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Low-Cost High-End Cooling Mod

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October 16, 2006 6:14:15 PM

A colleague of mine is about to buy a small workstation computer for him and he has asked my help in choosing the right components. Naturally, I've chosen a 2.4Ghz C2D CPU, paired with a quality Gigabyte board and 4GBs of memory, but when it comes to the case, he doesn't really have that much money to spend on a high-end case.

So I've thought of a modification that could be done to a very well-priced Cooler Master Centurion 5 case. I've built a computer using this Centurion 5, and it looks quite good. The case has a 120mm exhaust fan, but no real intake fan except a rather noisy 80mm (which I voltmodded to a more pleasant 7V).

I was thinking of placing a 120mm intake fan on the 3 bottom 5.25" bays. Coincidentally, placing the fan there puts its axis of rotation roughly inline with the exhaust at the rear of the case. And I'd use a thermalright Ultra-120 directly in the airflow path, which would mean I'd have a 120mm-wide airflor "corridor" with 3 fans in it, like this rough sketch:



I'd use the case window version of the Centurion 5 because the "windowless" version has holes would probably remove the pressure required for the desired airflow to occur.

I think this would make for one hell of a high-end cooling solution for the very reasonable price of a Centurion 5 Cooler Master case... What do you guys think??? I still have to find a way to hold the fan in place and put a decent, easily removable filter (not like the ones from Cooler Master), but I think it's worth the effort.
October 16, 2006 6:35:06 PM

Quote:
A colleague of mine is about to buy a small workstation computer for him and he has asked my help in choosing the right components. Naturally, I've chosen a 2.4Ghz C2D CPU, paired with a quality Gigabyte board and 4GBs of memory, but when it comes to the case, he doesn't really have that much money to spend on a high-end case.

So I've thought of a modification that could be done to a very well-priced Cooler Master Centurion 5 case. I've built a computer using this Centurion 5, and it looks quite good. The case has a 120mm exhaust fan, but no real intake fan except a rather noisy 80mm (which I voltmodded to a more pleasant 7V).

I was thinking of placing a 120mm intake fan on the 3 bottom 5.25" bays. Coincidentally, placing the fan there puts its axis of rotation roughly inline with the exhaust at the rear of the case. And I'd use a thermalright Ultra-120 directly in the airflow path, which would mean I'd have a 120mm-wide airflor "corridor" with 3 fans in itI'd use the case window version of the Centurion 5 because the "windowless" version has holes would probably remove the pressure required for the desired airflow to occur.

I think this would make for one hell of a high-end cooling solution for the very reasonable price of a Centurion 5 Cooler Master case... What do you guys think??? I still have to find a way to hold the fan in place and put a decent, easily removable filter (not like the ones from Cooler Master), but I think it's worth the effort.


I did a similar thing in an Antec P180 with my previous Prescott 530 overclocked to 3.6 Ghz. (The P180 now houses an E6400 system.) Using the Arctic Cooling Pro 7 I actually attached a piece of flexible ducting (Laundry machine exhaust pipe) to the fan on the CPU cooler and had it wedged into two 5.25 spaces in the top cage. Then the two front bezels were removed and an attractive bit of black screen door mesh was attached. This had the effect of directly ducting room air through the CPU fan and out the back. A small interior fan circulated air around the memory. No matter how hard the CPU was pushed it still stayed in a reasonable (for the Prescott) temperature range. So yes, using front to back ducting or at least airflow as you suggest would work well.

(While this worked well for the overclocked E6400 also, the temperatures would be perfectly under control for the much cooler C2D using the standard circulation in the case, so the duct method was removed to make the system a bit quieter.)
October 16, 2006 6:53:03 PM

Broken link...

Sounds like an idea, but I need to see the actual picture before I can say if it would work well or not (I'm too tired to picture this in my head)...

One thing you could also do is get a 120mm fan, but use an 80mm adaptor and stick it where the 80mm fan would go. Or there is always your good friend the dremel (if you have one)

Hmmm... re-reading the post, that seems like an idea that would work... the 120mm fan in question being something like the Scythe Kama Bay?
It would definitly help, but remember, you always want more exhaust than intake otherwise you'll have turbulance with hot-spots... yadda yadda yadda. But unless your going to OC, the C2D will run cool enough without too much effort.

Good luck.
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October 16, 2006 7:21:22 PM

Why are you bothering with such a mod? A good hsf on a C2D with a standard fan setup is working great for me.

I see the guy is willing to spend significantly, seems like spending on the cooling is small comparably. I don't quite get the budget strategy.

Bob

C2D 6600
Intel "badaxe" mobo
ati x1900
October 16, 2006 7:49:45 PM

Actually, the point is that he has the money required for even a 2.93Ghz Core 2 Extreme. And I was just trying to think of a very good cooling solution to try and convince him to go with the Core 2 Extreme just in case he feels he needs the best performance money can buy. With this kind of cooling scheme, I'd expect to run the C2X at 3.5Ghz without much sweat.

The problem is - obviously - the C2X's price. It basically means that the guy could buy 2 whole mid-end C2D systems for a little more than an overclocker-friendly C2X (CPU+PSU+Cooling upgrades...) But I'm going to offer him a C2X option anyway. If I had the kind of money he has, I'd go for it.

And he kind of frowns at the idea of high prices for cases and PSUs (it's a very silly and established misconception that those things don't matter). I looked at a OCZ PowerStream 520W SLI-ready PSU the other day and told him "now this is a great PSU waiting for a great system" - and he said he would never, ever spend more than a quarter of the PowerStream's price on a PSU. 8O

This is also the actual reason why I won't recommend a quality tower case to this guy. He'd much more likely accept my mod than go for a US$150+ case.

It kind of bums me out that the guy has so much money and so little appreciation with what he actually could do with this money. :cry: 

Anyway, I was just thinking out loud with this mod.
October 16, 2006 8:07:23 PM

Wouldn't this mod probably be good enough to run a C2D 2.4Ghz overlocked to an even 3.0Ghz? On a Gigabyte GA-964P-DQ6 motherboard?

Also, this system will do a lot of number crunching.
October 16, 2006 8:13:45 PM

Quote:

And he kind of frowns at the idea of high prices for cases and PSUs (it's a very silly and established misconception that those things don't matter). I looked at a OCZ PowerStream 520W SLI-ready PSU the other day and told him "now this is a great PSU waiting for a great system" - and he said he would never, ever spend more than a quarter of the PowerStream's price on a PSU. 8O

This is also the actual reason why I won't recommend a quality tower case to this guy. He'd much more likely accept my mod than go for a US$150+ case.

It kind of bums me out that the guy has so much money and so little appreciation with what he actually could do with this money. :cry: 

Anyway, I was just thinking out loud with this mod.


Slap the guy a couple times upside the head with the mobo, then tell him that if he's not going to listen to an experts advice, he can build the damn computer by himself...

Otherwise, can you consider selling him a decent cheap case? There are some cases with alright cooling for 80 bucks or so, NZXT makes some nice ones, also, the Antec Sonata II if he really wants to save money...
October 16, 2006 8:38:31 PM

Hi M, thanks for the explanation. With his kind of imprecise, non technical thinking, aren't you actually asking for a hassle by planning an overclock for the guy? Is this the type of user who will appreciate the OC?

I think in this situation, I'd build him the c2x system at rated drive settings, stock case, buy him an antec power supply (don't tell him what its for), replace the stock case ps without him knowing, and put a nice hsf like an artic7 freezer on it, and enjoy his gratitude.

But, if you continue on your course, please let us know how it goes...interesting situation for sure.

Bob
October 16, 2006 9:10:33 PM

get a cheap water cooling kit is going to be better then having all this fans.

Thermaltake has a nice simple solution in the Bigwater 745. or Apex Ultra 220 is pricier.

Im currently getting 36c in my 3.4 6xx P4 Processor, currently at 4.0
October 17, 2006 2:07:42 AM

Quote:

Hmmm... re-reading the post, that seems like an idea that would work... the 120mm fan in question being something like the Scythe Kama Bay?


Exactly like the Scythe Kama Bay.

What I keep asking myself is why the hell there are tons of 80mm fan bays (2 bays) and no 120mm fan bays (3 bays). 120mm just makes about 10 times more sense.
October 17, 2006 2:32:40 AM

Hmmm I'm actually considering recommending another case and forgetting about this mod...

So let's be practical: which case from this list would you rather recommend?

Also, while the absolute values of the prices are unimportant (they convert roughly on 1 dollar to 5 or 6 of these units, Brazilian Reais; currency conversion alone would yield 1 dollar for every 2.2 Brazilian Reais, but the taxes are extremely high on electronics here :roll: ), the relative values can be readily checked. I was trying to mod the Centurion 5 because of its price - 300 reais. That's pretty much on the low side of things on that list...
October 17, 2006 4:18:23 PM

Here's a practically free cooling mod for you: cardboard funnels.

Make a direct and as short as possible path for the room air to get to the CPU fan. It will help whatever heatsink you chose. Nearly all cases have a side vent now. It's completely silent. Finally, if is doesn't work you can remove it in about 5 seconds.
October 18, 2006 2:16:46 PM

I think I have almost convinced him to go with - believe it or not! - a pair of 150GB WD Raptors (maybe in RAID 0) and another pair of 320GB Barracuda 7200.10 drives, along with 2GB of quality memory, a PowerStream 520W SLI-ready PSU, a Gigabyte GA-P965-DQ6 and maybe even a Core 2 Extreme!!! 8O 8O 8O

Plus, I've shown him my PSU cables (I've got a 520W Powerstream with those shielded PowerShield Cables) and he drooled big time. I explained to him that the PSU quality, weight, heatsink+capacitor sizes, yadda yadda, makes a great difference, and he was impressed. :p 

Can you actually believe that the guy has the money for this, but is afraid to use it? It's like having a bazooka and then having moral issues when pressing the trigger. Plus, he keeps complaining that he needs lots of hard drive space and very high speed. Why does he complain at all? How bizarre...

Now let's get to the actual reason for my pot: Which Case??? Please recommend!!! I'm thinking Antec Performance P180... Or TT Armor, but I'd still not want über-top-highest-super-duper-end because I could use the $$ on other components.

I'm about to go talk to the guy... I hope I can finish the job of convincing him. ..
October 18, 2006 2:58:45 PM

If you're considering the P180 check out the Antec Nine Hundred it's basically a no-frills p180 with vented front panel, two speed-adjustable 120mm intake fans (great for cooling those raptors) and a rear 120mm and a top 200mm. There is even an additional two mounts, one in the back of the drive cage (similiar to your cooling mod) and another in the side panel. Has a top tray of some sort I guess for mp3 player or a camera or something.

Just don't get it from newegg, it can be found for $106 shipped from page computers
October 18, 2006 4:00:39 PM

That site is annoying as fudge to navigate, P180 is probably the best choice from there, TT Armor is nice also, or Kandalf.

Lian-Li V2000 is also really nice, but a bit pricey... shrug

All the other brands I've never heard about... if you want american cases though, I can give you a ton more.
October 18, 2006 4:37:31 PM

The Antec p180 is a case that was designed truly for power users. The front door is used to reduce noise (hard drives can be quite noisy) but can rotated 270 degrease against the side of the case so it is completely out of the way. The 2 Hard drive bays (each one holds 3 hard drives) are removable and have silicone gaskets to reduce vibration. The cooling setup is among the most efficient with a dual chamber design that allows for better cooling of the components and reduces noise.
Yes there is some plastic but this is one of the few times its used for something other then lowering the cost. Frankly the case does have its quirks but it looks professional, has excellent cooling, and manages to still be low noise. In fact Mike Chin of SPCR helped in the design of the case. All nice selling points :D 

PSU. Seasonic or Corsair (its a modular version of a Seasonic). Or the best would be a Antec Phantom but good luck trying to get him to buy one of those. Those are the quietest fan cooled psu's on the market and Seasonic is a high quality psu builder.

Harddrives. I would go just for the Seagate Barracuda with Perpendicular Recording Technology, almost or just as fast as those 10,000 rpm drives with less heat, vibration and noise. Plus the cost one hell of allot less.

Cpu cooler. Scythe Ninja, Thermal right SI 120 with Panaflo L1BX(1,700 rpm) or Zalman 7700. (I'm going for low noise with still good cooling)

Vga Cooler Zalman 900 cu or MASSCOOL/SYTRIN KuFormula VF1-PLUS (VF1-Plus is better for hot cards like ATI x1900xt(x))

Let me put it this way I have a Centurion 5 case and with the front 80mm fan turned off I have gotten it so it is quiet, but I think my next case will be the Antec 180 due to it should make even less noise and cool better. *Note I have the windowless version of the Centurion 5.

*edit
And look up THG's articles on psu's if you need ammo to get em to buy a better psu.
Example http://www.tomshardware.com/2005/07/11/stress_test/
!