quiet PC cooling..

Discussion in 'OT Technology' started by abyssinianson, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. abyssinianson

    abyssinianson New Member

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    hey all, i am in the process of looking for components to build a quiet PC for gaming and audio recording. I am looking to see if anyone has suggestions for good choices for reliable, quiet CPU cooling. I have looked at water cooling solutions but the maintenance of the water source has me thinking twice because of algae growth issues.

    The new system will be based around a Pentium D 805 with an Nvidia 7800 GT.

    Thanks very much.
     
  2. bigmatt

    bigmatt New Member

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    wait until the 23rd price cuts :) then look for stuff.
     
  3. abyssinianson

    abyssinianson New Member

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    thanks much for the suggestion. i am curious, do the price cuts apply to all PC peripherals? or just some components?
     
  4. Ebtromba

    Ebtromba Active Member

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  5. DAN513

    DAN513 OT Supporter

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    water cooling kits come with additives that prevent stuff from growing in the water.
     
  6. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Water cooling is overly complicated for a regular computer system; you have a dangerous material flowing through the case, and you have a (potentially) noisy pump to move it, and you still have to have fans to evacuate the heat from the case. Whereas, with air-cooling, you just have the fans.

    I've made the comparison between computer water-cooling and automotive water-cooling before, and I'll do it again: in either case, water absorbs large amounts of heat from the heat source (either the engine or the CPU) and carries it to the radiator to be dissipated into the air. The problem is, air is a shitty conductor of heat. In a car, the radiator has the benefit of high-speed wind (during highway driving) to dissipate the heat that builds up while sitting at stoplights. In a computer, however, the effect is like a car sitting at a stoplight constantly -- eventually it overheats.

    Now, a computer won't overheat and blow a coolant hose (unless you're doing something VERY wrong), but the fact that ALL THE HEAT IN THE COOLANT STILL HAS TO BE ABSORBED INTO THE AIR defeats the purpose of having the highly-effective coolant in the first place. All it does is add an extra, unnecessary step.

    See, there are two reasons that cars use water-cooling: first, the water helps to equalize the temperature across different parts of the engine block, which is thick enough that (without the aid of water) the inside of the block can overheat while the outside stays fairly cool. Second, the water can absorb massive quantities of heat and store it until the car can start moving fast enough to dissipate that heat into the air.

    In a computer, neither reason applies: the CPU is extremely thin and doesn't need liquid coolant to equalize its temperature, and the computer case doesn't ever experience high-speed wind to dissipate the heat stored in the coolant. Which means that you still have to have fans just as powerful as before in order to keep the coolant at a reasonable temperature.

    A well-thought-out air-cooling system is just as effective and a lot less expensive and complicated than a water-cooling system.
     
  7. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    That said, I like SilenX fans. I've yet to see another fan design that moves as much air with as little noise as SilenX fans do. As for PSUs, any design that uses a single 120mm fan in the bottom panel of the PSU (as opposed to multiple smaller fans) will be plenty quiet -- when I installed one in my case, I kept forgetting that the computer was on.
     
  8. Wolf68k

    Wolf68k OT Supporter

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    CPU Coolers: Zalman CNPS9500AT, or if you want it with lights CNPS9500LED

    For the nVidia 7800GT cooling: Zalman VF900-Cu or again with lights VF900-Cu LED
    or Arctic Cooling NVSilencer 5 Rev3 or Accelero X1, neither with lights.
     
  9. abyssinianson

    abyssinianson New Member

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    great suggestions. i've never heard of SilenX but I will see what people say about them. Hopefully, they are available locally at stores so I can get them if they work great.
     
  10. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I doubt they are. At $25 per fan (with no LEDs even!), I doubt Best Buy could sell any. They're good fans, though. Most efficient I've ever seen, especially the 92mm and 120mm ones.
     
  11. HardTech

    HardTech hungry

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    that's true, but air cooling can only cool your components so much without added noise. With air-cooling, the main goal is to either move hot air away from components or push cold air onto them. As you said, air is a horrible heat conductor, so in order to maximize cooling in your system, you need to move a lot of air, which means a lot of noise.

    a well thought-out water cooling setup will be infinitely better in terms of noise and performance. You'll also pay out the ass for one. However, people have the freedom to move the radiator outside the computer case, which means it won't heat up computer components and the ambient temperature can also help cool the water. Also, there are many silent watercooling pumps made specifically for computers.

    My SFF box is air-cooled with many high-quality, expensive components. It is loud enough to cause me discomfort while on the computer. Zalman CNPS-7700Cu CPU cooler with VF-700Cu GPU cooler. You'd think they'd be quiet at $50 and $30 respectively, but they're not.

    If you have a large case and know what you're doing, water cooling is the way to go. It has its downfalls, but the pros far outweigh the cons if you're going for a silent, badass computer.

    I'm playing with the idea of peltiers, though. If you could have a few peltiers installed inbetween the case walls and have the hot part touch the outer case while the cold part touches the inner case, the inside of the case will be nice a chilly, and the effectiveness of air-cooling will be exponentially greater.
     
  12. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    Air cooling does create noise, yes; there's no avoiding that. However, it really isn't necessary to keep your components at room temperature, either. My home computer's CPU idles at 71 degrees Celsius and peaks at about 78 degrees Celsius (room temperature is about 27 degrees Celsius), and I've never had the CPU underclock itself or shut down and reboot -- at least not since I invested in a good copper heatsink and a tube of Arctic Silver heat goop, anyway.

    I, like you, invested in expensive heatsinks, but the reason I did so was so I could use the quietest fans possible without overheating my computer. I have to say my approach has worked very well -- I have a single exhaust fan and two inlet vents (without fans) on the case, and when I open the door a heat wave rolls out, but it's been chugging away for years just fine. The only important issue with cooling of any sort is to keep the components under the redline -- with good components, it won't matter how much under the redline they are, as long as they don't overheat at any time.

    Water cooling still has to deal with the fundamental problem that the air has to absorb all of the heat eventually. That means you'll need a radiator as big as a normal CPU heatsink, plus all of the watercooling parts (which aren't particularly lightweight themselves). It's true that the radiator can be mounted outside of the case, but then the radiator is exposed to damage -- something an internal heatsink wouldn't have to deal with.

    And then there's the problem that, with all of the CPU and chipset heat being removed via the watercooler, the rest of the case probably has a severe lack of ventilation. There are plenty of un-sexy parts in a typical computer that get as hot as the CPU does, and they need air to keep them cool as well; for example, I bought a pack of cheap copper RAM heatsinks and went around touching every IC on my motherboard while the computer was on -- I found a couple of completely anonymous parts that were hot enough to burn me, and I attached heatsinks to them as well. I'd never have noticed them if I hadn't specifically gone looking for them, and if they'd overheated and caused random errors, I'd never have been able to diagnose it. Anybody using a watercooling system probably has high-speed hard drives, video cards, etc., and those parts need to be kept cool as well. If the heat is pumped outside the case to be radiated away, then the air inside the case will be left to stagnate. Not a good scenario.

    Watercooling does a great job of carrying heat away from the heat source and depositing the heat in a place where it can be more easily dissipated, but it's not a more efficient system overall, and it introduces plenty of extra variables and parts that can break. There's a reason why old VW Beetles and Fiat Cinquecentos are still running today -- simplicity.

    - - -

    Peltier-assisted heatsinks are an interesting idea, but you'd have to have them thermally-regulated (keeping the "cold" side of the cooler at 70F, for example, to prevent condensation) or you're bound to short something out. You could waterproof all the components in the case, sure, but that just seems like more work than it's worth to avoid a problem being caused by a poorly-engineered cooler. I'd like to try them myself sometime, but I'd want to use them in a scenario where conventional air-cooling is insufficient; what would be the point of spending the extra money, if it's not necessary to keep the computer running?
     
  13. HardTech

    HardTech hungry

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    I've had a peltier before, about the size of a CPU heat spreader. I held it while it was plugged in, and one side got really hot really fast, while the other side got really cold really fast.

    Yeah, controlling the amount of juice that goes to the peltiers would be critical, but it'd be a good idea in theory.

    As for the rest of your post, I kind of see you contradicting yourself in a way. You'll cool your CPU and video card using traditional methods (air-cooling) while putting heat sinks on obscure IC's that run hot? That sounds something like a computer freak would do... somebody who wouldn't hesitate to trying water-cooling.

    I guess it depends on what your application is. I've never had a water-cooling setup in my life, but there's probably a reason why Apple decided to implement water-cooling in its G5 Powermacs. I'd never do water-cooling for my parent's computer, but I'd do it for my beast machine.

    :p
     
  14. deusexaethera

    deusexaethera OT Supporter

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    I am a computer freak, at least to a certain extent, but my goal is somewhat different than most computer freaks. Whereas most people in my position would go balls-to-the-wall to overclock their machines and suck every last bit of heat off the components therein, I prefer to direct my attention towards having a reasonably-fast machine that is as quiet as I can get it. Starting with that goal in mind, the approach I took was to cool my machine as efficiently as possible. A big part of efficient cooling is finding all the sources of heat and ensuring that they can adequately dissipate that heat without depending on any other mechanism to cool them off -- that's where the numerous little heatsinks and the lack of a watercooler come into play.

    I have a fan on my CPU, obviously, but that's necessary because no reasonably-sized heatsink could dissipate the CPU's heat without good airflow. That said, the fan I got was the quietest one I could find, and it's attached to (I think) a 3-pound copper heatsink that uses threaded pins instead of flat vanes, in order to have as much surface area as possible. The power supply also has a fan, both because it came with one and because I do need to pull the hot air out of the case somehow, and I didn't feel like cutting convection vents into the top of the case. (where would I keep my stack of DVDs if the top of the case had holes in it?)

    The rest of the components are passively-cooled, even the video card. I bought a Radeon with a heatpipe on it, and I completely disassembled the heatpipe and put it back together using a rather large amount of Arctic Silver to increase its transfer efficiency -- the radiator on the back of the heatpipe jumped ~10C in temperature after that little rebuild, according to my laser thermometer. I also used silver epoxy to attach heatsinks to the video card's RAM chips, the RAID card's CPU and RAM chips, and the sound card's CPU. (why? I had a spare heatsink left over, so why not?) Then I attached heatsinks to the motherboard's Southbridge and the anonymous ICs that I mentioned before. The 2GB of system RAM also has heat spreaders coated with Arctic Silver.

    There's a lot of copper inside my computer. :big grin:

    A while back, I noticed that the hard drive was becoming a huge bottleneck in my machine's performance. That's when I added the RAID with three Raptor HDDs in it. They're loud as hell, but since I've disabled automatic defragmenting and I don't have a swapfile, they hardly ever make noise for more than a couple of seconds at a time, and only when I'm opening an application.

    The result? I have a computer that can withstand near-100% usage indefinitely, such as playing a 3D strategy game while simultaneously defragging the RAID and downloading, virus-checking, and compressing entertainment from OTAH. :naughty: And the machine has a grand total of two fans, two intake air filters, and a fully-noise-insulated interior, which leaves the machine so quiet that a decibel-meter registers less than 15dB from 3 feet away (when the hard drives aren't chugging, of course). It's hot inside, but it's also rock-solid, it doesn't use nearly as much electricity as a machine full of fans and coolant pumps would, and it will probably last forever. Which to me is a good thing.
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2006
  15. Grifter

    Grifter Silver Member

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    zalman bandwagon right here with antec case fans
     
  16. abyssinianson

    abyssinianson New Member

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    experimentation..

    i am looking for a good cooling system not to overclock my PC but mainly to record music. i long thought about investing in an iso box - and I may, eventually - but to have an efficently cooled computer is the key right now.

    Zalman CPU coolers are good but I may not use it for my next LGA775 based system. I have heard a lot of good things about the Ninja Scythe CPU heatsink paired together with a quiet and efficient 120MM case fan position to blow air outside the PC case. QuietPC enthusiasts have had a lot of good feddback about this combo and I think I might along with it. I don't plan on having any more than 3 hard drives in the case. And if I can, I will try looking into HD enclosures to further dampen the sound of the HDs. I am currently looking at Samsung Spinpoint drives in SATA to use in the new rig.
     
  17. GunboatDiplomat

    GunboatDiplomat New Member

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    If your case is big enough, why don't you try a perfectly fanless CPU cooler? The Thermaltake Sonic Tower looks like a good choice, if you can fit it in...
     

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