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Step-by-Step: Building a Quiet PC from the Ground Up

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Cjwinnit

B&
Joined
Feb 1, 2003
Location
UK
The seagate drives are very quiet anyway, even when seeking, so is it really necessary to get a really quiet drive and put it on standoffs? I would hazard a guess putting any new PATA IDE drive on the rubber standoffs you pictured would drastically reduce noise. Could it be that a Maxtor, IBM or WD drive on those standoffs will also be unnoticable? Wonder how a WD would fare.....
 
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cmcquistion

IT Director Senior
Joined
Oct 15, 2001
Location
Tennessee
Cjwinnit said:
The seagate drives are very quiet anyway, even when seeking, so is it really necessary to get a really quiet drive and put it on standoffs? I would hazard a guess putting any new PATA IDE drive on the rubber standoffs you pictured would drastically reduce noise. Could it be that a Maxtor, IBM or WD drive on those standoffs will also be unnoticable? Wonder how a WD would fare.....

I noticed an audible difference, testing with a Seagate Barracuda V, Western Digital 800JB, and Quantum Atlas V (7200 RPM SCSI, loud).
 
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cmcquistion

IT Director Senior
Joined
Oct 15, 2001
Location
Tennessee
Giblet Plus! said:
Sounds good. 120s must have merit for quiet pcs, since people like Ralf Hutter at SPCR use them. :D

They absolutely have merit. I won't deny it. What I will deny is that they are quieter than a pair of PC Power & Cooling Silencer fans. I have tested half a dozen 120mm fans at 5V and 7V, to see if any of them were quieter than the PCP&C Silencer, running at 12V. None of them were.
 

Cjwinnit

B&
Joined
Feb 1, 2003
Location
UK
cmcquistion said:
I noticed an audible difference, testing with a Seagate Barracuda V, Western Digital 800JB...

Figures, benchmarks say the WD is twice as loud. I was kinda worried about it being noisy when I thought about getting it but it's a hell of a lot quieter than my old 10Gb drive when it comes to seeking.

I had a Seagate 60Gb and it's the epitome of silence, it just isn't as fast as it had the 2Mb compared to the WD SE with 8mb. It is slightly louder than the Seagate, but not as loud as I thought. I'll try 'grommetting' my drives in the winter and see if it makes much of a difference (Can't yet, too hot and crap cooling :( )
 
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cmcquistion

IT Director Senior
Joined
Oct 15, 2001
Location
Tennessee
dustybyrd said:
that is an excellent review/guide cmcquistion...

the only comment I have would be that if you want higher than 2ghz overclocks with the AMD then I would get the Fortron/Sparkle 350 watt, 120 mm fan power supply that costs $45-55 at newegg.com and xpdirect.com

but for the budget minded and less than a 2ghz AMD, like you said, the 300 watt version can't be beat...

I'm testing a theory, right now, to see how good this 300 Watt Fortron is.

I took the 300 Watt Fortron and put it in my 2 GHz backup server/workstation.

It is running a XP2100 T-bred A, overclocked to 2 GHz @ 1.75 Vcore.

To stress out of the PSU and see how much it can take (since I don't have any CPU's capable of more than 2 GHz, here,) I put four CD-ROMs and four hard drives in the system. I actually ran out of four-pin molex connectors, so I had to use some splitters.

Even with four CD-ROMs, four Hard Drives, and an overclocked CPU, the system is running rock-solid. It has been running Prime95 for a while. I will let it run overnight, to guarantee stability. MBM's High/Low log shows that 3.3V line has been steady between 3.30 and 3.33V. The 5V line has been steady between 4.87 and 4.92V (normal for this board.) The 12V line is steady between 12.28 and 12.40V.

Although the 5V line may look a bit low, all of these voltages are the VERY CLOSE to the readings it was giving with the 525 Watt PSU I had in this system, previously. When I test the voltages, straight from a Molex, using my digital multimeter, I get 12.37 on the 12V line and 4.98 on the 5V line.

*EDIT* The Vcore, by the way, has only varied from 1.73 to 1.74V, according to MBM's High/Low log.

*EDIT AGAIN* Five and a half hours, so far, of Prime95, while also browsing, updating software, scanning pictures, and defragmenting hard drives. No problems, at all. I think this Fortron 300 is pretty powerful.

*EDIT 3* I ended up running all that gear in that machine for a few days. Never had a single problem. That PSU is a workhorse.
 
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cmcquistion

IT Director Senior
Joined
Oct 15, 2001
Location
Tennessee
Cjwinnit said:


Figures, benchmarks say the WD is twice as loud. I was kinda worried about it being noisy when I thought about getting it but it's a hell of a lot quieter than my old 10Gb drive when it comes to seeking.

I had a Seagate 60Gb and it's the epitome of silence, it just isn't as fast as it had the 2Mb compared to the WD SE with 8mb. It is slightly louder than the Seagate, but not as loud as I thought. I'll try 'grommetting' my drives in the winter and see if it makes much of a difference (Can't yet, too hot and crap cooling :( )

In a week or two, I will have my third article ready for publication. It will have plans to build a shock-mount hard drive rack that will fit in almost any case and it only costs a few bucks to build. As an added bonus, it is slightly more effective than the rubber grommet method. The rubber grommets are good and the other method isn't necessarily good enough to replace rubber grommets, if your case has that capability. If your case doesn't have it, though, then this method can really help. I have lots of Antec/Chieftec cases that I have tried it in and it makes an audible difference.
 

dustybyrd

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2003
Location
San Francisco, CA
cmcquistion said:


They absolutely have merit. I won't deny it. What I will deny is that they are quieter than a pair of PC Power & Cooling Silencer fans. I have tested half a dozen 120mm fans at 5V and 7V, to see if any of them were quieter than the PCP&C Silencer, running at 12V. None of them were.


could it be that the 120mm fans you have used were in a "turbulence oriented" position in the case?

have you used the panaflo 120's? i'm guessing those are quiet...

also, on the 300 watt fortron (w/120mm fan)...i have read users getting well over 2ghz with amd's and high core voltage on the cpu...so these are good supplies...

in fact fortron's rating difference between the 300 watt and the 350 watt version is only 1A more on the 12v and 2A more on the 5v...and 20 watts more from the 3.3+5v combined (200 vs 220)

and...tom's hardware's review:

http://www4.tomshardware.com/howto/20021021/powersupplies-07.html#maximum_output_overload_test

states that the fsp300 (verax model) hit 390 watts max compared to 454 watts on the fsp350 models...

390 watts ain't bad at all....in fact more than enermax's 365 model...

and actually, it's possible that the 300 watt fortron could have gone higher...but the overload protection circuitry kicked it to prevent it...
 
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cmcquistion

IT Director Senior
Joined
Oct 15, 2001
Location
Tennessee
dustybyrd said:



could it be that the 120mm fans you have used were in a "turbulence oriented" position in the case?

have you used the panaflo 120's? i'm guessing those are quiet...

also, on the 300 watt fortron (w/120mm fan)...i have read users getting well over 2ghz with amd's and high core voltage on the cpu...so these are good supplies...

in fact fortron's rating difference between the 300 watt and the 350 watt version is only 1A more on the 12v and 2A more on the 5v...and 20 watts more from the 3.3+5v combined (200 vs 220)

and...tom's hardware's review:

http://www4.tomshardware.com/howto/20021021/powersupplies-07.html#maximum_output_overload_test

states that the fsp300 (verax model) hit 390 watts max compared to 454 watts on the fsp350 models...

390 watts ain't bad at all....in fact more than enermax's 365 model...

and actually, it's possible that the 300 watt fortron could have gone higher...but the overload protection circuitry kicked it to prevent it...

I have used Panaflo 120mm fans. They aren't bad, but I find them a bit "clunky" when undervolting, and a bit too loud, when running at 12V. I have used them outside the case, for testing, as well as in the case.

I agree that this Fortron 300 seems to be a very good PSU. I had read Tom's review of it, too. Everyone I've spoken with has had only good things to say about Fortron PSU's. Their 300 Watt FSP300 is the only model I have used of theirs, but I have used half a dozen of them and they have all been great.
 

Hookem

Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2001
Location
Houston Texas
I really do not have much experience with 120m/m fans but have found the 120m/m Vantec Stealth's to be reasonable quiet...Not silent but quiet...Vantec's CFM and Dba rating's seem way out of line when comparing them Panflo's...:)
 
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cmcquistion

IT Director Senior
Joined
Oct 15, 2001
Location
Tennessee
Hookem said:
I really do not have much experience with 120m/m fans but have found the 120m/m Vantec Stealth's to be reasonable quiet...Not silent but quiet...Vantec's CFM and Dba rating's seem way out of line when comparing them Panflo's...:)

That's true. I haven't used their 120mm Stealth fan, but I have used the 80mm Stealth fan. It is not as quiet as a Panaflo L1A, even though they claim it is 1 dB quieter. Also, the 80mm Stealth fan has a lot more vibration then other quiet 80mm fans. This vibration causes noise, on heatsinks, when used as a heatsink fan, and on cases, when used as a case fan.
 
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C

cmcquistion

IT Director Senior
Joined
Oct 15, 2001
Location
Tennessee
cmcquistion said:


I'm testing a theory, right now, to see how good this 300 Watt Fortron is.

I took the 300 Watt Fortron and put it in my 2 GHz backup server/workstation.

It is running a XP2100 T-bred A, overclocked to 2 GHz @ 1.75 Vcore.

To stress out of the PSU and see how much it can take (since I don't have any CPU's capable of more than 2 GHz, here,) I put four CD-ROMs and four hard drives in the system. I actually ran out of four-pin molex connectors, so I had to use some splitters.

Even with four CD-ROMs, four Hard Drives, and an overclocked CPU, the system is running rock-solid. It has been running Prime95 for a while. I will let it run overnight, to guarantee stability. MBM's High/Low log shows that 3.3V line has been steady between 3.30 and 3.33V. The 5V line has been steady between 4.87 and 4.92V (normal for this board.) The 12V line is steady between 12.28 and 12.40V.

Although the 5V line may look a bit low, all of these voltages are the VERY CLOSE to the readings it was giving with the 525 Watt PSU I had in this system, previously. When I test the voltages, straight from a Molex, using my digital multimeter, I get 12.37 on the 12V line and 4.98 on the 5V line.

*EDIT* The Vcore, by the way, has only varied from 1.73 to 1.74V, according to MBM's High/Low log.

*EDIT AGAIN* Five and a half hours, so far, of Prime95, while also browsing, updating software, scanning pictures, and defragmenting hard drives. No problems, at all. I think this Fortron 300 is pretty powerful.

It has now been running Prime95 for 23.5 hours with four hard drives, four CD-ROMs, and doing lots of work, including a massive nightly backup job, over the network. No problems, at all, for this 300 Watt Fortron.
 

BryanS

Registered
Joined
Dec 3, 2002
Location
Northwest Indiana
I can't wait to see the 3rd addition to the guide. I was hoping to try the grommet mounting but my Chieftex case won't allow it so I want to see the alternative that is on the way!
 

Hookem

Member
Joined
Jul 3, 2001
Location
Houston Texas
Yeah the Vantec Stealth's are pretty decent fans...My experience with them is they do tend to vibrate when you first hook them up...The two 120's in my Sonata, even using the rubber fan mounts vibrated...Now they have smoothed out somewhat...One of them pumps more air than the other one...Even using the same molex connector outside the case...The Stealths are my second weapon of choice for "quiet" case fans, behind Panasonic Panflo's...Papst pricing falls into the PC Power & Cooling of too darn expensive...If you want to see somthing funny check out this fan noise comparision I found at Directron http://www.directron.com/noise.html Dr. Michael be trippin...:D
 
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cmcquistion

IT Director Senior
Joined
Oct 15, 2001
Location
Tennessee
Yeah, I've seen that noise shootout article. It isn't bad.

Notice that Directron sells "Silencer" fans, too, though they are relabeled as "Directron Silencers" instead of "PC Power and Cooling Silencers". Also, notice that it was the quietest fan measured, except for the Enermax thermally adjusted fan, which was running at its lowest possible speed, since it wasn't in an actual, heated computer case.

All things considered, I think the PC Power and Cooling Silencer fans are very well priced. They are only $7.50 a piece, from PC Power and Cooling, and you get free shipping on orders over $15. Who else gives you free shipping? Even Newegg charges $5 per fan for shipping, which is ridiculous.
 

crave_silence

Registered
Joined
Mar 14, 2002
Location
seattle, WA
Hey -- nice article. I've been pursuing ultra-quiet computing in every machine I've built over the last three years, and your article would have saved me a lot of trial and error over that time period.

One thing I'd add is that the new Maxtor drives are both fast and quiet -- comparable to the Seagates in terms of noise and comparable to the WD JB series in terms of speed. The WD1000JB I have is indeed fast, and pretty quiet, but it has a high pitched whine that is still irritating if you're sensitive to it. I've moved from the seagate and WD drives to using the 8 mb cache maxtors exclusively. I've been surprised, given my good experiences with them, that they seem to be ignored on silent pc sites.

Thanks again for putting such a great array of tips together!
 

Funkymobo

New Member
Joined
May 30, 2002
Location
Vancouver, BC
A Question

Thanks very much for your article. I am setting out to build myself a new computer, following your advice. I've noticed that PC Power and Cooling offers their 80mm fan with either the standard 4-pin power connector, or the 3-pin motherboard connector. I'd like to know what the advantages and disadvantages of each option are.

Thanks
 
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cmcquistion

IT Director Senior
Joined
Oct 15, 2001
Location
Tennessee
Re: A Question

Funkymobo said:
Thanks very much for your article. I am setting out to build myself a new computer, following your advice. I've noticed that PC Power and Cooling offers their 80mm fan with either the standard 4-pin power connector, or the 3-pin motherboard connector. I'd like to know what the advantages and disadvantages of each option are.

Thanks

The main advantage of getting the 4 pin power connector is if your motherboard doesn't have enough fan headers, to support all your fans.

Another possible advantage is if you want to mod your fan to run at 5V or 7V, you can do it, using the 4 pin power connector, quite easily. With the 3 pin connector, you would need a 4 pin - 3 pin converter, to do this mod.
 

jimstandard

Member
Joined
Dec 11, 2003
Location
Baton Rouge, La
very nice and useful, i mean even if someone doesnt want a silent pc but just to make it less loud its excellent information to have the use of the grommets is just great