool fan on Low,
- drive cage and the stuff on the bottom of the case removed with a drill
- the HDDs put on carefully positioned foam strips on the bottom of the case - to let air pass through bellow, between and above drives - this being a temporary solution, I am in the process of designing my suspension).
external DVD burner
I had already ordered two SmartDrives and Acoustipack Delux, but they were not yet here when I put this together for the first time.
After putting this together I realized that my CRT is hissing
For a few minutes I thought that my system is practically silent. The biggest surprise was, that the HDD noise (both idle and seeking) also disappeared. (I wouldn't have ordered SmartDrive after this experience, but it was already on its way.)
But then came the night, the kids went to bed, traffic ceased and I realized that my PC is not silent, so this was not yet the end of the journey. - It was not easy to find out what was still noisy. Perhaps the Antec fan?
Anyway, I checked the temps. Ambient temps in my room are 21-22 C. HDD temp was a bit high: around 43C. I taped all holes of the box (including side vents) but the exhaust and the main intake: the HDD temps went down to about 35C. This increased the CPU temps a little bit to 47C max (CPUBurn) - I thought this is an OK compromise.
Next time (night) I mounted the Antec fan on elastic suspension (similar to the EAR stuff, something manufactured here locally by a small vendor). - I am not sure there was any noticable difference. Perhaps yes, but I am not sure.
Next night I applied Acoustipack - not yet to the bottom (because my suspension system is not yet ready), and not yet above the space designated for the optical drive - because I may want to install such a drive later, and I fear the Acoustipack may be in my way then…) - I am not sure there was any noticable difference. Perhaps yes, but I am not sure. No change in the temps.
Then I got the SmartDrives. I installed them (still just on left-over Acoustipack stips) - I am not sure there was a big difference. Perhaps yes, but not big. Difficult to tell, my acoustic memory is especially weak. HDD temps went up to about 40 C (idle). After very carefully repositioning the drives, the foam strips and using a few blocks from my kids Lego, HDD temps went back to 37-38 C.
This is where I am now. I am proud, but not yet satisfied. My battleplan:
Here comes my first question:
I suspect that now the main source of noise is the Antec fan. The exhaust air is cool even at full load, so perhaps I can slow it down. I want to try to use something similar to Zalman's Fanmate (manufactured by a small local vendor) Will this work, will this fan start at lower voltage? Or am I better off if I replace it with a 12 cm Nexus? I already have the Nexus (2 of them) in my cupboard, but won't be able to mount them elastically as the Nexus fan case is 'closed' (sorry for my English), my silicon gadgets are not long enough for the Nexus. - I know, I can try it out myself, but I'd like to spend as little time with this as possible - i.e. I don't want to spend all my time with this
The next question:
has anybody tried to cut out the grill of the SLK3000B? Would that make a significant difference in noise assuming the Antec fan on low setting? How about the same question, but assuming an undervolted Antec fan is (or undervolted Nexus)? - This is definitely something I don't want to try out unless someone confirms that this indeed makes sense
I've just read the 'Case fan grills are evil' thread, but the SLK3000B was praised in this respect, so I don't know relevant this would be in my case. (I don't mind a Celsius rise if things are still practically noiseless but safer - I have small kids.)
Then I am considering to install a front fan to bring HDD temps further down. I will do this together with the suspension - perhaps already the proper suspension will reduce the air impedance? Anyway, the 3rd question is:
would a Nexus fan at the lowest possible speed be audible if in the front intake?
If things are still noisy, I may replace the Seagete HDDs with Samsungs. This would be a painfull move, not just because of the price, but the installation …
Then I may put carpets bellow may desk (also good to keep my feet warm during winter
, put some carpet on the bottom side of my desk and on the wall behind my desk, ...
If this is still not enough, then come the notebook drives; but this would now be really painful since I would miss the 250G capacity for video editing. (BTW: I am not able to get my HDDs be turned off when idle - previously it worked with my secondary HDD (not with the boot device), but now both are spinning all the time no matter what I specify at the power settings. Is it perhaps due to the 'Minimal power management setting' required by Cool & Quite?)
I hope this will suffice, these are about last things I can do before I'd consider myself insane
BTW: I don't want total silence; I'd be happy if I can't hear the PC when sitting at the desk - actually I would be willing to tolerate some seek noise.
Just a side comment: the Antec SLK3000B case is an OK case, but very-very far from something I'd categorize as a piece of quality product. It just feels cheap. Everywhere. My old Chieftec was significantly better in this respect, though I wouldn't call that a quality product either. I am now eyeing the Lian Li cases - some of them use the same bottom PSU - HDD duct design as the P180. With some Acoustipack and HDD suspension and cut out wents (the Lian Li vents seem to be extremeley restrictive) I could imagine a nice computer built from them.