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SHHHH! Quiet setup - Watercool or Fans?

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October 3, 2006 12:14:09 AM

Hello all you fan-enthusiats and watercooling-animals out there...

I've been reading through the forums, and it seems like the HSF-people hover in the clouds while the w/c group relaxes in the lake; the dividing line seems fairly well defined.

Here's my question, in a nutshell - "Quiet" HSF/Case Fans or Water cooling?

Here's my situation:

I'm looking to upgrade to a C2D system in the next month or two, probably E6600 (unless the floor falls out from the E6700 :wink: ). No definite choice on mobo, 2gb ram (probably corsair), 2 HD (RAID 1, mfr not picked yet), GPU probably nVidia something or other - 7900GT minimum. This setup is just to give you an idea of where I'm going, so please no "the X1900XTX is wayyy better". :D 

I work (and play) from home, and I'm looking for a quiet setup. I am very often on conference calls via speaker, headset, etc. while sitting at my computer, and I'm frankly tired of the white-noise whirring in the background... so I'm looking for the best solution for me.

I'm not looking at heavy o/cing (although I like to play a bit), and when I'm not working, I'm usually playing (everything from BF1942 to Oblivion to WoW). I know I don't *NEED* water cooling for that stuff, but if it is a quiet alternative to a case-full of helicopters, I'll definitely consider it.

Restrictions (flexible): I'd like to stay away from any external units that are separated from the case itself. I'd prefer no remote rads, but if that's the best solution, I'm willing to consider. Least amount of fans, and quietest pump possible (price no worry here - if I'm building a Frankenstein, I don't want to give him a shrunken head and no thumbs. Let's go for "monster" status, not "Beetlejuice".) Also, the more maintenance free, the better... I'd rather spend the $$ for quality coolant/parts up front and not have to mess with it much (once every year or two would be ideal).

On the research I've done for w/c (lots of wusy and Phreejak threads, among other things), I'm leaning towards swiftech products - quite a few people recommend, and reviews all seem positive. I've never put together a w/c system, but I'm pretty handy with a hammer and superglue, so I'm sure I can manage. :)  To be clear - I'm in no rush, and I'm not afraid of a big system (or systems), as long as what I buy performs well.

If fans are the way to go, I'll probably need a separate thread to discuss that, as the selection is gargantuan (literally and figuratively) compared to the number of w/c products out there.

OK, now I'll shut up and let you talk.

(Thanks in advance, everyone...)

K
October 3, 2006 12:48:54 AM

if you decide to go w/c only you still need some type of airflow
October 3, 2006 12:56:59 AM

Quote:
if you decide to go w/c only you still need some type of airflow


Sure - I'm not (completely) unrealistic... I just don't know the lower limits on the number of fans to keep a system running cool under different setups... how many rad fans would be needed to compensate for no fans in the case? Should I HS or WC the Northbridge? Is cooling the HD via water a good idea if case fans are kept to a minimum? etc., etc.

Thanks for pointing that out, though... :) 

K
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October 3, 2006 1:01:08 AM

i would go with air cooling for now then go w/c later
see how it works and go from there
October 3, 2006 1:10:08 AM

With the low power requirements of the Conroe procs (and, therefore, the lower heat production than previous Intel procs) you could very well do just fine by way of a good HSF setup as a cooling solution (as long as you have good circulation in your rig).

I'm a proponent of water cooling and I'll always laud its benefits but I am nto going to recommend it if it doesn't provide you with any particular advantages or solutions. That being said, I suppose that it really depends on if you plan on doing any overclocking by way of the CPU or GPU.

WC, of course, is dead silent (if done right) and does provide much better overhead for cooling than air (with the proper equipment) but it can get rather involved initially. However, once set up, you won't have to deal with it but during an annual maintenance.

So, like I said, it all depends on if you plan on overclocking anything (water cooling the northbridge really only benefits you if you are heavy into overclocking as the NB chipset will be affected by your memory and GPU manipulation).
October 3, 2006 1:22:04 AM

You might want to visit some other sites too... Silentpcreview.com is a wealth of information...

Believe it or not the HTPC or Home Theater PC section of the AVS forums has a lot of info as well. www.avsforums.com These guys are building PCs to be as quiet as possible as well since the last thing you want to hear in your HT is a whirring sound!!

Of course there are multiple quiet PC threads available here too..


Good luck in your search... I to am hoping to build a near quiet setup for my HT that will game as well... Nothing like gaming on a 118" montior ;) 
October 3, 2006 1:24:45 AM

Quote:
Nothing like gaming on a 118" montior


a projector huh my mom has one it is great :D 
October 3, 2006 1:37:15 AM

Quote:
With the low power requirements of the Conroe procs (and, therefore, the lower heat production than previous Intel procs) you could very well do just fine by way of a good HSF setup as a cooling solution (as long as you have good circulation in your rig).

I'm a proponent of water cooling and I'll always laud its benefits but I am nto going to recommend it if it doesn't provide you with any particular advantages or solutions. That being said, I suppose that it really depends on if you plan on doing any overclocking by way of the CPU or GPU.

WC, of course, is dead silent (if done right) and does provide much better overhead for cooling than air (with the proper equipment) but it can get rather involved initially. However, once set up, you won't have to deal with it but during an annual maintenance.

So, like I said, it all depends on if you plan on overclocking anything (water cooling the northbridge really only benefits you if you are heavy into overclocking as the NB chipset will be affected by your memory and GPU manipulation).


I can understand the hesitation in going straight to the water-cooling solution - thanks for the restraint. I'm not looking for "Dude! W/C is l33t!" unless it's the right answer for my situation. I realize the Conroe core is *much* better temp-wise, and I know that I can get away with a good HSF solution... my concern with that lies in this:

If I get a reasonably cool HSF for the CPU, then there doesn't seem like much justification for water cooling. Hence:
- the GPU will need to retain it's fan
- the case will need to retain 2-3 fans, depending on size...

so, in that case, can I put together a strictly HSF/case fan system that won't sound like a jet taking off every time I boot it, considering I have 5-6 fans active as opposed to 2-3 rad fans?

My dilemma continues... :)  Thanks for the input!

K
October 3, 2006 1:47:22 AM

with air cooling one thing that makes a big difference is the case
a good case will dampen sound.
some cases only have one or two fans in them.

if you go with w/c and have a good case with say a rear exhuast
fan and a front intake fan then you shouldnt need any other fans.

i have a cheap coolermaster caes with a 80mm intake and a 120mm
exhaust fan (60$) and it is pretty damn quite.
October 3, 2006 1:53:16 AM

Quote:
You might want to visit some other sites too... Silentpcreview.com is a wealth of information...

Believe it or not the HTPC or Home Theater PC section of the AVS forums has a lot of info as well. www.avsforums.com These guys are building PCs to be as quiet as possible as well since the last thing you want to hear in your HT is a whirring sound!!

Of course there are multiple quiet PC threads available here too..


Good luck in your search... I to am hoping to build a near quiet setup for my HT that will game as well... Nothing like gaming on a 118" montior ;) 


That's the next project after the work/play PC, so thanks for the idea... I did browse a few forums like that, but with the differences in hardware and functionality, I wanted to make sure that I got what was right for my "always on" PC. This thing will literally be on 24x5 at minimum, sometimes on all weekend, depending on what I'm doing.

Thanks for the response!

K
October 3, 2006 1:58:02 AM

Putting together a good HSF/case fan setup is one reason I like Newegg so much. Besides their variety, you can set search parameters based on such things as decibel level, cfm, size, etc. This way, you can balance sound versus wind movement and come up with a combo to satisfy your requirements. Even if you don't do business with them, you can certainly find out what fans and heatsinks work best for what you want.
October 3, 2006 2:17:11 AM

Quote:
Putting together a good HSF/case fan setup is one reason I like Newegg so much. Besides their variety, you can set search parameters based on such things as decibel level, cfm, size, etc. This way, you can balance sound versus wind movement and come up with a combo to satisfy your requirements. Even if you don't do business with them, you can certainly find out what fans and heatsinks work best for what you want.


Been to newegg a million times, and have never used that feature - thanks for the heads up on that one!

K
October 3, 2006 1:49:55 PM

Stay aircooling...

The only reason you would go Watercooling with your needs is that you would want to play and learn... Watercooling is VERY expensive... I found out this the hard way:) 

Go with a Great case... I recommend the Coolermaster Stacker Series... It is commonly rated as one of the absolute best cases on the market, and uses big low spinning fans for cooling. It is absolutely silent... The second version was just reviewed by maximum pc as the best case ever reviewed, and that it beat out the old champion the first Coolermaster Stacker.

I dont like the door on the front of the second series... I love the first series, though the front grills covers are a pain in the ass to put back in place... Heres a hint on this case... The grills can be put in upside down.

I beleive the coolermaster series one case comes with a HD drive bay that supports 4 HD's and takes 3 5" slots. The HD Drive bays are connected to the case with big heavy rubber gromits to reduce HD sound volume. If you dont get this with the case, then buy it seperate.

I dont know what the coolermaster 2 does with the HD Drives, but Im sure it is amazing. All drives except for the HD's are attached with plastic rails that require no Screws for installation and removal. The HD drive requires you to screw it into the removable HD bays.

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/1381/cpa-86/Cooler_Ma...

BTW, when you get this case, put a plastic rail on the top and bottom HD Drive Bays. Dont put one in the middle for this is overkill. Make sure it fits, then remove the bay... and Glue On the plastic rails to the HD Drive Bay outside covers with some superglue... you will understand what I am talking about when you get it.

The Case opens from the back and front easily, and the tower supports a Bottom or Top mounted PSU. The case comes with wheels or feet. I The wheels are lockable and small... I choose to buy bigger non-locking wheels, and the case remains very stable... I tend to roll it around allot. You can select a VERY large range of wheels from HomeDepot that will fit this system. The locking wheels seem like a nice feature, but they are actually a pain in the ass. Think about how you use your system, and you will realize that you just dont usually come in contact with the case in daily usage, so locked wheels are just plain stupid, and they always seem locked at the worst time, and are hard to unlock.

The coolermaster stacker one has big openings and has a large optional fan

http://www.frozencpu.com/products/2428/fan-114/Cooler_M...

it comes with a rear port power switch with 4 settings, the lowest setting is silent... This fan is vertically mounted, and will blow air accross your entire MoBo. Really cool!

Then choose a good PSU. Dont be cheap, for sound volume on PSU's costs allot of money. Look for DB ratings lower then 23db. Dont buy the cheapest PSU that meets this requirement, but also dont buy the most expensive... also buy a moduler PSU... I love them...
October 6, 2006 6:17:40 AM

Antec Phantom PSU
Thermalright Ultra-120 with the quiest possible fan yet still over 40CFM
Antec P180
Fan controller
Accelero X2 if youre going for the X1900

I bet with this setup itll be hard to listen to it even with your hear pushed against the case =]
October 7, 2006 5:56:53 PM

FWIW, I run an E6400 system using only a Zalman ACLU 7700B HS/HSF and the exhuast out-take of an Antec TP 430 PSU for cooling in an Ultra MicroFly case loaded with 2XIDE HDDs, 1XDVD-ROM drive, 1XDVD-RW drive, 1XFloppy drive, BFG 6600GTOC video card, Audigy2ZS sound card and a Firewire card.
Running an AV scan, while listening to CMT radio, and working in Photoshop my CoreTemp log shows:

CPU Speed 2128.04 RANGE core1- 12 core2- 8
Core#1 MAX 59 AVG 51.5 MIN 47
Core#2 MAX 56 AVG 50.0 MIN 48

Granted the scan only took about 5 minutes, so it may get hotter over longer, more intense runs.

The loudest items in my case (not counting the optical drives) are the Zalman HSF @ 900rpm and the PSU @1800-1900rpm. Also, the Microfly is only .6mm aluminum (no dampning, yet).

Also, in reference to phone calls/VOIP and white noise, you have to consider the EMI from your computer as well as your speakerphone/handset. Moving away from your monior(s) may be your only needed solution. Cheap, effective, though inconvenient.
!