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Quiet Black Knight, Prescott Powered.
Posted: Sat Apr 10, 2004 2:53 pm
Quiet Black Knight...Prescott Powered.
Here it is, my current quiet project using an Ahanix Black Knight case, ASUS P4R800-VM (ATI chipset with on-board Radeon 9200 graphics), and an Intel P4 2.8E (Prescott). This should be one of the hottest running CPUs, so I figured it would be a challenge to cool it quietly. As it turned out the idle temp for the CPU is about 43C....ambient of 22C. This is about what most people report for this chip.
Running at maximum usage, the temp levels out about 54C. This seems pretty good to me, as others have reported much higher. I'm using an Alpha heatsink, With a 80mm fan in the suck mode (recommended by Alpha). This is a thermal-controlled fan, which can run from about 1500 to 3500rpm. I have enabled Q-Fan in the BIOS, which I adjusted to mininum fanspeed.This makes the CPU fan run from about 2300rpm to 3000rpm, depending on temps. It's pretty quiet...despite the speeds. Eventually this Alpha will probably be replaced. Haven't decided yet.
I'm using a Fortron Aurora 350w PSU....with it's manual setting on minimum fan speed. The rear case fan is a stock Yate Loon 120mm, mounted outside the case, decoupled with foam and rubber washers. The case had a 120mm fan in the front, which I replaced with a 92mm fan (generic from CompUSA), in a custom duct setup, drawing air through a bottom, filtered vent. Using the built-in Black Knight fan controller, I run the two case fans at the lowest setting...about 2.8v. The result is an extremely quiet running setup.
The hard drive (Maxtor 120gig) is mounted in a custom, de-coupled aluminum bracket, and is cooled by airflow from the 92mm fan. It works so well the drive usually runs 29C...with a max temp of about 34C.
There are two internal mounted airflow channels....one deflects CPU airflow toward the rear case fan. The other is over the bottom vent hole, and forces incoming airflow over the motherboard. This lower channel also blocks sounds from escaping through the intake.
The case is mounted on a DIY roll-around metal platform...raising the case about 3" off the floor. The bottom of the case is padded with 4mm acoustic foam....keeps down any escaping sound reflections. There is a 4"x12" pleated filter in the vent opening. I made this from a Maxima in-cabin filter(had to use two because of the length). If you didn't require filtration, the system would run slightly cooler....but not by much.
The inside of the case is padded with several materials...mostly 1/2" safety mat foam. There is a large piece which covers the left case opening, and also mounts the CPU air deflection panel.
All the cracks are sealed, so the incoming air all goes through the one bottom vent filter. It should run very clean, because it's an almost neutral pressure case, due to the size of the filter. Hopefully little/no air comes in through the optical drives.
The method used to get the two case fans to run at 2.8v is managed by the Black Knight fan controller....it is 5 speeds plus automatic. It always starts at 11.2 volts, then drops back to the set speed. Works flawlessly thus far. (Came with the case)
There are some other things about this case I didn't mention. I'll be happy to answer any questions....this is my quietest setup thus far. If I wasn't using such a hot CPU, it could be even quieter.
Complete Black Knight Album with Prototype Photos
Posted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 6:32 am
What app are you using to monitor your temps? Is it something that was included with the Asus board? The reason I ask is that MBM doesn't support that ATi chip.
Posted: Sun Apr 11, 2004 7:45 am
Yeah...you're right about MBM. Speedfan doesn't work either. Fortunately the included ASUS probe utility works ok, plus the Black Knight comes with three different temperature probes. So I can monitor CPU temps, system (MB) temps, HD smart temps, and with the Black Knight controller I monitor the CPU temp (again), the PSU output temp, and the temp of the top-side of the hard drive. I've also taken readings at various points with a hand-held laser temp sensor.
I think the cooling of this setup is very good....even with the heavy-duty air filter installed. If I remove the left side case panel and the foam acoustic barrier panel, the temps are only slightly affected.
I think a bigger/better/newer HSF setup would lower the CPU temps slightly, and would enable me to lower the CPU fan speed....yet to come. But the three year old Alpha design works amazingly well. The Prescott chip was OEM, so I don't have an Intel HSF to try. No big deal.
With the fan setup as it is...the heat from the Prescott is instantly blown out the case by the PSU fan and the rear case fan. It's impossible to photograph, but that internal airguide for the CPU functions as an effective exhaust duct for the CPU. With this setup the MB temp is always low....never much over 30C.
Posted: Mon Apr 19, 2004 1:48 pm
How is Ahanix's build quality? I was looking at the Landrover... sturdy?
Anyway, looks great! Love the clean builds.
Posted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 7:33 am
My brother purchased this case for my father. I was initially amazed by the functionality (temperature monitoring, fan control, 12 cm. fans, even a Screws / Screwdriver box with a 3.5 inches format that can be mounted as a HDD drive!, so you can have your PC tools inside the PC case!) and by the price: only 50 € including taxes (about $42 these days). I was at the time thinking on purchasing a new case so that I went over one weekend to check the case (well, I didn't specifically mention the case to my wife, I just found a different excuse to visit my parents that sounded better for her
My comments on an unmodified case, as my father isn't interested in silent computing at all:
- Low noise with the fans at minimum
- I was impressed by its cooling with the fans at higher speeds, but vibration was terrible
- Very happy with the controls, although I occasionally hit the Reset button instead of one of the others
- Very sensible to HD vibration. He had a 250 Gb SATA drive and the noise depended a lot on the position of the HDD in the box and how fastened the screws were. We finally found the best position/fasten combination but it was still noisy.
- Build materials were flimsy. Quality was not as bad (well finished, rounded corners, etc.), but materials were. The metal seems thinnier than in other cases and the front door is ultra cheap plastic. I understand it feels different to Bluefront after padding it, but unmodified it felt very bad. I think this greatly helps vibration to be converted in noise.
I finally chose an Antec 3070AMB OEM case and I have to say I find it a lot more more solid and less vibration prone. I certainly miss the fan controls, but at least it doesn't have as much self generated noise.
So, I agree 90% with Bluefront, and with some minor changes this can be a great case, but if you don't want to modify it you will probably be dissapointed.
Posted: Thu Apr 22, 2004 4:46 pm
Hmmm...I've built two setups using this case. The first had very limited modification. About all I did was add a passive vent to the bottom of the case to improve airflow. Both 120mm fans were left as they came (not soft mounted), and the hard drives were just screwed in normally. That setup didn't vibrate at all until I raised the fan speed too high. At that point those Yate Loon fans make noise and blow a lot of air. But that speed is never used....not by me anyway, or the guy who bought that computer. The 52x cdrw did make a racket though, but that's not the fault of the case.
This second case, the subject of this article, was modified extensively. And it's attached to a very heavy base, which also dampens noises. I'm impressed with the Black Knight....for it's cost, for the quality fans and fan controller that come stock, and for the no-nonsense construction, which makes modification easy.
The weight of the steel seems normal to me, about the same as my first Antec (2600 I think). And the Black Knight door beats the Antec door all to hell. I don't worry this door will be knocked off. I never hooked up the reset switch, so I won't have that problem, although I wish the fan switches were lighted somehow. That may be another project for me. I think most people around here will modify most any case they buy, so I don't see that being any reason not to buy this case.
And finally.....I've seen and owned Antec cases. This Black Knight has them all beat in the looks dept. But YMMV in that...
Posted: Sun May 02, 2004 1:07 pm
Thanks for your help. You really are heaven-sent to me.
I'd remove the front door because I'd be using the front usb all the time for keyboard and mouse.
I'd like to use this case with a PIV 130nm 2.6GHz (69W/75ºC whereas your Prescott is 89W/69ºC), a very modest fanless graphic card, 2 HDs (isolated using SilentMaxx HD decouplers/heatsinks), 2 CDs, and one PCI TV card. I plan to remove the front fan and use only the rear fan to suck from an alpha (or equivalent) using an off-the-shelf duct. That way I would cool the CPU and exhaust case air with just one fan. The PSU would be a 350W fanless Yesico. The mobo is an Intel PERL. The only problem I foresee is finding an adaptor 120mm-80mm for the duct (ducts you can buy at the store are 80mm, aren't they?).
There is also a doubt with the fan noise. Using only one fan set at higher speeds can be noisier than using both at lower speeds. Do you think that both fans could be NOTICEABLY quieter than one fan at higher speeds?
The other doubt is, that dust will build on my system if I don't force all the air to come in through a filter. I could fix the problem by sealing the case. How did you seal yours? Once sealed, and with only the vent in front of the front fan open, I don't see the need for the transparent plastic and the 92mm front fan, since all air would be draw through that vent, and through the filter.
WELL: what do you think of my plan? Comments? Suggestions?
As to your setup: I've got plenty of questions. Please answer them all!!
Yate Loon fans are not in the recommended fan list. You sure they are silent? How much do they cost per piece? And, by the way, do they come from the factory decoupled, or did you do it yourself? I see the rear fan is mounted OUTSIDE. Never saw that before. I guess you do it because of turbulence, but I'd appreciate if you explain it more clearly. To screw the fan outside, do you need to mod the case somehow? I see you removed the stamped fan grill, didn't you?
By the way, and just for my quiet PC culture, can a single 120mm rear fan make up for the airflow of two 80mm rear fans, and at the same time create less noise? Is that really so? Does it also happen with CPU fans when going from 80 to 92mm?
I read you plan to replace the alpha heatsink, because you say it is 3 year old. Is it the 8942? Is it 92mm fan-ready?
Two more things about the case: how are the feet? Are they made of rubber for decoupling? And what about the concerns about the air flow of the case being very low?
There is nothing like this case for anywhere close to the price...NewEgg<$60.
I think exactly the same about this case being specially cheap and well done for silent pc purposes. Have you done a carefully search in order to make such statement, or is it just a feeling you got?
Finally, I don't get what the black device at the rear bottom of the case does.
Posted: Sun May 02, 2004 2:09 pm
Before I bought these last two Black Knight cases (one for me, one for a customer/relative), I considered and researched for several months. I knew I would have to mod this case slightly, but it was my choice over all the others. I'm glad I got them.
The Yate Loon fans came with the case....I understand Nexus is a re-branded Yate Loon, about $20 each. That rear fan was mounted outside the case for a better internal airflow (before I did that it slightly overlapped the Fortron PSU fan opening). I'm convinced one 120mm is quieter and blows more air than two quiet 80mm fans. That's hard to prove though. I have seen 120/80 adaptors, but where?
Without a front fan of some sort you'll probably be running the hard drives too hot for me. And the Black Knight does need a bigger intake area. I won't build a computer for myself without good intake filters. That bottom vent solves those two problems.
Yeah I cut out both the front and rear fan grills....although they are not very restrictive. That bottom black box holds an AC outlet...it's visable in some of those pictures. I had the space for it...why not?
The Alpha is an 8942, and I think I could improve the CPU temps with a different setup. Hard to say......but the alpha probably won't hold a 92mm fan very well. And the case feet are rubber, but I never used them.
Hook up an external USB hub for your keyboard/mouse if you must...but leave the door on there.
Posted: Sun May 02, 2004 3:01 pm
You see, in the thread where you pointed out this write-up,
I read some comments on the case not having enough airflow because the front panel lacked vents (three is a vent in the bottom). Your opinion?
I understand that the fans do not come from factory with foam and rubber washers, do they?
What should I do in order to seal the case? Can a filter be used on the front fan without removing the front grill?
As to HDs getting hot: remember they are mounted with HS and isolated.
Posted: Sun May 02, 2004 3:18 pm
Well yeah there's a little hole in the bottom of the front bezel....and it can be enlarged.... But it's still not big enough for sufficient airflow for that case (IMHO). And there's certainly not enough room in that space for any kind of a good filter. Maybe a thin piece of screen or something....but not a real filter. Look at that photo album. I certainly wouldn't have added the bottom vent and filter if I thought it wasn't necessary.
Cracks? I sealed it with foam strips, felt strips, tape, safety-mat foam, etc. Mostly from Home depot.
The rear fan is de-coupled with rubber washers and nylon cable ties....see the photos in the album.
There is no front grill on that case. The whole front bezel and door comes off in one piece (six screws).
De-coupling hard drives, and adding heat sinks will provide little cooling if there is no airflow over the drives.
FWIW.....The hard drive in those photos normally runs about 26-28C. The board temp usually runs about the same. Except for the hot Prescott, this is a cool setup.
Posted: Sun May 02, 2004 6:55 pm
I mean, when you bought the case, were the fans already decoupled, or did you add that yourself?
I am starting to believe I understood something wrong: you talk about a bottom vent. I can't see it. Is it beneath the transparent plastic mod that holds the 92 fan? I can't really tell it.
In the 3R System webpage of the R101 (http://3rsystem.co.kr/
) you can see there's a grill in front of the front fan, the same as the rear fan. You removed it?
I am not much of a saw-man, so I'd like to keep the case untouched. I'd like to seal the case as well as I can, then put a filter in front of the front fan. Do you think that alone can keep dust away?
By the way, can a filter be cleaned? With water, or how?
Posted: Mon May 03, 2004 3:09 am
The fans come solidly mounted....you have to decouple them yourself.
I cut out both fan grills.
The pictures in this photo album
clearly show the fan mounts and the bottom vent/filter setup. You can clean the filter......it was slightly dirty to start with. I used window cleaner and warm water.
Posted: Mon May 03, 2004 2:13 pm
I've been thinking a little bit more and come to this conclusion:
I can use the rear fan to suck from the CPU, and the front fan to take air into the case. The rear fan sucks out of the case the same amount of air as the front fan sucks into the case, so almost no air transit should happen through any other vent. As long as the intake front fan is filtered, there should be no big deal of dust in the system. What do you think?
I have on question you might find interesting: your 80mm CPU fan sucks air at 2300-3000rpm. Since the 92mm fan draws air into the case, the only means to remove the hot air sucked from the CPU is the PSU fan and the rear fan. The PSU fan spins at minimum, so it doesn't suck a lot of air. Most of the hot air must be sucke by the rar 120mm spinning with a 2.8v feed. Can such a fan at such a speed suck the same amount of air as the 80mm fan spinning at 3000rpm?
Posted: Mon May 03, 2004 4:03 pm
Actually the exhaust from the PSU feels slightly stronger than the case fan at 2.8v. The combined output of these two fans certainly is more than the CPU fan at any speed.
Anyway the case temps, the output temps, the MB temps, the HD temps....all are very low, usually under 30C. The Prescott temp is about normal compared to other reported temps...about 43C idle, with a max of about 52C during a long video encoding session. CPUBurn can get the CPU temp slightly higher, but only a few degrees more.
If you build this Black Knight with a cooler running CPU, you might be able to eliminate that big bottom vent I added. Don't really know....
Posted: Wed May 19, 2004 9:10 am
I've been thinking over my set up over the weeks.
I think the case is OK without modding it, and the 2 Yate Loom fans should run low and at same speeds to keep in-case pressure at 0. The heatsink and the whole "suck instead of blow" idea is perfect. I wonder how to deal with the CPU fan and its ducting. I was considering to dispose of the CPU fan altogether and use the exhaust 120mm fan to suck. That way, the fan will take care of case airflow (compesated in pressure by the other 120mm) and at the same time, of CPU cooling.
Then I noticed this new in the home page of silentpcreview:
This guy uses the same case, and uses the CPU fan in sucking mode. Well: he says that you need high rpms for sucking when you have high impedancies. If a use a a big, low RPMed fan to suck from high impedancies, I'll get no airflow.
The 120mm fan, coupled to the Alpha sink via a 120-80mm adpator and a 80mm Dr. Cooler duct, will see much impedance?? Also, if I need to speed up the fan a lot because the sink heats up a lot, maybe I would be better off with a 80/92mm fan on the CPU and using the 120s for just case airflow. What do you think?
By the way, I am also considering the Fortrom aurora. Why did you chose it? Does it have active PFC?
Posted: Wed May 19, 2004 3:25 pm
Have you ever seen this duct
? This is a project of mine from about a year ago. As far as I know, no-one at SPCR has attempted to duplicate it. It works perfect with the ALPHA.....a perfect fit with only slight modification. You could use it to suck or blow with the Alpha. I guarantee it'll work just fine for you. You can use an 80 or 92mm case fan...maybe even a 120 with an adaptor. All this without any fan on the alpha. It's a drier vent part from Best Buy....maybe other places.
I got the Aurora free in a deal...that's why I'm using it.
Actually I like the ability to manually adjust the PSU fan speed. You don't have to worry about automatic adjusting fan speeds, that might be too noisy/fast.
Posted: Fri May 21, 2004 10:28 am
Nice duct, but, what about 2 Thermaltake Ducting Mods joined to create the same for just 10?? Do you know Ducting Mods?
Let's imagine you put connect the CPU fan to the 120mm rear exhaust fan via a duct and a fitting. How would find out at which speeds both fans pass the same airflow? Using the figures in the fans' specs? Can you explain me how to interprete them? They seem very confusing.
One question about the Black Night case: I suppose the case fans are connected to some circuit in the case with a chip that implements the whole temp-speed control thing, right? And that circuit is fed with some molex connector, isn't it?
By the way, what cooler are you thinking on as a replacement for the alpha? Also sucking, I suppose?
Have you seen this case? It's from a spanish distributor I found. It's in spanish:
It costs 44?. The Black Knight costs 60?.
Includes 2 120mm fans (which like the Black Knight, are controlled by temp-controlled), front fan filter, frontal USB/sound/Firewire.
Posted: Fri May 21, 2004 2:44 pm
As you said....both the case fans are controlled by the one fan speed controller. It uses sensor #1 to adjust the speed (if you use automatic). I use manual......it gets the power from a molex connector.
It is difficult to accurately judge airflow volumns from different fans at different rpms, at different voltages. You can make an educated guess...that's about it.
I'm thinking of using an Aerocool HT 101.....blow the exhaust at the rear case fan, with an intake duct bring in fresh air. I'm still working on this setup.....the duct design is complete. I just need to find a few pieces.
I've also been tweaking the Alpha fan setup.....I got the max CPU temp down to 51C without increasing fan speed. More secret research. I never thought I could improve the Alpha setup, but I was wrong. If it keeps working like I hope, I may stick with the Alpha.
Never tried the Zalman duct. On paper it would work good with an Alpha....maybe. You have to know that the aluminum duct I built has an internal cross-section much larger than the Zalman duct. That makes it work better than the smaller Zalman.....larger area=better airflow.
Posted: Fri May 21, 2004 6:51 pm
What do you think of that spanish case?
Er... by Zalman duct you mean the Ducting Mod? It's Thermaltake.
Posted: Sat May 22, 2004 12:46 am
Yeah it's a TT
product. Should improve airflow in the center of the heatsink...normally blocked by the fan hub.
No opinion on that case....
Posted: Sun May 23, 2004 7:55 am
Hi Bluefront. I've been having a look at the Aerocool HT 101 heatsink, and I must say it offers quite interesting possibilities. It is the only HS I know that allows to attach 2 fans. Well: using your case, you could connect 2 ducts to that heatsink, one from the filtered, front intake fan to the HS, and another from the HS to the exhaust fan. An independent air circuit that could isolate the most heating component, the CPU, from the rest of the case. The 2 120mm fans would be in push pull, so I guess they could be set to minimum speed. Only 2 problems: air impedance and the wight of the heatsink. You think they would be big problems?
As ducting kit you could use this http://www.xpcgear.com/ockit.html
With the rest of the case: you could do as I've read MikeC does with his system, take the PSU out, use fresh air to cool it, this reducing noise, and let hot air exhaust via convection (or a 80mm low rpm'ed fan) through the PSU hole.
What do you think?
One more thing: could you tell us what tweaking you did with the alpha to improve cooling??
And one last thing: I see you have a Radeon 9200. I'd like to ask you a little question? Do you know whether it is possible to use 1920x1080 i or p via the DVI connector with that chip? I mean using the catalyst with powerstrip. It's a HDTV/HTPC concern I have.
Posted: Sun May 23, 2004 11:45 am
IMHO...that flexable duct material you linked to, is too restrictive. The pleats inhibit the airflow. Also a long duct of the same diameter as the fan (say 80mm), is really to small for good airflow. If you try to use that setup, I'm afraid the noise level would increase, as you would have to raise fan rpms to maintain the same airflow as a stock system.
Hey...it's cheap enough. Try it.
My PSU fan is running as slow as possible right now....it wouldn't get any quieter doing what you suggest. The rear and front case fans are running on 2.8v.....they won't run any slower than that.
My only reasonable improvment to the Black Knight as you see it would be to improve the CPU heatsink setup. I have been experimenting with airflow changes using the CPU air deflection panel in the photos. So far small changes have knocked 2C off the max temp. If I can lower the temps another 2C, I may be able to reduce the CPU fan speed somewhat. I have set 54C as the max cpu temp I want to see (arbritary)......I have probably reached the limit of what I can do with this Alpha however. There is a newer Alpha model I could try....we'll see.
My 9200 (on a different machine) does not have a DVI output. The ATI 9200 on the Asus board in this Black Knight is embedded in the mother board....no DVI.
Posted: Sun May 23, 2004 3:57 pm
About your PSU fan speed, are you sure it doesn't change at full load? Hasn't it a temp controlled fan?
Posted: Sun May 23, 2004 4:49 pm
It's a Fortron Aurora...350w with a manual fan speed control knob. I set it as slow as possible and have never heard it speed up. I think it has an automatic over-ride to a high speed if things get too hot.
I cannot hear it from about three feet away.....so I'm not about to change it.
Posted: Mon May 24, 2004 4:04 am
The only problem with the aurora is the light: my PC is in my bedroom, next to my bed. It could keep me from sleeping.
EDIT: one question regarding the case. Can the led and lcd displays somehow be turned off, atenuated, or unplugged? It's because of the sleep problem I mentioned above.
Posted: Mon May 24, 2004 5:48 pm
You could take the PSU apart and dis-connect the lights.
The case-lights are LED, not LCD. You could cover the LEDs with a black magic marker....the light still shines through.