Cbutter's NSK2400 HTPC System Build Log.

Show off your quiet rig.

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cbutters
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Cbutter's NSK2400 HTPC System Build Log.

Post by cbutters » Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:23 pm

Hello,
I am a long time lurker of this website and forum. Here goes my first post:
I in the process of upgrading my media PC to a full blown HTPC. My goals are decent performance while maintaining silence. Here are my selectons:
CASE: NSK2400 (the obvious choice :D)
CASE FANS: Yate Loon 120mm (nexus clones)
PSU: Seasonic Super Silencer 350Watt
MB: Gigabyte GM-M61PM-S2 (microatx, SOCKET AM2)
CPU: AMD Athlon X2 3600+ (Brisbane core built on 65nm process [low voltage])
CPU Cooler: Thermalright XP-120 (also purchased AM2 adapter)
MEM: WINTEC DDR2 1GB (512x2)
HD: SEAGATE 300GB SATA
GPU: eVGA 7600 GS (Zalman VF700cu Installed)
DVD: Sony DVD BURNER
Tuner(s): Nvidia DualTV
ATI HD TV WONDER

Let me know what you think of my build.
First,
I have a few questions regarding my choices. I am worried about the XP-120 fitting my Motherboard, I know that quite a few others have used the xp-120 in their microatx boards. But Im not sure if it is 100% compatible with all boards. If anybody has any experience or insight into this I would appreciate it.
Second,
I plan on running the XP-120 as a passive cooler. How plausible does everyone think this is?
Third,
is running the two tuners next to each other going to be a problem with heat in this low air flow situation? I've noticed both cards get pretty hot.
Thanks ahead of time!

I will post pictures of my build once all my parts get in.
Last edited by cbutters on Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:00 am, edited 2 times in total.

Brian
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Post by Brian » Mon Apr 09, 2007 6:09 pm

I've had the chip on my sound card get hot enough to cause burns. I never had a problem with it. I wouldn't worry about the tuners. However, those Yate Loons are basically inaudible at 5V, as you probably know. You could throw one of them near the front of the case to cool your tuners.

I'm not sure what you'll be doing with the box, but your GPU and CPU are comparable to those in my gaming rig. Unless you're planning on playing Supreme Commander on your TV, I'd think about going for a less powerful CPU and GPU. Probably a single core.

And of course, welcome to the board.

~El~Jefe~
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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Mon Apr 09, 2007 7:11 pm

That harddrive kills the sound....

go for a 500Mb samsung, one of those listed in the new update hd recommended list on the front page.

processor wise, that's neat. Does the vid card support hd content acceleration? if it doesnt, those two cores will be taxed if they push hd out alone.

I use avivo/ati so I never think about it.

cbutters
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Post by cbutters » Tue Apr 10, 2007 12:11 pm

El Jefe,
thanks for the recommendation on the hard drive. I already had the 300GB seagate unfortunately, so I will keep it for now, but if noise level is intolerable or I get some extra cash, I will spring for the samsung.

Im pretty sure the geforce 7000 series has support for video acceleration and I have my copy of purevideo. But yeah I am selling my old cpu which was a athlon64 3000 for the dualcore x2 which will run basically at the same mhz, but i will just have two cores. (at a lower voltage too). So Im hoping it is powerful enough for future blueray/hddvd processing.

My parts should start coming in tomorrow, I will post some pictures then.
Maybe I should have this post moved to the gallery section once I get those in.

~El~Jefe~
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Post by ~El~Jefe~ » Tue Apr 10, 2007 6:07 pm

yeah, photo's rock :)

HD's make a sort of irritating sound that takes over a room. the 500Gb samsung is my next drive after this 160gb spinpoint80 doesnt do the job anymore. I find it sluggish as it is. I need some more density and punch.

the brisbanes on their own wont be able to handle hd content, but if the card has hardware acceleration, it will be fine and dandy. You could always bump up the clock speed on the brisbane to like 2.2ghz if needed be without much heat increase.

cbutters
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Post by cbutters » Thu Apr 12, 2007 7:55 am

Image
So I got some stuff in the mail last night!.....

My first thoughts on the NSK2400:
A) It is remarkably sturdy, the top panel does not flex at all when you push on it, I dont think I would mind placing an LCD monitor ontop of it (if I was actually using an LCD in this setup.)
B)Build quality is great, very comparable to my P180
C)Dont know if I like the clips for mounting the fan cables, I think it is much better to tuck them behind the motherboard or along the edge of the case. I guess its nice to have them if needed though.

As soon as my CPU Cooler shows up I will get started with my build. (see first post for specs on this project.
Still hoping that the XP-120 will fit on this motherboard just fine!
Last edited by cbutters on Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:29 am, edited 2 times in total.

autoboy
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Post by autoboy » Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:21 am

You can probably run the 7600GS without the fan running on the vf700 as long as you have good airflow past it. The VF700 might well be the loudest thing in your case. I have a 300GB seagate in my nsk2400 and it is the loudest thing in my case, still, there are only very rare times that I can ever hear the computer. When I do hear it, i can hear a slight sound of the harddrive trashing. You have to strain to hear it so I don't think it will be a problem. Have great time with the system. The dual core is better at h.264 videos from the internet than your single core but might stuggle on some high bit rate BluRay movies even with acceleration. Acceleration is dependant on the clockspeed of the graphics card only, so the 7600GS is a bit of a dog for video acceleration. Other that that, purevideo works well on it and you should have no problems.

cbutters
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Post by cbutters » Thu Apr 12, 2007 8:53 am

autoboy wrote:You can probably run the 7600GS without the fan running on the vf700 as long as you have good airflow past it. The VF700 might well be the loudest thing in your case.
That is a great idea. I usually have it on the 5v setting, but it is still noticeable at that range. I know for a fact that Evga released a 7600GS that was Fanless. (might have been a slightly lower clock speed though) So I should probably have no problem turning the fan completely off with that big copper heatsink on it. Right now at 5v it is 50 degrees, I will let you know how well it works out.

autoboy
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Post by autoboy » Thu Apr 12, 2007 2:11 pm

might want to try a duct from the pci slot. Or at least a buisness card in there to prevent the air from going over the card and missing the heatsink. anything less than 80C is probably a safe temp.

cbutters
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Post by cbutters » Fri Apr 13, 2007 6:41 am

So, here is my Gigabyte MicroATX board. My XP-120 showed up today so I can finally see if this cooler is going to fit my board or not... Here goes
Image


First I need to replace the standard AM2 connecter with the XP-120 adapter so that it will be able to mount on this motherboard. The first thing I need to do is remove the stock mounting frame. Ill start by pushing the middle pin on each connector from the bottom of the motherboard. Sorry for the crappy phone pics.
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With a small flathead screwdriver, these pins pop right out leaving just a second larger white pin behind. the mounting plate comes right off.
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With a little pinching and force, the second larger pins come out of the holes too. you can see both pins in this picture.
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I've run into my first problem!!
It seems the holes in the default gigabyte mounting frame and the AM2 adapter for the xp-120 have different sized holes! The Pushpins from the default frame dont fit into the holes of the second adapter, and that adapter didnt come with any screws! Here is a picture showing the difference in the hole sizes, looks like gigabyte is using a concave larger circle to fit the pushpins, while the other just has round smaller holes.
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I decide this isnt anything a little drilling can't fix! :D
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Now I have drilled out the holes, This was actually kindof hard to get the right size, At first it looked like it was big enough, but the pushpins wouldnt fit right, so I had to drill some more (after this picture was taken). But I finally got the holes drilled sufficiently.
Image


And here is the AM2 adapter with the pushpins installed!
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I still think that my holes were perhaps a little too small, because installing the pushpins onto the motherboard was pretty tight, but I think it made it go on more securely than the stock adapter, and it definitely is on there good and tight and wont be coming off anytime soon. It looks good so far!
Image





Here is my testfit of the XP-120, it only fit in one direction, with the heatpipes towards the memory. Otherwise it barely collided with the capacitors that you can see there on the right. The heatpipes look like they are blocking the memory more than they really are. It actually is only overlapping on the very first DDR2 slot. A stick of memory could almost still fit there, but not quite. Luckily the manual says that you can install your two sticks of memory into the far slots and still run it in dual channel. so this isnt a problem. LOOKS LIKE THE XP-120 is going to work!
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Here is my new Brisbane chip! Its time to mount it!
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Can't see in the pic very well, but here is the chip with zalman stg-1 on it, which is supposed to be slightly better than AS5. I used the last little bit of it on this application. There sure isnt much in that little bottle. I only got about 5 CPU installs out of it. and I lay it on thin.
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Here is the XP-120 installed with the memory in place. Awesome, everything is going pretty well so far!
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Here is a shot of the motherboard mounted in the NSK2400. (I am still waiting for my Nexus fans in the mail, and a few other bits and pieces before I can finish this up.)
Image

Now looking at my system at this point.... I was thinking I could probably run the XP-120 passively, but after seeing the cooler firsthand, its not nearly as big and heavy as I imagined, and looking at the fin design, it seems like passive cooling may be impossible, with this case, as it seems not much airflow is going to get to pass through the fins since they are vertical not horizontal, which seems to block airflow from getting to the center of the cooler. I guess I will just have to try and see.

I am slightly worried because this case is meant to suck in air from the PCI slots, but I am going to be using all but one slot so it is going to be covered up for the most part. Has anybody with a similar case setup had any issues?


Hope you enjoyed this post. Ill post more tomorrow once I make more headway.

stromgald
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Post by stromgald » Fri Apr 13, 2007 7:57 am

Wow, that looks great!

Thanks for the pictures, now I know how much room an XP-120 really needs on a mATX board. I'm looking to build something very similar to yours after the Core 2 Duo price drop later this month. I really hope you can cool it passively, and IMHO I think you can if you have both 120mm fans running at low rpms. One of those fans can move quite a bit of air even at low speeds. Having two next to the XP-120 is going to do wonders.

You're right about heat buildup near the PCI slots. I've considered that too since I'll probably have a graphics card, a TV card and a wireless network card in mine. A slot blower is an option, but I'm hoping that with such a small case and two 120mm fans, that it will be enough. If not, you could close up some vents and force more air to come through the single open PCI slot.

By the way, is there enough room to mount a fan on top of the XP-120 in that case? It probably won't do much good (blowing or sucking straight at the top of the case), but if someone were to mod the top of the case . . . :wink:
Brother's: Antec 3000B, C2D E6600, ASUS P5K, XFX 6850, 4GB DDRe RAM, 160GB Seagate 7200.8 & 2x 2TB Caviar Green, ASUS 16X DVD-ROM, Sony DVD-RW, Corsair 400W, Thermalright HR-01, 2x Scythe 120mm Low Speed Fans
Mine: Antec NSK3480 w/EA 380W, i5-750, Gigabyte P55M-UD4, Sapphire 5750, 4GB DDR3, 60GB OCZ Agility & 500GB Seagate 7200.8, Xigmatek HDT-S964

cbutters
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Post by cbutters » Fri Apr 13, 2007 8:22 am

stromgald wrote: A slot blower is an option, but I'm hoping that with such a small case and two 120mm fans, that it will be enough. If not, you could close up some vents and force more air to come through the single open PCI slot.
Yeah, Slotblower would be too noisy, but you are right, blocking up some of the vents near the two 120mm would probably pull more air through all the components in the case. I can't wait to get home tonight after work (at work now..) and get everything pulled together.
stromgald wrote:By the way, is there enough room to mount a fan on top of the XP-120 in that case? It probably won't do much good (blowing or sucking straight at the top of the case), but if someone were to mod the top of the case . . . :wink:
There is actually plenty of room for a fan on top of the xp120, maybe I am just used to my two ninja scythes, but the xp120 seemed a lot smaller than i imagined and thinner too (the height of top plateau of the fins.)
For the sake of minimalism, I hope it runs just fine without the third 120mm fan ontop of the xp-120, but Im not opposed to sticking one on there if needed.

ciz28
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Post by ciz28 » Fri Apr 13, 2007 12:21 pm

cbutters wrote:Now looking at my system at this point.... I was thinking I could probably run the XP-120 passively, but after seeing the cooler firsthand, its not nearly as big and heavy as I imagined, and looking at the fin design, it seems like passive cooling may be impossible, with this case, as it seems not much airflow is going to get to pass through the fins since they are vertical not horizontal, which seems to block airflow from getting to the center of the cooler. I guess I will just have to try and see.
You might be able to get away with semipassive cooling if you undervolt your CPU enough and you reverse the case fans to be intakes instead of exhausts. That is what I have been doing with my system for several months now quite successfully:

viewtopic.php?p=305508

cbutters
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Post by cbutters » Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:21 pm

You might be able to get away with semipassive cooling if you undervolt your CPU enough and you reverse the case fans to be intakes instead of exhausts. That is what I have been doing with my system for several months now quite successfully
I just took a look at your post. Wow, I wasn't aware of the logistics of the SI-128 before. It looks even bigger than the XP-120! Almost makes me wish I would have gone that route. Does your heatsink have room for a fan on it? well, room for a fan without being right up against the top of the case?

Undervolting is a great idea. I am actually undervolting my laptop right now, it is a core 2 duo T5500 and it takes the lowest voltage possible (.95v) even at high speeds, and it is much cooler that way. (~10 degrees on load)

Reversing the fans is also a good recommendation. I will be sure to give it a try and report my results. I am still waiting for my order from nexfan.com. its only been 4 days, but i havent heard back from them. so I will have to stick with my tricools for the next little bit.

ciz28
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Post by ciz28 » Fri Apr 13, 2007 2:33 pm

cbutters wrote:I just took a look at your post. Wow, I wasn't aware of the logistics of the SI-128 before. It looks even bigger than the XP-120! Almost makes me wish I would have gone that route. Does your heatsink have room for a fan on it? well, room for a fan without being right up against the top of the case?

Undervolting is a great idea. I am actually undervolting my laptop right now, it is a core 2 duo T5500 and it takes the lowest voltage possible (.95v) even at high speeds, and it is much cooler that way. (~10 degrees on load)

Reversing the fans is also a good recommendation. I will be sure to give it a try and report my results. I am still waiting for my order from nexfan.com. its only been 4 days, but i havent heard back from them. so I will have to stick with my tricools for the next little bit.
That was my first real build with a desktop case before, and I agree, the logistics are a bit interesting considering the departure from the standard ATX tower layout. As examples, the case fan power connectors were run underneath the motherboard in order to make the run to the PSU chamber without draping wires everywhere, and the optical drive IDE cable is 36" long in order to make that run with all of the various folds.

I actually ordered three 120mm fans back when I ordered all of my parts, anticipating that I'd use one on top of my SI-128 at 5V. Unfortunately, that only leaves a 1-3mm gap to the top of the case, which probably wouldn't be terribly effective. Strangely enough, the gap changes based on where you measure :? So I don't know if the case, the motherboard, or the heatsink itself is crooked, but something doesn't line up correctly.

Regarding a previous comment you made about fin spacing and vertical heatsink orientation, I initially tried a CNPS9500 AM2 with the "fin bending mod" with mixed results. I took out the fan for semipassive cooling, but I ended up with temperatures a couple of degrees higher than my SI-128. Also, I really didn't like the way it looked in my case with the bent fins, so I ended up sticking with the SI-128.

I would highly recommend undervolting your CPU as much as possible. I had great success with this, as outlined in the thread I linked previously. This probably dropped my temperatures by 20c, especially at idle. I'd be curious to see how well your X2 responds to undervolting compared to my single core CPU.

Anyways, good luck finishing up your build and let me know if I can be of any help to you :D

cbutters
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Post by cbutters » Fri Apr 20, 2007 7:08 am

Here is an update to my Silent HTPC project:

See more details on my website: http://www.exoid.com

I finally got all my parts in and finished my build. Here is an image of the system opened up. I installed the 300GB SATA, the Seasonic Super Silencer 350Watt power supply, two 120mm Nexus fans at 5v. The XP-120 is capable of running passively. Although very hot, in the 50 degree celcius range. It still installed windows fine and had no errors at these temperatures. I took some previous advice and undervolted my processor using RMclock. The difference was amazing. I went from the 50s to the 30s. my processor at idle speed is about 30 degrees celcius and on load it doesnt break the 40's. I used ORTHOS to test stability at .975volts on load and .95v at idle. In my book, undervolting is highly recommended with proper testing. You can see my attempt at cable management in the pictures below. the yellow 4 wire motherboard power cord is routed under the motherboard, out of sight, out of mind, and other wires are held in place with plastic clasping ties.
Image
Image

I am running the GPU fan (Zalman VF700) semi passively. I had the bright idea to hook that zalman fan up to the CPU Fan header. Then through the gigabyte utility I could choose a temperature for it to turn on at with increasingly higher RPMs as tempuratures rise. However, the tempurature gauge is based on CPU heat, not GPU heat, but generally if you are going to be playing a game or doing anything intensive on the computer the GPU and CPU will both ramp up. So the GPU is completely off (silent) on idle, or just general CPU use, but when watching TV, or playing a game, it will ramp up to about 1300 RPMs, which is barely audible in a silent room, and completely unnoticable when watching TV or playing a video game. GPU temperatures range from 55 to 65 or so. Maybe almost 70 degrees after a long session of gaming.
My goal was to have a very non-intrusive silent HTPC setup, and I have now acheived this. The computer stays on all the time. (It hosts my website) but when it is idling along, it doesn't make a sound. Now when I get kicked out and have to sleep on the couch I can fall asleep peacefully without being bothered by a noisy PC in the family room.

Here are some pictures of the system setup:

Image
Image

ciz28
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Post by ciz28 » Fri Apr 20, 2007 10:03 am

Nice work getting everything up and running smoothly. It seems that you have your hardware situation under control, but as far as software goes, I would highly recommend Vista Media Center if possible. I mainly use my HTPC to watch movies and recorded television shows and to listen to music. Vista Media Center has been a great interface for me once I got everything set up correctly. As far as finishing touches, this is what truly completes the experience for me:

http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouse ... px?pid=065

cbutters
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Post by cbutters » Fri Apr 20, 2007 5:29 pm

ciz28 wrote:Nice work getting everything up and running smoothly. It seems that you have your hardware situation under control, but as far as software goes, I would highly recommend Vista Media Center if possible. I mainly use my HTPC to watch movies and recorded television shows and to listen to music. Vista Media Center has been a great interface for me once I got everything set up correctly. As far as finishing touches, this is what truly completes the experience for me:

http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/mouse ... px?pid=065
I really have been debating moving to vista media center on this.... I am running Windows Media Center with the remote. But since I have a lot of custom applications running on it (openssh server, webserver, SQL, VNC, mymovies2), i have opted not to move to vista on the htpc yet. (i run it on my office computer). I may create a partition and test it out very soon though to see how well it performs and if new versions of the applications that I need have been released. I do really like the new vista media center interface though! will move to it definitely within the next 6 months.

darkmachine
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Post by darkmachine » Thu Aug 02, 2007 1:44 am

Nice one cbutters! I'm building a very similar system towards the end of this month, my main concern is whether i can mount the XP-120 onto the Intel DG33TL (which has a tremendous heat sink).

Have you felt the hard drive after it has been exercised at all? Im interested to see how much air is available to the hard drive, seeing as an HTPC works the hd almost more than the CPU.

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