View Full Version : Htpc

02-24-2006, 05:34 PM
OK, Joe got me interested. I have built two HTPCs last weekend. One aircooled and one watercooled. I attempted to do this with mostly preexisting parts and this might have hurt me, because they're both noisy as all get out!

1) Aircooled
Sonata 2
DFI LanParty Ultra-D
A64-3000 stock
Zalman CNPS7700 AlCu cooler
1 250GB ATA133 HD (Maxtor)
3 250GB SATA HDs (2 Maxtor, 1 Hitachi)
6600GT with Zalman VF700 cooler
2GB ram
Hauppage MCE150

Noise comes primarily from VF700 cooler, but NB fan and CPU fan aren't quiet either. Might be quiet if hidden inside a cabinet that had GOOD ventilation. I can only keep HDs at decent temperature if I allow the OS to turn them off when idle.

2) Watercooled
Koolance case (retrofitted)
BIX3 rad
D4 pump
DD reservoir
1/2" Tygon tubing
TDX Waterblock
Athlon XP1700
1GB ram
ATI 9800Pro
Avermedia 1500MCE
1 250 GB ATA133 HD (Maxtor)
Enermax 320W "Noisetaker" PSU
120mm Panasonic fan (added when HD temps were too high)

This is a perfect example of watercooling gone bad! The D4 sounds like a mosquito on steroids already. Then, the bottom front fan adds a lot of whooshing sound that I found was required because my HD was running above 60C! Then, the 3 fans in the Koolance header simply aren't quiet. Maybe I can get rid of the bottom fan if I make all the Koolance fans exhaust case air (currently two are exhaust and one is drawing air in) and then swap out the Koolance fans for quieter models. The pump simply has to go though. It whines! I have an Eheim 1250 that I got from dijinn, and it must be quieter. Temps might suffer a bit, but I'm not exactly overclocking. It should still be better than aircooling especially with reduced pump heat being dumped into the coolant. Overall, I'd give this one a D- grade. Yeah, I was able to use parts I had laying around, but it just doesn't work out.

02-24-2006, 06:35 PM
Wow, you got busy, fast!

How about undervolting the fans? 7 volt mod?

02-24-2006, 07:07 PM
The fans are all undervolted or sub-normal speed, Ben.

OK, I should go over the fans and how they are powered/controlled.

1) Aircooled Sonata Fans

- PSU fan is normally quiet and slowed down by the builtin PSU circuitry.
- Case back fan is a TriCool fan that came with the Sonata. It is on the "medium" setting and is mostly quiet. It isn't on the low setting because on the low setting, the hard drives get too hot. Are two quiet fans as effective and quieter than one medium fan? Could be tested.
- CPU fan is built into the Zalman "flower" and is PWMed to fairly low speed by the DFI motherboard. I should probably quiet it some more but it isn't a huge noisemaker. I'd hate to replace the mobo just to fight noise made by the northbridge.
- NB fan is PWMed by the mobo but is fighting huge handicaps. It is a small high-RPM fan cooling a heatsink with minimal surface area (it lies RIGHT under the PCIe graphics card and is thus height restricted). To really stop it from annoying me, I would have to put in a custom passive HSF that has pins bent away from the center where the graphics card comes down.
- GPU fan is controlled by a zalman fan controller and isn't quiet enough. I could replace this card with a passively cooled one by Gigabyte or see if there's an aftermarket passive cooler for 6600 style cards. Alternatively, I could use the 6600's builtin fan control to see if that would bring the fan any quieter. Currently, the VF700 fan can't hook into the card's power because it has the wrong power connector. It may draw too many amps for the card's VRM module, too.

This is five fans. No wonder it's loud! I expected the watercooled system to be quieter. It's not.

2) Watercooled Koolance Fans

- fan on the Koolance control circuitry is probably necessary, but it blows air from the hot hard drive onto the circuits. Bad layout by Koolance. It's not that loud.
- PSU fan is fairly quiet. I could mod the PSU, but there really isn't much need.
- Big noisemaker are the 3 Koolance fans at the top. The Koolance circuitry is already slowing these fans down but not enough. I should probably get them all exhausting air and replace them with much quieter fans. Maybe only running one or two of them? They are only 80mm fans, so I probably need two quiet ones.
- Big noisemaker is the lower intake fan. It is moving a lot of air to keep the case temp and the hard drive temp down. I could easily reduce that by using a Nexus 120mm fan, but I don't know if the airflow would be sufficient. TBD. I could also watercool the hard drive, but it needs SOME cooling. 65C temps are NOT acceptable.

A good contributor to the Koolance case's noise, though, is that whiney D4. Man is that annoying! Slowing the D4 down wouldn't help though; that would just change the pitch. It's already sitting on foam, so I'm thinking the only answer is to change the pump. Eheim 1250 or buy a DDC, I guess.

02-24-2006, 07:33 PM
oddly enough, zalmans arent really that highly looked up to in the aircooling department for their quietness (wierd, isnt it!).
Grab an Artic silencer for the 9800 if its not watercooled, and one for the 6600 (they're different models, i think, so be careful of the ones you buy). They're a really, really reasonable price too - about 25ish USD? on the 'low' speed, they're very quiet, on high a bare whisper (25db, absolute max, and its a low 'whoosh')

You could grab a yateloon or a nexus 92mm fan and mod it in place of the original one on the flower, or alternatively make a small duct + use a nexus/yate/whatever 120 on top of it. Or, you could buy an A64 freezer, as they're apparently very quiet from the get-go.

Definitely opt for the passive heatsink if possible for the Nb.

Mount the hdd's in the 5.25" bays using bungie cords + grab some heatsinks for the sides of them. Personally, id sell the drives and grab some seagates or samsungs (seagates are my personal perference). Once its quiet enough, those maxtors will start to annoy you... (If they're not already, its still a loud pc :))

I reckon the only way you're gonna get the watercooling substantially quieter is if you use an external passive radiator, use an undervolted DDC, watercool the LOT (gpu, cpu, nb, hdd's) and use a single 120mm @ 5v at the rear to clear the case air. That would definitely be quiet...

02-25-2006, 02:43 PM
I know Zalmans aren't that great, but they aren't my primary noise source. Yet.

I think I can get the watercooled system much quieter by 1) changing pump, 2) reducing/removing front intake fan, and 3) turning off 1-2 top fans and/or swapping them out for quieter ones.

My plan for the aircooled system is simpler. Change the set points for the NB and CPU for fan speed. Then, remove hard drives so I can reduce the rear 120mm TriCool fan speed. Too many hard drives makes it almost impossible to cool a system quietly (in current setups. A better case layout would allow a low speed 120mm fan to blow onto 4 hard drives. Trying to rely on a rear fan to suck enough air through the front to cool the HDs is just noisy.

02-25-2006, 02:48 PM
i'd change the BIX3 and would get a BIP3.
It's more than enough and less restriction on your fannage. (and wallet)

02-25-2006, 06:10 PM
Bri wanna write up an article about this?

02-27-2006, 12:15 AM
Bri wanna write up an article about this?

Well, this is a worklog. Let me see if I can actually get anything working the way I want. I'll write it up either way, but I want to try first.

02-27-2006, 01:27 PM
I found that my HD's were makin all the noise in my HTPC not the fans.. Once I moved the starage array out into a server, and a laptop drive in for the OS. it got alot quieter..

02-27-2006, 03:25 PM
Hehe, well, I'm not there yet. Fans are still making noise right now. I need to take care of that first.