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SilverStone Lascala SST-LC13 HTPC Case

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February 12, 2007 3:43:05 AM

Well, today my girlfriend decided she wanted to get me a Valentine's present. She said to me, "What's the one thing you could get for your computer that you'd want right now?" Immediately, I thought of the GA-965P-DS3 motherboard, since I've been eying upgrading to that and pairing it with an E4300 processor. However, getting both was out of the budget, and I began to think that there's not much point getting the motherboard until I can get the processor... which brings me to the subject of this thread.

I decided the best thing might be to finally get that HTPC case that I've been looking at: the SilverStone LC13 I'm going with the silver one, since it matches my stereo nicely. What I like about this case is that it's full-sized. I plan on keeping my HTPC running with whatever hardware retires from my main rig. Currently, this hardware consists of an ASUS P5LD2 (standard ATX) motherboard, a PD820 processor, and a handy nvidia 6600 gt silencer video card. My goal is to keep noise down, and a review of the case says noise levels are low despite the two 60mm and one 92mm fans.

I will be trying to see if I can squeeze my TT Sonic Tower into the case, but as the cooler is 150mm tall and the case is only 163 mm tall, I'm not holding my breath. I expect to have to use the stock intel cooler for a while (bye-bye overclocking). I might consider a new cooler, such as the low-profile Zalman CNPS8000 or BTX-like SilverStone Nitrogon NT03.

I like to overclock to get more performance, but I probably won't be playing all that many games on the HTPC. I do, however, run Folding at Home 24/7. I'm willing to underclock my CPU if it means cooling can be quieter.

So, my questions are (while I still have time to correct my actions):

Does anyone have any experiences with this case they'd like to share?

What do people think about my cooling options, given that I'll be using a Pentium D for a HTPC (not ideal, I know, but you work with what you've got)?

Are there other cases/cooling solutions that you would suggest?

Cheers,

HotFoot
February 12, 2007 8:49:19 PM

I have an LC20 and I actually like the lay out better on those cases! I'm using a Zalman 7000 with it turned all the way down (rpm) so it won't drive me nuts when the movie gets quiet. That's on an A64 3800, but it performs identically to the stock cooler and is much quieter. You'll like the REAL case after you get it.... all cases should be built like that!
February 13, 2007 6:51:35 PM

Some further reading on the LC13 has made me think that I'll probably be modding it a bit to fit in a 120mm intake fan to replace the stock 92mm fan. I'm also thinking I might see about getting rid of the grill structure behind the 60mm fans, as this could cause extra noise. Replacing those with wire grills should help.



Has anyone cut out that kind of fan grill and replaced it with wire (or left it open)? There's a similar restriction to the intake fan and I'm wondering if that might be a significant source of resistance as well. I'm well-versed in all the theory, but I'd like to know about some real-world experiences.
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February 17, 2007 10:46:24 PM

I cut out the dual 80mm grill on my Lian-Li and put a 120mm in it with an aftermarket grill guard (about $1.50). You might consider trying to squeeze two 80mm in there. I've got two 80mm Zalman fans in my HTPC, and they are very quiet with plenty of circulation. I use the Zalman CNPS9500 HSF in my system, and like the other poster said, turned all the way down. My case is 168mm tall, and it fits fine. One last consideratin, is that I know some of the Silverstone cases have a clearance issue between the optical drive and the GPU. You might want to check first, to make sure all your stuff will fit. Some users get around the issue by using the shorter length optical drives, but it can still be a squeaker.
February 18, 2007 1:56:04 AM

I'm definitely going to be seeing if I can fit larger fans as you suggest. I'm hoping to fit a 120mm in the intake, and I'd be very happy with two 80mm exhausts. If possible, I'm going to try to fit these fans using off-the-shelf fan adapters so I don't have to cut into my case (I don't have a dremel). First, I have to wait for the case to be delivered so that I can take some measurements. The money came out of the VISA yesterday so the case should arrive early next week. :) 
February 18, 2007 3:52:18 AM

I used a portable jig-saw and a file to cut the holes. Came out clean.
March 13, 2007 3:58:14 AM

Well, if you can believe it, my case finally arrived today. It was on back-order at CanadaComputers for just over a month. While I can't blame the store if their supplier is out of stock, and their website clearly stated that the item would have to be ordered in, I am not pleased that they charged the credit card at the time of order and then took another month to deliver the product. But on to better things: the case.

The case arrived, and I'm pleased with the packaging as the case had no dings or scratches. This afternoon I moved my hardware over from configuration A to B.

A)
ThermalTake Tsunami Dream case
2x120mm case fans + 2 on PSU
ThermalTake Sonic Tower CPU cooler /w 120mm fan
ThermalTake thermal paste

B)
Silverstone Lascala LC13
1x92mm fan, 2x60mm fans + 2 on PSU
stock Intel CPU HSF
ArcticSilver5 thermal paste

Common:
ASUS P5LD2 ATX motherboard
Intel PD 820 CPU
2GB DDR2-533 memory
Nvidia 6600GT 256MB
Audigy MP3+
160 GB 7200 RPM HDD
16x DVD burner
400W ThermalTake PSU

I knew that situation A gave me very good cooling, and I have been running my CPU overclocked and undervolted at 3.08GHz and 1.30Vcore for the last month (see overclocking/underclocking temperature testing I did here). My temperature at 100% CPU usage has been reliably 43-44 C. Before loading everyting into config B, I dropped to stock frequency and kept 1.30Vcore. On testing, I found my CPU temperature was rising well into the 60's, at which time I killed Folding@Home and underclocked my processor. I did some experimentation and now I'm at 20% underclock, 2.24GHz and 1.25Vcore. My load temperatures are now at 58 C.

I'm really not happy with overall cooling. Maybe I had it very good before, but I would like improvement over what I have now. I'm thinking of seeing if I can fit a better cooler on the CPU. I have just over 100mm of vertical space.

The other issue I've had is that the case fans make a bit more noise than I'd like. I'm still looking at fitting adapters for larger fans (I'll measure for that tomorrow), and I plan to get some silicon gaskets and screw replacements for PSU and fan mountings. I'm considering buying quieter fans, but I expect these will push even less air and I should have a more effective CPU cooler before I do this.

I do eventually plan to buy a much more energy efficient set of hardware, possibly based on mobile parts or a 35W X2 3800+ if I can find one. That should let me crank down the fans for silent operation.

Okay, so questions:

What's a good cooler that will fit in my restricted height case that will work with both LGA775 and AM2 sockets?

What are the quietest fans with good airflow? I personally like the Noctua fans, but they only come in 120mm and 80mm, neither of the sizes I need (unless adapters will fit). I want to get fans with the Self-stabilising oil-pressure bearing (SSO) rather than ball or sleeve, though sleeve is my second choice. I'm also thinking of the SilenX fans, although I understand they're not as good as they claim, they should still be good.
March 14, 2007 7:08:06 PM

I just got this case a week ago and ma currently finishing a 120mm intake fan mod, a 92 mm exhaust, and addtional 120mm internal fan for cooling motherboard northbridge and chipset. I am alos adding a cpu cooler, just need to get final measurements.

I am running a ds3 with a 4300 so my setup should be very similar to yours, i will post pics once its done, i am going away, but should have it donw next week.
March 14, 2007 7:52:15 PM

Awesome. I look forward to your pictures. I measured fitting a 120mm fan on the intake, and I saw that it would fit. However, I was saddened to find that there aren't even regular mounting holes for the 92mm fan, so I can't buy an adapter and throw in a 120 without cutting metal. I've ordered one 92 and one 80mm SilenX fans, and a single 60-80mm fan adapter so I can replace at least one of the 60mm rear fans. I found that there wouldn't be room to properly mount an 80mm to the rear, so an adapter is needed unless you're more resourceful than me. I couldn't tell if I could fit adapters on both exhaust spots, so I've got one coming for now and I'll figure out if I can fit another. Really I just want exhaust fans that push at least the same air at much less than 3000 RPM.

I'm hoping to replace my stock cooler. I thought about short coolers like the flower designs from ThermalTake and Zalman, but there may not be enough room between the CPU and PSU. Also, I like heatpipes, so now I'm thinking of the Zalman CNPS8000. It's actually a reasonable price at DirectCanada, where I found it at under $39. That's just over half the price of a local store I used to frequent.

If you provide a lot of pictures of your mod process, I would be interested in trying it out myself. I can always put the new 92mm to work in the PSU or somewhere else.
April 11, 2007 7:46:32 PM

Well, I've got my media centre nearly finished. I'd like to get another fanmate and speed down one more fan, but that will wait until I'm near a store with good prices. For now, I want to post some pictures of the finished deal. I've had to do a bit of work to get this case quiet. As noted above, the case comes with 1x92mm fan and 2x60mm fans. I swapped the 92mm fan for a SilenX one of the same size, and a single 80mm fan with an adapter is replacing both 60mm fans. The air intake for the 92mm fan had been largely blocked in the case, and I cut a hole using a hand key-hole saw. It was a lot of work, since the case is steel instead of aluminium, but the fan can breathe a lot easier now that it's done.


This is the original setup (taken from modthebox.com). You can see the case plate behind the fan, and the little holes drilled into it to allow for airflow. Clearly this is very restrictive, and it did result in a noticeable amount of extra noise. The SilenX fan is very quiet free-standing, but installed in front of these little holes, it would make a lot of whooshing noise.


This is the hole I cut using the key-hole saw. If I had a budget, I would have used better tools, of course. Note that the case seems to have been designed for a 80mm fan, but the cage for a 92mm fan was used instead (an afterthought?). The original pattern of holes were cut in an area corresponding to a 80mm circle, and there are mounting holes for an 80mm fan. At first I thought that was great, because you can get 80-120 mm fan adapters (and there is room in that part of the case for a 120mm fan). However, the 80mm mounting points are too close to the upper-right corner of the case, and any symmetrical adapter (the only kind I've seen) would interfere with the case. This is why I've stuck with the 92mm fan cage.


Here is the installed SilenX 92mm fan.



Above you have two shots of the internals of the case (system components are listed below). You can see the 80mm exhaust fan to the rear of the CPU. Note that I hadn't known that I was going to use a mATX board in my HTPC, so when I bought this case I picked one that fits full-sized ATX boards. I had previously used a P5LD2 with a PD820 in this case. The new hardware is much better suited!



... And here it all comes together. You can see the 32" Dell tv and the stereo I've got the media centre hooked up to. I do plan on eventually going to 5.1 channels (or maybe just 5.0 and skip the sub... my towers are pretty good and I don't want neighbors complaining). You can see I'm using Ubuntu 7.04 (beta) to run it all.

Hardware:

Case: SilverStone LC13
PSU: SeaSonic 430W
Mobo: ASUS M2A-VM (690G chipset)
CPU: X2 3600+ (@2.185GHz)
RAM: 2x1GB OCZ Gold DDR2-800 CL5
HSF: Zalman CNPS8000 - fan speed all the way down
HDD: Seagate 320GB
OD: LG H50N
92, 80mm SilenX fans

The tasks this media centre performs are DVD/.avi video playback, mp3/ogg playback and radio streaming, running Azureus, and Folding@Home (hence the overclock). Editing video files is also done on occasion. CPU load temps are reported around 40-42 by lmsensors.
May 7, 2007 10:13:55 AM

Hi,
Hotfoot - I read your (superb) thread with intrest as I'm currently trying to modify my LC13 case. Like you I have replaced the front fan by cutting the metal away but I have replaced the fan with a 120mm Antec Tricool rather than a 92mm fan.

I've replaced the rear fans with a single 80mm Sharkoon 2000 mounted on an Akasa adapter.

Any luck with getting a cpu cooler that will fit under the structural beam?


6g72tt - did you ever post the pics for your mods?
May 7, 2007 3:27:34 PM

I should have posted an update: I don't actually have the intake fan in the case any more. I've been monitoring my temperatures, and when I took the overclock off my X2 3600+, I was able to keep load temps in the low 40's with just the CPU HSF, the PSU's 120mm fan, and a single 80mm fan exhaust (mounted, as you have, with a 60mm-80mm adapter).

I'm using the Zalman CNPS8000 heatsink. It comes with a fan controller, and I have the speed turned all the way down. I'm very happy with this cooler, considering the excellent temperatures I'm getting even though I'm doing folding@home in a HTPC with so few fans.

I am thinking, though, that I may have lucked out and got a CPU that was actually binned to be a Turion, but got packaged as an AM2 chip. AMD might do this if Turion sales are poor. I say this because I have a hard time believing my CPU has a TDP of 65W. The Vcorr, also, is only 1.2V. I can pull the lid of my computer and touch the heat pipes closest to the CPU and they're barely even warm. This is certainly not the case with my Pentium D!
May 7, 2007 6:26:55 PM

Very nice summary of the decision making and implementation processes you went through.

As I mentioned earlier I'm looking at doing a similar setup, though I'm considering using either the Thermaltake Mozart or Bach cases. These cases are identical structure-wise and only differ in styling on the exterior. They come pre-equipped with an 80mm intake fan (2000rpm, 19dba) and dual exhaust 60mm fans (2500rpm, 19dba).

I'll also be reusing existing desktop internals and working on a severely small budget.

I'm looking to run the following:
AMD 64bit (Socket 939) 3200+
Thermaltake Blue Orb II
Asus A8N32-SLI-Deluxe
1GB RAM
2x120GB WD SATAII drives
8x Dual Layer DVDRW
XFX GeForce 7900 256MB

Beyond making a decision on the case, I have a few other worries as well.

1) That video card has an HSF built in, and is a power hog and dumps it out as a lot of heat. I'm not sure how this will affect either the noise or the heat problems that are at issue in HTPCs. I do have a backup card, an ATI x600, that has passive cooling and a lower power consumption; I'm just not sure how it will compare in video quality and connection options.

2) Will the Blue Orb II fit? In my Tsunami case with these internals I'm sitting at about 32C at idle CPU. In fact, under load I've seen my CPU temp dip below my MB temp on occasion with this CPU HSF.

3) Should I look at cooling options for the HDDs? I'm thinking a passive heat sink on the HDDs might help with drive life and draw any heat from the drives away from the CPU/GPU areas.
May 7, 2007 6:41:04 PM

Quote:
As I mentioned earlier...


When, exactly, was that? This is your first post, you n00b! j/k

Welcome to the forumz, venom. Now, to your concerns:

1) I'd say just try out your 7900 card and see what the system noise and temperatures come to. If it gets too hot or loud, then step back to the x600 and see if that makes a good deal of improvement. Doesn't the x600 have a DVI out, just like the 7900? Worst case scenario is we could work out a deal for my passive 6600GT that I've confirmed works well in my HTPC. It's now in my desktop and it's never a bad thing to have a better card for those LAN parties. :) 

2) Does the Blue Orb II extend beyond the top of your motherboard PCB? I believe that the cases you're looking for have the mobo/PSU configured the same way as my LC13, in which case there is only a couple mm gap between the top of the mobo and the PSU. If girth is your limiting factor, this would be the quickest answer to your question.

3) I recommend checking the temps on your HDDs once you get things assembled. If you feel you need to lower them, then look at coolers. Problem is that if you only have one 5.25" bay in the case, then HDD coolers are harder to find. Most I know of use the bigger bay. The good news is that the latest extensive studies have shown that HDD life is not a function of temperature until you start reaching very high (I expect at least over 45C before you get longevity degredation). My Seagate 7200.10 sits in the low 30's. In my Tsunami desktop case, this temp was in the high 20's. Either way, I feel pretty comfortable. You're looking at using two drives, which should increase your temps a bit, but then you're looking to have a case with better airflow than the setup I'm using.
May 7, 2007 6:58:56 PM

Yeah, I expect a lot of trial and error for getting the right balance between temp and noise in the end. I think the x600 is a DVI, but I have had it stuffed in a shelf somewhere for over a year so don't remember.

I don't believe the Blue Orb II extends beyond the PCB. The only real inconvenience its given me in the desktop is that it overhangs my first two RAM slots such that I'd need to remove the HSF to install a second channel of RAM. A rough guess in looking at the photos of your setup is that my Blue Orb II is shorter than your HSF, so girth is likely the only worry here for me.

As for HDD coolers, I was looking at Vantec Iceberq as one option. However, I'll wait and see whether heat is a real issues, since those add yet more fan noise.

I'll have to search through my drawers of spare mobo hardware tonight. I may have some rubber standoffs left over that I can use to minimize vibration noise on the drives when I install them.

I guess the other problem is saving up the $200 for whatever case I go with. :( 
May 7, 2007 7:18:44 PM

If you aren't already using a PC to drive your media centre, I'd really suggest just taking your desktop and hiding it behind your TV and trying it out for a while. I'd used this setup for quite a while before investing in HTPC-specific parts. You also have to factor in the cost of a caputure card if you want to have the PVR functionality.

For me, the media centre was a natural evolution of what my habits arleady were. I had been using a laptop and an external HDD to control my entertainment centre for a long time, and then I wanted more functions so I borrowed my desktop to do the job. Mostly, I missed having the desktop in the office and I just wanted to have better, quieter parts for the living room so that's where this project started.

Your CPU is already pretty good in terms of TDP. I suspect that you could reduce the number of fans working on your system by stepping down to the x600 GPU - like remove the side panel fan. The 120mm fans on the Tsunami aren't ridiculously noisy. The only annoying feature off having the DT run the media centre is more difficulty in accessing the DVD drive.

I'd go so far as to suggest that you should get a good remote or wireless keyboard first. These things have the biggest impact on the HTPC usability.
May 7, 2007 7:24:51 PM

Oh, I do intend to set it up in the Tsunami to start out and see how much use I get (I'm thinking a lot after dropping most of our satellite programming). But its not particularly entertaining to hash out plans to install Ubuntu on a pre-existing system so I was looking ahead ;) 

As for a capture card; I'd have to research how exactly that'd work out with ExpressVu. Unlike a cable signal I don't think I can get a digital tuner card that would work with satellite, which leaves me having to manually record while routing my satellite signal through the HTPC before going out to my TV/SurroundSound.

Damn, that's a nice cheap wireless keyboard with embedded trackball there...
May 7, 2007 8:10:37 PM

That's an interesting point on the capture card with satellite TV issue. There must be a lot of information out there on getting that to work, but I can see you might just end up having to do recording manually, which would suck.

I'd be interested to find out how well you get the computer working with the TV. I had a bad experience with a Toshiba 26" HDTV using either HDMI or S-Video. What are the connections on the Sony? What's the desktop going to look like, and are you going to be able to browse the web?
May 7, 2007 10:16:35 PM

Desktop is likely to be fugly. Its a Wega 32", so I'm limited to 480i. That's actually a pretty good fact to back up dropping to the x600 card...not gonna see any difference at that resolution from the 7900 i don't think. Unless the linux nvidia drivers work some fancy magic.

As for inputs it takes Component, Composite and S-Video.
May 9, 2007 2:16:54 PM

So a brief update.

The machine is all rebuilt and installed. I got my various audio decoders working, and learned that Sound Juicer is a crappy option for ripping cds. Tried Rythmbox instead and it worked like a charm to encode to 160kb ogg.

I did all the setup work on my Acer Ferrari 21" Widescreen. This morning I moved the machine up to my living room and connected it to my Sony Wega 32" CRT and my home theatre system.

The good news is that my motherboard (A8N32-SLI-Deluxe) is fantastic for this application. It has both Coax and Optical digital audio out. I'm hooked in through the coax connector and getting full digital surround sound. My XFX7900 video card also had a promising feature; a dongle that upconverts from its S-Video out to Component video (I believe this is 720i?).

I booted up the machine and besides the POST messages being a bit squished and fuzzy things looked good. The Ubuntu logo that pops up while the OS launches looked great on the TV. Then the bad news. My screen is overwhelmed by blue. I can see the desktop (though blurry fonts) but its all shaded blue. I double checked the connections but that didn't seem to be the issue (plus, the splash screen had had perfect colour). I had to leave for work but I assume that X is slightly misconfigured and I'll have to tweak my .conf. The resolution seems to have been detected correctly at 1024x768 (again, i think this is 720i?) with a 50Hz refresh. I'm guessing the colour depth is incorrectly set.

I'll update again once I've investigated this further. In the meantime, if anyone else has experience graphic problems like this and were able to solve them, please let me know ;) 
May 9, 2007 3:00:33 PM

That's great about the surround sound. I hope to have a setup like that someday.

As for the TV, I don't know if it could be an xorg.conf issue.

As for resolutions, 1024x768 isn't 720i. 720i is, I believe, and interlaced version of 1280x720. 1024x768, being a 4:3 ratio, wouldn't have a HDTV resolution rating. With a CRT monitor, you aren't fixed to using a certain "native" resolution like with LCDs. You'll have to play around with different resolutions and see what works best, but you probably should be putting in a modeline for your TV to force the correct scan rates. Incorrect scan rates can produce bad results, and I've heard can even damage components.

The issue I had with the Toshiba CRT (it was an HDTV) was that the image size was not adjustable. The top, bottom, and sides of the desktop were cut off by the bezel on the tube, and there were no controls like those you'd find on a computer monitor to properly position the image. This seemed to me to be a design flaw, and I returned the TV and saved up a few more months to get an LCD.

If your 92mm side panel fan is too loud, but you want to have a fan there for cooling purposes, I can bring my 92mm SilenX fan for you to try out. As I said earlier, I chose not to bother even having this fan in the media centre, and the DT I have needs stronger fans, so I'm using a SilverStone one on it. Now I have an $18 fan sitting around doing nothing.
May 9, 2007 3:52:08 PM

Did a bit more reading: the Wega supposedly supports 480i. I'll have to look at my xorg.conf when i get home and see what's in there after connecting to the tv. supposedly, some of the wegas will actually send a response to a probe (rare for a CRT) so some automagic config may have already happened but need tweaking.

Looking at the nvidia site, under windows all this config for connecting to a tv is done in driver wizards. will have to check out nvidia-glx-config (known to break xorg.conf by incremding bus ids) and/or nvidia-xconfig and see what I can do with those before entering manual modelines.

Re: fan, I'll try disconnecting and see how that goes. If i feel i need more cooling i might take you up on that SilenX.

Re: your toshiba experience. Its actually in the standards (at last for non HDTVs) to have some overscanning on televisions. Under windows, nvidia handles this by having driver options to force underscanning and shrink the image back to within the viewable area of the tv. I'll have to cross that bridge when i come to it.
May 9, 2007 6:44:15 PM

The toshiba wasn't working properly under XP either.... I spent a lot of time trying to get that display working using the Nvidia tools, but in the end I just gave up. I have a feeling you'll do better once you have the drivers sorted out.
May 10, 2007 2:56:09 PM

Well, things look better today (pun intended). There were a couple of very simple settings for my xorg.conf that were missing. Sadly, it took me the better part of the evening to determine what to set them to and then determine that they override various other settings I kept trying to tweak ;) 

So, video playback looks great on the tv now. The desktop itself is still at 1024x768_50, and looks pretty crappy. I tweaked my font settings a lot to try to get them legible, as well as played with some of the settings in nvidia-settings. Not sure if I can get the fonts any better than they are now.

My last major problem, screenwise, is that i'm getting a reverse-pincushion affect at the middle of my screen. Haven't found a way to fix that through software.

Next step is to start investigating ways to quiet this puppy down without it overheating on me.
!