Passive or quietest active heat-sink Ivy Bridge cooling (no OC)


I'm putting together my first build and I was looking for some suggestions & advice on CPU cooling. I will only be running it at stock speeds and not overclocking (apologies if this belongs in the "CPU" forum instead).

I plan to use either the i5 3570 or, most likely, the i7 3770 (unlocked K model as it is cheaper). It will regularly power HTPC HD playback & will be no stranger to 100% use for media encoding & rendering so I would like something quieter & more efficient than the stock cooler.

I have diagrammed what I am working with in a relatively roomy Antec Mini P180. The bottom 3.5" HDD cage, as the transparency illustrates, will be removed to place an intake fan. Teal represents where negative pressure will draw in outside air.

1) With the large volume of air moving through this case, greatly due to the 200mm right above the CPU, to keep the air flow smooth & even, can I safely get away with a passive premium heat-sink while running at stock speeds? (not factoring dust accumulation, will be regularly cleaned)

2) Due to stressful & lengthy encoding times, if I were to honestly see a substantial temperature difference by utilizing even just a single quiet fan, how should it be optimally positioned & angled?

- below heat-sink, pointing towards 200mm exhaust (advantage: direct feed off intake flow, encouraging naturally rising thermodynamics, also drawing heat away from a passively cooled GPU (not likely but possible future addition))
- right of heat-sink, pointing towards 120mm exhaust (advantage: also drawing minor heat away from upper HDD cage, not imposing on (low priority) GPU space)
- go for the gold & utilize both mentioned positions simultaneously with 2 fans, but is that a foreseen conflict?

3) Regardless of fan decision, not including fan cost(s), what premium passive & active heat-sinks under $100 are recommended for maximum heat dissipation in this configuration? The case width is 212mm O.D. If you are pro-fan, please suggest the quietest fan(s) you are aware of, also.

I will greatly appreciate any suggestions & knowledge you can share as I construct my first build!
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More about passive quietest active heat sink bridge cooling
  1. This article and the accompanying reviews may give you an idea of what will work quietly
    Hope it helps
  2. I recommend a silverstone he02 for passive use
  3. Thank you both for your replies, I appreciate it!

    After some external discussion, and realizing I will already be utilizing fans (NF-S12B FLX units, replacing stock fan) within the case, I've decided scrapping passive cooling, instead utilizing Noctua's reportedly quiet 120mm heat-sink/2x fan cooler (NH-U12P SE2), without the shortcoming of PWM (which are louder at full speed, silence is a priority over miniscule voltage differences).

    The cooler should fit just snug in there, not too huge or too small, both fans installed most likely, not yet sure how which way I will angle it. I'm also going to give a shot at Cooler Master's single-speed 200mm (R4-MFJR-07FK-R1 200), sound level identical to both the CPU & case fans (18-19 dB each). It delivers (very near) the same CFM & @ 10 dB lower than the Big Boy, (hopefully) without strange clicks & noises reported about the Big Boy.

    Overkill? Perhaps. But in return, an exceptionally cool system that will not be phased by guaranteed hours & hours of full loads @ stock speeds (in theory)! Popping the case & slapping on the included resistors to lower fan speeds is an option when not "crunching", but @ 19 dB on high for each fan, I doubt I will ever be challenged to do so.
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