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CPU Cooler for Noise Reduction?

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February 18, 2007 10:48:07 AM

Hi all,

Was wondering if anybody would be able to advise on whether it might be worth purchasing a new CPU cooler just for the purpose of making my machine quieter?

I built my system a couple of weeks ago. I'll give the full specs for reference:

Antec Solo Case ("Ultra Quiet")
Antec NeoHE 500W PSU
Gigabyte 965P-DS4 (rev 1.0)
Core 2 Duo E6600
Corsair TWIN2x2048-6400 (DDR2-800, 2x1GB, CAS5)
MSI GeForce 7900GTO 512MB
2 Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB drives running in RAID-0 configuration
Hauppauge WinTV Nova-T PCI
Philips 190CW 19 inch Widescreen LCD 5ms

On the whole it runs very quietly, but I'd really like to make the machine as silent as possible. I can't really hear any noise from the PSU, but there is the noise of some fan(s) that's apparent during usage. The only other fans in the system are a large 120mm fan mounted at the back of the case, running on its lowest speed, the fan on the GPU (which speeds up and down depending on load) and the CPU cooler (which is the stock Core 2 Duo cooler and also alters speed depending on load). I was wondering if a Zalman cooler to replace this would be likely to reduce the noise level any further (I've read that they are very quiet). Is the CPU fan likely to be the largest noisemaker?

I don't plan to do any overclocking for the timebeing (as much as I'd like to get the extra performance, the idea of voiding my warranty is too scary), so (for now at least), the purpose would be purely to reduce noise. Is it worth it? Anybody got any experience of how quiet or otherwise these are? Any alternative suggestions?

Thanks in advance. :) 
February 18, 2007 11:24:08 AM

u cant distroy a core 2 if u keep voltage under 1.4, so voiding ur warrenty is just a silly excuss not to over clock just get a great hsf and overclock, also is ur gfx card silent?
February 18, 2007 11:42:30 AM

Well, it's not so much that I'm worried that the overclocking will kill the processor. More that if the processor were to fail anyway (unlikely, but suppose it was a bad one), if I'd overclocked it I wouldn't have any comeback. I always wonder how they'd know, of course...

I'm struggling to tell how quiet the graphics is. Certainly when it's taxed hard, I can hear the fan on it spin up faster (at least I'm pretty sure it's that fan and not the CPU fan), but as for basic running, it's hard to tell where the noise is coming from. I'll probably take the cover off later today and see if I can figure out what noise is coming from where, but I just thought I'd post here to see what people thought about the differences between the standard CPU fan and others.
Related resources
February 18, 2007 11:51:10 AM

they know u overclocked it when u change the voltage and it triggers a short in the cpu and thats how they tell or sumfin along those lines
February 18, 2007 12:43:00 PM

The noise from your PSU fans will resonate through the case and sound like its coming from somewhere else. Try mounting your PSU on a rubber grommet made for this purpose.

Also - I would eschew advice from someone who is plainly unable to write in English.
February 18, 2007 1:50:06 PM

Yes, of course, take off the cover and try to tell. GPU fans vary quite a lot in their level of noise, so its hard to compare to the stock C2D fan.

If you really wanna make it quiet, change both the CPU and the GPU. An example would be this for GPU:
http://www.arctic-cooling.com/vga2.php?idx=91
and a Zalman for the CPU as you say (like 9500 or even better 9700 model)
February 18, 2007 4:59:24 PM

Quote:
they know u overclocked it when u change the voltage and it triggers a short in the cpu and thats how they tell or sumfin along those lines

According to the specs, the CPU is designed to run up to 1.3525V anyway, so as long as you stay within that range, there's nothing wrong with the voltage used.

Quote:
The noise from your PSU fans will resonate through the case and sound like its coming from somewhere else. Try mounting your PSU on a rubber grommet made for this purpose.

Interesting thought - I'll look into it. However, I'm inclined to believe that the PSU is not a major culprit since many reviews I read before buying it commented on how silent it was (one of the things that encouraged me to buy it).

Quote:
If you really wanna make it quiet, change both the CPU and the GPU

I have to confess that the idea of changing the cooler is rather daunting and also likely to invalidate my warranty (and we've already established how touchy I am about those! ;)  )

I'm not in the mood for getting the case out and taking it to bits tonight, but I will do some diagnosing in that area soon.

Edit: oh, the other thing I'll have to weigh up is what will and won't actually fit! (in terms of CPU coolers)
February 18, 2007 5:10:18 PM

You don't need to take it apart, just open it up whilst its running.

As for invalidating your warranty with an after-market cooler, you can't, especially with the cpu. There is no way for them to know what cooler you run. The graphics cooling is a little more complicated, but even if your card were to die you could just put the stock cooler back on and send it in. No trouble (I've had to do that once, no problems).
February 18, 2007 7:16:17 PM

You misunderstand me. :)  When I say "take it to bits", I just mean "move all the stuff that's in the way and pull it out to where I can access it and then remove the cover".

About the cooler, I didn't make myself clear either. I've got no issue with changing the CPU cooler - afterall, I fitted the stock one to it during installation. It's the GPU that concerns me more since it arrived pre-attached and it's unknown territory as to how easy it would be to remove and also how effective a new cooler would be compared to the stock one - according to a review I read, the stock 7900 GTO/GTX cooler is a "true engineering marvel". It also says it's "efficient and quiet", though I suppose everything is relative.

Sorry for not making myself clear anyway.
February 18, 2007 7:55:22 PM

Thats no problem, maybe I misunderstood.

The Arctic Cooling company started by making fantastic revolutionary coolers for GPUs, so they are really the best of the best. All of the GPU heatsinks you see nowadays where the air is blown directly out of the case - their idea! Many card makers actually buy coolers from them and then sell them on their cards (ie it comes as the stock one). Could I see the article that you quote regarding your GPU card and fan? :) 
February 18, 2007 7:57:30 PM

If you can get your hands on any Noctua fans they will definetly reduce noise by a good margin. Ofcourse you need to mount it on some sort of heatsink other than the stock one. For my part i felt that the C2D stock cooler was to loud when it got abocve 60% Max RPM. So i shifted to the Noctua solution and the temps dropped around 12-15 degrees which i think is alot. The Fan i so silent that i cant even hear it when its running at a 100% speed when i put ear next to the open cabinet. I literally need to stick my ear almost into the fan to be able to hear it rotating. The fans are also great for mounting inside the cabinet cause they move alot of air without making a sound.

anyways if you need silence noctua it is.
February 18, 2007 8:03:21 PM

Definitely open up your case to pin down where the noise that is bugging you is coming from. I'd also go check out the various "Silent PC" type websites, as they specifically rate various components for noise.
At the least, you may want to get a fan controller to be able to manually adjust the speeds of the various fans. First, though, you need to figure out how to monitor the various temps in your system, to make sure you don't turn the fan(s) down too low.
In general, using a larger-diameter fan at a lower rpm will reduce noise while maintaining airflow. There are also certain fans that a quieter than others -- this is where the specialty sites I mentioned come in really handy, as they are serious about noise. Around here, one person's "quiet" is another person's rock concert.
a c 311 à CPUs
a c 121 K Overclocking
February 18, 2007 8:32:46 PM

I suspect that you are good as is. I have a similar system(e6600, solo case, 8800gts), and it is hard to tell where the noise(what little there is) is coming from. I took a long cardboard tube from some wrapping paper, and used it to listen to the sounds from several components. No one thing jumped out. On startup, I hear an increase, but I think it is the VGA fan, Since I do not have a cooling problem, I might try undervolting some fans with a Zalmate to see if it makes a difference. The 7900gto cooling approach exhausts the heat out the back of the case, like the 8800gts. I like that. If you get a vga cooler that gets the heat off the vga card more efficiently, but does not exhaust it, then you are simply transferring the problem to the cpu cooler or the PSU. The stock intel cooler is pretty good, and reasonably quiet. I use a scythe ninja + with a 120mm constant slow speed fan. I am not certain that it was necessary, but I think a constant fan speed is less noticeable that a variable one. If you want a truly quiet system, research the zalman reserator. Also there is a good forum for quiet computing at silentpcreview.com.
February 19, 2007 6:13:08 AM

Quote:
The Arctic Cooling company started by making fantastic revolutionary coolers for GPUs, so they are really the best of the best. All of the GPU heatsinks you see nowadays where the air is blown directly out of the case - their idea! Many card makers actually buy coolers from them and then sell them on their cards (ie it comes as the stock one). Could I see the article that you quote regarding your GPU card and fan? :) 

Sure. If you follow the link back to the previous article on a 7900GTX, you find that the reviewer refers back to another article (again!) on the 7800GTX, which is where the two quotes I listed came from. :) 

The interesting thing I find about the GPU cooler is that whilst the card "idles" (because with Vista I suppose it's always doing something) at 42C and runs at load at around 60-65C (as far as I remember), I can never feel any hot air coming out of the vent at the back at all, even when it's been working hard for a long time.

Quote:
anyways if you need silence noctua it is.

Thanks for the suggestion: I'll look into it. :) 
Quote:
Definitely open up your case to pin down where the noise that is bugging you is coming from. I'd also go check out the various "Silent PC" type websites, as they specifically rate various components for noise.
At the least, you may want to get a fan controller to be able to manually adjust the speeds of the various fans. First, though, you need to figure out how to monitor the various temps in your system, to make sure you don't turn the fan(s) down too low.
In general, using a larger-diameter fan at a lower rpm will reduce noise while maintaining airflow. There are also certain fans that a quieter than others -- this is where the specialty sites I mentioned come in really handy, as they are serious about noise.

I'm not keen on turning fans down, since (the CPU at least) is a little warmer than I'd like it to be anyway. The case fan already has a speed switch and is at lowest speed. If you have any particular specialist sites that you can recommend, that would be great. :) 
Quote:
I suspect that you are good as is. I have a similar system(e6600, solo case, 8800gts), and it is hard to tell where the noise(what little there is) is coming from. I took a long cardboard tube from some wrapping paper, and used it to listen to the sounds from several components. No one thing jumped out. On startup, I hear an increase, but I think it is the VGA fan, Since I do not have a cooling problem, I might try undervolting some fans with a Zalmate to see if it makes a difference. The 7900gto cooling approach exhausts the heat out the back of the case, like the 8800gts. I like that. If you get a vga cooler that gets the heat off the vga card more efficiently, but does not exhaust it, then you are simply transferring the problem to the cpu cooler or the PSU. The stock intel cooler is pretty good, and reasonably quiet. I use a scythe ninja + with a 120mm constant slow speed fan. I am not certain that it was necessary, but I think a constant fan speed is less noticeable that a variable one. If you want a truly quiet system, research the zalman reserator. Also there is a good forum for quiet computing at silentpcreview.com.

Thanks for the suggestions (particularly the website which I will look at later today). I do wonder whether I'm overdoing it since the computer is the quietest I've had to date as it is - I'd just like to make it as silent as possible (in an ideal world, totally so, but that's not going to happen). I know what you mean about a noise on startup - something revs right up for about a second immediately after poweron. :) 

Thanks for all the suggestions people. Keep them coming, and I'll update on my research as I get it done.
February 19, 2007 9:32:09 AM

Thanks for providing the link. Yeah that type of heatsink for the GPU is like the Arctic Cooling designs anyway, so I don't feel that you will benefit in changing it.

Assuming that is quiet, all you have left is the CPU hsf and case fans. You mentioned that the case fan and that it's on low speed. Didn't you mean to say fans? Or do you only have one case fan? I would have thought that surely you must have at least one intake and one exhaust... But regarding them, tell me their sizes (like 8cm or 9.2cm or 120cm). It may be wise to replace them as well, with fans like the Noctua that was mentioned, although there are other great silent fans too. Also very important is the amount of vibration they make, because as someone mentioned about the PSU fan, its actually true for all fans - they can resonate with the case and create more noise.

Finishing up, yes I say go for it and change the CPU hsf. The Zalman is a great example of a quiet cooler, but there are alternatives as well, such as the Scythe Ninja.
February 19, 2007 10:19:23 AM

Yes, there's only one case fan by default (though there's the facility to install more of them). It's a 120mm Antec TriCool fan and has (as the name suggests) three speed settings, the default being the lowest (which is what the manual recommends to keep things quiet). On the higher settings, the noise is quite noticeable, but it's pretty quiet on the low setting. You can see all the information on my case here, anyway. I would have thought that given it's already a 120mm fan, I'm unlikely to be able to get anything quieter. Opinions? It's looking like the only area that I can really improve in is the CPU fan.

Of course, the other option that I'm weighing up is the very simple one of moving the case from on the desk to under the desk and that might be sufficient to make it seem quiet enough for me (since I really am pushing things trying to make this quieter than it already is). It's just not a particularly convenient option with my desk the way it is.
February 19, 2007 10:57:26 AM

If you want the quietest CPU Heastsink and fan I would look into the Thermalright Ultra 120 and the Scythe Ninja Plus. They are both tower coolers so motherboard/case size maybe an issue.
The Ultra 120 doesnt come with a fan, but get a Noctua 120mm fan and you will have of the quietest CPU cooler around.
February 19, 2007 11:22:58 AM

Right, well from the link you gave for your case, it kinda seems like you have no active intake at all. Thats not great case-flow wise, but if temps are alright then you are alright. As for the 120mm Antec Tricool fan, its decent yup. You can get a quieter one but I'd put good money on the fact that the Tricool isnt the fan thats creating noise at the moment anyway.

A relatively complete set of choices for quiet performance heatsinks for the cpu I'd say is:
Zalman CNPS9700
Noctua NH-U12F (rather than just all the Noctua fans everyone is advertising, they have made a pretty great heatsink as well, the F model comes with their 120mm fan too)
Thermalright Ultra 120
Scythe Ninja-PLUS Rev B (latest model afaik)

I agree with joedastudd that for the heatsinks that don't come with a fan, like the Ultra 120 and Ninja, the Noctua fan would be a great choice for quiet computing.
February 19, 2007 1:43:03 PM

You're correct in that there is no active intake, but I don't think the temperatures are problematic. The "system" temperature (some sensor on the MB - not sure which) is usually about 40C (regardless of what's going on) and the CPU idles at 40-45 and under maximum load is about 60-65.

Thanks for the suggestions from both of you. I still haven't found sufficient time/energy to properly research everything, but I will get around to it at some point. :) 
February 19, 2007 4:39:59 PM

Ok, I've had the case open and been doing some experimenting and it's been interesting...:

Firstly, it's nigh-on impossible to tell what's making how much sound. I am reasonably convinced that most of the sound is from the CPU cooler, however. I tried disconnecting the 120mm fan at the back and couldn't tell the difference in sound. Whether that would be the same with the cover on, I don't know. I did have a nasty shock (not in the electric sense!) while unplugging the fan. It connects via a molex connector, with an input and an output (to connect onto another device). However, I've just had it hanging loose. Turned out that there was a pin sticking out of the edge of the other end of the connector which shorted with the case as I disconnected it (generated a visible spark). Fortunately, the PSU's overcurrent protection immediately jumped in and everything was fine. :)  I've removed the danger now by connecting that fan to the same molex connector powering one of the optical drives and removing the surplus molex connectors from the case altogether (it's a modular PSU).


One of the most frustrating things about the sound being made from the case is the way that the CPU fan is constantly adjusting it's speed. To rectify this, I thought I'd have a play with the fan settings in the BIOS. There are two options: "Smart Fan Control Option" and "Smart Fan Control Method". The options for the first are "Auto" (default), "Intel QST", "Legacy" and "Disable". Under the second is "Auto" (default), "Voltage" and "PWM" - the MB manual says these second lot of settings are dependent on whether you use a 3-pin connector CPU fan or a 4-pin connector. I thought I'd try changing to the "Intel QST" option and sure enough the fan speed became much more constant (and slightly lower: around 1000RPM). However, some weird things happened. Firstly, when I saved the BIOS settings, a message came up about waiting while it applied fan settings before a "hard reset". This lasted about 5 seconds, after which the machine, true to its word, completely turned off for a couple of seconds (rather than the usual BIOS soft reset) and then powered back up. There was then a wait of approximately 10 more seconds before the thing came to life again and began to boot.

I thought this would be the end of the weirdness, but then when Windows was finished loading, it decided it wanted to install some new hardware: "Simple PCI Communications Device" or words to that effect. I also noticed that the idle temperatures seemed about 5 degrees warmer than normal (though I'm beginning to question the reliability of my measure and am now thinking of retesting it). Anyway, I switched back in the end.

One thing that does frustrate me is that there's seemingly no reliable way to measure the CPU temperature - every single application I own gives a different figure (and the BIOS another figure again).

Anyway, this has gone on a bit long, so I'll get back to the question in hand. One final concern I have about a new CPU cooler is whether it'll actually fit! A picture of the inside of my machine: (an old pic, so you can see the molex/fan thing in the bottom left)



Sorry that this isn't particularly easy to see it on, but you can see that there's a Gigabyte heat-pipe thing all around the CPU cooler as it is, not leaving a lot of room. My understanding is that the fans people have been recommending are, on the whole, substantially bigger than my existing one.

Sorry to have gone on so long... :roll:

Oh, P.S. I'm still looking at that SilentPCReview site. There's a lot of useful information on it: thanks!
February 19, 2007 6:25:44 PM

Just FYI, yes your temps are considerably higher than most C2Ds. That is definitely because not just you have poor airflow, but virtually no directed airflow through your case to speak of. I'm not aiming to alarm you by the way, those temps aren't anywhere near being harmful for your CPU (I've been running a Prescott 3.4Ghz at about 69-74 degrees on load 24/7 for about 2 years now). You can tell the airflow is bad even from the fact that your case temp is almost your idle CPU temp!

As for your changing of the fan speed stuff in the BIOS, sorry can't comment, no experience! But I would change it back, cause as you say the temps are higher now (and you mentioned the fan is slower, so that makes sense).

When I needed to figure out which fans were making the most noise in my computer, I stopped each one individually for just a few seconds (using an eraser and slowly applying pressure to the middle of the fan - not the blades - until it slowed and stopped).

I started looking at the compatibility of your motherboard with the coolers and realised that your motherboard, similar to the one in Thermalright's example, might have a back plate that you will need to remove, which is a bit of a pain:
http://www.thermalright.com/a_page/main_support_faq_mot...
So I looked up your mobo, and I don't think yours has that, so you should be fine. The good news is if you read that page from Thermalright it says that the Ultra 120 fits just fine on that board except for the backplate business, but what I'm pointing out is that the heatsinks on the motherboard look exactly like yours and if they are the Ultra 120 should fit on yours too.
Then I looked at the Scythe cooler:
http://www.scythe.co.jp/en/cooler/SCNJ1000.htm
http://www.scythe.co.jp/en/cooler/manual/SCNJ1000.pdf
Couldn't really figure out definitively if it will fit on your motherboard...
And Noctua says your board is compatible for sure:
http://www.noctua.at/main.php?show=compatibility_nh_u12...
And Zalman doesn't say anything concrete:
http://www.zalman.co.kr/eng/eng_index.asp (sorry for no direct link, their website is structured that way)
However, the actual heatsink part starts quite high up and I think it would clear your heatsinks.

Long story short, Thermalright is a go, as is Noctua. For Scythe and Zalman, a little more research needs to be done but I'm leaving that to you (personally it looks like they would fit).

Good luck!
February 19, 2007 7:23:48 PM

Quote:
...but you can see that there's a Gigabyte heat-pipe thing all around the CPU cooler as it is, not leaving a lot of room. ...

Now that you've shown us your MB, one consideration to mention is that most aftermarket CPU coolers do not blow air down toward the MB and out in all directions like the OEM Intel and the various "flower-style" coolers. This airflow cools adjacent components and is a secondary function of the CPU cooler. Some MBs are more sensitive to the removal of this cooling flow than are others; since yours has two radiators right by the CPU specifically designed to take advantage of this OEM CPU cooler airflow, I'd be very careful in choosing a stock cooler replacement.
a c 311 à CPUs
a c 121 K Overclocking
February 19, 2007 7:57:29 PM

Your wiring is a mess! There is room to tuck the power cables away, and out of the airflow. This will improve your cooling, and possibly even reduce the sound. The front of the case opens for the air filters, and there is room for 2 92mm fans. Get slow turning ones, you don't need much. For a few bucks, you can get a couple of zalman fanmate plus devices which let you adjust your fan speeds. The scythe ninja plus is a big cooler with widely separated fins. This bigger fin separation is what makes it work with slow turning 120mm fans. Also, it directs the air towards the rear, and outside the case. It will fit in the solo case.
If you can put the case on the floor, next to the desk, it will seem much quieter. Try this before anything else. I have put mine on my subwoofer box, and the dvd drawer is now at desktop height.
February 19, 2007 8:02:50 PM

Thank you, I got so carried away with the research that I forgot to mention what you just did (referring to Mondoman). That was the whole reason I criticised his lack of case flow at the start, cause I was gonna bring up what you just did. With a cooler not blowing on those components, the case temp could go up even more.

The one redeeming thing about his motherboard is that generally speaking, you mount the HSF such that the fan blows air through the fins and then in the direction of the exhaust. This means that it will blow over that one area of motherboard heatsinks that is between the cpu socket and the exhaust fan. And keeping in mind that the whole cooling apparatus on the motherboard is linked via heatpipe, perhaps cooling that one area would be enough.

In your shoes, I'd get myself one of the coolers we recommended, and also a silent 92mm fan (or two - but be sure to get low vibration ones as opposed to just quiet ones) to stick in as an intake if you notice your case temps have increased.
February 19, 2007 8:30:59 PM

Pssive CPU cooler is what you want.

I'll never install another active CPU cooler - EVER. They're crap. All of them.

Passive is reliable, 100% silent, and won't EVER clog up with dust.
February 19, 2007 8:35:47 PM

Getting tired and ready for bed, so I'm not going to say too much.

Fedor: thanks so much for all that research! :D  I'm aware that the CPU temp is a little higher than average, but I have read about a reasonable number of people with similar temperatures. As I understand it, the C2D starts throttling at 80 and shuts off at 85, so I figured as long as things stay below 70 I should be OK. Regarding the fan setting - I did change it back in the end though, as I say, my tests weren't very extensive, so I may try it a little more on other settings at some point. Unfortunately, I can't stop the CPU fan - it's not clear from the picture, but the part with the Intel logo on doesn't spin. The actual spinning part is concealed below that, so unless I touch the blades (which I'd rather not do, as it might damage them), I can't stop it. Similarly, I obviously can't stop the PSU fans and I'm reasonably convinced that the graphics fan isn't a problem. As I said, I did try stopping the large case fan.

Mondoman: thanks so much for that. I hadn't really cottoned on to how those silent-cool things worked, but that makes a lot of sense. Interestingly enough, according to the BIOS, the southbridge is running at the coolest of anything (even below the case temperature) at 35C!

geofelt: Yes, the wiring is a complete mess! I should do something with it, but to be honest it's not a particularly easy thing to do since everything's quite cramped in there! I realise that I can fit 92mm fans at the front of the case, but I'm anxious that it'll probably increase the sound level - thoughts? I would definitely like to put the case on the floor, but I'm struggling to work out where I could put it where it would be easily accessible with the layout of desk I have. Still working on that...

Thanks so much everyone for all your help here - I'm overwhelmed by how quickly I've got so much useful advice!
February 19, 2007 8:36:41 PM

Passive is nice and everything but you need some case airflow going, I mean even his active stock cooler is letting the CPU hit 60-65C, can you imagine what it would be if it were passively cooled? It would start to throttled due to excessive temps...

So now I've read your new post, with that in mind I think the plan of action should be to get a great CPU cooler such as one of the examples that I and the others have given. Then once you achieve that, revisit the noise issue to see which component seems loudest (cause yeah, im 99% that the loudest thing you have in there is the stock CPU cooler, it goes first!). You're right, even if the fans are very quiet more noise is more noise, so adding a case fan isn't desirable. I'd only do it in the scenario you get one of those CPU coolers and notice that the system temp has shot up.

Without a case fan though, I really do wonder what sort of temps your harddrive is exposed to.
February 20, 2007 6:22:21 AM

Quote:
Without a case fan though, I really do wonder what sort of temps your harddrive is exposed to.
I wish I knew. Unfortunately, I don't know of any software that'll monitor them given that they're configured in a RAID array (Intel). It would be helpful if the Intel software would say, but it doesn't. Bear in mind though that the case/"system" temperature (though I don't know where the sensor is) is always around 40C, regardless of load, so I wouldn't have thought that was particularly excessive...?

Quote:
I would definatly recomend cleaning up that wiring Wink

He's my Solo with an E6600 cooled by a Zalman 7000B-AlCu. Stock exhaust fan replaced with a Arctic Cooling AF12 with a Sythe 92mm intake. And a Sapphire Ultimate X1950Pro. With all fans controlled by my MB and set to low I can't hear it and idle around 37.

Interesting, but to be honest you're making me wonder whether it's worth spending £30ish for a 5 degree drop in temperature and a potentially imperceivable drop in noise. Did you at any point try your system with the Intel CPU cooler? (i.e. do you know what the difference in noise is?

Also, what motivated you to change the back fan? It's pretty quiet as-is.
February 20, 2007 11:11:16 AM

Quote:
Interesting, but to be honest you're making me wonder whether it's worth spending £30ish for a 5 degree drop in temperature and a potentially imperceivable drop in noise. Did you at any point try your system with the Intel CPU cooler? (i.e. do you know what the difference in noise is?

Also, what motivated you to change the back fan? It's pretty quiet as-is.


I started with the stock fan which was fine at at idle, but too loud at full throttle. So I switched to the zalman which at lowest rpm (using the fanmate 2) cooled as good as the stock cooler on high.

There are a few reasons that I changed the back fan. I kinda think of included fans the same as included PSUs. Yeah they work, but not the highest quality. I wanted the MB to control the rpm, wasn't sure if I could with the stock fan. And I thought the AF12 looked cool. :wink:
At idle my fans run at:
CPU: 1680, exhaust: 1100, intake: 600. But as my temp get to 50-55 the fans go up to CPU: 2700, exhaust: 1700, intake: 1400. I can hear the cpu fan at full throttle, but it hasn't gone to full throttle on it's own yet. Orthos toppep at 49.
February 20, 2007 12:40:51 PM

See for me personally, the fact alone that you can HEAR that the CPU fan is changing speeds often would be annoying, and clearly implies that it's louder than everything else. For the 30 pounds you mentioned you'll get lower temps and more peace and quiet, worth it imo. Also please note that his Zalman wasn't one of the ones we recommended, the only good thing about it is that it cools the nearby components a bit since its blowing onto the mobo as opposed to out towards the exhaust. Of the 4 heatsinks I recommended, Zalman would actually be last on the list. And also the Noctua fan for example is quieter at full speed than the Zalman is on minimum speed - that's not a good thing just in itself, but to me it goes to show how the Noctua stuff really is geared towards silence whereas Zalman does a very good (but not fantastic) job at trying to be flexible between silence and performance. But that's just my proverbial 2 cents.

PS Regarding your mess in the case, since you have no intake and thus no directed airflow to speak of, I don't think the cable mess really plays a role.
February 20, 2007 9:35:07 PM

Quote:
... Bear in mind though that the case/"system" temperature (though I don't know where the sensor is) is always around 40C, regardless of load, so I wouldn't have thought that was particularly excessive...?

With proper airflow, your system temp should be no more than a few degrees C above ambient room temp. (Mine varies between 1 and 2C above ambient).
February 20, 2007 9:43:09 PM

I'm glad you said that cause I didn't want to make conclusions from my computer alone. But to give you an idea tcn, my system temperature is 28 degrees. Room temp is probably around 22. And we are talking about a computer that has 6 hard drives, SCSI and RAID cards that run hot, and top it off with a scorching hot Prescott CPU!
February 20, 2007 10:59:23 PM

yes to quiet your system you need a quiet fan as the HS makes no noise. since any heat sink requires x amount of air the bigger the fan providing the air the slower its needs to turn.

what u want is hs that uses 120mm fan

zalman designed is flawed - why? the heat sink has a fan at one end the air will go the easiest route it can. that means a good amount or air nevere travels down to the end.

a heat sink with fins that contain the air forces all the air through the entie heat sink - thats why a thermalright will always out perform a zalman
February 20, 2007 11:28:43 PM

Quote:
You don't need to take it apart, just open it up whilst its running.

As for invalidating your warranty with an after-market cooler, you can't, especially with the cpu. There is no way for them to know what cooler you run. The graphics cooling is a little more complicated, but even if your card were to die you could just put the stock cooler back on and send it in. No trouble (I've had to do that once, no problems).


If he replaces the HSF on either the CPU or the GPU when it's fairly new, the they will remain clean (little if any dust). When you ship it back to intel/AMD/ATI, they can look at the HSF and see it hasn't been used.

Of course if it breaks soon after you do this, or you use the stock HSF long enough to get nice and dirty, then you're set ;) 

I"ve had my AMD cooler in my case (but not running) for months, and it still looks new (and running it defeats the purpose of putting a nice quiet XP-90 in there.
February 20, 2007 11:33:39 PM

FWIW, I think your noise is probably form your Hard Drives. The Seagates aren't the quiestest drives around, and i know that the loudest component in my case is definitely the HD. You can test this by unplugging one of your drives and rebooting and seeing if that decreases the noise.

If you're really industrious, you can take the remaing drive and suspend it with shoelaces in a 5.24 bay. My guess is you'll find that the noise level drops even further.
February 20, 2007 11:57:41 PM

You could always try sound dampening material inside the case. Xoxide and Frozencpu have the stuff. If your components are as quiet as performance allows, give it a whirl.
February 21, 2007 12:36:53 AM

Whether or not tcn is using them I couldn't tell from the picture, but the antec Solo allready has HD suspension. I'm using the exact same HD, 7200.10 320gb , and a raptor and I can't hear them when using the suspension.
February 21, 2007 3:20:48 PM

Quote:
See for me personally, the fact alone that you can HEAR that the CPU fan is changing speeds often would be annoying, and clearly implies that it's louder than everything else. For the 30 pounds you mentioned you'll get lower temps and more peace and quiet, worth it imo.

Yes, it does get a tad annoying, but it is only noticeable if you carefully listen for it. It's just sometimes it sets up a vibration which can be frustrating. It's worth mentioning that at the moment, the case is less than half a metre from where I sit, so I think moving it to the floor would certainly help. However, you guys have convinced me that the internal temperature of the case is a little high (p.s. SIX hard-drives?!), and I think moving it to under my desk would just restrict airflow around the case, and push them up a bit more (ignoring the issues of rearranging the furniture to make it work!)

Quote:
yes to quiet your system you need a quiet fan as the HS makes no noise. since any heat sink requires x amount of air the bigger the fan providing the air the slower its needs to turn.

what u want is hs that uses 120mm fan

Unfortunately, I doubt very much that a 120 mm fan will fit inside my setup... :( 

Quote:
If he replaces the HSF on either the CPU or the GPU when it's fairly new, the they will remain clean (little if any dust). When you ship it back to intel/AMD/ATI, they can look at the HSF and see it hasn't been used.

I shouldn't have thought that Intel would care what CPU fan is used. I suspect the GPU would be a different matter because installing a new one involves disassembling the card from the way it comes packaged.
Quote:
FWIW, I think your noise is probably form your Hard Drives. The Seagates aren't the quiestest drives around, and i know that the loudest component in my case is definitely the HD. You can test this by unplugging one of your drives and rebooting and seeing if that decreases the noise.

If you're really industrious, you can take the remaing drive and suspend it with shoelaces in a 5.24 bay. My guess is you'll find that the noise level drops even further.

I'm aware of the hard-disks, but the hum from them is pretty quiet (presumably since they are mounted on rubber grommets). As Rook says, the Solo case comes with a suspension mounting option for upto three drives. However, I'm not using it at the moment, since I will have to move my computer around quite a bit in the next few months (and you can't transport the system with the HDDs in suspension mount). Am thinking of doing the suspension thing come September when I settle down in my new house and the location of my computer is to become a little more permanent.
Quote:
You could always try sound dampening material inside the case. Xoxide and Frozencpu have the stuff. If your components are as quiet as performance allows, give it a whirl.

Thanks for the suggestions. I doubt anything like that is likely to improve things much since my case has sound-dampened side-panels etc. to start with, but I'll look into it. :) 


I'm really feeling in two-minds about everything at the moment. I want to reduce the internal temperature (the effect of this is evident when I remove the sidepanels - CPU temperature drops 5 degrees), but doing so would involve mounting at least one front fan which will increase the noise level (how significantly it's hard to know). I'd also like to cool the CPU better, but I'm reluctant to spend £30ish if the gain is negligible (I'm on a tight budget at the moment!). However, I also want this computer to last a fair while, and given that reducing temperatures will probably improve the longevity of the components, I feel that I probably really should make the effort. (however, I read a THG article today suggesting that hard-drives actually fail more at lower temperatures!)

I guess it looks like I'm really talking myself into doing this though which means doing some proper research on the models that have been suggested by you helpful folk!

One thing I am wondering about: does anybody know how good or otherwise the pre-applied thermal material on the C2D is? I'm just wondering whether removing the heatsink, wiping it off, applying some new thermal paste (I only have a generic unbranded one) and reseating it will help possibly?
February 21, 2007 3:43:29 PM

tcn, I believe that THG's report was talking about HD's that had dedicated cooling solutions, not systems that had cooler cases.

As far as your fans, I suggest you find a setting for your fans and lock it in. None of the fans in my cases are on variable control.

For example, my CPU fan is locked at roughly 1100rpm.

Can you change the fan speed via software from within windows? If so, I'd suggest you turn them all off (one at a time) and see if the sound persists. If it doesn't, you should now know which fan caused the problem.

FWIW, you could take a trip over the silentpcreview.com for advice. I think you're far more likely to get good advice there than here, simply because most people on THG aren't concerned with quiet computing, while SPCR readers are generally obsessed with it.
a c 311 à CPUs
a c 121 K Overclocking
February 21, 2007 3:57:12 PM

I took some of my own advice and took a second look at my system. I found that one of my front fans was running full out, and was noisy; a zalman fanmate took care of that. The startup sounds were coming from the dvd drive, not the vga card. My E6600 is idling around 40-44 degrees, at 52 under load. The ambient is about 24. I was a bit concerned, so I put a multimeter temperature probe in several places. It seems that the interior is at around 40. The 8800gtx exhausts the air at 40 also. It seems that a high powered vga card may not exhaust all the heat it generates, leaving not so cool air to cool the cpu. The good news is that even when active, the heat thresholds are not being reached.

At this point, my plan is to do nothing. The computer is reasonably quiet, and neither the vga card nor the processor is in danger from heat issues.
a c 311 à CPUs
a c 121 K Overclocking
February 21, 2007 4:07:35 PM

A good paste can help. Arctic silver 5 is highly recommended. We are looking at 2-4? degrees help here. It gets better after repeated boots. Even the most efficient air cpu cooler won't cool to lower than the ambient temperature inside the case. Go ahead and add a low speed fan to the front. If the fans run a 1000rpm or less, they are relatively quiet.
February 25, 2007 3:03:34 PM

A Noctua fan attached to some sort of passive cooler Tuniq Tower maybe. Or if your not loading the processor or OCing just a huge passive cooler. Also dunno that mobo but chipset fans can be HUGE noise makers try the Cooler master HR-02 SLI its good or once again a Noctua. Noctua ownzorz
February 25, 2007 3:07:03 PM

Well the Noctua fan idea has been recommended many times already. If you're that dead-set on it [the fan], may as well just recommend the Noctua NH-U12F no? :p 

I see you edited your post, may as well edit mine then. You have a good point theoretically, but if you bothered to look up his mobo, you'd know it has passive chipset cooling.
February 25, 2007 3:10:31 PM

I would get a huge passive cooler and try it with a quality paste ( AS5 or if its Copper HS then Coollaboratory stuff) check the temps and everything if not satisfied pick up an 800 or 1200 rpm Noctua I like the 1200
February 25, 2007 3:11:35 PM

I edited my post about your chipset cooling btw. So you can look up and read that. As for your "huge passive cooler", some examples would be more constructive.
February 25, 2007 4:17:47 PM

nilepez: I took your advice and headed over to SPCR and asked around there. It's been suggested that sorting out my cable mess, and maybe reseating my heatsink, would sort out my temperatures issues (since somebody else with the same case/CPU/fans has posted with quite lower temperatures than mine).

I can't control any fan RPMs from Windows (possibly due to a lack of Vista support with various applications), but I'm reasonably convinced that the CPU is the biggest problem, noisewise. The worst thing is when it spins up and sometimes sets up an annoying vibration.

geofelt: As I've just said, I'm possibly going to reseat my heatsink, for which I will use the paste I have. However, if I can get AS5 or something (plus a decent intake fan) from a local computer show reasonably cheaply, I will do. Unfortunately, ordering such things over the Internet gets a bit silly because you pay a similar amount for the P+P as you do for the product.

brshelton: thanks for your comments. As has been pointed out, my MB has passive cooling on the chipset (which takes advantage of the the airflow around the CPU), so no problems there. The idea of just having passive cooling, whilst being very appealing from a noise point-of-view, terrifies me from a temperatures point-of-view. As we've established, I'm not doing overclocking at this point, but I will be loading the CPU to 100% for extended periods potentially.

Fedor: definitely getting the idea that the Noctua would be a great fan for me. It's ultra-quiet and states that it's definitely compatible with my motherboard. However, it's also rather pricey (£36.41, which is roughly $70-$75) and would involve completely removing my motherboard from my system (which is obviously a pain, and gives potential for something getting damaged).

I'm sure you all think I'm dreadfully indecisive now, but I'm beginning to come to the opinion that I will make a serious effort to clear my wires up, and then try reseating my heatsink. If that sorts out the temperatures, I'll probably wait until I move to my new house and then (when the cashflow situation is a bit better) treat myself to the Noctua fan and also mount the HDDs in suspension mount. :)  Unfortunately, I'm away from home until tomorrow (back on my Dell Inspiron!), so I can't play with the cables and heatsink tonight. Will keep you all posted!
February 25, 2007 6:01:21 PM

Go for it, clean up that cable mess. Certainly doesnt cost anything and wont hurt! Since you quoted the price of the Noctua in pounds, I'm guessing you're in the UK, as am I. You can check out this store cause they specialise in stuff for quiet PCs, and I think have every single heatsink I recommended:
http://www.quietpc.com/gb-en-gbp/products/intelcooling
Price-wise I've checked out multiple online UK stores and the Noctua is plus a few pounds there, minus a few here, no store was clearly cheaper to the point where it made a difference.

As for having to remove your motherboard, that is true you will have to. However, afaik all of my suggested coolers will require you to do that. Most high-end heatsinks include their own backplate cause 1) it makes sure there the motherboard is straight (I mean that literally, motherboards sometimes flex a bit) around the CPU, thus resulting in better contact with the heatsink and 2) most need a strong metal backplate since the heatsinks are just too damn heavy for use with the standard mechanism.

Well, good luck!
February 25, 2007 7:42:24 PM

Yes, I'm in the UK. :)  I had seen the site you mention, but I doubt I'll be buying from it since it is, generally speaking, more expensive than most sites. The cheapest I've seen the Noctua, once P+P is factored in, was overclockers.co.uk I think. :) 

Yeah, I'm beginning to accept that if I replace the cooler, I will have to remove the MB. Makes sense really, given how humongous some of these heatsinks are! Someone did recommend a cooler over at SPCR (an Arctic Cooling one) that seemed to install the same way as the standard Intel one, but it wasn't too impressive on the noise-reduction front.
February 25, 2007 8:14:55 PM

For noise reduction SPCR is the bible. And removing the mobo is pretty much a given. USA that is the cheapest place i could fidn for the Noctua.
!