Silent, But Deadly: Build Your Own Gaming-Ready 0 dB PC

CPU Cooler: Assembly And Installation

CPU Cooler Assembly

If you're looking to recreate this build, we strongly recommend reading the section on AMD-specific parts in SilverStone's manual very carefully! The backplate has an Intel side and an AMD side. First, the four preinstalled plastic Intel spacers need to be taken off. This isn’t mentioned in the manual. Then, an AMD cap needs to be added in the middle. Finally, four pieces of tape for electrical isolation have to be attached to the side facing the motherboard. Seriously.

The four installation pins that get pushed through the backplate are flattened to keep them from spinning when they’re screwed in from the other side.

The whole contraption is screwed together with thumb screws. Be careful that the installation frame sits very securely; after all, this cooler weighs more than two pounds.

The Right Thermal Paste: Cooler Master X1

Cooler Master’s X1 thermal paste is a really good product, but there are a few things to note about its application. The X1's 9.5 W/mK is at the very top end of current thermal pastes’ conductivity, which is ideal for passive cooling. Apply it as a small blob, rather than using the bundled putty knife. This isn’t the thickest solution on the market, but it’s not as viscous as Arctic’s MX-2 either. After a processor-friendly two-hour burn-in period, performance is measurably better than with normal pastes.

In a passive build, every degree of effectiveness counts. The best choice is really your only choice. We didn’t mess with any liquid metal thermal pastes, though, because you only get one try for correct cooler positioning. SilverStone's Heligon HE02 is large and not that easy to handle, so it might take two or three attempts until the cooler sits just right.

The picture shows the orientation we chose for the cooler, with the longer side over our memory modules (naturally, that means you have to install RAM before the heat sink). This allows the air to pass through the cooler from the bottom to the top, leaving some space between the Heligon and the back wall of the case, which could be used for something like an ultra-silent fan.

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    Top Comments
  • Great PC !, but if it was mine I would be scared... "no fan noise .. is it burning?"
    25
  • Great article! Much more DIY than the usual articles on Toms.
    Much appreciated.
    19
  • As someone that also uses a semi-passive PC (fan only turns on when needed), I'm disappointed that you guys left out a few big things:

    1. undervolting the CPU and GPU

    2. underclocking and farther undervolting the GPU for 2D mode

    3. hybrid cooling setup for GPUs where the fan only turns on at a high temperature (may require GPU BIOS editing depending on GPU model)

    OPTIONAL (due to risk): removal of CPU IHS
    16
  • Other Comments
  • great article !!!
    7
  • I was disappointed there wasn't actual stress test temperature results of the APU for the passive cooling solution.

    But otherwise it's a neat article, personally I would sacrifice dead silence to use a cheaper HDD and perhaps more of those silent fans if I were to build one myself.
    2
  • Great article! Much more DIY than the usual articles on Toms.
    Much appreciated.
    19
  • Great PC !, but if it was mine I would be scared... "no fan noise .. is it burning?"
    25
  • As someone that also uses a semi-passive PC (fan only turns on when needed), I'm disappointed that you guys left out a few big things:

    1. undervolting the CPU and GPU

    2. underclocking and farther undervolting the GPU for 2D mode

    3. hybrid cooling setup for GPUs where the fan only turns on at a high temperature (may require GPU BIOS editing depending on GPU model)

    OPTIONAL (due to risk): removal of CPU IHS
    16
  • no love for sapphire's passive ultimate HD 7770?
    12
  • Pentium G2120 + Sapphire Ultimate HD7750 would have been a better choice. And you can pay extra for a low-power Core i5 instead since it's not that expensive compared to the rest of this build.
    0
  • When i hear gaming from the TH I really expect to see something in the realm of 500$ SBM machine or at least something close. What I see here is realy nice office pc.
    -10
  • 450929 said:
    When i hear gaming from the TH I really expect to see something in the realm of 500$ SBM machine or at least something close. What I see here is realy nice office pc.

    The main issue is the GPU, and that would require a hybrid passive-active cooling solution much like was done for the CPU, but for some reason they didn't even try such a thing...
    0
  • I wonder about an i5 or i7 S or T model and crossfire 7750's. You might need a bigger case and a longer motherboard that allows gaps between cards.
    1
  • I don't like auto-start fans. They tend to turn off/on at weird times and become annoying...
    4
  • Silent PC (Gaming) is simple. Large passive water cooling such as the Zalman Resevator on the CPU and GPU, and anyother components needing heat dissipation. I've done this for the last 8 years, not for the silence, but because it's nice to see the temp never stray from 40-45, and never worry about cooling again.
    0
  • ... awesome media pc...
    -1
  • It has a fan. A FAN. It isn't zero dB.
    -7
  • I'm a fan! (and I make a LOT of noise) :D

    By the way, I own two of those Samsung Blu-Ray drives and the blue LED in the button is overly bright. I would NOT want to set that case on my desk.
    0
  • One more thing. I like bottom mounted power supplies because I like a low center of gravity on my builds. However, I prefer the top mounted PCI slots. The video cards not only look better with their coolers on top, but the heat rises off the video card and into the video card cooler making it more effective, especially in a build without air movement.
    0
  • did i told you definition of insanity?
    great article toms
    -5
  • pity they put the bluray in it would be much louder than most actively cooled cases anyway
    3
  • Quote:
    1. undervolting the CPU and GPU
    This is always possible but each CPU/APU and GPU is a unique piece. Undervolting 10 APUs can can give you 10 different results. If it works with higher voltage it works also with undervolting. But I must check the worst case and only 100% stable settings. :)
    2
  • They failed to mention how loud it was when both the fan and blu-ray drive had spun up
    1