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"Silent audio computer", ...how to build a pc for music listening
NumLOCK
post Feb 24 2003, 09:57
Post #1


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Hi all,

What about sharing our personal experiences with building silent, flexible home audio/entertainment devices? wink.gif
This was my first time - and the choice of components was not easy ! Very often, you can't have both speed and silence. Here's what I did.

I've just built a PC on a following basis:
- ABIT KD7-E mainboard (VIA KT333 chipset / allows cpu multiplier setting / voltage lowering in BIOS / down to 1.1V in 0.025V increments).
- AMD Thoroughbred 2000+ 1.65V cpu (multiplier is unlocked out-of-the-box).
- flower CPU heatsink -- it rocks: depending on cpu voltage, there's no need for a fan !!
- 256MB of cheap PC266 ddr sdram
- nice black midi-tower case without PSU.
- special, ultra-quiet 300W PSU
- 7200RPM, 80GB WD HDD
- ATI Radeon 9000pro with VGA, DVI- and TV-out

The following components were modified:
- cpu was underclocked and heavily under-volted (running as 1500+ @ 1.2V). Can also run ~1200MHz @ 1.1V.
- Radeon 9000 pro was modified for passive cooling
- northbridge fan of the motherboard was replaced with passive cooling solution.
- HDD was put in silent 5 1/4'' acoustic armor.
- the case was stuffed with custom acoustic damping material.

The special components were mostly Zalman stuff, found on:
- http://www.quietpc.com/cpucool2.php (CPU flower cooler)
- http://www.quietpc.com/psu.html (silent PSU)
- http://www.quietpc.com/silentdrive.html (HDD armor)
- http://www.quietpc.com/vgamb.php (VGA and M/B heatsinks).

Results:
- there are two fans in the system (PSU & CPU), one of which can be deactivated.
- runs smoothly at 1500+, 1.2V, ~40 Celsius with big, silent 600RPM fan to blow some air into the case (no fan is fine also: ~42-55 Celsius depending on cpu voltage).
- pc is near-silent (just about "undetectable" from 30cm distance).

Additional thoughts:
- I'll add a soundcard and a LAN card (no fans, so no problem)
- I'm still hesitating about what DVD-rom drive I'll put in there.
- I've put the 7200RPM HDD because that's all I had.. but maybe I'll replace it with a 5400RPM (or lower) one.
- operating system not chosen yet.

Epilogue / What I learned:
- I'm VERY satisfied with this silent PC.
- In the future I'll be careful about the noise when buying components for other pc's.
- There's no way I'd buy a GeForce FX (think noise..)
- Silent machines need more expensive cooling components, but I think it's really worth it !

This post has been edited by NumLOCK: Feb 24 2003, 11:01


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Patsoe
post Feb 25 2003, 00:48
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QUOTE (aabxx @ Feb 24 2003 - 06:11 PM)
I would say my solution is as good as it gets.....

Yeah right wink.gif I had been watching this thread trying not to start about my own rig since it isn't really finished yet. But this kind of statements is forcing me to tell you all about it now smile.gif

Low power CPU. In the first place: when you start off with a chip that doesn't draw loads of current, that's easier too cool than one you have to mod to stay cool. So, I got myself a Celeron Tualatin 1200, which even with its boxed cooler never reaches more than 10K over ambient temp. (Another reason was that I wouldn't part from my BX motherboard, and I could keep it running with the Celeron).

No silent coolers! I considered to get some kind of silent cooler for a while. But looking at many measurements all over the net, I came to the conclusion that silent coolers are a marketing delusion. Silent cooling actually equates to less cooling. Ofcourse, better bearings are more silent, but with fans, noise comes from the blades mostly. I've been reading many spec pages and tests, and I can only conclude that Papst and Panaflo are silent because there is less output.
Don't get me wrong. If I'd buy fans, I would probably buy Papst fans. But that's because they're reliable, not because they're silent.

Sober watercooling... So, that's that as for fan coolers. I'm going the watercooling way... And I want the most silent, and cheapest solution I can get. In my rig are now a Koolance chipset cooler (which doesn't have an easy job cooling a cpu, but hey, it's half as expensive as a "real" block), a 30 litres reservoir (radiators are expensive and if they're not they still need fans), an Eheim pump. I haven't found the sweet spot for the pump yet, neither for the water level in the reservoir. That's why it's all unfinished. No measurements done, and it will take another month because I can't find time or motivation tongue.gif

Any other fans? GPU? Stop gaming if you want to take the easy route; I have an Ati Rage 128, it doesn't know what heat means smile.gif Ofcourse a slightly newer chip like Radeon 7200 can still be passively cooled, but it gets too hot for my taste (you can't put a finger on it) and I don't use its processing power.
Northbridge? Well, a godlike chip as is the i440BX should be spoiled, so I bought an overly expensive fanless goldpainted Zalman NB32J block, that looks as if it could easily cool a CPU. The BX managed well with the famous little green sink, but it deserved better smile.gif
A fanless PSU? Either too expensive or too risky. Mine still houses a fan. I found that it doesn't really need to be pushing much fresh air, as long as there is nonzero flow, the PSU is quite happy (in temperature terms). So, the fan grille was removed and the fan rewired to 7V. A fanless PSU is expensive, see for example Engelking in Germany. And leaving a PSU that wasn't designed for running fanless when I'm away... well, I'm too much a chicken for that. Anyway, it is silent enough.

Hard disks: FDB motors rather than isolation. See storagereview for noise measurements. Don't think getting a 5400rpm disk will matter. I've had some, and they don't measure up to a Barracuda IV. There is ofcourse the Seagate U6, which is practically a 5400rpm version of the Barracuda IV, but it's soo slooow. And besides, according to storagereview, the Barracuda V at 7200rpm produces less noise than the U6. Guess what's coming my way with postal service... tongue.gif
If you really must have a 5400rpm unit, wait for the new Seagate 5400.1 drive to come available. It should be a slow version of the Barracuda V.
Please, don't go isolating hard disks. Isolation is not a good thing if you want your disks to last, at least that's what I think. I also think you won't need it with a Barracuda IV or newer generation.

As for enclosures - I have seen a plastic casing with double walls, called istyle or something. But it was too expensive. And if you don't have any noise in your rig, you don't need double walls...

Sorry for the long blahblah. Hope someone picks the useful ideas out of it...
Edit: I figured, having written a book chapter, I might as well structure it smile.gif
Oh, and did I mention my silent solution still overclocks 24%?

This post has been edited by Patsoe: Feb 25 2003, 08:00
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Posts in this topic
- NumLOCK   "Silent audio computer"   Feb 24 2003, 09:57
- - Hanky   Sorry but I have no knowledge at all on this, but ...   Feb 24 2003, 10:05
- - NumLOCK   I haven't tried water cooling, it should be fi...   Feb 24 2003, 10:12
- - rc55   @Hanky: I don't meant to be rude, but if you d...   Feb 24 2003, 10:28
- - wdekler   @Numlock You can get your money PSU back if you wa...   Feb 24 2003, 10:38
- - NumLOCK   QUOTE (rc55 @ Feb 24 2003 - 10:28 AM)@Numlock...   Feb 24 2003, 10:43
- - NumLOCK   QUOTE (wdekler @ Feb 24 2003 - 10:38 AM)@Numl...   Feb 24 2003, 10:58
- - AiZ   Hello everybody, As long as your hard drive suppo...   Feb 24 2003, 11:02
- - niktheblak   The following are some of my personal experiences ...   Feb 24 2003, 11:24
- - NumLOCK   @AiZ At least for my HDD, the most "disturbi...   Feb 24 2003, 11:39
- - Gabriel   I think that electrical tape means the IDE/floppy ...   Feb 24 2003, 11:45
- - niktheblak   Sorry, I didn't know the exact english express...   Feb 24 2003, 11:52
- - NumLOCK   I see.. it seems to be that ugly kind of red tape...   Feb 24 2003, 12:03
- - Annuka   I managed to silence my workstation some months ag...   Feb 24 2003, 12:06
- - n68   yup... i don`t belive in quieting each compo...   Feb 24 2003, 12:16
- - dgover2   Just a couple of notes, don't know if they wil...   Feb 24 2003, 12:24
- - KikeG   QUOTE (n68 @ Feb 24 2003 - 12:16 PM)i don...   Feb 24 2003, 12:58
- - NumLOCK   QUOTE (dgover2 @ Feb 24 2003 - 12:24 PM)Now i...   Feb 24 2003, 13:54
- - niktheblak   QUOTE (NumLOCK @ Feb 24 2003 - 01:03 PM)I see...   Feb 24 2003, 14:04
- - userXYZ   I can recommend the following components out of my...   Feb 24 2003, 14:33
- - DonP   A former employer set up the training rooms with m...   Feb 24 2003, 14:59
- - NumLOCK   QUOTE (DonP @ Feb 24 2003 - 02:59 PM)A former...   Feb 24 2003, 15:09
- - Kim_C   Here's a review of fanless ProSilence 350 PSU....   Feb 24 2003, 15:14
- - fileman   Hello everybody, I'm using a water cooled sys...   Feb 24 2003, 15:18
- - GeSomeone   QUOTE (AiZ @ Feb 24 2003 - 11:02 AM)As long a...   Feb 24 2003, 17:56
- - aabxx   I would say my solution is as good as it gets.. my...   Feb 24 2003, 18:11
- - Artemis3   This is only a reminder: Hard Disks and CD Drives ...   Feb 24 2003, 18:36
- - niktheblak   QUOTE (Artemis3 @ Feb 24 2003 - 07:36 PM)This...   Feb 24 2003, 23:25
- - Patsoe   QUOTE (aabxx @ Feb 24 2003 - 06:11 PM)I would...   Feb 25 2003, 00:48
- - ff123   I'm going to upgrading my system in the coming...   Feb 25 2003, 03:27
- - DonP   QUOTE (NumLOCK @ Feb 24 2003 - 06:09 AM)lengt...   Feb 25 2003, 03:59
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (ff123 @ Feb 24 2003 - 06:27 PM)4. NVid...   Feb 25 2003, 07:30
- - SometimesWarrior   My current dual-XP1600+ machine is so noisy I can ...   Feb 25 2003, 07:45
- - ff123   QUOTE (SometimesWarrior @ Feb 24 2003 - 10:30...   Feb 25 2003, 08:10
- - Continuum   QUOTE (aabxx @ Feb 24 2003 - 06:11 PM)If this...   Feb 25 2003, 08:19
- - KikeG   QUOTE (ff123 @ Feb 25 2003 - 03:27 AM)1. Athl...   Feb 25 2003, 09:25
- - Gabriel   Hard drive considerations: A current 7200rpm driv...   Feb 25 2003, 09:31
- - Gabriel   Just found this Fanless heatsink with fluid inside...   Feb 25 2003, 09:47
- - arman68   QUOTE (Gabriel @ Feb 25 2003 - 08:31 AM)A goo...   Feb 25 2003, 09:48
- - Gabriel   PII, PIII and PPro were unable to automatically th...   Feb 25 2003, 10:15
- - Patsoe   In light of the fact that were talking audio compu...   Feb 25 2003, 14:35
- - Trelane   Nobody's mentioned laptops yet! My PC (wh...   Feb 25 2003, 15:27
- - NumLOCK   I have a japanese Panasonic T1 laptop which has no...   Feb 25 2003, 16:45
- - SometimesWarrior   Sorry for resurrecting the thread, but this site i...   Mar 6 2003, 15:32
- - JEN   OK... I have decided to join in with the cat theme...   Apr 10 2003, 20:36
- - Joseph   http://www.alienware.com has some pretty small li...   Apr 10 2003, 21:37
- - atici   I recently discovered something which I liked a lo...   Apr 10 2003, 21:46
- - cd-rw.org   I think I will switch from this server cased behem...   Apr 10 2003, 22:26
- - CiTay   QUOTE (atici @ Apr 10 2003 - 10:46 PM)I recen...   Apr 10 2003, 22:46
- - ff123   QUOTE (atici @ Apr 10 2003 - 12:46 PM)I recen...   Apr 11 2003, 02:40
- - atici   Yeah I know I think the usual brute force soluti...   Apr 11 2003, 02:56
- - fewtch   I think I'll be transplanting my PC to a new c...   Apr 11 2003, 03:03
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (fewtch @ Apr 10 2003 - 07:03 PM)I thin...   Apr 11 2003, 03:34
- - wynlyndd   I was reading somewhere about how two fans placed ...   Apr 11 2003, 03:44
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (atici @ Apr 10 2003 - 06:56 PM)BTW do ...   Apr 11 2003, 03:46
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (wynlyndd @ Apr 10 2003 - 07:44 PM)I wa...   Apr 11 2003, 03:54
- - DonP   One of the guys on a US tv show "The Screensa...   Apr 11 2003, 04:14
- - ff123   QUOTE (SometimesWarrior @ Apr 10 2003 - 06:46...   Apr 11 2003, 04:25
- - atici   I don't understand. When I first boot my compu...   Apr 11 2003, 04:39
- - fileman   I upgraded again (in cooling, not in power ;-) Th...   Apr 11 2003, 05:12
- - ff123   QUOTE (atici @ Apr 10 2003 - 07:39 PM)I don...   Apr 11 2003, 05:40
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (DonP @ Apr 10 2003 - 08:14 PM)One of t...   Apr 11 2003, 06:03
- - 12345   It's wonderful to se people put dollars, ...   Apr 11 2003, 08:07
- - JEN   QUOTE (12345 @ Apr 11 2003 - 08:07 AM)It...   Apr 11 2003, 13:48
- - DonP   QUOTE (SometimesWarrior @ Apr 11 2003 - 12:03...   Apr 11 2003, 14:42
- - CiTay   QUOTE (ff123 @ Apr 11 2003 - 03:40 AM)Wow, th...   Apr 11 2003, 14:43
- - KikeG   QUOTE (DonP @ Apr 11 2003 - 02:42 PM)Most of ...   Apr 11 2003, 14:59
- - DonP   QUOTE (KikeG @ Apr 11 2003 - 08:59 AM)Anyway,...   Apr 11 2003, 16:02
- - KikeG   See my previous edit.   Apr 11 2003, 16:12
- - Patsoe   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 11 2003 - 01:48 PM)Interesti...   Apr 11 2003, 16:21
- - JEN   QUOTE (Patsoe @ Apr 11 2003 - 04:21 PM)QUOTE ...   Apr 11 2003, 17:58
- - DonP   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 11 2003 - 11:58 AM)So, maybe...   Apr 11 2003, 18:44
- - JEN   I just installed the Silent Drive Housing for the ...   Apr 17 2003, 16:02
- - JEN   I have an xp1900+. I tried unlocking it some time...   Apr 17 2003, 23:58
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 17 2003 - 03:58 PM)I have an...   Apr 18 2003, 17:32
- - JEN   How do I find out which Athlon XP 1900+ I have?   Apr 18 2003, 20:49
- - Delirium   I'm a bit late on this thread, but I'll ad...   Apr 19 2003, 02:53
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (Delirium @ Apr 18 2003 - 06:53 PM)On t...   Apr 19 2003, 03:43
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 18 2003 - 12:49 PM)How do I ...   Apr 19 2003, 04:05
- - JEN   QUOTE (SometimesWarrior @ Apr 19 2003 - 04:05...   Apr 19 2003, 10:14
- - CiTay   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 19 2003 - 11:14 AM)there is ...   Apr 19 2003, 14:12
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (CiTay @ Apr 19 2003 - 06:12 AM)QUOTE (...   Apr 20 2003, 05:25
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 19 2003 - 02:14 AM)QUOTE (So...   Apr 20 2003, 06:00
- - JEN   Thanks for all the advice everyone especialy Somet...   Apr 20 2003, 10:20
- - JEN   What would be better? 1. modding the PSU with 2 s...   Apr 21 2003, 21:27
- - CiTay   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 21 2003 - 10:27 PM)1. moddin...   Apr 21 2003, 22:13
- - JEN   QUOTE (CiTay @ Apr 21 2003 - 10:13 PM)QUOTE R...   Apr 23 2003, 11:14
- - CiTay   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 23 2003 - 12:14 PM)Is this t...   Apr 23 2003, 13:24
- - spoon   QUOTE So, my question is, if I leave the vcore @ 1...   Apr 23 2003, 14:54
- - ff123   QUOTE (CiTay @ Apr 23 2003 - 04:24 AM)QUOTE (...   Apr 23 2003, 15:58
- - Annuka   QUOTE (SometimesWarrior @ Apr 19 2003 - 04:43...   Apr 23 2003, 17:04
- - bodhy   Hi all... Maybe some of you will be interested in ...   Apr 23 2003, 22:22
- - JEN   Is the Seagate Barracuda 80Gb 7200rpm UDMA100 Hard...   Apr 26 2003, 17:22
- - CiTay   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 26 2003 - 06:22 PM)Is the Se...   Apr 26 2003, 17:48
- - ff123   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 26 2003 - 08:22 AM)Is the Se...   Apr 26 2003, 17:52
- - JEN   I am planning on making a CPU exhaust duct to the ...   Apr 30 2003, 23:22
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (JEN @ Apr 30 2003 - 03:22 PM)As the ca...   May 1 2003, 02:35
- - SometimesWarrior   QUOTE (Annuka @ Apr 23 2003 - 09:04 AM)QUOTE ...   May 1 2003, 02:52
- - ff123   Today I put isolating screws on my case fan, and s...   May 1 2003, 06:03
- - Delirium   QUOTE (ff123 @ Apr 30 2003 - 10:03 PM)Today I...   May 1 2003, 06:08
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