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
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!
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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