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Kinketsu2
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Case selection for silence, on air?

Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:13 pm

All,

I'm looking to build a very silent system. I'll be avoiding glass sidepanels, and avoiding water cooling.

Components already in stock are Asus GTX 1070 ("Dual OC 8GB") and a Seasonic SSR-650FX, otherwise complete freedom. The vid card fans don't spin below about 50C.

My initial thought was to follow the Dec 2017 TR Guide and use 8700K, Asus Z370-E, Fractal Define C and Noctua D15S ... though still pondering.

My question is about the enclosure, specifically. If I'm seeking quieter, would the Define R6 allow better airflow/thermals and perhaps keep the fans on the graphics card spinning at a lower rate on load? I'd rather spin up a couple of quality 140mm than the smaller fans on the card, basically ... if that strategy will work. Or perhaps the sonic insulation would simply be better on the R6?

(Obviously, I'd love to see a direct comparison that addresses acoustics of R6 v C, if anyone happens to know of one.)

Any alternative suggestions for case? (I might consider be quiet 700, for instance, but that has the glass and I have trouble believing that helps acoustics.)

Thanks for any relevant thoughts,
K
 
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Tue Apr 17, 2018 5:47 pm

Avoiding windowed sidepanels is getting increasingly difficult, but at least there are options that don't have full-coverage tempered glass.

I've been impressed with my NZXT H440 (New Edition, 2015) - it's fully sound-damped and filtered, I did a lot of research and think I chose the best option at the time, but that was three years ago. It holds up well but there are lots of other options now, such as:

  • Fractal's Define range is generally decent, though they're large and a little on the flimsy side in terms of build quality, given the price.
  • Be Quiet!'s Silent Base 600 seems to be high on the list, mainly because it's well-built, windowless, and has rubber mounts all over the place.
  • Phanteks Eclipse P400S, sound-damped and windowless. I've never used one but it looks to be based off the Evolv that I have (and is good).
  • Corsair Carbide 100R. I hate this case because it's cheap, boring, flimsy, and low on airflow. It's so cheap that it's actually decent value if you're on a budget.

I think the rule of thumb for air-cooled silence is to get a balance between minimal venting and enough airflow. The H440 doesn't have a huge amount of ventilation, and it's a very indirect air path but it does support 7 fans, which means you can run them all at very low RPMs indeed and still have enough airflow for 300W graphics cards. Sadly, the choice of cases on the market is dramatically limited if you don't want a tempered-glass RGBLED display cabinet. That's the current bandwagon and it's certainly not practical. I can only hope that this market fad wears out soon, so that manufacturers can go back to innovating and improving their products, rather than taking prior-gen products from the last few years and slapping some RGBLED lipstick on them.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Tue Apr 17, 2018 6:45 pm

My Fractal Design Define R5 is remarkably quiet.
 
Kinketsu2
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Tue Apr 17, 2018 9:12 pm

Thanks @Chrispy_ for such a detailed response. Lots more to research, there. H440 still looks relevant and viable. Silent Base models, not unexpectedly, seem to have some thermal challenges. Will continue to read. (We are agreed about the current fads... I'm not sure I see the point. A bunch of glowing lights in my peripheral vision would drive me crazy. I'd certainly rather that there were a greater number of current designs that tried to address this tradeoff, rather than get distracted by those things.

Thanks also @Yan, helpful to have that confirmed.
 
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 12:04 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
[*]Phanteks Eclipse P400S, sound-damped and windowless. I've never used one but it looks to be based off the Evolv that I have (and is good).

I've had the case since the being of last year so far I've noticed air-flow into the case seems restricted through the metal front panels skinny rectangle opening on top under over hanging lip and bottom where the LED strip resides forgot plastic mesh filters.) Also plastic removable 3.5 inch HDD caddies for mounting but the two 2.5 inch brackets are metal.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:10 am

Yeah, if you want silence the trick is to minimise the number of vents and make sure that the air path is indirect so that sounds waves have to reflect off multiple surfaces before escaping - each surface they bounce off takes away some of their energy and makes them quieter. I used to try and reach silence by having a very open mesh case so that all the fans could run at low RPMs, but these days the GPU fans are always the loudest thing, so they aim of a silent case is to absorb as much of the sound of the GPU cooler as possible. It's a fine balance between enough airflow to keep the GPU fan at sensible levels, but enough restriction to prevent the noise from getting out.

The Evolve is more restrictive than the Eclipse, it would seem, but am I right in thinking that the Eclipse *is* quiet and the side/front panels are decently solid? (so that they don't vibrate like the Fractals are prone to doing with rough-running disks or mismatched fan rpms)

As for the plastic/damped 3.5" cages but undamped 2.5" cages, that's normal. Since 2.5" cages are designed for SSDs with no moving parts. Damping on those would just needlessly drive up the costs.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:37 am

In regards to the rest of your components, I built an 8700k using in December in a Corsair 550D case and using a Cryorig R1 Universal (which is competitive with the Noctua you are looking at). I have it overclocked to 4.9 GHz. Most of the time it's quiet, but when the CPU gets busy the CPU fan is noticeable.

If you aren't planning to overclock, it would probably remain quiet (although in that case you may be better off with a non-K part). Alternatively, I understand the RyZen chips run cooler than the 8700K, so you may also want to look at those if the system being quiet is more important than per-thread performance.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:42 am

RGB you can at least turn off. The glass is much harder to work around.
 
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 6:47 am

I highly recommend getting a fan controller.

In general: Larger fans running at 50% rpm will move more air and are quieter than smaller fans running at 75% of max rpm.
So I recommend getting a case that supports 140mm fans and then tuning with a fan controller. You can ran fans at a fixed 5v or 7v but some fans don't like starting with such low voltages.
Depending on blade shape or bearing type fans can have noisy harmonics or vibration at certain speeds as well.

You also want dust filters and positive case pressure to keep out dust.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 7:00 am

Are there any cases that have ducted intakes for the GPU and/or CPU? Back in the day I had modded an 80mm fan mount in the window to duct for the intake on the blower-style cooler for the GPU. That gave it fresh air and exhausted most of the heat directly out of the case.
 
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:06 am

Aranarth wrote:
I highly recommend getting a fan controller.

Both Phanteks and NZXT include powered PWM fan splitters so that you can run all your case fans from a motherboard's intelligent PWM sys fan header. This is preferable to aftermarket fan controllers since it'll use the motherboard and CPU temperature sensors rather than rely on extra software in the OS, or thermal probes.

Usacomp2k3 wrote:
Are there any cases that have ducted intakes for the GPU and/or CPU? Back in the day I had modded an 80mm fan mount in the window to duct for the intake on the blower-style cooler for the GPU. That gave it fresh air and exhausted most of the heat directly out of the case.

Not any more, or at least if there are they're rare enough that I haven't seen one in a case made in the last 6-7 years (and I see a lot of cases in my line of work).
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 8:14 am

Chrispy_ wrote:
Usacomp2k3 wrote:
Are there any cases that have ducted intakes for the GPU and/or CPU? Back in the day I had modded an 80mm fan mount in the window to duct for the intake on the blower-style cooler for the GPU. That gave it fresh air and exhausted most of the heat directly out of the case.

Not any more, or at least if there are they're rare enough that I haven't seen one in a case made in the last 6-7 years (and I see a lot of cases in my line of work).

Yeah, BTX never took off and the closest I've seen was leaving the upper drive cage empty on Antec P18x cases and doubling up the fans.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 1:55 pm

There's three new colored Eclipse P300 cases from Phanteks, and the MSRP is set at $59.99.

Image
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 3:01 pm

I've always built as-quiet-as-possible PCs without getting into fancy fanless PSUs and whatnot.

Half your problem is the case, the other half is what you put in it. I recommend the Fractal Define R5, or the Define C (which I personally own and can attest for), and a Noctua D15S. Seeing as you already have those selected, you're good. I was going to suggest an RM-series Corsair PSU, but you already have yours. You'll be fine. Just remember to let set the fan profiles in your mobo to a silent profile. Your PC will be silent when you're not gaming, and will emit a low, pleasant tone when your are.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 4:30 pm

I built my most recent machine in the Nanoxia Deep Silence 3 because my go-to Fractals were either out of stock or not on sale. I've been pretty happy with it. That being said I would buy one of the Fractals if your budget allows.
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Kinketsu2
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:34 pm

Thanks all for continued thoughts on this... I appreciate the perspectives. Cost is a much lower consideration for me than silence and cooling (understanding that those two, by physics alone, are in conflict).

As an aside, my current work/play space is a basement room. My current system is in my storage area, literally on the other side of cinder block wall, through which many years ago I drilled a large-diameter hole, and ran long DVI-D and HDMI cables through. That has been perfect silence (and also perfect for keeping both room temperature and system temperature low), and so I'm spoiled.

However, I now need a system that'll work in another setup. Part of that is a different physical location, but also I want to try a high-refresh monitor; the long cables have been limiting me to 60 Hz ... Displayport cables don't like to be long, and certainly for 144 Hz won't be long enough for a comparable setup.

Anyway, for the new system, at the moment I am leaning to the R6 (or perhaps R5) because they allow all fans to be 140mm. I definitely don't need such a large case for components, but my instinct is the all-140mm will be a better solution for me than a smaller case. I wish there was a "Define C wide" that had the same philosophy as Define C but supported 140mm in all locations... Something like that would be perfect.

Cheers,
K
 
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 9:47 pm

morphine wrote:
I've always built as-quiet-as-possible PCs without getting into fancy fanless PSUs and whatnot.

Half your problem is the case, the other half is what you put in it. I recommend the Fractal Define R5, or the Define C (which I personally own and can attest for), and a Noctua D15S. Seeing as you already have those selected, you're good. I was going to suggest an RM-series Corsair PSU, but you already have yours. You'll be fine. Just remember to let set the fan profiles in your mobo to a silent profile. Your PC will be silent when you're not gaming, and will emit a low, pleasant tone when your are.


Honestly, I basically was hovering over the RM650x and then a great sale/rebate came up on the SSR-650PX (I mistakenly said FX in original post), and so I grabbed it. I'm sure I'd have been happy with either.

Was there something about R5 that made you suggest that rather than R6? Both are readily available now, and I guess the R5 is cheaper ... but is there something functionally different about it that you think is better than R6?

Thanks for your responses!
 
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:15 pm

morphine wrote:
I've always built as-quiet-as-possible PCs without getting into fancy fanless PSUs and whatnot.

Half your problem is the case, the other half is what you put in it. I recommend the Fractal Define R5, or the Define C (which I personally own and can attest for), and a Noctua D15S. Seeing as you already have those selected, you're good. I was going to suggest an RM-series Corsair PSU, but you already have yours. You'll be fine. Just remember to let set the fan profiles in your mobo to a silent profile. Your PC will be silent when you're not gaming, and will emit a low, pleasant tone when your are.


I...


...recommended the C and Noctua for a friend- dead silent under load with an 8700k (at stock). Use the R5 myself with a 280mm Corsair up top, CLC on the 1080Ti, and it ain't dead silent, but it's the quietest overclocked system I've built.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Wed Apr 18, 2018 10:58 pm

Kinketsu2 wrote:
As an aside, my current work/play space is a basement room. My current system is in my storage area, literally on the other side of cinder block wall, through which many years ago I drilled a large-diameter hole, and ran long DVI-D and HDMI cables through. That has been perfect silence (and also perfect for keeping both room temperature and system temperature low), and so I'm spoiled.

Ahh, I took a similar approach with my file server. Ancient Chieftec full tower "boat anchor" case (lots of drive bays!) but not particularly quiet due to the 80mm case fans. It lives in the crawlspace under the family room, at the end of a really long Ethernet cable. :wink:

Edit: This is the server I'm referring to: viewtopic.php?f=5&t=115210&p=1259151
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:14 am

Derp, I meant the R6. I've recommended the R5 for so long that I forgot that the new model was already out :)
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Kinketsu2
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:01 am

morphine wrote:
Derp, I meant the R6. I've recommended the R5 for so long that I forgot that the new model was already out :)


Hehe, understandable. Thanks for clarifying!
 
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:11 am

My thoughts:
1) 140mm fans are good, especially in the front panel, but 140mm in secondary fan locations isn't a necessity. There are plenty of silent 120mm fans out there.
2) Having a bottom panel fan is great for GPU cooling. Bottom panel fans may not be quite as effective as side panel fans, but they're also quieter because it's a less direct noise path to the user.
3) mATX mobo/case places the GPU closer to the bottom panel fan for more direct airflow path.
4) Shorter front-back case dimension is better because it places the front panel fans closer to the CPU/GPU
5) HDDs/SSDs behind the mobo tray are good because they eliminate the need for airflow-blocking drive cages. If not, a simple 3-drive cage on the bottom of the case is okay. Some cases will put the drive cage inside a shroud that covers the PSU area.
6) Just because a case has 100 fan mounts doesn't mean you need to stick a fan in every one. There's always a point of diminishing returns, depending on system power usage. Also, I like how Fractal provides fan mount covers (top panel fan mounts) so you can cover those holes if you're not putting fans here. This is good for dust and noise.
7) Rubber gromets/sound dampening mounts if you're going to be using a hdd. Otherwise all-SSD is obviously the best choice.
8 ) Front panel that reduces direct path of fan noise.
9) Sound insulating foam. While not great (because it's thin and planar), the sound insulation does help a bit.
10) Thick panels. (less vibration)
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:17 am

DPete27 wrote:
1) 140mm fans are good, especially in the front panel, but 140mm in secondary fan locations isn't a necessity. There are plenty of silent 120mm fans out there.

Definitely agree on this, but not just for noise reasons. I like having smaller, slower, and fewer fans for exhaust in order to keep positive pressure up inside the case. Keeps the dust at least somewhat at bay.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:21 am

I think it's time to note that there's no need to go overboard these days when it comes to making a silent PC. Cases and fans are just so much better than they ever were that you don't need to do much to keep a system quiet.

I'm running: overclocked 6700K, GTX 1080 Ti FE, Noctua D15S, Define C (two stock fans). This thing is dead quiet until I game hard, and even then the timbre isn't bothersome at all. All the noise comes from the 1080 Ti FE in that situation, and it's not even much to talk about. And trust me, I'm real picky when it comes to these things, I have above-average hearing.

I built a system for a friend with a Define C Mini, Core i5-8400, no dedicated GPU, and a Scythe Kotetsu. It's inaudible unless you push Prime95 real hard, and even then it's like, smooth, barely-audible whooosh.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:24 am

DPete27 wrote:
3) mATX mobo/case places the GPU closer to the bottom panel fan for more direct airflow path.
4) Shorter front-back case dimension is better because it places the front panel fans closer to the CPU/GPU

Overall airflow is probably more important than proximity of the CPU/GPU to the intakes. At the end of the day, you're trying to get rid of the same amount of heat.
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Re: Case selection for silence, on air?

Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:39 am

I forgot that the Fractal R6 came out at Christmas. From the reviews, it seems like the R6 is the turning point at which Fractal finally brought their build quality up to par as well.
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