I currently have the Intel® Core™ i7 Processor Extreme Edition I7-980X installed and it works/runs great.
I'm thinking that maybe this near top end i7 monster is right on the edge of running too HOT for my case.
My case has a built in CPU heat sink with heat pipes as you know. The Health Monitor BIOS settings has 5 options for fan speed.
Auto, ultra low, low, medium, high
-low is dead quiet, but my case will over heat and cause the video card to pixalate.
-medium is functional for heat, but the fan is too LOUD! (for the living room)
-Auto fan noise compares somewhere between low and medium speeds (most of the time), but it's variable and catches you ear when it changes up/down/up/down.
Since I don't need the horse power of the I7-980X what can I down grade too that will guaranteed run cooler resulting in a quieter fan set to Auto?
(other specs and manual are in the link above as well)
I already tried replacing the CPU paste with a top of the line brand. (no change)
You have it right with the idea that you have too much horse power for an HTPC. I'd do a new build with an i3 2100 and take that rip snorter out make it a gaming rig.
I hate pre-built because you have to make do with the design of someone else who may have no idea of what you want. Shuttle is a good company, but the computer they sold you is totally unsuited to your use.
Have you considered throttling your current cpu? You could lower it's clock multiplier, disable a core or two, lower the core voltage. I know it's a waste of a cracking cpu but it would still give you the horsepower for when you need it.
I suppose the alternative would be to downgrade to something like an i7-920 D0 stepping. There's no guarantee your system will run as quiet as you want but that's the slowest/coolest of the processors that will fit your system and will still have lots of horsepower.
I would try to sell it on eBay and use the money to buy a CPU that would be more appropriate for a HTPC.
If you really want to keep it though, then you can go into the Control Panel and go into Power Options within the System & Security section. Select one of the profiles to "change plan settings".
Click on "Change advanced power settings" a Power Options window will open up. Scroll down until you see "Processor power management" and expand it. Under the Maximum Power State section lower the percentage.
When the percentage is set to 99% Turbo Boost is disabled. The percentage is not a 1 for 1 correlation; meaning if you set it to 50%, your maximum speed is not simply going to be 1.67GHz so play around with it until you find a clock speed that you think best suits your needs. For example, my i5-2410m clockspeed is 2.3GHz (excluding Turbo Boost), setting the Maximum Power State to 50% reduces the CPU to about 1.0GHz.
Here's my complete environment (mostly a copy and paste from my thegreenbutton.com profile) Shuttle PC SX58J3 Win 7 x64 Ultimate Media Center, i7-980X, Ceton quad cablecard tuner (Comcast, SF), Geforce GT-240 single slot card, SSD C: & 2GB gigbit network, 3 XBox extenders, two Linksys Extenders, Slingbox Pro HD, PowerDVD 10 Ultra for integrated MCE Blu-Ray playback via http://MyMovies.dk app & also have a WHS 2011 with StableBit Drive Pool. (many TB of storage) Denon AVR-4311CI & HDMI Detective box, EX495 Windows Home Server with "My Movies" 4 plug-in, AirPort express and speakers in every room. iPhone 4, Lenovo W520 Thinkpad.
Primary use for HTPC is to watch recorded HD shows recorded via cablecard tuner stated above. Secondary use WAS going to be for editing HD home video recordings and some gaming. I've been doing the video editing on my new Lenovo W520 laptop and it's good enough. (also has i7) I havn't been playing games so yeah.
I just set the CPU power options to be:
Minimum: 25% (should I have left this 100%?)
and I changed Cooling from Active to Passive.
It helped a little but not that much still changes RPM frequency up/down which is what catches your attention
Any BIOS tweak suggestions? Here is a video walk through, not sure what to try first.
Any ideas on possible water cooled CPU heatsink retrofit? Would it fit? Check out this photo of how my current heat sink/heat pipe system works.
But yeah if my current CPU is worth enough I guess maybe I could build a whole new system at some point. Not sure what the best "silent" HTPC case option is currently. It can be bigger too, doesn't need to be as tiny as my Shuttle.
Setting the Max CPU to 50% Maximum, and Passive did the trick. My fan stays quiet enough for the living room. I have plenty of horse power and media center, extender, MKV, etc performance is unchanged. (still zippy/responsive) I can quickly change back to 100% if needed for Video Editing projects etc.