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Thor's Hammer

Posted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 11:18 am
by burcakb
I like to name my computers after Norse deities and Thor has traditionally been the most powerful computer and my main workhorse. So when it received the last Athlon64 upgrade, Thor's Hammer (aka Thor Mk3) was born. OK, it's a Newcastle but still it's a Hammer decendent.

First the specs:
Abit KV8Pro motherboard
Athlon64 3000+ (2 GHz) Newcastle CPU
Zalman CNPS-7000B-Cu CPU Cooler
TwinMos 2x512 PC3500 DDR RAM
PowerColor Radeon 9700 nonpro graphics card (BIOS flashed to be Pro but still with nonpro clock speeds)
Thermaltake Fanless Heatpipe graphics cooler
Seasonic Super Silencer 400W PSU with 5V Panaflo M1 mod
Seagate 7200.7 SATA 120Gb disks w/ 8 MB cache x 2
NEC 2510A DVDRW drive
Antec SLK3700AMB case
Nexus 120mm fans (x2)

You can click on the pictures to view the large hires versions. Some of them are REALLY large. For those who want to get all the large pics in one go, here's a 2 MB RAR file

Let's get some establishing shots: An overall view and a closeup of the business area:

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I chose the Abit motherboard because it offers excellent cable routing. Unfortunately the BIOS is plagued with that darn uGuru chip and doesn't allow undervolting. There's a lot of free space around the CPU, a passive northbridge, lots of space to the AGP slot, 20-pin power is at the edge and top of the board, the IDE slots are at 90 degrees and not too far down. The 4-pin 12V socket is also close to the parallel port so I can route that cable easily too. It also has 5 fan headers. I don't intend to use that many naturally but so many also means there's a nearby header when you need one.


On the case, I cut out both front and back grills. I'll be needing a front fan as those Seagate drives run really hot. I installed a pair of Nexus fans. The grill cuts were lined with some discarded windshield wiper rubber (if you cut off the wiping edge, the remainder is a very flexible double-U molded rubber). Note that the front fan is mounted on the outside of the case. Reasons are further below.

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The Nexus fans were secured with zipties. Zipties allowed me to mount the Nexus (which have closed edges) on the 3700AMB which has nonstandard holes designed for the now-ditched plastic fan holders. As I have the nasty habbit of sticking my fingers on the back fans, I had to install a wire grill at the back. The ziptie goes from the wire grill to the fan and both grill and fan are decoupled from the case thanks to the rubber.


The Seagate harddisks are quietish but are a real offender still. I previously tried various foam decoupling methods with no satisfactory results. Unfortunately I have no access to Sorbothane so I was only left with the option of suspending. Fortunately the AMB has a removable drive cage. Playing around with the drive cage, I realized I could turn it sideways and suspend it. I used some elastic cord (the material used in swimsuits actually - very very cheap), looped them through the grommet holes on the cage and secured the ends with zipties. I used the outermost hdd slots on the cage which left me three hdd mount positions. I used the second and fourth slots so as to have wide air passages to avoid cavitation noise. This mounting method forces the hdd cage to swing forward. I used the wiping edge from the windshield wipers as bumpers against the accidental shake. I had to mount the front Nexus fan outside the case to make way for the cage. The USB cables were rerouted throuhg another opening and the small speaker found a home somewhere a little up.

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The PSU is another part that's very difficult to tame. I was planning to go with a fan-modded Fortron or a Tagan. However, Mike literally beat me on the head to get a high-efficiency PSU. He went so far as to mod a Seasonic Super Silencer 400W with a Panaflo M1BX and ship it to me. He says he soldered the M1 to the 5V line on the bottom of the PCB. Just out of curiosity I opened it up and I could have sworn that the PSU was a factory product. I really cannot Mike enough for opening up my eyes to the realities of a high-efficiency PSU. The impact of this PSU on noise and temps is incredible. Even though it has a slower turning fan and is powering a much more powerful computer it exhausts a barely felt slightly warm air as opposed to the strainings and hot exhaust of the TruePower 380S in my other Sonata.


I did of course took steps to insure that the PSU had easy access to fresh air. Because of the door of the Antec and my reluctance to open up new holes, PSU ducting was out of the question. So I cleaned up the internal wiring. All unnecessary wiring is tucked on top, everything else is attached to the support bar. IDE cable is folded away. I did end up with a bit of ugly cable folding on the motherboard end (the cable was 5cm too short) but I haven't had any problems yet.

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Finally, I attached some extra tiny heatsinks I had on hand on some of the extrahot components on the motherboard and lined the side panel and the bottom with some melamine. The melamine foam was for trial. I still haven't done a before/after analysis but I don't have any metallic air rushing sound coming from the case. The foam, by the way, came with the fingers and I had to cut most of it off to make it fit. Thus the slightly ghetto look. The dirty areas are the result of 15 days of running with the slot opening I left below the graphics card. Previously, when I had a VGA Silencer running, the foam was pristine white. I really need to think of a way to close that gap.


Now some info about the invisible parts. The CPU fan header is routed under the AGP slot where it attaches to first an inline resistor and then to a fanmate. The fanmate is located outside the case on the back. The fanmate lead then goes back into the case to the appropriate motherboard header. You can make out some of the contraption on the overview picture. This is one reason why I can't just screw in a slot cover, I need some way to route the fanmate cables. This setup gives very low fan speeds. The Abit board has trouble recognising the fan rpm signal at such low speeds but a similar setup I did on my other computer suggests that the fan is turning at 720 rpms on average.

The Nexus fans are quiet but not quiet enough at full speed. I was planning to undervolt just the exhaust fan to have a near neutral case pressure. Unfortunately, it turned out that the front fan sits too close to the filter on the bezel and thus makes a racket. I had to undervolt both. I did this by splicing a 39 Ohm resistor to a bit of molex extension that powers both fans. My calculations say the Nexus fans are 40 Ohm each so this should have the effect of halving their speed. Motherboar Monitor indicates 780 rpms on average.

Now for some temps to arouse your jealousy :)
The below table shows the high-low recordings of Motherboard Monitor. I didn't compansate for calibration but previous tests say my CPU temps are reported 2-3C too high. I use CrystalCPUID to manage multiplier and core voltage. Core voltage is set for 1.175V (which Abit produces as 1.2V) for full load (2 GHz) and 0.875V (Abit makes this 0.9V) for idle (downclocked to 1100 MHz). I could probably go lower but even though Windows XP runs stable, Windows 64-bit crashes at any lower speeds.

The high temp was recorded during a 90 minute Prime95 run with small in-place FFTs. (I didn't have CPUBurn available at the time) The lows are for 15 minute idle with the CPU downvolted/downclocked to 1100 MHz. All load temps go up by 5V when playing games as the passive graphics card cooler dumps the heat onto the CPU. By the way, FarCry at max settings produces higher temps than 3DMark2005. The current values are for folding.

Code: Select all

|Total number of readouts: 691           CPU Speed: 2044 MHz              |
|Running from: 28.11.2004 10:25:42       until: 28.11.2004 12:21:09       |
|Sensor                       | Current  | Low      | High     | Average  |
|Case                         | 33° C    | 32° C    | 33° C    | 32° C    |
|CPU                          | 44° C    | 27° C    | 45° C    | 43° C    |
|CPU Core                     | 1,20 V   | 0,90 V   | 1,21 V   | 1,19 V   |
|CPU Fan                      | 240 RPM  | 0 RPM    | 421 RPM  | 192 RPM  |
|Exhaust Fan                  | 783 RPM  | 722 RPM  | 783 RPM  | 778 RPM  |
Harddisks idle at 37C.

Noisewise, this setup is very very quiet. I cannot hear it at all during the day even in a quiet ambient. Late at night, I can make out the faint hum of the hard drives. The Panaflo in the PSU is only noticable by a slightly lower noise if stopped. There's no way I can distinguish it above the hdd whine. The nexus fans and the Zalman fan are impossible to hear, my ambient is never low enough.

Thanks for reading this long post. Special thanks go to MikeC, Rusty075, Ralf Hutter, Bluefront and EdwardNg who've contributed knowhow to this setup greatly.

Edits: Corrected idle CPU temp, added HDD temps

Re: Thor's Hammer

Posted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 1:23 pm
by Ralf Hutter
burcakb wrote:Mike literally beat me on the head to get a high-efficiency PSU. He went so far as to mod a Seasonic Super Silencer 400W with a Panaflo M1BX and ship it to me. He says he soldered the M1 to the 5V line on the bottom of the PCB.
Right-on bro! I can't see why people play with fanless PSU's when an readily available alternative like this exists.

Well done system too!

Posted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 5:33 pm
by HammerSandwich
Two votes for a well-built rig.

I think a lot of people who are hung up on fanless PSUs never have heard a truly quiet fanned unit. For example, those who bought Sonatas might assume they needed to go fanless for a major noise improvement, thinking, "It's still loud, and I bought the quiet PSU!"

Posted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 7:30 pm
by zoob
Very impressive setup!

A question about your 7200.7's.. do they have AAM enabled or disabled? I have the same drives, only the seek noises drive me insane (no pun intended.. for real). I currently have mine in a cage (that came with my Antec SX1030 case), and they're resting on foam.. but the cage amplifies the noise! =\

Posted: Sat Dec 04, 2004 11:09 pm
by burcakb
Hmm, I'm not sure of AAM. From what I know, Seagate drives are locked in the AAM department and it cannot be changed. If that's wrong I'd love to know how to turn it on as the hdd is the largest noise source.

Ralf & Hammer, yes, the Seasonic is literally a wonder. I did get my TP380S as quiet with a fan swap but the high-efficiency thing is the real winner. It literally changed the internal conditions of the case. Plus I no longer worry that I didn't build a PSU duct :)

Posted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 1:06 am
by daba
Those are some beautiful pictures! What camera did you use?

Posted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 11:08 am
by burcakb
Canon G3. Would have been better if I'd remembered to use a stand :)

Posted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 11:35 am
by cansan
Very nice cablegami on the cdrom cable!

Just curious, why didn't you slide it all the way under the mobo? Is there a standoff (or something else) in the way??

Posted: Sun Dec 05, 2004 11:23 pm
by burcakb
I swear I answered this but it's not there ??

No, no standoffs but the cable is 5 cm too short.

Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 6:35 am
by jimmyfergus
That's a great setup - very effective and easy to achieve with little expense. The PSU fan swap seems about the most involved process, though I've done it before and it doesn't worry me. However, does anyone know how close a stock Seasonic Tornado would be in sound to a modified Silencer?

I think if I were doing it, I'd be tempted to run additional elastic to the bottom of the case too, to locate the cage more securely (possibly in an X config).

Now that I know the drive cage can be rotated and suspended as you have, your solution with an XP120 and possibly a Tornado, is my wishlist machine. Oh yeah, but with the new Antec SLK3000B to get it in black. I just have to work out some justification to myself and the wife that a P4 2.2 is inadequate :).

Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 8:40 am
by burcakb
I've thought about additional securing at the bottom. However, that creates a problem of its own - namely, how to get the hdds into the cage in the first place :) With this setup, I can twist the cage out by stretching the cords a little, tinker as I wish and release it back.

I wish I had access to a 3000B. The color is the only thing that's getting to me right now. Plus I've a SP350 to sell :)

Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 12:14 pm
by sthayashi
Naughty, naughty on MikeC for not providing you with an RPM line for the M1BX :D (or is it there and I just can't see it behind the wire grill?). One thing that shocks me a bit is that the fan is hardwired to 5v, rather than connected to the old fan's output. Granted the old fan output could be higher than 5v, but I'd personally prefer the added safety of having the fan speed go up if it needs to.

Burcakb, you're giving Ralf Hutter a run for his money on clean cases. One thing that never occured to me to do was run cables BEHIND the motherboard (but above the tray) by not using certain holes and standoffs. I'd ask if you've had any problems with not having those holes screwed in, but I suspect that if you have, you wouldn't be doing that.

Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 12:37 pm
by teejay
Didn't I read somewhere that you also modded your 7000 with a 92mm Nexus fan? I ask since the pics show the stock Zalman fan in there... if so, did you have any trouble with that mod? Prices on the 7000B's seem to plummet currently so I'm considering getting 2 of them.

Posted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 1:25 pm
by burcakb
Hehe, sthayashi, no the M1BX doesn't have an rpm monitor. But then, who needs that rpm? It's hardwired and it's enough :)

Since the mod was done by MikeC himself, I feel very safe :) As a comparison, the Sonata PSU that I modded with an Acoustifan blows a lot hotter air with a much less demanding setup. The only quiet PSU I have that has cooler air than that Seasonic is a Fortron 300W unit I modded with an M1A attached to its normal circuitry; nowhere as quiet though and it can't run Thor.

No, I didn't have any problems with the cabling yet. For some reason, the last line of mobo standoff holes don't match the ones on the case. With the standoffs as tall as they are, folding under was really easy. I'm only bothered with the bit of cabling I pictured. If I can find a longer cable, I'll do better (better also at the DVD end too)

teejay, I did mod a 7000A, but that's the one on my Sonata setup for which I've yet to type up a post. The Zalman in this setup is the 7000B with its stock fan. I do have another Nexus 92mm waiting to go into the Zalman but #1) the setup is so quiet I don't feel the need to bother (remember, I'm running below 5V for the Zalman fan), #2) I can't bring myself to cut up my beloved Nexus fan :) If you need further info, pics, etc on the mod, I'll try to round up something

Posted: Sun Jan 02, 2005 2:36 am
by burcakb

I've installed an M-Audio Revolution 7.1 to the system.

Plus I overclocked a little and dropped down the voltage to the CPU fan a bit more.

CPU is now running at 2104 MHz - still at 1.2V VCore. I also tweaked the BIOS to supply only 8V on the motherboard CPU fan header. This means the CPU fan is getting 8V + fanmated + resistored.

As a result CPU temps have gone up to 47-48C folding. Still very acceptable.

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 4:12 am
by Chart
Very nice job! :)

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:47 am
by ONEshot
Can someone explain that zip tie mounting system in more detail please? I've looked at Bluefront's pictures and these pictures... I still can't get it!


Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 12:37 pm
by burcakb
you thread a ziptie through the fan screw holes and through the hole on the case. Then you put a second ziptie to the end of the threaded one and tighten the contraption. Cut the excess end of the second ziptie and you've got a nice secure fan.

Perhaps these two pics will illustrate better. First one is the back side where the first ziptie goes through the fangrill, then the case and through the fan. The second one is the same fan from the inside showing the second ziptie head with the excess cut off.

One caveat is you've got to put some sort of rubber dampening between the case and the fan otherwise the ziptie is going to give you the same result as a screw.

In my case, the holes on the case don't match the holes on the fan. Normally I'd have to drill new holes or use the provided lousy plastic fanholders. Since ziptie is flexible, I had no problems. [/url]

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 6:13 pm
by ChiBOY83
Burckab... i read above that you tweaked yor voltage settings in the bios to have your system run a bit more quiet. Curious if you mind sharing any more detailed insight into which settings would be appripriate to change on the following system (you helped me in a thread earlier is the system again...)

AMD64 2800 w/ retail fan & heatsink
ABIT KV8 Pro rev 1.1
Seagate 160 gig ATA 100
Gigabyte Radeon 9550 (only heatsink on the card)
Antec SLK3500AMB w/ SL350 PS ---> (running onl 1 fan, stock exhaust fan)

(i realized that the stock exhaust is the culprit in creating a lot of the noise. Would removing the exhaust grill really have a big impact upon this, as you suggested???)

Posted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 11:29 pm
by burcakb
There are a few things that you can play with for your CPU & fan voltage.

The Abit KV8Pro has two settings in BIOS: Abit EQ & Cool 'n Quiet.

Cool 'n Quiet is the AMD feature, basically it throttles down your CPU when you're not loading it much. Since I fold 24/7, it's a feature that's pretty much worthless for me. If it'll be of use to you, turn it on and in Windows, install proper AMD driver (available from their website) and from the Control Panel -> Power Options, select minimal power management.

The Abit EQ allows you to set threshold voltages to your fan headers based on temperature. Unfortunately the lowest it goes is 8V. I setup 50C as the speedup threshold since my CPU always stays below this temp. However, the more I look at my MBM log, the more I get the feeling that nothing happened. I don't know why, I'm guessing the Zalman fanmate is messing things up.

To set things up in BIOS, go to Abit EQ->Fan EQ Control.
Set reference temperature to CPU temp. Set Control Temp Low to say 50C, set DC fan voltage low to 8V and you've got fan undervolting :)
You could do the same on the NB and SYS fan headers too and that might be one way of undervolting your exhaust fan, for example connect it to the SYS header (you'll need a 4 to 3 pin adapter) set reference temp as SYS.

One good technique to reduce CPU power output is to lower the VCore voltage supplied to the CPU. Power savings are the SQUARE of what you lower. Unfortunately the board doesn't allow undervolting, only overvolting. I used CrystalCPUID to manage VCore voltages. I got as low as 1.2V and still stable. That's about a 40% reduction in heat output.

Re: Thor's Hammer

Posted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 1:40 pm
by souljas
burcakb wrote: The PSU is another part that's very difficult to tame. I was planning to go with a fan-modded Fortron or a Tagan. However, Mike literally beat me on the head to get a high-efficiency PSU. He went so far as to mod a Seasonic Super Silencer 400W with a Panaflo M1BX and ship it to me. He says he soldered the M1 to the 5V line on the bottom of the PCB.
Just wondering are those mods easy to do for someone who doesn't really know anything about PSU's?

Posted: Tue Jan 11, 2005 2:45 pm
by burcakb
Not really. There's a nice article about it on the site.

If you're talking about MikeC's mod, that's a totally different case. His workmanship is excellent. Although I'm competent enough with solder, I doubt I'd attempt the mod he made. It would require disassembling the PCB from the PSU, locating the 5V point underside, making a nice & clean solder, putting everything back. I'm not that good.

What I basically do is, I snip the wires coming into the fan, snip the ends off the fan i intend to swap with, tie them together, cover them with electrical tape and/or shrinkwrap, screw everything back.

Most important thing to remember is to fully discharge the internals of the PSU before opening it up. Look up the article/forum posts and you'll be fine.

Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 4:51 am
by ChrisH
I just bought a Super Silencer 400W, but haven't installed it yet. Do you know if this power supply still uses a standard three pin connector for the fan? The original review of the SS400 rev A3 shows a fan connector, but you said Mike soldered the fan to the circuit board. Why did he do that?

Posted: Wed Jan 12, 2005 12:22 pm
by burcakb
I suppose MikeC would be the best answer, but I'll venture a few guesses:

#1) He knows that I was planning a 24/7 machine to run at full load all the time (folding) and he knows that my philosophy is a thing is either quiet at full load all the time or it isn't quiet, so he modded it for permanent quiet operation,

#2) He was actually proposing an A2 350W model so the mod was required but when it turned out I needed a 400W PSU, I got lucky with an A3 :)

Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 12:55 pm
by Wedge

Job well done!!

And thank you for the excellent write up with the pics.

Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 1:17 pm
by MikeC
burcakb wrote:I suppose MikeC would be the best answer, but I'll venture a few guesses:

#1) He knows that I was planning a 24/7 machine to run at full load all the time (folding) and he knows that my philosophy is a thing is either quiet at full load all the time or it isn't quiet, so he modded it for permanent quiet operation,

#2) He was actually proposing an A2 350W model so the mod was required but when it turned out I needed a 400W PSU, I got lucky with an A3 :)
I recall this somewhat differently. I think I only had Rev.A2s, which had the somewhat random nasty fan ramp-up problem. And rather than trying to find out whether this one had the problem, I took the preemptive approach to bypass the fan controller, esp since I already knew burcakb to be a sophisticated enough user to know how to make a low airflow PSU work for him.

Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 1:49 pm
by burcakb
Yes Mike, you remember correctly. But it's a rev A3 I got :)

and it's working beautifully. It blows out warm air, nearly as warm as the modded Antec 380s but unlike the Antec, the casing is cool which means it's not dumping heat into the case.

I have my room littered with various PSUs of various power levels. I've done all sorts of mods & ducting for them, none performed as good as this Seasonic. Thanks again, Mike.

I really started looking at fanless PSUs with a weary eye. Considering the amount of heat the Seasonic is dumping out, I'd have a serious heat management issue in my hands if it was being dumped inside. The Seasonic is quiet enough not to bother with fanless.

Posted: Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:05 am
by souljas
sorry guys but can anyone tell me where to find the PSU modding thread, i cant seem to find it?
I wanna mod a Seasonic SS with Panflo fan?

Posted: Tue Feb 01, 2005 10:16 am
by MikeC
Look in the main site -- Fans & Control.

Posted: Fri Feb 04, 2005 11:22 am
by Cams
Great job on suspending the hard drives. I have two Samsung SATA spinpoints in my SLK3000B and they are the noisiest part of the system. I'll have a look round the hypermarket tomorrow to see what sort of elastic I can get. Then I'll attempt the same thing you did with Thor.

Many thanks to you for taking the time to write about your system. I took some pictures during my build and plan to do a web page when I get some time. It's real-world stuff that others have done that make these here forums so good! The least I can do is give a little back.