"Silent audio computer", ...how to build a pc for music listening
"Silent audio computer", ...how to build a pc for music listening
Feb 24 2003, 09:57
Neutrino G-RSA developer
Joined: 8-May 02
Member No.: 2002
What about sharing our personal experiences with building silent, flexible home audio/entertainment devices?
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).
- 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).
- 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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Feb 25 2003, 00:48
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Joined: 11-February 03
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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 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
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
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 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
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...
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
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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