Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

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Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:20 pm

Hello!

My current system is annoying me with heat and noise. I can handle one, but both are having an additive effect on my mood. Or would be a subtractive effect? :) A philosophical question for another time, I suppose.

My case sits on a wheeled support about 4" above the floor. That makes it easier for me to move it when performing service on it. The locking castors provide stability during normal use. The front of the case is about two feet in front of my face and about two feet to the right of my right foot. When I am seated, I think my ears are about 4.5 feet from the ground and maybe a little bit farther than that from the front of the case. Due to the mixer controllers on my desk, I need to sit "back" from the screen(s) a bit. Because of this, there is a sort of a line-of-sight from the case to my head. Nothing to baffle or slow down the sound waves coming from the case. I have thought about pushing the case farther under the desk, toward the wall, but with my bad back, that would just make it harder to reach the DVD tray and front-panel camera card reader slots, etc.

As mentioned above, my system also heats up the room a bit, but that is probably due to my Q6600 CPU, the 850 watt PSU and the two Nvidia 6200/GT graphic cards.

A system upgrade will probably use cooler-operating components, so I probably only have to deal with the heat issue until my next rebuild. For long-term budgeting reasons, I'm hoping to hold out on a major system upgrade until 2011 or 2012. In the meantime, I think I'm willing to upgrade the case, especially if there's a good chance that I could cut my noise levels by half, even though it will do little to mitigate the warmer room temperature at the moment.

And I think there is an excellent chance of reducing my noise levels by half (or better).

My current case is a six year old mid-tower with a snorkel hole on top (no fan; wouldn't fit with my True-whatever-850 PSU in place). It also has a big plexi-window and a fan port on the left side. That side port has an 80mm fan mounted and blowing inward, no doubt casting some sound laterally along the floor and reflecting some of it up to my ears. The front of the case also has four 80mm fans blasting inward at full-bore with a direct-from-front path for the air going into the case (and for the sound coming out of the case), a carryover setup from the former occupant, a dual Opteron system that ran even hotter than the current system. That Opty rig was hot enough to keep a New Hampshire cabin warm in February. With the front door open!

I'm almost positive that 90% of the noise comes from the case top, front, and the left-side, nearly directly toward my head. Due to the wiring configuration of my electrical and music gear, plus the monitors, keyboard, trackballs, and KVM I have, it will be difficult and not convenient to relocate the case. Therefore, I am thinking of replacing the case with a Sonata III or another quiet case alternative.

I think I can reduce my system noise an awful lot by replacing my case with a case that:

Has no plexi side panels and includes sound deadening for the side panels
Has no side hole or fan
Has no snorkel (top) hole or fan
Has one bigger and slower fan for front of case
Has one bigger and slower fan for back of case
Has no open front, or at least has sound deadening, baffling, or maybe filtered front intakes

Note: Hard drive noise is currently a non-issue because all those fans is like living next to an airport anyhow. When an MD-80 is taking off next to your house with full afterburners on, you rarely notice the next door neighbor's dog barking its fool head off. :-? Anyhow, I'll deal with hard drive noise if/when it becomes an issue.

I would like to take proper readings before and after. Accurate measurement will help me figure out how far I may be able to improve the situation and will confirm whether or not I'm on the right track. And depending on the results of my "after" measurements, I could decide whether or not to try liquid cooling down the road.

I have a Radio Shack sound pressure meter. I'm confident in its accuracy for this project, but I'm not really sure how to go about this. By the way, it's fascinating (and very geeky) to take the SPM into libraries, restaurants, and ballgames. But that's just to satisfy idle curiosity. For this project, I would like to measure my PC's noise levels more accurately than I might measure the noise levels in a bar. What is the proper way to measure my own sound levels? I mean, besides "point and shoot". I guess maybe I can just hold the SPM in front of my head in my seated position (or from various positions), and just take measurements that way.

I already have numerous temperature probes arranged at various places in the case (near heat sinks and such), so I should be able to accurately measure ambient in-case temps and compare the heat in the old case to the heat in the new case. I understand that a new case with fewer holes will probably run somewhat warmer. I just don't want to have an oven cooking my components.

Any thoughts? I've seen that other site, the "silent PC" one. But as somebody else said in another thread, that site seems be lacking in current updates.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Mon Apr 19, 2010 5:39 pm

Antec Solo. Built a number of systems using it and its very quiet.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:29 pm

Thank you, I shall include it in my research.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Tue Apr 20, 2010 1:46 pm

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811119216

Coolermaster 690 II

I own the original 690, and although it breaks almost all your criteria, it moves a ton of air and can be very quiet with the correct 120/140mm fans.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:23 pm

Bigger fans= more air moved with a lower fan speed= quieter case.

Xclio cases have massive fans. I personally use this one
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6811103010

Its as close to toolless as cases get, lots of room, and USB ports on top.

It has 2x 250mm intakes, and I installed a 120mm blower on the back, so I have massive airflow even at low speeds. Is a cheap price for an LED lit full tower too.

If you got money, there is a newer verison out.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... -_-Product

Has a bigger side fan (360mm) but I cant say anything about it from personal experience.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Tue Apr 20, 2010 2:52 pm

Antec Solo is more of a Sonata + NSK hybrid. I would think the P183 is a "classier" choice, with the padded sideboards and stuff.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:20 pm

Thanks, Folks:

A question for you. A couple of you have shown me cases that have clear windows and/or side fans and/or top fans. My impression has always been that clear case windows will allow more noise out, and that the additional openings in the case will allow fan noise (which is probably 90 to 95% of the noise generated by a PC) to escape.

Maybe my understanding is a bit lacking and the sound from an open case design is not significant as long as the fans are huge?

By the way, those XCLIO cases are amazing. They look like the front of the Batmobile! But really, what are the noise levels? Or is the noise negligible because of the two ginormous fans? I would still think that there might be issues with the PSU, CPU, and GPU fans all helping to make noise inside of that (very) porous case. And with little to stop it, some of that noise is bound to escape.

I'm thinking that the one exception might be if I went with a water-cooled system. That removes the CPU and maybe the GPU fans from the equation, replacing them with whatever radiator fan might be needed by the water cooler.

Barring that (and I don't plan to implement water cooling unless I've tried everything else and still want it quieter), I'm under the impression that one of those Antec cases would be a better choice for quieting things down a bit, simply because of the closed case design and the extra baffling/sound absorbent matting.

Help me understand this better, and as always, thanks!
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Tue Apr 20, 2010 3:42 pm

I almost forgot to tell you that after I made my first post, I checked my SPM. Apparently it only registers down to 50 DB. I may need to obtain one that can register quieter sounds. But scarily enough, noise was still measurable. :o

Noise levels appear as follows:

From my right ear to front panel of the PC (distance 2.5 feet):
~55 db

From directly in front of the PC (distance 2 feet):
~60 db

From my nose to the side-fan on the PC (with my keyboard retracted under the desk; distance 3 feet):
~56 db

That's pretty loud. It's no wonder I occasionally get a headache. :-?

I'm curious if disabling two or more of the four front fans and/or the side fan will quiet it down in a significant way. I'll see about stopping off for a more sensitive SPM after work and if I find one, I'll do some additional tests when I get home later.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:47 am

The noise levels from the case fans are very low. Their speed is manually controlled via little knobs on the case, but anything short of full blast and you don't really notice them. I keep mine usually around 50% and I have to stop and focus to notice the noise.

The CPU/GPU fan speed is where you have a legit complaint. I have a Phenom 965 (3.4ghz quad core). Using the software to control the fan speeds, on "optimal" setting its not an issue. When I play an intense game I swap it to "performance" and there is a noticable increase in fan noise. Not like a jet engine, but noticable.

Most of my noise comes from my aged 8800GT when I crank up its fan speed to 85%. Id say the fan from that is louder than the rest of my fans combined, but 8800GTs are pretty much legendary for their massive fan noise/heat production.

If you have 5x 80mm fans, then I'm pretty sure thats your problem. 80mm is a puny fan size, and having 4 of them blasting is probably responsible for almost all your noise. Larger fans really do make a massive difference, since a 250mm fan has to spin much slower to move the same amount of air as an 80mm.

When Im just doing basic stuff with my PC (browsing, watching movies, etc) my case is quiet enough that I dont think about it or notice it. Thats not to say its 100% totally silent, but its certainly not troublesome. When playing a game the fan speeds certainly kick up to an audible level, but its not bothersome or giving me a headache. Also, thats largely because of my 8800gt and its tiny fan going at sub-sonic speeds.

Certainly a case optimized for silence would be quieter, but I really think an $80 Xclio would be all you need. For the record, my pc case sits right beside my legs under my desk. The only real thing to note is you have to clean out the side fan filter every 1/2 year or at least to prevent dust from clotting it, and the fact that this is a very solid, very heavy case.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:10 am

I'll recommend the NZXT Hush case.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:52 am

BIF wrote:A system upgrade will probably use cooler-operating components
I like the indirect suggestions that getting replacing a quiter component is also option. Are you still playing games that require 6200GT SLI?
(1) If not, how much quieter will the system be with only one 6200GT? Now only with that other GPU's noise be eliminated, but it's heat will be eliminated. That may allow you to use slower speeds on the case fans.
(2) If so, it might be better to get a modern GPU, like a mid-range Radeon 5000 series. I bet a 5670 would outperform two 6200s. (those use PCIe, correct?) A case might last longer than a 5670 or a 5750; but they're roughly the same prive you could take advantage of the gaming performance in the meantime.

Do you know what kind of GPU you might get in the upcomgin system upgrade?
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:12 pm

wibeasley wrote: I like the indirect suggestions that getting replacing a quiter component is also option. Are you still playing games that require 6200GT SLI?
(1) If not, how much quieter will the system be with only one 6200GT? Now only with that other GPU's noise be eliminated, but it's heat will be eliminated. That may allow you to use slower speeds on the case fans.
(2) If so, it might be better to get a modern GPU, like a mid-range Radeon 5000 series. I bet a 5670 would outperform two 6200s. (those use PCIe, correct?) A case might last longer than a 5670 or a 5750; but they're roughly the same prive you could take advantage of the gaming performance in the meantime.

Do you know what kind of GPU you might get in the upcomgin system upgrade?


Hi!

1) I don't really perceive that it's a lot louder now that I have added the second 6200 GT. That one has a Zalman fan on it, and though the connector was incompatible for the graphic card's power port (forcing me to hook it to a molex connector and run it on full speed), I don't think that one is loud or that it makes the system significantly louder. Of course, I did not measure before and after sound levels, so this is a subjective call on my part.

2) Yes, I have considered upgrading the graphic card(s). But I'd rather hold off until my major system upgrade in 2011 or 2012. There will be a LOT of component improvements by then, so it's hard to say what I'd get, but for now ATI cards appear to be the winners. But upgrading my graphics card now would only give me limited benefits. Today's ATI cards' Eyefinity won't support my three monitors running in different resolutions and I don't have a displayport monitor yet anyway, which is required for Eyefinity. So I would be limited to using only two monitors or I'd have to buy a second ATI card (which would cost more money and also defeat the purpose of reducing the number of fans in my case).

Besides, I think most of my noise is coming from the er... SIX 80 mm fans. 4 in front, 1 on side, and 2 in rear. Not to mention the CPU fan, but I think the motherboard/BIOS does a good job keeping that one throttled down. Of course it's all additive. I've been researching and I definitely like the idea of getting a case with a single larger front fan and a single large back fan. Maybe moving the PSU to the bottom will help trap some of the sound in the case rather than letting it emit directly from the top hole where it has a direct path to my head. So I have been looking at cases that allow for the PSU to be bottom-mounted.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 10:42 pm

spiritwalker2222 wrote:I'll recommend the NZXT Hush case.


On the list for consideration, thanks!
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Wed Apr 21, 2010 11:05 pm

I think intake fans are overrated in many scenarios.
BIF wrote:I'm curious if disabling two or more of the four front fans and/or the side fan will quiet it down in a significant way. I'll see about stopping off for a more sensitive SPM after work and if I find one, I'll do some additional tests when I get home later.
I like that idea; did you have time to try it last night? Do this if you have time and you think it sounds like a fun excuse to use your SPM: Disconnect the louder of the two 6200GTs and then experiment with disconnecting different combinations of the intake fans. It would be nice if two 80mm exhaust fans could handle the temps of one gpu and one cpu. Even if you get down to two 80mm fans (spinning around 2000 rpm?), it will never be quiet enough for a serious HTPC case, but it may be quiet enough. Even if it's still too loud, it could help your decision buying a new case and case fans.

Unless you have a lot of HDDs, I'm guessing dropping two front intake fans won't hurt the temps at a measurable level. Also, there's a chance the side fan is hurting more than it helps. It could be disrupting the front-to-back flow that goes from the intake fans, to the CPU heatsink fan, to the exhaust fans.

Have the CPU and two GPU heatsinks have been cleaned recently with compressed air? (I don't see it mentioned in this thread; I apologize if it's insulting.)
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Thu Apr 22, 2010 1:00 am

Hi again.

No, I did not yet have time to experiment with fewer fans. I had a couple of personal commitments Tuesday and Wednesday. Basically life got in the way. 8)

I hope I will have time Thursday evening. It's not as simple as just unplugging them; I remember that I daisy-chained the power for the fans and some other things along the way; possibly front panel items and/or lighting. Lighting is not critical but if I disconnect the fans, I'll need to spend some time to ensure that nothing valuable is inadvertently de-powered.

And the sound meter doesn't go low enough to be all that useful. Just shutting off one or two fans may make it drop below 50 db, which my current meter can't register. Music supply stores and even electronic stores don't have any SPL meters in my locale, and some of them seem to be $50+ via the web. Really, I'd rather spend that money towards a case.

But all is not lost. Since this system is a DAW, I may just stick a mic on it and see what the volume level is in my DAW software. Then I'll just leave the hardware and software input settings the same and I'll make sure the mic is positioned the same way when I compare it again after I de-power some fans. And repeat as needed. So I still have a way to compare. It'll be more sensitive with one of my mics, but I'm not sure how precise the numbers will be.

By the way, your suggestion to clean the heat sinks is not insulting at all. Years ago, I had a clogged up 286 (I think it was) which resulted in an unstable system until I finally took the box apart and saw the bird's nest in the heat sink. After I shot out the dust-bunnies and cockroaches, the system was fine again! But this current system was cleaned out a few weeks ago when I installed the second 6200 GT. The whole room is fairly clean, so I'm sure that the inside of the case is not yet dirty.


I will experiment when time permits, and I'll report back.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sun Apr 25, 2010 1:14 am

P180, P182, P183, P193 all fantastic choices, great layouts and good quality cases.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sun Apr 25, 2010 3:26 am

It's not the case.

There are three bad guys. In order from loudest to least.

#1 - 80mm fan in the removable SATA hard drive enclosure. That was the vacum cleaner! I've squeezed an Antec 80mm in there for now. The Antec fan was not new, but was just laying around. The Antec is thicker than the original, but still 80mm. Using some "creative flexion," I made it fit. :roll: The pins on the Antec don't fit the connector on the enclosure's board, so I've hooked it to a fan controller and ramped it down some. The temp probe next to the fan reports that the wind coming from it is 37 degrees C. The enclosure's red "no fan" warning light is on, but that is to be expected. I still have good cooling and less noise.

#2 - The power supply fan(s). Now that the SATA enclosure has been brought under control, the next-worst offender is definitely the PSU. It's an Antec True Power Quad (I think) 850 Watt model. It has been reliable for three years now, so I am hesitant to swap it out. I've had my share of problems with new power supplies.

Maybe I can surround it with some sound deadening insulation as long as I don't block the vents?

#3 - CPU fan. I have already put on a bigger heat sink and fan. It is hard to tell if there was any improvement at all but that may be because of the hard drive enclosure and PSU noise issues. Both fans (the original stock one and the new one) have 4-pin connectors (but only three are used), so it's not compatible with my manual fan controller. It's currently plugged into the motherboard's CPU fan connecter and the BIOS has been set for "silent" mode. I briefly stopped the fan by putting my finger on the hub. The noise decrease with "no CPU fan" was not noticable.

I suppose it's all relative, but I don't think water cooling would be the answer at this point. I believe that the next step is for me to find a quieter power supply. Maybe one with a controllable fan speed. Or no fan. Or maybe one that I can keep outdoors. Yeah, that's it! I can drill a hole in my wall for the wires! :o

Seriously, here's what I have in the box, from which to base my wattage needs:

Q6600 CPU
Asus P5KC motherboard
8 GB DDR2 ram
2 X Nvidia Geforce 6200 GT cards
UAD-1 DSP Processor

For future growth, whatever PSU I buy should be able to handle a multi-core CPU like an i7, i9, or i9million (whatever's available when I upgrade), 8 to 12 GB RAM, one or two PCI-E graphic cards, and one or more UAD-1 (PCI) or UAD-2 (PCI-E) cards.

Newegg has a few CM models here.
Last edited by BIF on Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:19 am

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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:44 am

Nicely done, Tharp.

Given my current and future expected system (as far as we can tell given what's out there today), do you think 650 watts is all I should need?

I've added my current motherboard to the equipment list in the post above yours.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sun Apr 25, 2010 4:58 am

You could probably run two 5870 in crossfire and overclock your CPU to the limit without hitting the limit of a good 650W power supply.

Total power draw of a system with a 130W CPU and a 5870 while gaming was less than 300W at the wall. That comes out to something like ~250W being supplied by the PSU.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sun Apr 25, 2010 5:04 am

Wow. I'm speechless.

And I want one of those measuring devices! But first, a PSU. I'm researching now. It does appear the the Cooler Master PSU's have a somewhat visible DOA rate. That's one reason why Tharp's suggestion looks so nice.

EDIT: I have tested the sound somewhat.

I put a microphone in front of the system about 1.5 to 2 feet away.
I set my input gain and sensitivity so that the system noise would show up on the input meter in my DAW software. Before making any changes, I set the sensitivity so that the noise would appear in the -16 DB range. This was equivalent to 55 DB on my sound meter before any modifications.

I left my settings the same and now it shows up in the -24 DB range. As expected, my sound meter doesn't register the sound now. It's definitely quieter, but still not quiet enough.

I'll probably order a PSU sometime Sunday; that should tame the whirlwind to acceptable limits.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Mon Apr 26, 2010 4:52 pm

Update: I placed an order today for the Corsair 650 HX mentioned in Tharp's post above. While I was at it, I also threw in for another 1.5 TB drive for backups.

I was debating between the 650 HX and the 850 HX, but in the end, I decided that I wasn't really buying a power supply.

Instead, I am buying sweet sweet silence with a seven year warranty, and that it would either cost me $119 or $160. I elected to take the less-expensive silence. :P Later on, if I have to upgrade it to a 750 watt or 800+watt unit with my new system, so be it. The 650 HX could be used for a hand-me-down build, which I occasionally do with parts from my spare parts bin.

After I've upgraded/downpowered the PSU, I'll come back here to close the loop as best I can.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:38 pm

Get a new case so you can use 120mm (or bigger) fans.

Running antec solo with one 92mm at front and one 120mm at back (as well as PSU), set to 5v. Whisper quiet.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:17 am

phez wrote:Get a new case so you can use 120mm (or bigger) fans.


Funny you should mention that. More information coming soon in an update.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sat May 01, 2010 2:06 pm

I received the new Corsair 650 HX power supply and have installed it.

I have also swapped all of my computer's innards into a huge new CoolerMaster HAF 932 case. It's an open case...actually more of a big "cage" than it is a case, so any noise that originates from inside will come directly out. This is a small drawback, but overall, the new case has several benefits that I think make it worthwhile.

First, about the case:

--> It's a full tower; lots of room inside.
--> It has three 230mm fans (top, side, and front), plus a 140mm fan (rear)
--> PSU goes on the bottom.
--> HUGE ROOM at the underside of the top for a water radiator, or a radiator could be mounted ON top of the case if desired. I liked this feature for future expansion possibilities.
--> Toolless. I never ever would have thought that this would be something that I could be sold on, but now I am sold.
--> No sharp edges. Yeah, another thing I didn't know I needed.
--> Nice wire-management. The right side (the side without the window) has convenient cutouts for routing the power supplies and for stowing away unused cables. I don't use the front-panel firewire cable and I use a fire-wire audio and MIDI interface for recording, so I don't need the front-panel HD audio cables.

For some reason, IE on this system goes all "jumpy-jumpy" when I type a long post on the TR forums, so I'm going to make another post about my new PSU.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sat May 01, 2010 2:24 pm

So into the new case, I put the system components. That actually happened a couple of days ago. I did notice a slight decrease in overall sound. Was the sound reduction alone worth the cost of the case? Well, maybe. The noise was driving me crazy more than I had realized, to be sure. And as I said above, the HAF has a lot of other nice features which made me realize now that the old case was really making life a struggle.

Okay so now I just replaced the old 850 watt power supply with the Corsair 650 HX model. And the new PSU has definitely lowered the noise. Probably about as much as the case (with it's big and slow fans) did.

Yay!

1. My less-than-scientific method of measuring the sound levels with my microphone (about 1.5 to 2 feet away) and DAW software does register a definite drop in sound levels. Again, this is below the lower threshold of my SPL device, so I can't give a number. But it is definitely lower.

2. I now hear my next-door neighbor's rickety 17-year-old air conditioner just about the same as my workstation. Depending on how hot of a day it is, this can be both a plus and a minus. :lol:

3. When my neighbor's AC isn't running, my system still makes noise. But it's no longer coming from the PSU, the case, or that SATA HDD rack. And the GPUs were always pretty silent. I confirmed this by momentarily putting my thumb on the CPU fan. Now the box is completely silent, even with all of the case fans, the GPU fans, the HDD rack fan, and the PSU fan all running. Yes, those fans are all throttled by my new NZXT fan monitor/controller. And no, I did not pay $60 for mine. :o

My post edit window is all jumpy again. Starting another post...
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sat May 01, 2010 2:55 pm

So here's the long and the short of it:

I have made a HUGE improvement in the noise. In order of improvement from most effective to least effective:

1. The HDD rack fan was probably the cause of 50% of the noise. Insane! My cram-down rigged up rack fan is wonderful, and it was free!
2. The PSU fan was probably causing 20% of the noise. The 650 HX was a smart choice.
3. The CPU was probably causing 20% of the noise. My recently added new heat sink and fan may have improved it some, but I don't think it was significant, measurable, or estimatable. Not worth the $40 I spent.
4. The old case with its many 80mm fans, was probably only causing about 10% of the noise. As mentioned in a prior post, my HAL 932 was a smart choice, but for many reasons other than a 10% improvement in sound levels.

Going Forward:

I'm not fond of HSFs or huge oversized heat sinks that approach the size of an automotive engine block. I am seriously considering water cooling. Yes, I know that pumps can add some noise, and that the radiators may also have noisy fans. But I'm confident that those fans won't be as loud as one that has to produce tornadic wind speeds right at the CPU location.

If I go with water, I'll probably only do it for the CPU. The GPUs aren't making much noise. When I put my thumb on the CPU fan, I can't hear the other fans very well. Bear in mind that with one's thumb on the CPU fan, one's head is usually positioned .. uh.. nearly INSIDE the case.

I am thinking of this little CPU-only liquid cooler. It's about $80 locally (still cheaper than Newegg's price + shipping), factory sealed, easy to install, and (supposedly) completely maintenance free (except for occasionally blasting the furry cockroaches out of the radiator fins, which is an expected maintenance item even with my current HSF).

Oh yeah, and my new HAF case has a cutout behind the motherboard, directly beneath the CPU, so I should be able to de-install the old HSF and mount the new pump/waterblock unit without pulling the motherboard out of the case.

For long-term (whatever that means in this day of fast-changing technology and equipment that breaks down), another alternative is to go for a full-sized radiator and implement something like this Swiftech radiator unit (along with the requisite other parts). The HAF case will support a full length radiator mounted at the top of the case, either inside or outside (there are actually pre-drilled hose ports that would support this). I would just have to find a reservoir choice that doesn't require an external bay (due to the 2-bay HDD rack and the 2-bay fan monitor plus my camera card reader and DVD burner, I'm fresh out of external bays now), and that's why the ECO looks appealing to me.

The upshot for me is that I have to decide how quiet is quiet enough, how much money to spend is enough, and/or how much more complexity I want to add to my system. It's a judgement call, so I am thinking, thinking, thinking...

One thing is for sure, I love it being quieter; so this may be something I'm willing to spend more money on.
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Sun May 02, 2010 11:52 am

Final Update:

Saturday I purchased locally and installed a Corsair H50, which is their version of the CoolIt I mentioned above. It was the same price as the Newegg item, but of course I had to pay local sales tax.

Now EVERYTHING ELSE is louder than my workstation. The next door neighbor's AC, my swimming pool pump in the back yard, the already very quiet dishwasher in the kitchen, the bass-heavy booming traffic in the neighborhood, and even the tick-tock of the wall clock in my office!

I am super-pleased.

Just some final notes:

1. The Radiator comes with a 120mm fan which has a CPU-fan connector for the motherboard header. The pump also needs power, so it comes with its own cable. To mount the H50's fan and radiator, I had to remove the 140mm fan from the back of the case.

1a. The water lines are kind of stiff. But they flexed enough to make it work in my HAF 932 case just fine.

2. The H50 installation directions said to mount the fan and radiator so that air direction is pulled into the PC and pushed through the radiator. Normally, that back-case fan blows out. I'll keep an eye on this and reverse it if needed, but for now I figured I'd just follow the instructions.

3. As mentioned in a prior post, the HAF 932 case has a cutout that allows you to change CPU coolers without removing the motherboard. What a WONDERFUL time saver! The bracket assembly and pump/heat exchanger installed very easily with the PC in its upright position. The HAF's large size really makes working inside very smooth, although you nearly need a hand-truck to move it into place under your desk! I'm just happy to no longer be wrestling with the case while working inside it!

4. The main graphic card shows a slightly elevated temperature as well as a slightly faster fan speed. This is probably due to the inward-blowing back case fan and the lack of a vortex created by a CPU fan. My heatsink-mounted temperature probe showed 104 degrees F during some light usage last night. Right now it's hovering around 99 F.

Final Thoughts: This was 100% worth the time, trouble, and money. Now I need to have a chat with my neighbor about his noisy AC. Just kidding; I need to replace my clock first. Haha! :D
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Tue May 11, 2010 8:21 am

I have the H50 in the Corsair 800D case. all I can say is that its really quiet. It breaks all your requests but I can honestly say the the 800D case is quiet!
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Re: Thinking About Getting a Quiet(er) Case

Postposted on Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:40 am

Followup:

After a couple months, things are going so far so good. I am still very happy with the H50, and sometimes I forget that the workstation is turned on!

I also noticed that when I boot my old XP test system, the Raptor 150 that contains this system makes some very loud grinding noises; it sounds like somebody is grinding up coffee beans or something! :roll:

At this time, I do not suspect a problem with the Raptor. I think it was always that loud and I only hear it now that I have reduced all other sounds below the noise floor of the Raptor. And that's not my main system anyhow, the Windows 7 system is on a much quieter hard drive which I do not hear when it is in operation.

So, food for thought guys and gals: It can get pretty expensive when you begin quieting things down. Although I have drawn the line and not gone so far as to offer to replace my neighbor's rattletrap air conditioner. :P
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