First attempt with an Antec Sonata - Advice please!

Enclosures and acoustic damping to help quiet them.

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RichK
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Location: Reading, UK

First attempt with an Antec Sonata - Advice please!

Post by RichK » Mon Nov 10, 2003 7:12 am

Hi,

I've been reading the site and forums for a while preparing for my first attempt at building a very quiet PC. I'm not quite at the quietness for quietness sake stage yet :wink: but I'd welcome some advice on what simple mods I could make to the system as quiet as reasonable possible before diminishing returns start to kick in and make further mods impractical.

I've ordered this lot:

Antec Sonata
AcoustiPack pre-cut sonata dampening kit
Asus A7N8X Deluxe
AMD 2800+ Barton 333
Corsair TWIN-X 3200 matched 2x 256mb
Zalman 7000A Cu
Saphire Radeon 9600 Pro ("ultimate" passive cooled)
Samsung Spinpoint 160Gb 8mb cache
LG "multi" DVD writer

My initial questions are:

Is it worth performing the L1A PSu fan swap?
Does the supplied rear 120mm case fan need replacing / undervolting? (how?)
Do I need to consider a front case fan? Will a 92mm Panaflo cut it (I can get those here in the UK but not the 120mm).

Did I see a review / description on how to mod an Antec Sonata for extra quietness or was I just imagining it? Apologies if I've missed an obvious post on this before - I tried a number of searches but didn't see anything obvious...

Many thanks for any help!

(PS: A BIG thank you already due to Ralf Hutter and others for their very useful reviews and posts that have in most part helped my arrive at this already hopefully very quiet spec!)

davidstone28
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Post by davidstone28 » Mon Nov 10, 2003 8:06 am

Okay, this doesn't answer your question, but I was wondering where you bought the Sonata pre-cut acoustipack stuff from? I can only find the (non Sonata) versions sold in the UK. Any info would be appreciated?

RichK
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Post by RichK » Mon Nov 10, 2003 8:13 am

I got mine from QuietPC.com. Here's the link.

http://www.quietpc.com/uk/materials.php#antec

It's about £44 inc. VAT and shipping.

davidstone28
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Post by davidstone28 » Mon Nov 10, 2003 9:40 am

Thanks for the info. That Sonata pre-cut stuff looks strange though - the deluxe version seems to be egg box shaped (better for sound reduction) whereas the Sonata pre-cut version just have flat pieces of material. What figures?

There are suggestions for modding here:-
http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=7911

The PSU fan mod would be worth it from a noise point of view (its the loudest thing in my system) and a few people seem to have modded it successful. The thing that concerns me is that the PSU runs hot already (the exhausted air will warm your hands on a cold day if you put them against the PSU fan grill). Since I leave my PC on 24/7, I'm concerned about the temps if I were to mod it to 5V.

If you want to 5v the case fan, just swap the red and black connectors around on the molex connector. There's loads of info on how to do that in the forums. Just have a search. Not worth doing though unless you sort the PSU fan out first since its the noisest thing in the system.

Apart from that, I don't think there are any more mods that you need to do - the CPU fan (as far as I'm aware) will be silent (20db) and adjustable and the graphics card will be silent as well.

It's a bit of a paradox that the loudest thing in your system will be the case which they market with the phrase "Hear the Silence"....

RichK
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Post by RichK » Mon Nov 10, 2003 10:20 am

The PSU fan mod would be worth it from a noise point of view (its the loudest thing in my system) and a few people seem to have modded it successful. The thing that concerns me is that the PSU runs hot already (the exhausted air will warm your hands on a cold day if you put them against the PSU fan grill). Since I leave my PC on 24/7, I'm concerned about the temps if I were to mod it to 5V.
Indeed! Although I see reports in the forums that people modify the PSU quite happily I'm worried that I'll burn my bloody house down which will upset the wife no end. Maybe the best thing to do is save my pennies and if/when the Sonata PSU starts to annoy me, go a buy a Seasonic or something. I've seen OEM models of the SPCR recommended models advertised in the UK.

Thanks for the other advice as well. I think I'll assemble the bits and have a listen before I start (inevitably) messing with it for no good reason :)

Kaizen
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Post by Kaizen » Mon Nov 10, 2003 2:15 pm

Hi RichK

Please keep us informed as to the outcome of this. It's similarly specced (a lot higher actually) to the machine I want to put together as a home server. Also your link to the AcoustiPack stuff is great as I'm a stone's throw from your neck of the woods.

Thanks again!

Ana
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Post by Ana » Thu Nov 20, 2003 10:04 am

What do you think, is it worth the cost to switch the 120 mm case fan from
the Sonata case to a different model with a Fan Mate to undervolt it more
silent? At the time the case fan is making the most noise on my setup,
alongside with the PSU fan, which is just slightly less noisy. Do you people
usually swap the Antec 120mm, and to what? I'm not going to swap the
PSU fan, because I once had a very bad experience with a faulty PSU and
those things make me slightly paranoid already. The faulty PSU nearly
burned my whole house down, and it took four days to get rid of the smell
of burnt electronics.

By the way, please, bare with me and my questions, I'm a noob :)

RichK
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Post by RichK » Thu Nov 20, 2003 10:22 am

Hi Ana,

I share your views on PSU modding. I too am completely new to this stuff.

I'm still waiting on a number of components from suppliers before I can build my PC so I haven't heard it yet. However, my plan is this:

If the PSU fan is too loud for me to bare then I'll buy a Nexus 3000 or something as I can get them here in the UK. I'd rather spend the cash than worry about a fan breaking in my PSU - I'd just stress about the house burning down :shock:

If the case fan is too loud then I'll undervolt it using the pin swap method of getting 7v from the 4 pin connector described in a number of threads in this forums. Failing that I'd replace it with an undervolted Panaflo 120mm.

Hope that helps! I'll let you know when I have mine built and spun up.

kesv
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Post by kesv » Thu Nov 20, 2003 10:27 am

Ana wrote:What do you think, is it worth the cost to switch the 120 mm case fan from the Sonata case to a different model with a Fan Mate to undervolt it more
silent?
The fan that came with my 3700 AMB is actually quite usable. It stalls
at 2.3V which is the lowest figure I've seen and is reasonably quiet at
5v. So undervolting the original fan with a Fan Mate is certainly an
option.
Ana wrote: Do you people usually swap the Antec 120mm, and to what?
Currently I'm using a Papst 4412 FGL. The major downside is the
high price. Even this fan needs to be undervolted, so you are not
going to get around buying that Fan Mate.

Ana
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Post by Ana » Thu Nov 20, 2003 10:29 am

RichK wrote:Hi Ana,

I share your views on PSU modding. I too am completely new to this stuff.

I'm still waiting on a number of components from suppliers before I can build my PC so I haven't heard it yet. However, my plan is this:

If the PSU fan is too loud for me to bare then I'll buy a Nexus 3000 or something as I can get them here in the UK. I'd rather spend the cash than worry about a fan breaking in my PSU - I'd just stress about the house burning down :shock:
Yeah, and opening that thing scares me too, since I know very little about
electronics. A wrong poke, a zap and some bad luck is all it takes to silen-
ce me for good :( The PSU stays as it is :) If I get fed up with the hum
I'll buy a more silent one.
RichK wrote: If the case fan is too loud then I'll undervolt it using the pin swap method of getting 7v from the 4 pin connector described in a number of threads in this forums. Failing that I'd replace it with an undervolted Panaflo 120mm.

Hope that helps! I'll let you know when I have mine built and spun up.
The Sonata case already has an undervolted "Fan only" 4-pin connector,
and I think it has some kind of a thermal rotation speed variation
scheme, though I'm not sure. The fan attached to that connector (the
aforementioned 120mm) is already quite silent, I was just thinking is it
as silent as the 120mm (being the only fan in the case) can get without
compromising temperatures too much? I already cut the grill out from the
front bezel, it being so obviously useless and obstructing airflow.

Ana
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Post by Ana » Thu Nov 20, 2003 10:34 am

kesv wrote:
The fan that came with my 3700 AMB is actually quite usable. It stalls
at 2.3V which is the lowest figure I've seen and is reasonably quiet at
5v. So undervolting the original fan with a Fan Mate is certainly an
option.
Yeah, but the sonata is already undervolted, though I'm not sure how
much. And the Antec 120mm supplied with the case has a 4-pin molex
connector, so attaching it to a fan mate means more wirework or adapters
and I'm really averse to both :) I want to keep the case as tidy as
possible..

kesv wrote:
Ana wrote: Do you people usually swap the Antec 120mm, and to what?
Currently I'm using a Papst 4412 FGL. The major downside is the
high price. Even this fan needs to be undervolted, so you are not
going to get around buying that Fan Mate.
It's a 30 € hit, then.. Not something I'm willing to pay for half a dB(A).

Tom Brown
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Re: First attempt with an Antec Sonata - Advice please!

Post by Tom Brown » Thu Nov 20, 2003 1:52 pm

RichK wrote:Is it worth performing the L1A PSu fan swap?
Does the supplied rear 120mm case fan need replacing / undervolting? (how?)
Do I need to consider a front case fan? Will a 92mm Panaflo cut it (I can get those here in the UK but not the 120mm).
I think the L1A PSU swap is very much worth it. At the same time, bend the intake slats on the PSU parallel to the airflow so it can breathe more easily. this also has the effect of raising the base case temperature voltage ramp on the fan-only circuits which, in my opinion, is a good thing.

The stock Antec case fan is fine. If the "Fan Only" voltage ramp is too aggressive for you, just run the 120mm fan at 5v. The Antec 120mm fan has a low pitch hum but at low voltages, it is not detectable except from within a couple of feet. With the stock 120mm fan and an L1A in the PSU, the system can be roughly silent, even at pretty close range. You will be up against your hard disk then.

Forget the front case fan but consider opening up the vent at the bottom of the bezel (I used some aviation snips and just cut it out) and knock out the two top slats behind the front bezel intake. Those slats don't do anything except block airflow.

If you go for a fan bus controller, make sure it can go down to 5 volts. Many of them can't and it will end up louder than just running it on 5v.


-- Tom
Modded Antec Sonata

RichK
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Location: Reading, UK

Post by RichK » Fri Nov 21, 2003 3:34 am

Tom - Thanks! I'm going to mod the slats on the PSU but I'm not to confident about swapping the fan out. I'll post another question re: Fan swap vs. new quieter PSU in the appropriate forum area to see what advise I get.

As for the Fan bus controller - point taken - I'll make sure it can make it's way down to 5v. Care to recommend one? :)

Tom Brown
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Post by Tom Brown » Fri Nov 21, 2003 12:26 pm

I'm not that familiar with the various bus controllers, Rich. I browsed a lot of specs but the only controllers I've actually used are the Nexus and the Sunbeam Rheobus. I like the Sunbeam. They are extremely simple. It's just a 0 -> 11.5 volt pot for each channel.

I run my 120mm Antec around 4.5 volts.

Others here are far more versed on bus controllers.


-- Tom
Modded Antec Sonata

spacey
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Post by spacey » Fri Nov 21, 2003 1:21 pm

i just bent the slots on mine yesterday, and installed a vantec nxp-305 fan controller. i got the black one so it matches.

see the pictures here:

http://www.macpham.com/gallery/view_alb ... m47&page=4
Case: [b]Lian-Li X900[/b] || CPU: i7 930 @ 3.88 GHz
CPU HSF: Noctua NH-D14 || Mobo: Gigabyte GA-X58A-UD3R (rev. 2.0)
RAM: G.Skill 6GB || OCZ Vertex 2 60 GB x 2 (RAID 0)
GPU: Gigbyte 670 GTX OC || PSU: Corsair HX750
Display: Dell 2405FPW
Computer is almost whisper quiet...

aphonos
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Post by aphonos » Fri Nov 21, 2003 1:47 pm

spacey wrote:i just bent the slots on mine yesterday, and installed a vantec nxp-305 fan controller. i got the black one so it matches.

see the pictures here:

http://www.macpham.com/gallery/view_alb ... m47&page=4
The vantec controllers are PWM (can cause some fan chatter at lower speeds) and by all accounts around here, have a electrical buzz of their own. Not recommended for a quiet machine unless these problems have been fixed.

RichK: A reminder to check out the controller reviews in the Fans & Control section of the main site.

I've been happy with the Zalman ZM-MFC1, since I know that the lower limit is ~5v, so I won't unwittingly turn my fans all the way off. Others like to be able to turn the fan all the way off or below 5V and go with the Sunbeam.

JVM
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Post by JVM » Fri Nov 21, 2003 5:25 pm

aphonos wrote:
spacey wrote:i just bent the slots on mine yesterday, and installed a vantec nxp-305 fan controller. i got the black one so it matches.

see the pictures here:

http://www.macpham.com/gallery/view_alb ... m47&page=4
The vantec controllers are PWM (can cause some fan chatter at lower speeds) and by all accounts around here, have a electrical buzz of their own. Not recommended for a quiet machine unless these problems have been fixed.

RichK: A reminder to check out the controller reviews in the Fans & Control section of the main site.

I've been happy with the Zalman ZM-MFC1, since I know that the lower limit is ~5v, so I won't unwittingly turn my fans all the way off. Others like to be able to turn the fan all the way off or below 5V and go with the Sunbeam.
If just going to set it at 5 volts, then how about a Zalman Fan mate?

energy
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Post by energy » Mon Nov 24, 2003 9:38 am

By far the loudest part in your system will be the PSU fan. From previous experience, and what others have already said, it runs pretty hot as is, and I personally wouldn't recommend using a Panaflo L1a in there. Instead, get something quality from FSP/Sparkle/etc and then mod the fan, or pick up a ready quiet solution like an FSP300-60PN or Nexus of some sort. The rear 120mm fan is thermally controlled by a connector on the TruePower PSU that ships with the Sonata. If/when you change PSU, you will not have this functionality but it is quiet and effective enough at 5 volts if you mod the front of the case to allow proper airflow.

RichK
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Post by RichK » Mon Nov 24, 2003 2:16 pm

Thanks to you all for the advice. I'm going to assemble the bits and see how it sounds first. If, as I expect, the PSU is too loud then I'll probably just buy the Seasonic SS-300 from the recommended list as I can get an OEM'd version here in the UK.

As for the case front panel mod. Can someone tell me exactly what bits of the case you suggest cutting out? The front has two removable pieces. The main part has silly plastic strips covering the air intake which I could happily cut out. Are you also suggesting that I cut out the intake space on the additional front bezel piece to allow more air to be drawn in from the bottom?

energy
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Post by energy » Mon Nov 24, 2003 3:23 pm

The part you should cut out is that small hole underneath the front bezel - it can be easily enlarged. As you said, those two silly strips should also be removed.

lenny
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Post by lenny » Mon Nov 24, 2003 3:26 pm

I also removed the two blue LEDs. They don't add any noise, and power consumption is likely minimal (50 mA? Didn't bother to measure) but I don't feel that they add anything to the look of the case, and getting rid of the extra cable is always a nice thing for me. I just pushed on the lens part of the LED and they popped right out.

energy
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Post by energy » Mon Nov 24, 2003 5:14 pm

I've hooked them up as hard drive LEDs - useful as I can hardly hear the drives.

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