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Advice on Case Fans

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May 31, 2012 4:23:36 PM

Hello there!
I'll be purchasing a new gaming rig next week. I've been trying to figure out what the optimal fan set-up for me would be and what fans to get, to no avail. There are so many options and so many different fans all claiming to be silent, all with confusing reviews.

My build:
Intel Core i5-3570K
Noctua NH-D14
ASUS P8Z77-V PRO
GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 670 WindForce OC
Crucial M4 SATA3 128GB
WD Caviar Blue 1TB
CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 Low Profile
SeaSonic M12II 620 Bronze 620W
Fractal Design Define R3

I don't intend to push it to its overclocking limits. I plan light-medium overclocking only. I went for a relatively quiet build, so obviously I'm also trying to find quiet fans (or at least quiet when the PC isn't under load). Please keep in mind that this PC is going in my bedroom, under my desk. It would be great to have it inaudible at idle.
I can't afford to pay 30$ per fan, but I'd be glad to spend 15$-20$ on each.

Suggestions and feedback would be greatly appreciated!

More about : advice case fans

a b K Overclocking
May 31, 2012 5:26:41 PM

Noctua fans are silent. I'm using 4 of them and 4 CoolerMaster fan on my CM690 case. Silent enough
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a b K Overclocking
May 31, 2012 5:32:33 PM

Edit* noctua NF-S12B FLX or thermalright x silents are good choices. You will hear your gpu and heatsink/radiator fans over your case fans first depending on the fan setup on the gpu and cpu.
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May 31, 2012 5:35:57 PM

venjhammet said:
Noctua fans are silent. I'm using 4 of them and 4 CoolerMaster fan on my CM690 case. Silent enough


Thanks for the suggestion. They're a little bit on the expensive side here, but I'll definitely consider them. Could you be more specific regarding the model you're using?

skaz said:
Noctua nf-p12 or thermalright x silents are good choices. You will hear your gpu and heatsink/radiator fans over your case fans first depending on the fan setup on the gpu and cpu.


I read good things about the Gigabyte GTX 670 Windforce fans, so I'm hoping they were true and they are indeed not loud. I went with a Noctua CPU heatsink which is about as quiet as I could find. Thank you for your suggestions, I appreciate it.

Any suggestions regarding the placement of the fans?
Information from Fractal Design's website on the Fractal Design Define R3 (my case):
* A total of 7 fan slots (2x120mm in front, 2x 120/140mm in top, 1x120mm in back, 1x 120/140mm in side panel, 1x 120/140mm in bottom)
* 2x 120mm Fractal Design 120mm fans included
* Fan controller for 3 fans included
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a b K Overclocking
May 31, 2012 7:41:29 PM

Ahhh the great question. Fan placement. I owned an R3 define for a bit. I used two intake fans upfront, one exhuast on rear, and one exhaust on top. Creating a bottom front to rear top airflow direction. I left the side panel sealed up.

Also, I want to correct the noctua model I recomended. For case fans I ment the NF-S12B FLX. (I'm personally using the x silents right now because I got a good deal on them)
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May 31, 2012 8:16:21 PM

skaz:

From your experience, does adding a fan on top increase the noise level? As far as I understand it has a negative affect on overall quietness. I'm worried that since the PC will be to the right of me under a desk, the noise from a top fan will come directly up and at me.

What was your overall impression of the R3?
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a b K Overclocking
May 31, 2012 8:37:53 PM

In all honesty, I ended up selling it and going back to my haf 922. I wasn't satisfied with the noise to airflow ratio. My temps were higher in the define vs my haf 922 and overall the system wasn't as quite as I thought it was going to be. I understand everyone's noise and temperature tolerance is different though. The case is good, and rightfully so. Many people praise it but I personally wasn't happy with the tempatures and audio level of the system.

Definitely by opening the top you will increase the noise level slightly. I had mine to the right of me on the floor as well. And I'm sure that contributed to the noise level but at the same time my temps suffered with it sealed up.

Again its a personal preference thing and I still think the define r3 is a good case. I'm just picky with temps and noise.
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May 31, 2012 8:51:15 PM

Do you remember how high the temperatures were? I looked at several benchmarks before deciding on the R3 and the temperatures looked fine to me. Then again - it's the real world that matters, and benchmarks often don't compare.

Regarding the noise, was it not-quiet even when idle? That's really the most important thing to me. I don't mind it not being quiet while gaming and during heavy load, but if I'm trying to write a paper or watch a movie, I don't want to hear it.

Any other case you'd recommend, aside from the haf 922 and R3?
I'd really like a simple looking case, with no window and very little LEDs.
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a b K Overclocking
May 31, 2012 9:07:38 PM

No problem, my benchmark results are on my main system. I will post them later tonight. If I remember correctly they weren't terrible just not as good in comparison to my other case. At idle the system wasn't loud by any means, it just didn't seem any less audible than the 922.

I'm still searching for the perfect case. I too want a simpler look. The corsair 300 (400 and/or 500? Can't remember which) seem like nice cases. I also like the arc midi. Some of the lian lis are nice too. Hard to recomend any though because I myself am still searching for the right case. I'm looking for one that has an all metal construction (including front), and all removable hard drive cages with other common features and not so common but I won't go into detail about that. So far the closest thing is the corsair c70. But that case got a decently bad review on anandtech so ill probably pass on it. Although that seemed largely due to the fact they tested it with stock fans in stock location. Which was the middle of the case. So temps we're bad. Id be interested to see it tested with proper fan placement.

I think the only way to find the case I'm looking for is to build it =). Wish I had acess to a metal working shop.

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May 31, 2012 9:27:56 PM

Thanks, that would be very helpful!

So were you able to hear it quite well even when idle? Do you think it was due to the case not being "silencing" enough on the quiet components, or that the components weren't quiet enough?

I've been looking into the Corsair Obsidian Series 550D. It's a rather clean case (not as clean as the R3), with what looks like a solid build quality. Not the most attractive, but since I'll be adding Noctua fans, my system doesn't stand a chance at being good looking anyway!

I wish it weren't so ridiculously difficult to find a simple case with good/decent airflow that can be near-silent at idle when the components inside it are rather quiet.
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a b K Overclocking
June 1, 2012 4:02:26 AM

I checked my records. Recorded temperatures don't show a drastic difference. When doing some quick averaging I found there to only be about a 5 degree difference. The temperatures I was going by were max temps recorded while playing BFBC2 for an hour or longer.

So overall the temperature difference wasn't drastically different depending on how you look at it. For me it was enough to go back to my old case. I was expecting temperatures to rise slightly but was willing to sacrifice a little temperature for a more quiet case. The case just didn't live up to my expectations in regards to the sound dampening so mixing that with the slight temp increase ultimately lead me to sell it.

Again though, I fully realize and admit I am more sensitivity to computer noise then most people =) And I still think the R3 Define is a good case. I just personally didn't experience the "sound dampening" aspect of the r3 define which is why I ultimately bought the case in the first place.

I recall the idle noise to be the same as the haf 922. This was with the top mounts open. I know the noise was from the components and upgrade/updating/removing them is the best first step to a "silent" computer. But I didn't think the define helped at "dampening" them either.

Do you plan on opening the top fan mounts? If not I'm sure the audio levels will be much better for you.
Share
June 1, 2012 7:24:26 AM

Thank you for checking and posting. I appreciate it.

Overall, the Define R3 is as close to a "perfect" case I could find. My current case enhances every small noise and the components themselves are nowhere near quiet, so I think no matter what, my new rig will be less audible. I guess I'll have to wait and "hear".

I'm still not sure how I'll be setting up my fans.
I'd like to avoid mounting one at the top/side as if I can, at least at first to see how the temperatures are without it.

Do you think a floor fan would be a bad option, considering the GPU I'll be using has 3 fans of its own?
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a b K Overclocking
June 1, 2012 1:42:40 PM

Floor fan wouldn't hurt anything. Probably help feed ambient air to your gpu.
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June 1, 2012 3:04:04 PM

skaz said:
Floor fan wouldn't hurt anything. Probably help feed ambient air to your gpu.


What about the noise level?

I'm trying to pick between these two options:

1) Two front intake fans, one back exhaust
2) One front intake fan, one floor intake fan, one back exhaust

If you have a better suggestion, don't hesitate to bring it up.
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a b K Overclocking
June 1, 2012 3:33:46 PM

I don't now how much noise the bottom fan would add to the overall system noise. But I think both options would be worthy of testing. I'd be interested in your results if you ever had time to do a couple temp recordings with both options.

I'm especially interested in how the temperatures would be with only one exhaust letting the heat out.

As weird as it would look, I sketched up a design that could house a 120mm over the IO panel. I would love to be able to have two exhaust fans in the back of the case to eliminate the need for a top exhaust. One day maybe =).

Edit: Which reminds me. I'm not sure on your price range for the case, but another recommendation is the Silverstone Fortress FT02. I've always been interested in that case as well.
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a c 225 K Overclocking
June 1, 2012 4:09:14 PM

Stormborn said:
Hello there!
I'll be purchasing a new gaming rig next week. I've been trying to figure out what the optimal fan set-up for me would be and what fans to get, to no avail. There are so many options and so many different fans all claiming to be silent, all with confusing reviews.

My build:
Intel Core i5-3570K
Noctua NH-D14
ASUS P8Z77-V PRO
GIGABYTE GeForce GTX 670 WindForce OC
Crucial M4 SATA3 128GB
WD Caviar Blue 1TB
CORSAIR Vengeance 8GB Dual Channel DDR3 Low Profile
SeaSonic M12II 620 Bronze 620W
Fractal Design Define R3

I don't intend to push it to its overclocking limits. I plan light-medium overclocking only. I went for a relatively quiet build, so obviously I'm also trying to find quiet fans (or at least quiet when the PC isn't under load). Please keep in mind that this PC is going in my bedroom, under my desk. It would be great to have it inaudible at idle.
I can't afford to pay 30$ per fan, but I'd be glad to spend 15$-20$ on each.

Suggestions and feedback would be greatly appreciated!


Check out the link in my sig.
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June 1, 2012 7:13:59 PM

skaz said:
Edit: Which reminds me. I'm not sure on your price range for the case, but another recommendation is the Silverstone Fortress FT02. I've always been interested in that case as well.


Doesn't that one have a window? I'm not sure if it'll be better than the Define R3 for my purposes. Thanks for the suggestion though, I'll look into it.

I was also trying to find a case that'll allow me to go with two exhaust fans. Seems nonexistent? At least in the market of "silent" cases.

I'm starting to think there's no avoiding adding a top fan. Removing the damping foam in the side panel would not be better over putting an exhaust at the top. A floor fan will pick up a lot of dust, which there is no lack of in the city. A friend suggested that I go for two front fans (intake), one rear (exhaust) and one at the top (exhaust). I don't how much loader a four fans configuration would be compared to a three-fan setup.

I'd be glad to post my results once my rig is all set up.

4Ryan6 said:
Check out the link in my sig.


Thank you! Lots of useful information. I'm more confused than I was before I read it, but that just shows I didn't know enough to make up my mind. I thought the Noctua fans were about as quiet as it can get...guess not!
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a b K Overclocking
June 1, 2012 7:40:20 PM

There is a non window version too. Intakes do bring in dust, but a dust filter will go a long way in helping. Also positive preasure will help with that. Although I prefer more exhaust to get the heat out. My current set up is one 140mm fan as front intake, one 120mm rear exhaust, and two 120mm top exhaust.
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June 1, 2012 8:29:46 PM

I prefer more exhaust fans as well. The temperatures get pretty high were I live during the summer, most days it's over 33C. It's good to have more than one fan pushing out the hot air.

Maybe I'll go for one front intake, one back exhaust, and one top exhaust.
I'm definitely not going for two fans at the top or a fan at the side, that'll be too loud.

I guess I'll keep thinking and researching. I'll be buying three fans and the Define R3 comes with two additional fans, so I'll have five overall. I could always play with the setup to find the best noise/cooling configuration for me.

Thank you for very much for your advice and guidance. At least now I have a couple of clear ideas.
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June 1, 2012 8:30:56 PM

Best answer selected by Stormborn.
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a b K Overclocking
June 1, 2012 8:39:52 PM

No problem. Have fun with your build.
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a b K Overclocking
June 2, 2012 8:00:14 PM

Scratch the ft02 recomendation, might have issues with your gpu cooler.
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