Zalman H1? (nah, just got a Define R5)

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

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schuberth
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Zalman H1? (nah, just got a Define R5)

Post by schuberth » Mon Jan 26, 2015 3:49 pm

I'm having some thermal issues with my build after upgrading from a reference GTX680 to G1 Gaming GTX970 video card. The setup is like this:
  • Case: old Chieftec 4x 5.25 external (used to be called mid tower, guess it qualifies as a full tower nowadays)
    Case fans: 1x NF-S12 and 2x NF-B9
    CPU: 3570K @ 4.5GHz
    MB: ASRock Z77 Extreme4
    Video: GTX970 G1 Gaming
    Cooler: Hyper 212 EVO (with a 12cm PWM fan off a Xigmatek 1283)
    Memory: 4x4GB 1600MHz CL9
    HDD: 2TB HD204UI (suspended)
    Optical drive
    Sound: SoundBlaster X-Fi with a front bay unit
    PSU: Seasonic S12 600W
The old reference GTX680 card was noisier but it pushed the hot air outside the case and I could run the fans at a decent (silent) speed. The new card is much quieter and it runs cooler but it dumps all the heat into the case and even after turning the fans way up (not max though), running Furmark + Prime95 (2 threads) causes BSOD once the case temp hits 43 degC or so. Without Furmark, CPU can run stable Prime95 with one of the cores reaching max 81 degC, but with Furmark I get BSOD before cores reaching 81 degC (temps according to SpeedFan and RealTemp).

Now, maybe I have a PSU problem also? The Seasonic is 7-8 years old and has two 12V rails rated 18A (216W per rail, 432W combined). With furmark + prime I'm pulling 440W from the wall socket and it could be that majority of that is hitting a single rail. Could that be the cause of the problem?

Anyway, all this got me thinking that it may be the time to look for a new home. I was thinking of Zalman H1. I can get it relatively cheaply, approximately for a price of a Fractal Design R5. Trouble is, I found only one decent review online: http://hexus.net/tech/reviews/chassis/75377-zalman-h1/. I like that it's spacious, got a video card support rail and ships with 3x 120mm plus 1x 200mm fans. But there is no dampening material applied and I'm not sure that the 200mm fan can get enough air in (it's mostly covered).

So what do you guys think? Opinions? Tips? Tricks?
Last edited by schuberth on Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

CA_Steve
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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by CA_Steve » Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:39 pm

Welcome to SPCR.

CMOS gates slow down with temp rise. So, my gut feel is the additional case temp caused your overclocked CPU/RAM to go from stable to BSOD. An easy test - set up a BIOS profile with a slower speed - maybe 4 or 4.2GHz instead of 4.5 and see if it's stable.

You don't mention the Seasonic model...the 500W bronze efficiency S12II provides 2 x 17A @ 12V for 408W combined. It's about 83% efficient at your load, so 444W at the wall is ~368W DC load. Figure 1 rail feeds the main mobo connector and the other your gfx card, and it should ok...considering the GTX 970 uses less power than the GTX 680.

Hexus site wouldn't resolve for me. There's a review at Tom's Hardware comparing the Zalman case to the Nanoxia DS6. Doesn't seem that impressive. I'd spend the money on the R5.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

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quest_for_silence
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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by quest_for_silence » Mon Jan 26, 2015 10:07 pm

CA_Steve wrote:You don't mention the Seasonic model...the 500W bronze efficiency S12II provides 2 x 17A @ 12V for 408W combined. It's about 83% efficient at your load, so 444W at the wall is ~368W DC load.
There's also the normal PSU temperature-driven derating: on those Seasonic units, typically every 10°C above 40°C (intake PSU temperature, which is basically unknown for the end-user) corresponds a 20% less power output, so whether the max power was 600W at 40°C, at 50°C you can't safely pull more than 480W from such a PSU (and referring to the 12V rails only, the rated power should be lowered from about 432W to about 346W). If you then take into account the components aging (it should be a 8-10 years old PSU), if you take into account that the G1 has an abnormally high power draw under FurMark (for comparison: GTX 980 G1 data), it would well be possible incurring in some problems under that scenario.

Definitely I don't think that Chieftec case may be blamed as the real or only culprit.

To answer to the OP question about enclosures: here in Italy the Zalman H1 is very expensive (much more than Fractal, for instance) and totally unproven, I'd look elsewhere, particularly with hot hardware as you have (and THG findings, although unreliable as well in my very humble and personal opinion, are rather worrisome: comparatively the H1 was hotter, noisier, pricier).
Regards,
Luca

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schuberth
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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by schuberth » Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:19 am

Thanks for the answers!

Some more details about the PSU. I bought it around 2006-2007 and it's the old model, not the S12II. Actually SPCR did a review on it: http://www.silentpcreview.com/article247-page1.html. It has 2x PCIe 6pin connectors and the video card requires 1x PCIe 6pin + 1x PCIe 8pin connection. So I use a 2x molex to PCIe 8pin cable to power the card. And because of that, without tearing the PSU apart and checking connections, I have no idea if the load from the card is balanced between the 12V rails.

But back to the cases. Currently I can get both the R5 and the H1 for about the same amount ~105-110 EUR. Hexus reviewed both with the same configuration (3570K 4.4GHz + 2x Radeon HD 7950 OC) and thermal performance wise H1 was better, while from a noise perspective they were approx the same. I'm considering H1 purely because it's a full tower. I have Antec Solo, which is housing my storage now. I moved back from Solo to Chieftec because I found it troublesome to manage all the stuff I've got in such a small case.

I'm surprised that you cannot resolve the site, it's UK based. Here are the performance table links for the reference. I'll also attach the graphs from the review.
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CA_Steve
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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by CA_Steve » Tue Jan 27, 2015 9:13 am

My guess is 32dBA may be Hexus' noise floor. They don't mention it in their test setup. The meter used has self noise of 26dBA and accuracy of 1.5dB. So, we don't know how the two cases compare at idle for noise...other than they both are good vs others tested.

Hey, give it a shot, if you are compelled. :)
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

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quest_for_silence
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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by quest_for_silence » Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:19 am

schuberth wrote:So I use a 2x molex to PCIe 8pin cable to power the card.

First of all, the additional two pins on the 8-pin PEG are just ground wires, so almost always any 6-pin PEG connector works flawlessly when plugged into any 8-pin socket, but at any rate, IMO you should have used a 6-to-8-pin adapter, and not the 2-molex-to-8-pin one (even if I think you did the same with the GTX 680). Just for the sake of completenes I'd try again plugging the second 6-pin PEG connector into the 8-pin socket.

schuberth wrote:from a noise perspective they were approx the same.

As said by CA_Steve, with a noise floor of 32dB you can't say anything meaningful about noise.
If you like the H1, buy it: as already said, the main concern (set aside money) is that it's mainly unproven, so do a test and report back to the community, please! :mrgreen:
Regards,
Luca

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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by CA_Steve » Tue Jan 27, 2015 12:11 pm

fyi - I am in favor of replacing the PSU, too. :D Less waste heat, quieter, less wall power used.

After that, your CPU cooler may be noticable/the weak link in an OC'd IVB CPU.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

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schuberth
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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by schuberth » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:47 pm

I've been playing with the overclock trying to get the system stable even with the furmark - and I think I've got it. I lowered the OC a notch to 4.4GHz and proceeded to undervolt everything except the memory. And it's working! Guess I was cooking the CPU until now :D

I'm still considering a new case, and a new PSU as you suggested. The PSU fan is not as quiet as it used to be and getting a modular one will make things neater. Maybe a nice 850W, to make it future proof for SLI? Have to take a look around as to what can I get locally for a good price.

And the case ... I'm pretty sure now not to experiment with H1. I like R5 more and more but I've got some practical questions:
  • The front bay unit of Sound Blaster X-Fi has some big knobs on it, which will probably stop me from completely closing the front door of R5. How much more noise can I expect with the door open?

    Also, the video card is 312mm long, while the R5 accommodates max 310mm cards (without taking out the drive bay). Considering that, how does the R5's big brother, the Define XL R2, compare to it from the noise point of view? I know that the fans are an older design and not as good but anything other than that against it?

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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by CA_Steve » Thu Jan 29, 2015 8:47 pm

schuberth wrote:I've been playing with the overclock trying to get the system stable even with the furmark - and I think I've got it. I lowered the OC a notch to 4.4GHz and proceeded to undervolt everything except the memory. And it's working! Guess I was cooking the CPU until now :D
Glad it worked.
schuberth wrote:I'm still considering a new case, and a new PSU as you suggested. The PSU fan is not as quiet as it used to be and getting a modular one will make things neater. Maybe a nice 850W, to make it future proof for SLI? Have to take a look around as to what can I get locally for a good price.
Gah, you used the phrase that must not be spoken. Ok, your stressed load is ~370W (DC). Add another 145W for the second GTX 970 for a total of 515W. Figure gaming load of 440W. So, look for a PSU that's quieter than everything else at that load. Don't need to go to 850W. 650W Platinum or 750W Gold efficiency should work.
schuberth wrote:The front bay unit of Sound Blaster X-Fi has some big knobs on it, which will probably stop me from completely closing the front door of R5. How much more noise can I expect with the door open?
I have the R4 and my dominant noise is the GTX 760 fans. I tried listening with the door open and closed and my dog's nails clicking on the wood floor below drowned it out. :) Trying again now that she's sleeping...barely noticable difference.
schuberth wrote:Also, the video card is 312mm long, while the R5 accommodates max 310mm cards (without taking out the drive bay). Considering that, how does the R5's big brother, the Define XL R2, compare to it from the noise point of view? I know that the fans are an older design and not as good but anything other than that against it?[/list]
Well, I'd turn it around and ask, why wouldn't you remove the drive cages? Especially with SLI, you are going to want as much unimpeded air flow as possible.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by quest_for_silence » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:02 pm

CA_Steve wrote:So, look for a PSU that's quieter than everything else at that load.

In EU an Enermax Platimax 600 should be fine for maybe around 110 euros (a pair of Gigabyte GTX 970 G1 cannot match the gaming noise floor of an ASUS GTX 960 Strix), as well as an EVGA SuperNOVA G2 750 for about the same money (personally I always look for a fully fanned unit, at first).

CA_Steve wrote:Especially with SLI, you are going to want as much unimpeded air flow as possible.

Set aside that, much more probably that not, where 310mm fit, also 312mm (so 0.2mm or 2 tenth of a mm or1/5 of a mm more) will do if you do take care, +1 for CA_Steve's advice: moreover, with just 1 single HDD (what about an SSD?) there's absolutely no need for a full height cage and your cooling prowess will improve even with just one card.
Last edited by quest_for_silence on Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Regards,
Luca

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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by xan_user » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:03 pm

CA_Steve wrote: Gah, you used the phrase that must not be spoken.
There really should be a mandatory $5 SPCR donation for every post using that phrase. :mrgreen:
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schuberth
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Re: Zalman H1?

Post by schuberth » Sat Feb 14, 2015 6:55 am

First of all, I want to thank you all for the sound advice you gave me! I went shopping, then did some relocation work and now I've got a much quieter PC then before :)

This is the stuff that I bought:
  • Fractal Define R5 Titanium Grey (windowless) case
    beQuiet! Straight Power E10 600W PSU
    Intel DC S3500 160GB SSD
    Scythe Slip Stream 120mm PWM adjustable SY1225SL12HPVC CPU fan (used)
The case is very nice, easier to work with than the old Chieftec. Also looks sturdy enough but the old one still beats it at the pure weight game (Chieftec is 1-2 kg heavier). I wanted to try something new so I removed the drive cages and went with placing the HDD on some foam. I'm not sure if it's because of this but I'm hearing less seek noise this way than while it was suspended in the old case. I've also repurposed the 120mm Noctua fan as a bottom intake, mounted it with rubber spacers instead of screws. I was also thinking of mounting the rest of the case fans the same way but the front intake looked problematic so I decided to try it as it is and only remount if needed. All 3 case fans (2x 140mm that came with the case + 120mm Noctua) are connected to the provided fan control switch set on minimum. Luckily I was also able to mount the X-Fi front bay unit deep enough that it doesn't obstruct the front panel door, which I can close completely.

NOTE: you can install the Gigabyte GTX 970 G1 Gaming (312mm per Gigabyte specification) and still use the drive cages (max. card length 310mm per case specification). I only removed them because I don't use them.

The PSU is sooo quiet! I think I'm in love with that fan ;) But I had to use 3 SATA/molex cables. One for the SSD, one for the HDD and one for the X-Fi front bay and for powering the integrated fan control switch. Also, I'm hearing less coil whine while benchmarking the video card. Not sure if it's because of the new PSU or the new case damping the sound.

I was lucky to get the Intel SSD. It's and enterprise grade SSD with power loss protection, 2 million MTBF and 100TB of lifetime writes guaranteed. Mounted it behind the M/B. It doesn't get much air and being an enterprise SSD is a bit hotter (30 deg idle). I've moved my system partition using clonezilla but ran into a problem I never had before with cloning - I've had to boot into Windows recovery and edit the registry from there. The automount feature of windows was persistent in trying to mount the old HDD partition into C:\ and not the new one. Solution was to delete the automount sub-tree and let Windows rebuild it upon first successful boot. I had to rearrange the rest of the drive letters but everything is working right now.

I've set the pot meter on the CPU fan to min and it runs at around 800 rpm. Basically you can't hear it from inside the case. When it ramps up it's noisy but less so that the old Xigmatek fan.

After all this there where two things that were bugging me. First was the too bright power / HDD activity LED on the top of the case and second was that the noisiest component left in the system was the GPU.

What to do with that LED? Easy, find a pair of unused cinema 3D glasses, cut out two small strips from both left and right eye screen, put them one over the other minding the orientation (should be aligned the same way as on glasses) and attach them over the LED with some transparent adhesive tape. Double polarization filters get the job done :mrgreen:

And what about the GPU? Use fan control software, you say. Well, there's only one problem. Gigabyte, in their endless wisdom, decided to set the minimum fan RPM to 1600 and fan throttle to 30%. You can't go lower then that - unless you mod the BIOS. After a bit of digging I found some forum posts one overclock.net and guru3d.com. Basically get the MaxwellBiosTweaker and NVFlash with certification disabled, export the BIOS with NVFlash or GPU-Z, mod the BIOS with MaxwellBiosTweaker, move the monitor the the CPU integrated GPU (make sure you've got the Intel drivers installed though), disable the GPU in the Device Manager. Flash the GPU. Pray. Reboot... And if all goes well re-enable the GPU, move the monitor back to the GPU. Success! 8) OK, it wasn't so easy, I had to flash the card 3 times. Turns out my particular GPU doesn't like minimum RPM below 1000 and according to some other forum posts you can't get it to run with fans stopped while idle. I've set minimum fan speed to 1050 RPM and 15%. Check the attached screenshot.

After all this I've got a quiet PC. It's not noiseless, I can still hear it humming under the table but with all the overclocking and undervolting applied I got a powerful and noisy beast for gaming and a nice purring kitty for browsing, watching movies, etc. It's pulling 72W from the wall with two displays attached to GPU and a virtual display on the iGPU (so I get Intel quicksync for H264 decoding). Under stress testing (prime + furmark), at 4.4GHz, it pulls max 414W from the wall. Not too shabby, I think.
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Re: Zalman H1? (nah, just got a Define R5)

Post by CA_Steve » Sat Feb 14, 2015 8:25 am

Congrats!
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1050 Ti Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic SSR-550FX. 35W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)

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