Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Got a shopping cart of parts that you want opinions on? Get advice from members on your planned or existing system (or upgrade).

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
Horseman
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:08 am

Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by Horseman » Wed Apr 20, 2016 4:13 pm

Hi guys,

I’m a long time forum user, registered almost 11 years ago (!), and after 8 years with a reasonably silent PC that I built with the precious help of SPCR, with a C2D 8400 and a Ninja cooler and a nice Antec case, I need to upgrade in the coming months to a faster system.

My setup is quite unusual – I’ll post a few images below – because I'm tetraplegic, with very low hand dexterity and sensibility, and I must stay in bed in a completely horizontal position for health reasons at least 16h per day. To partially circumvent these problems I designed from scratch several supports, for the screen and speakers, and another one to hold the keyboard in an inverted position. This allows me to watch movies, listen to music, write (mostly dictate), and all other related PC activity - lately I've diving more and more into 3D modeling and rendering - everything while being in a horizontal position.

My new PC will mandatorily have a powerful CPU – maybe a i7-6700K – but I’m determined to try to go as silent as possible. My current case (an Antec 182) is quite close to my head, which makes the overall noise level even more important, and having four 3.5’’ HDD’s also doesn’t help.

Question 1

My first question is regarding the case’s placement. Image 3 shows my current setup, with the Antec 182 on top of the cabinet. It’s in that position because this case is quite tall and doesn’t fit below the amplifier – which I can’t move – I need to have it near me.

As far as I can see, my only alternatives are
Image 4 – buying a smaller case, and placing it below the amplifier.
Image 5 - placing the case on the floor, closer to the door. My bedroom is a dusty environment, so it isn’t ideal, but maybe placing the case on some bricks could work.

Question 2

Related to the above, I’d like to know how much better a recent case is compared to my 8 year old Antec 182, in particular in the described situation. I’ll probably give my current PC to my brother, so if it’s necessary I’ll buy a new case. I already read several reviews and went through the cases subforum, cases such as the Fractal Design R5 seem great, but of course, my worry is getting the most adequate to one of these specific placements, so close to my left ear.

I'd appreciate immensely if you could give advice.
Thanks in advance for all suggestions.
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

boost
Posts: 661
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:29 am
Location: de_DE

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by boost » Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:13 am

To answer both your questions we need to know how many hard drives and what size hard drive (3.5" or 2.5") you plan to use.
Depending on the answer these drives could be the loudest component and their selection limits the selection of possible fitting cases.
If you need more than one or two drives you should consider putting them in an external enclosure or NAS and put that in a different room to reduce the noise level.
Lian Li V600, Asus P77Z-M Pro, i5-3570K 4.4GHz with Scythe Orochi, 140mm Slipstream 500RPM and Mugen2 115X Bolt through kit, Evga GTX 970 Superclocked, BeQuiet E9 580W CM

quest_for_silence
Posts: 5275
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:12 am
Location: ITALY

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by quest_for_silence » Thu Apr 21, 2016 1:42 am

Horseman wrote:having four 3.5’’ HDD’s also doesn’t help.

Why have you four 3.5" drives?

Horseman wrote:Image 5 - placing the case on the floor, closer to the door. My bedroom is a dusty environment, so it isn’t ideal, but maybe placing the case on some bricks could work.

Why do you think dust may be a problem on the floor? In case, it should be an issue under the amplifier too.

Horseman wrote:Question 2
Related to the above, I’d like to know how much better a recent case is compared to my 8 year old Antec 182, in particular in the described situation. I’ll probably give my current PC to my brother, so if it’s necessary I’ll buy a new case. I already read several reviews and went through the cases subforum, cases such as the Fractal Design R5 seem great, but of course, my worry is getting the most adequate to one of these specific placements, so close to my left ear.

It depends of your hardware too, but in my own, very personal opinion, the P183 has still a slight edge over the R5 (with the right fans, stock Antec ones are sub-par).

Said that, I think that the R5 or Define S should be adequate to that task, though knowing your complete/upcoming specs would help us to advice.
Regards,
Luca

Support SPCR, use these links when you buy: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg

Horseman
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:08 am

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by Horseman » Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:45 am

quest_for_silence wrote:It depends of your hardware too, but in my own, very personal opinion, the P183 has still a slight edge over the R5 (with the right fans, stock Antec ones are sub-par). Said that, I think that the R5 or Define S should be adequate to that task, though knowing your complete/upcoming specs would help us to advice.
Thank you. And interesting, I thought that after eight years the current cases would be better than my P182. If my current case is still considered very good, no point in getting another. Not having to buy another one would be great.

Specs

The PC that I have in mind is...
i7-6700K, 5820, or the new 6800K
16GB RAM
256GB SSD
three 3.5'' HDD
Geforce 970 or 960
a good PSU

boost wrote:To answer both your questions we need to know how many hard drives and what size hard drive (3.5" or 2.5") you plan to use.
Depending on the answer these drives could be the loudest component and their selection limits the selection of possible fitting cases.
If you need more than one or two drives you should consider putting them in an external enclosure or NAS and put that in a different room to reduce the noise level.
Thanks for posting. Sorry for not stating the components. My plan was to buy one SSD drive, and have at least three 3.5'' HDD drives, because that's what I currently have on my PC. At the moment I have two 2TB Western Digital Green drives, and one 3TB Western Digital Red drive.

NAS

I know that a NAS would be a great solution, but I think my budget can't stretch to also make a NAS. I guess I could use parts of my current PC to make one, but I'm also not very fond of having another machine consuming energy so many hours. I need the hard drives because while I work on the PC I'm online seething files for several trackers, so the NAS would have to be on exactly the same number of hours that my PC is.

But also, since I wouldn't want to have the NAS ON 24 hours per day, it would have to be easy to turn on and off. Ideally, from a distance, or if not, by someone who isn't very tech savvy.

Dust

My bedroom floor is quite dusty - I have a dog - so placing the PC on the floor isn't very viable. For most people this isn't an issue, but since I'm physically very limited the lower maintenance the PC is, the better. This includes cleaning the filters, for example.
I could put the case on some bricks, though, as showed in image 5.

Than you again for the suggestions.

CA_Steve
Moderator
Posts: 7452
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by CA_Steve » Thu Apr 21, 2016 8:05 am

Welcome back.

Dog and dust: Yeah, the amount of dirt/dust a dog can bring into the house (plus shedding) can be insane. While I was between dogs, I went from needing to sweep/vacuum every few days to a few weeks. So, a case on the floor with bottom intakes and small feet can be a concern. A slightly higher tech approach to bricks would be to get a small finished wood shelf from Home Depot, etc. and put feet or swivel rollers on the bottom. Put the case on this and you've gotten it above the doggy zone. You'd want to do this if you had a carpeted floor, anyway. Upside to the case on the floor is that it's significantly further away from your head.

Case on the lower cabinet shelf:
- If it's an open cabinet as shown, it could work. What are the dimensions of the space? Is it solid enough to not couple with any vibrations from the PC case?

gfx card: Not sure what your build timing is or how much gfx horsepower you need for 3D modeling, but.. Current rumor mill has Nvidia to introduce the high end Pascal cards in June (including the "GTX 1070") and the midrange around October (including "GTX 1060"). They are expected to provide a decent improvement in performance/watt.

SSD: 500GB Samsung 850 Evo is my preferred 256GB SSD :)

PSU: figure out the case first.

Horseman - what country are you in? This'll help with part selection.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 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)

xan_user
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 2269
Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Northern California.

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by xan_user » Thu Apr 21, 2016 5:48 pm

PC on floor with pets and or country living = silence nightmare. Those who havent experinced the insides of a comp under those conditions, just dont understand.
CA_Steve wrote:
SSD: 500GB Samsung 850 Evo is my preferred 256GB SSD :)
:mrgreen:

@ OP, what about a wall-mounted case, or just put your case on a shelf?
Or maybe it would be possible to just put PC in the next room and feed the cables you need though the common wall?
Help SPCR keep the lights on, use these links when you buy: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg

Horseman
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:08 am

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by Horseman » Fri Apr 22, 2016 6:04 am

xan_user wrote:@ OP, what about a wall-mounted case, or just put your case on a shelf?
Or maybe it would be possible to just put PC in the next room and feed the cables you need though the common wall?
Putting the PC in the next room isn't possible due to the cable that connects the amplifier to the PC. A wall-mounted case could work, tho, as long as the distance to the amplifier isn't too big. I just checked and changed my test 3d model -it's easier for me than sit and look at the real thing - it could be something like the option D displayed below. I'll put the four images together to be easier to compare.
options.jpg
Note - in position D the case would have to be placed with the back facing me, as showed in the image above. With A, B, and C this wouldn't be necessary, but maybe this isn't an issue since the distance to the head is bigger.
CA_Steve wrote:Dog and dust: Yeah, the amount of dirt/dust a dog can bring into the house (plus shedding) can be insane. While I was between dogs, I went from needing to sweep/vacuum every few days to a few weeks. So, a case on the floor with bottom intakes and small feet can be a concern. A slightly higher tech approach to bricks would be to get a small finished wood shelf from Home Depot, etc. and put feet or swivel rollers on the bottom. Put the case on this and you've gotten it above the doggy zone. You'd want to do this if you had a carpeted floor, anyway. Upside to the case on the floor is that it's significantly further away from your head.
Indeed. Ir'd have to be a thin shelf, just as wide as the PC case, to let the door open almost completely - because it's tricky to maneuver my electric wheelchair - but I think it would fit.
CA_Steve wrote:Case on the lower cabinet shelf:
- If it's an open cabinet as shown, it could work. What are the dimensions of the space? Is it solid enough to not couple with any vibrations from the PC case?
It's quite solid, yes. The dimensions of the lower part of the cabinet are 40cm wide, 48cm tall, and 60cm long. My Antec P182 doesn't fit there, but most PC cases do.
CA_Steve wrote:gfx card: Not sure what your build timing is or how much gfx horsepower you need for 3D modeling, b or ut.. Current rumor mill has Nvidia to introduce the high end Pascal cards in June (including the "GTX 1070") and the midrange around October (including "GTX 1060"). They are expected to provide a decent improvement in performance/watt.
I was planning to make the upgrade around July or August, but if the CPU has IGP I could wait till later to get a graphics card.
CA_Steve wrote:Horseman - what country are you in? This'll help with part selection.
I live in Europe. More precisely in sunny Portugal. :-)
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

xan_user
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 2269
Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Northern California.

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by xan_user » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:11 am

Putting the PC in the next room isn't possible due to the cable that connects the amplifier to the PC.
of course it is possible. I install/service whole home AV and PC servers in central EQ closets locations all the time.
you could either get a longer "cable", or put the amp in the next room as well, and just run the speaker wires and remote wire back to bedroom. (assuming amp/receiver can be operated via remote)
Help SPCR keep the lights on, use these links when you buy: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg

CA_Steve
Moderator
Posts: 7452
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by CA_Steve » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:27 am

Case on shelf: That's a nice size opening for the lower shelf. You could fit a Fractal Define R5 in there (232mm W x 462mm H x 531mm D). Or, the Fractal Define S, if you don't need an ODD. You can go with a smaller case, but...probably won't find a quieter one with a gaming card inside.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 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)

quest_for_silence
Posts: 5275
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2007 10:12 am
Location: ITALY

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by quest_for_silence » Fri Apr 22, 2016 7:55 am

xan_user wrote:assuming amp/receiver can be operated via remote

Alternatively the amp may stay where it already is: I had a somehow similar need, and ended up with an external FireWire audio interface hooked up to the amp, and a long FireWire cable to the case.
BTW, xan, how would you hook up the LCD monitor?
Regards,
Luca

Support SPCR, use these links when you buy: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg

rubiks22
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Apr 22, 2016 11:37 am

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by rubiks22 » Fri Apr 22, 2016 12:25 pm

I just upgraded my computer from a seven year old 90W Phenom II X3 720BE + Zalman CNPS9700 + Asus (Direct CU II) GTX 660 + 4 Hitachi/WD hard drives (two 7200 RPM) in a P182 (stock fans + Antec Tri-Cool added in the front, all controlled by speedfan) with an Antec Neo HE 550W PSU. This sat 1m from me on the floor (standard desk setup).

In the last week I just built a new i7-6700K + Scythe Kotetsu in a Fractal R5 (stock fans + an additional Antec TrueQuiet 140 in the front + an additional Antec TrueQuiet 140 on the bottom) powered by a SeaSonic X-850 (KM3). With only an SSD it was nearly silent. After I moved 3 of my old hard drives over and my old GTX 660 (waiting on Pascal cards). The sound increased slightly. The R5 does a good job of mitigating the idle-spin sound of the HDD's (though I can tell when they are spun up or down); HDD seek noises are fairly prominent though. This is 1m from me on top of my desk (large 1m x 2m desk).

Unfortunately my X-850 has an intermittent buzzing noise, while RMAing it swapped my old Neo HE 550 in and that's now the loudest thing in my case (though reasonably quiet, it's not silent like the X-850 under 450W).

My personal experience is that the Fractal R5 is a nice step up from my old P182. Part of this is likely my higher quality fans (for their size), and part of this I attribute to moving to larger fans. I used a tape measure, and my R5 is 3cm shorter and 3cm wider than my P182. I find the R5 easier to work inside than my P182. I also appreciate that's it's easy to configure the R5 to be a positive pressure case. Also the top fan on my P182 leaked a fair bit of noise, so I kept its vent-cover partially covered by a folded towel.

xan_user
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 2269
Joined: Sun May 21, 2006 9:09 am
Location: Northern California.

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by xan_user » Fri Apr 22, 2016 4:45 pm

quest_for_silence wrote: BTW, xan, how would you hook up the LCD monitor?
hdmi is good to ~50 feet. then you need a repeater/amp. there are also hdmi over cat 5 kits, for much longer distances.
Help SPCR keep the lights on, use these links when you buy: NCIX, Amazon and Newegg

baii
Posts: 69
Joined: Fri Nov 20, 2015 3:32 pm

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by baii » Fri Apr 22, 2016 5:30 pm

If you have always on hdd , they will most likeky to be the dominate noise. I dont really think energy consumption should be a real concern even if you are located energy expensive euro. Typically diy or off the shelf nas idle at 20-30w, which is like 2-3 led/ccfl bulb. And you can use network sleep/wake command or some easy bat with task schleduder so it can go into sleep for a few hours per day.

Wild Penguin
Posts: 82
Joined: Mon Jul 01, 2013 3:30 pm

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by Wild Penguin » Sat Apr 23, 2016 11:41 am

baii wrote:If you have always on hdd , they will most likeky to be the dominate noise. I dont really think energy consumption should be a real concern even if you are located energy expensive euro. Typically diy or off the shelf nas idle at 20-30w, which is like 2-3 led/ccfl bulb. And you can use network sleep/wake command or some easy bat with task schleduder so it can go into sleep for a few hours per day.
This is my thoughts, also. A NAS should be automate-able (so that it will start if a connection is tried), and should not consume that much electricity if left on 24/7 (it doesn't need a beefy CPU - and, actually one could outsource some 24/7 stuff onto a Linux-based NAS, for example torrent seeding is not CPU intensive). But I must admit that I haven't looked into this much, so I'm not certain about what is needed for wake-on-LAN setups; are there off-the-shelf consumer NASes with reasonable prices that can do this - and what bout current OSes and motherboards if building from scratch? Not to mention I have no idea of the price - which was an important point for the OP. Even if I happened to have spare hardware for this, considerable amount of time would be required to figure out how to setup it...

But in the future I will at some point most likely moving all large (and smaller non-OS) files into a NAS. To benefits are just a no-brainer ... in addition to eliminating noise, backups (with RAID and - if so desired - automated backups to somewhere off-site) and usage from multiple sources should be easier.

Horseman
Posts: 26
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2005 5:08 am

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by Horseman » Sun Apr 24, 2016 5:59 am

Thank you for all the posts. A lot of food for thought.

NAS

I never had a NAS, so maybe it's just the fear of the unknown, but I wonder if the trouble is worth it. Yesterday I spent a few hours reading about NAS, and I must admit that having all the data in one central location is very appealing, but having another layer of complexity scares me a bit. I always try to keep things as simple as possible - I don't even have a router - because whenever there is a problem I get stuck and have to wait days, weeks, or more, until it gets sorted. Even a simple disconnected cable can be a big headhache and go unnoticed for a long time, because I can't investigate it on my own.

My house is relatively old and isn't wired, has rather thick walls, and puting cables would be hard, so I would have to get powerline adapters, I think. I need to research this option a bit more to see if it's viable.

Considering everything, between the extra complexity risk and the extra cost of buying router, powerline adapters, and NAS, at least for now I think the best solution is probably to have the hard drives near me. To be honest, I'm not sure how much their noise will annoy me, and the moment the most noisy components on my PC are the fans, I think.

I'll keep researching this option, though, to know how much would cost a 4-bay NAS.

Amplifier

I didn't specify, sorry, it's a stereo amplifier that connects to the PC through a USB to RCA converter, so I could get a USB extension, but the biggest benefit of having the amplifier near me is to be able to easily adjust the volume, with the remote it's a lot harder due to my low hand dexterity. In addition to that, it also allows me to connect headphones to it. So, basically it really has to stay in that position.
rubiks22 wrote:I just upgraded my computer from a seven year old 90W Phenom II X3 720BE + Zalman CNPS9700 + Asus (Direct CU II) GTX 660 + 4 Hitachi/WD hard drives (two 7200 RPM) in a P182 (stock fans + Antec Tri-Cool added in the front, all controlled by speedfan) with an Antec Neo HE 550W PSU. This sat 1m from me on the floor (standard desk setup).

In the last week I just built a new i7-6700K + Scythe Kotetsu in a Fractal R5 (stock fans + an additional Antec TrueQuiet 140 in the front + an additional Antec TrueQuiet 140 on the bottom) powered by a SeaSonic X-850 (KM3). With only an SSD it was nearly silent. After I moved 3 of my old hard drives over and my old GTX 660 (waiting on Pascal cards). The sound increased slightly. The R5 does a good job of mitigating the idle-spin sound of the HDD's (though I can tell when they are spun up or down); HDD seek noises are fairly prominent though. This is 1m from me on top of my desk (large 1m x 2m desk).

Unfortunately my X-850 has an intermittent buzzing noise, while RMAing it swapped my old Neo HE 550 in and that's now the loudest thing in my case (though reasonably quiet, it's not silent like the X-850 under 450W).

My personal experience is that the Fractal R5 is a nice step up from my old P182. Part of this is likely my higher quality fans (for their size), and part of this I attribute to moving to larger fans. I used a tape measure, and my R5 is 3cm shorter and 3cm wider than my P182. I find the R5 easier to work inside than my P182. I also appreciate that's it's easy to configure the R5 to be a positive pressure case. Also the top fan on my P182 leaked a fair bit of noise, so I kept its vent-cover partially covered by a folded towel.
Very interesting, thanks for posting. I thought 2 fans wuld be enough for a system like yours, but according to you the two extra fans don't seem to make a very negative impact in the overall system noise level, that's reassuring.

Increasing the distance

Regarding the distance, obviously the higher it is the lower the noise, but I wonder if I could decrease it by blocking the direct path to my left ear. Basically, just placing some stuff on the bottom shelf, not sure exactly what, maybe even just a piece of wood placed vertically. Could this work? I know how sound works, it reflects on all surfaces, but maybe this would increase most paths' distance to be noticeable.
5b.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.

CA_Steve
Moderator
Posts: 7452
Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Location: St. Louis, MO

Re: Unusual setup – case and placement recommendations

Post by CA_Steve » Sun Apr 24, 2016 3:38 pm

Just a thought - start with the simplest solution and if that doesn't meet your needs, noise-wise, then iterate.

- Go with a case like the Fractal Define R5 or Define S that'll fit on the top shelf or the lower shelf. See if the noise performance meets your needs.
- If it doesn't, try to narrow down the noise source(s); HDDs, fans, etc. Tune as you can.
- If it doesn't meet your needs, then see what happens when you move the case another meter away..just by having someone move the shelving unit a meter away for a short period of time while you assess.
- If this doesn't do it, then you could try adding a noise blocking material to the side of the shelf facing you as well as the side facing the wall (the latter so you don't get reflected noise). You could do this with the case on the lower shelf...but you still want several centimeters between the rear of the case and the new wall so the exhaust airflow isn't restricted. Oh! Is there a reason why the rear of the case is facing the bed and not the front? Front is a little quieter.
- etc..

Anyway, no reason to build a NAS or drill holes in the wall until you've depleted the other options.
1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, Asrock Z97 Anniversary, MSI GTX 1660 Gaming X, 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)

Post Reply