A Man's Noble Quest to [Quiet] a PC

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Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:16 am
Location: Australia

A Man's Noble Quest to [Quiet] a PC

Post by Slashor » Wed Sep 17, 2008 8:59 pm

My Rig

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-M55SLI-S4 motherboard
CPU: AMD Athlon 64 X2 (AM2) 6000+
RAM: Corsair DDR2 2GB PC-5300 (1GBx2) Value Select (VS2GBKIT667D2), 1 x 1GB RAM chip (forget the brand)

Case: Thermaltake Matrix Black Case with 430W, VD2430BNS (I think the PSU is actually rated a bit higher from memory)
Fans (Extra): 120mm SmartCool Case Fan
CPU Heatsink/Fan combo: Zalman CNPS9500 AM2
Thermal Paste: Antec Silver Thermal Compound

Hard Drives: 1 x WD Raptor 74Gb, 2 x WD 320Gb 7200 16Mb Cache SATA 2

Optical 2: Some Samsung DVD burner

Speakers: Logitech Z-4 2.1 Speakers
Keyboard: Logitech G-15 Gaming Keyboard rev 1
Mouse: Logitech G5 Laser Mouse
Monitor: Dell UltraSharpâ„¢ 2408WFP 24" Widescreen Flat Panel Monitor
OS: Windows XP (Home) SP3

The 120mm SmartCool Case Fan is mounted in front of the hard drives currently and is a lot quieter than the CPU or PSU fans (PSU has two 80mm fans, one on the bottom and one for exhaust). I currently have no issues with cooling although during summer the 120mm fan will go back on because it gets hot here. Both the hard drives and optical drives cause the case to vibrate and simply putting my hand on the case stops that noise.

A few questions, I have been researching parts and most of what has been mentioned on the website and forums here is available from http://www.pccasegear.com.au or http://www.centrecom.com.au.

I don't really plan to upgrade any of my components this round as my PC is more than adequate for my gaming needs and easily covers basic windows tasks. I don't have some particularly strange restarting errors on startup. I don't have anything much in mind for a budget to quieten my PC but I figure about AU$500 is the top range considering I won't be buying upgrading the specs.

1) Without some hefty modifications to my case it simply bleeds noise due to the entire front of the case being a grill. It is also not super sturdy and so vibrates. I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the P182 would be a good long term replacement for my current case but have also heard good things about the Antec Solo. The Solo has the benefit of already have soft mounted hard drives but the P182 would seem to give me far greater long term options for silencing.

2) I have two 7600GS card's (that I would SLI) with a small heatsink/fan combo. Are there any good options for cooling these either passively or at least a lot quieter? My best idea is to pull off the fans and plastic casing and stick a 120mm fan to blow over them instead. I have something similar to this in my parents case. It has an 80mm fan cable tied to the below slot blowing directly on to the video card. Remarkably effective at cooling it.

Will either Solo or P182 cope well an SLI system with higher powered graphics cards that I will eventually upgrade to? (Perhaps one year from now) My new monitor wants better graphics capabilities driving it and I am loathe to say no to it.

3) I am thinking at the same time I can upgrade my power supply to a Enermax Modu82+ 625. Is the PSU giving me too much grunt for my needs and so perhaps a lower watt version would be more beneficial to my wallet? (It will be available at the store in a few weeks so all is good there.)

4) I will drop the two DVD drives (both use an IDE conenction) which I have never used together for a single SATA drive. Are there any suggestions for a "silent" drive here or are they much of a muchness?

5) Will I gain much benefit from replacing the stock 92mm fan on the Zalman heatsink for a third party 92mm fan? I have seen it done on these forums and it seems within my technical capability to do.

6) I am think of shafting my two 320GB hard drives (one is partially corrupt anyways). Would a WD Caviar Green Power WD7500AACS sound a lot different to my current two 320GB drives. They are mostly used for backup with almost all work done from the 74GB raptor. I would be planning to use the 2nd 750GB as a backup for the first which is roughly how my current situation works.

7) I am thinking of modding the drawers of my wooden desk to hold my PC. Would be too hard, just take my circular saw to the front and back of part of it to create vents. I was then thinking of filling the rest of the space with heavy foam leaving only the back and front of the PC uncovered. Would think cause any thermal issues?

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Joined: Tue Aug 12, 2008 4:51 am
Location: Melbourne

Post by tuz » Wed Sep 17, 2008 11:05 pm

Hi, I've ordered a lot of parts from PC Case Gear over the past 3 months and found their service to be excellent, I'd strongly recommend them over CentreCom (heard of some dodgy customer service issues going on over there). My orders from PCCG have been really well packed and they have all arrived ~2-3 working days after I put the order in.

Regarding some of your questions... my 2c..

1) the Solo and the P182 are both great cases, I went for the Solo myself because I wanted the stock suspension. To be honest, though, the silicon grommet method is already a huge improvement over normal screw mounting of hard drives, especially if the hard drives are relatively noisy to begin with.

2) Hmm I'd probably just try that out with Furmark/ATI Tool/some other video card stress test and see how it goes for an hour or so. 7600GS's don't put out that much heat so you should be OK. If you were going to keep the cards for longer I'd suggest slapping an Accelero S1 on each and running them both passively (although it'd be overkill for those cards, lol), as long as case airflow is good and you're running it with negative pressure they'll be great... Actually, when you eventually replace the 7600GS's you could reuse the Accelero's and put the stock 7600GS heatsinks back on. I *think* you can get a flexible SLI cable from AC - try the Accelero info page on their website, there's a link to their online shop.

3) Depends what cards you want to get in the future (sounds like you want to SLI them as well). This page might help.

4) I hear most brands are very similar, you can get quieter performance from slowing them down through 3rd party software though

7) My case sits inside a space similar to the ones you're describing, with vents to let heat out around the top of the cavity. My temps are slightly warmer, 1-2 degrees more compared to when its out on top of the desk... not really a game breaker. I've seen some people's mods in the gallery section where they added a slow 120mm fan to their TV cabinet to help exhaust air, it could be an option especially with our hot summers.

Hope it helps and good luck!

Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:16 am
Location: Australia

Post by Slashor » Thu Sep 18, 2008 1:23 am

I have drop many thousands on Centrecom simply because they are the cheapest (albeit smaller range of stock) and providing I don't need to call them they are perfectly fine. Never had an issue with packing or speed of service. I haven't bought from PCCG though so good to hear they do a good job.

Those Accelero's would be a bit of overkill in pricing. I spent $40 for both cards together with a single Accelero just under that price. I am not too worried about wrecking either card at that price. I bought them mostly for "testing" things.

It would seem that any case over 40cms would not fit in foam packing in my modified drawer idea. I guess I could drill some hooks in to the bottom of the table (very thick wood) and suspend it like so. Would remove the idea of packing foam against the sides though.

Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:16 am
Location: Australia

Post by Slashor » Wed Sep 24, 2008 6:57 pm

After some thought and some look at the internals of my case I have decided to still with the Thermaltake Matrix. This image shows the side of my case very well.

I have a semi-smart idea for the hard drive bay. Currently it would seem if you want to soft mount a hard drive in the top bays you also need to provide some extra cooling in the form or a fan blowing over them or some heatsinks attached to the sides. The plan would be to move the hard drive bay sides by popping the rivets out, drilling new holes and then connecting it up again. That would then give me the extra width to mount the three hard drives I have on some elastic type material such as elastic. :)

This store Blacktea Tech has all the PSU I am after and has the Noctua NF-S12 in stock as well which seem like a good replacement for my current two 120mm fans which will go to a PC I have lent my parents. Has anyone had any experience with this store?

I am also on the hunt for some dampening material for the sides of my case as they tend to vibrate quite easily. Are there any decent ghetto solutions here as I don't feel like paying through my nose for a commercial product?

With roughly the basic components kept the same is a 625 watt PSU overkill or will a 525 allow more than enough upgradability in the future?

Posts: 6
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 4:16 am
Location: Australia

Post by Slashor » Mon Oct 06, 2008 7:46 pm

I had a bout of activity on the weekend and suspended my hard drives with elastic, rerouted all my cables for lots better airflow, cut out a fan grill and mounted a 120mm fan in the top drive bay for great justice. I do however lack some fans now and so gotta buy some. I have checked the dimensions on the Scythe Kaze Maru and I could fit two of them in the front of my case easily enough to basically cool the hard drives and supply fresh air to the rest of the system. Has anyone had any experience with them in terms of noise? I would be looking at the 1200rpm variety.

It would also seem one of my stupid fans has acquired a squeak that doesn't seem to be attributed to speed or heat but my 5v undervolted fan is working rather nicely thanks to some good faqs on this forum.

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