Word(s) of advice needed

For small-form factor PCs and the (extremely small) people who love them.

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Word(s) of advice needed

Postposted on Sun Aug 01, 2004 8:43 pm

Hey to all! I'm dumbing my old pc (and i do mean OLD) to a friend of mine, who likes to tweak things up until the blue smoke that makes them go exits the case, and am now in search for a new and hopefully very very quiet and rather small system to replace it and hopefully last for some time. After spending 10^n hours on various SFF-sites, Shuttle & co. homepages, etc.. and having consulted ´people´ about good options I havent still quite found out a system that appeals to my needs... that is in a price around 1000$. Good ability to upgrade would also be nice. :wink: So, if you could give some practical advice it would be highly appreciated.
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Postposted on Tue Aug 10, 2004 11:04 am

Well, if you want the ability to upgrade aka, swap motherboads out and such, you might want to look at doing an Aria/m-ATX setup as it gives you the ability to change motherboards like some of us change underwear. ;) The Aria case will hold three hard disks as well as an optical drive. The m-ATX motherboards will give you the ability to add three PCI and one AGP setup so it has a bit more expansion options then that of Shuttle/Barebones XPC's.

The nice thing about the Shuttles though is that its an all in one solution. You don't have to go hunting for a motherboard that supports USB2.0/Firewire, and you know all the connectors on the front of the case will work since the supplied motherboard was designed to work in that particular Case.

You said under $1000, but what platform (AMD/Intel) were you looking to buy?

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Postposted on Tue Aug 10, 2004 1:14 pm

Aria is definitely worth a look but the few reviews I have read say it has some trouble staying cool... which is not a good think considering the need for silence. Platform would be AMD(64) based, so I was thinking something like MSI K8TM-IL for mobo. Any good?

Will Aria have enoug space to install some passive cooling element for vid card or will the northbridge/power be on the way?
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Postposted on Wed Aug 11, 2004 11:17 am

Here's my rig:

Antec Aria SFF Case
AMD Athlon64 3400+ w/ Zalman CNPS7000A-Cu
MSI K8TM-ILSR w/ 1Gb Mushkin Blue Pack DDR (soon to be replaced)
BFG Tech Nvidia 6800GT OC 256Mb Video
36Gb WD Raptor 10K SATA
250Gb WD 7200RPM SATA
8x NEC 2500A DVD Burner flashed to support Dual Layer Media
Sound Blaster Audigy Gamer
Dell 2000FP 20.1" LCD
Logitech Z-5300 5.1 THX Certified Speakers

CPU temps: 122F during idle, 131F during load. Box is nice and quiet. If anything, it proves how good the PSU in the Aria really is. Just make sure that the heatsink you end up with will fit under the PSU. The Zalman cooler is an awesome cooler (and quiet), but the ATX power connector on the motherboard makes it a bit difficult to work with since it's behind the CPU socket which places it under the PSU. Overall though, I love this setup.


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Postposted on Wed Aug 11, 2004 11:58 am

that's a sweet little baby you've got there.

i've always wanted to get something like that, but somehow can't stop myself from getting massive rackmount systems . . .

one day, for my livin room PC, is it possible to have TOO MANY computers?
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Postposted on Wed Aug 11, 2004 1:00 pm

So sweet system!...I'm always want more spend upgrade system for me ever :lol: of course I have many computer.
FX-55|Patriot 1GB DDR400|BFG 7600GT|Rosewill 550W PSU|Biostar nforce4 SLI|Samsung SATA 300GB HDD
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Postposted on Wed Aug 11, 2004 2:20 pm

That sure looks sweet! :o And leor, there can never be enough good systems while there's always too many bad ones hanging around...

But mstrmold, you didn't have a passive cooling in your GPU? And still no problems with noise? Does something like Zalman ZM80C-HP even fit in the case? As far as I have noticed, cooling the CPU is fine but the fans in GPU's are making awful noise in high frequencies... sounds like hornets. :(
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Postposted on Wed Aug 11, 2004 4:00 pm

On the 6800GT I've kept the cooler in place. I've installed the PCI slot fan included with the Aria (its two slots away). While it's noticable (low hum) during everyday use, it still much more quiet than my previous box.

I'm actually considering replacing my cooler with this

http://www.globalwinusa.com/products/water/silent.html but the problem is that it only cools the CPU. Maybe a Zalman Reserator (Tall blue external tower)? Don't know but its something I plan within the next couple of months. Until then I will be adding an 80mm SilenX fan on the PCI side of the box to see how this helps ventilation out. There is a forum on [H]OCP where someone used the GlobalWin cooler with an Aria with good results.

The Zalman won't fit since the fan is mounted on top. It will hit either the PSU or the drive cage once installed (I believe). What video card are you planning on installing?

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Postposted on Wed Aug 11, 2004 5:20 pm

I was considering some basic R9800 model since the cards in x800 series are still quite expensive.. gotta save little here 'n there to come up with TFT display someday :wink: should go nicely with Aria or something alike, once I decide what to buy. I won't be ordering anything before early October so I can now just sit back, gather info from choices and make cunning plans 8)
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Re: Word(s) of advice needed

Postposted on Wed Aug 11, 2004 6:35 pm

Andymaister wrote:...very very quiet...

The first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions noise level as one of their primary concerns is water cooling. Given that you want to spend approximately $1000 on this system, water cooling will eat up more of your budget than air cooling. $1000 with water cooling should leave you with ~$700 - $800 left for other components.

The other thing that comes to mind are the Dell machines I buy for the office. They use high quality fans (NMB and Nidec brand that are quite heavy) and mounts them using these funky rubber fasteners (i.e., no screws). They also use some pretty slick plastic ducting.
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Postposted on Thu Aug 12, 2004 11:52 am

Thats true, but they aren't gaming machines. The reason the NMB fans are so quiet is because the BIOS is set to spin the fans on "low" setting. When you first fire up the machine it howls quite nice. Stick a nice video card in there and you will hear the GPU cooler. :lol:

Antec makes a Sonata case that does the same thing with rubber bushings for the fan, and for the hdd mounts. Not too sure if the ducting works well or not, but I know its a paint to work on when it comes time to upgrade/replace the CPU.

The Aria comes with rubber bushings for the hdd mounts as well. For its size, its a nice quiet box. It could be made quieter by water cooling and using a passive setup on the video card, but that tends to complicate the setup plus the addtional costs involved. You could use the cooler that the guy over at OCP used (GlobalWin Silent Stream) which can be had for $68. Its a small closed system that will only cool the CPU, but its one step closer to quiet.

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Postposted on Thu Aug 12, 2004 1:12 pm

The more I think this setup the more I like Aria... and that reserator cooling looks kinda nice too annd the specs speak for themselves. I have never had a water based cooling system bafore, do you guys have any experiences about them? Instructions did seem quite simple, even for me :D ... but are they nowdays so reliable that one dares to use them?

Water and electricity together just sounds so... hazardous.
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Postposted on Thu Aug 12, 2004 11:02 pm

mstrmold wrote:Thats true, but they aren't gaming machines. The reason the NMB fans are so quiet is because the BIOS is set to spin the fans on "low" setting. When you first fire up the machine it howls quite nice. Stick a nice video card in there and you will hear the GPU cooler. :lol:

Now that you mention it, I remember hearing a few of them (the fans in the Dell boxes) start up at normal speed upon boot. I got a new shipment in last week and just tried one of them... started up at low speed. Tried another one... started up at high speed then immediately went to low speed like I remembered--wierd.

I second what you said about the graphics card. Unless you bought some 3rd party cooling solution for the video card such as the Zalman 500 lb. heatpipe fanless doohickey or a GPU waterblock, you'll hear the GPU fan.

I've never done a water-cooled system, but I was tempted when I built my last home system. I would imagine there's little risk of leakage and subsequent damage with a little basic common sense oversight (no kinks, no routing over sharp edges, tight clamps, clean water block gaskets, etc) and out-of-box testing of your connections.
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Postposted on Thu Aug 12, 2004 11:18 pm

Well, I just finished adding an 80mm intake fan on the PCI side of the Aria. My temps dropped another 6F! :o It's a SilenX model that is barely audible (14db rating from the manufacturer) and what a difference it made. It goes to show that even small boxes need intake fans too. :) With this change and the Zalman Copper cooler I'm using, I think I'm done messing with the thermal charactoristics. Speedfan now reports 117F idle, 126F load! Perfect for an A64 3400+. Overall, I am very happy with the outcome.

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Postposted on Fri Aug 13, 2004 4:17 am

Damn that °F-scale... takes effort to convert it to °C we're using. But at any rate, that is impressing. So even with air cooling your Aria runs quite cool and with bareable noise level? Saves a lot of trouble and cash if you don't have to play with water tanks... :lol:
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Postposted on Fri Aug 13, 2004 1:06 pm

Yeah, sorry about that. 47c idle temps and 52c under load. It does have some noise, but at a whisper in comparision to my SN45G. When the box first starts up you can hear the GPU fan on the Video Card make a bit of noise, but when the OS loads it's GUI the fan spin's down. It only spins back up during a gaming session, and even that is quite bareable. Overall, I am satisifed with the outcome. It only took me 5 months to find the perfect solution. ;)

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