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Cooling Options for Fractal Design Define Mini

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
I'm about to start my first build in a Fractal Define Mini. With one newegg shipment yet to arrive before I can get to it, I'm wondering about improving the cooling system. Two things:

1) replacing the stock CPU cooler, since I've read with some motherboards the Mini's CPU cutout is a touch too small for attaching brackets, so might as well do it from the get-go?

Relevant specs:
Case: Fractal Design Define Mini
CPU: Intel Core i5 2500K
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-D2H-B3
GPU: SAPPHIRE 100314-3L Radeon HD 6870
PSU: PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333
SSD: Samsung 830 Series MZ-7PC128D/AM 2.5" 128GB
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium

I'm not planning to overclock at the moment but who knows what increased computer literacy may bring? And I don't think I want to get into water cooling, unless someone can make an argument for its suitability/ease of use for a self-building noob. Case specs say it supports CPU coolers with heights up to 160mm. From my searches of similar queries, I've seen conflicting responses as to whether the Cooler Master 212 Plus/Hyper Evo or Scythe Mugen 3 would work, and I've also heard good things about the Thermalright True Spirit 120 or Zalman coolers (many of which seem to date back to 2005? but are still getting good reviews on newegg?). I think the most I'd want to spend is ~$50-60.

Does anyone have any recommendations or experiences with clearance in this case/motherboard?

2) fans
The case ships with two 120mm fans. I was thinking I might move the rear one to the front and add a 140 mm as the top exhaust. Does that make sense for this build? Recommendations for quiet fans for the top and/or to replace the front intake fans? I've heard Scythe Slip Streams and Gentle Typhoons mentioned as good choices but am open to other suggestions.


Any input is greatly appreciated! Thanks!
Edited by mswn - 4/18/12 at 10:32pm
My First Build
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 2500K GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-D2H-B3 SAPPHIRE HD 6870 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Windows 7 Home Premium ASUS PA238Q IBM Model M 
PowerCase
PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular  Fractal Design Define Mini 
  hide details  
Reply
My First Build
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 2500K GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-D2H-B3 SAPPHIRE HD 6870 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Windows 7 Home Premium ASUS PA238Q IBM Model M 
PowerCase
PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular  Fractal Design Define Mini 
  hide details  
Reply
post #2 of 9
From builds i have seen, i know that the Define Mini will fit a Noctua NH-D14 and a Prolimatech Megahalems/Super Mega. The only trouble you may run into with the D14 is clearance for the graphics card. Typical mATX problem.

Since the D14 is 160mm and the Megahalems is 158mm in height, any cooler that does not exceed those measurements will fit. That includes the Mugen 3, which is 158mm.

It seems like the thermalright True Spirit 120 is the best of the "small, cheap 120mm coolers". But if you plan on overclocking more heavily, i would take something bigger, like a Mugen 3, Venomous X, Megahalems or NH-D14.

For the airflow: For the build that you choose, i think 3 case fans are plenty. Two in the front, one in the back. Gives a clean look and plenty of ventilation.
I am using a similar setup in the Define R3, and temps stay nice and low even after extended stress-testing.
If you ever install more heat prone hardware, like a SLI/CF setup, add an exhaust fan to the top panel.
Scythe Slipstreams are great for the price. Gentle Typhoons are awesome heatsink fans, but probably not worth the cost if you are using them as case fans only.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the response! I don't anticipate any extreme overclocking in my near future, so I suppose that puts me in the "small, cheap" category with the True Spirit 120...

For the rear exhaust fan, does it make a huge difference if it's placed on the rear panel or the top rear? I was thinking of using the top rear fan slot since there's space for a 140mm fan there, and the conventional wisdom is that larger, slower fans can be quieter, no?
My First Build
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 2500K GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-D2H-B3 SAPPHIRE HD 6870 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Windows 7 Home Premium ASUS PA238Q IBM Model M 
PowerCase
PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular  Fractal Design Define Mini 
  hide details  
Reply
My First Build
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 2500K GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-D2H-B3 SAPPHIRE HD 6870 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Windows 7 Home Premium ASUS PA238Q IBM Model M 
PowerCase
PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular  Fractal Design Define Mini 
  hide details  
Reply
post #4 of 9
I did some testing with a top mounted fan in the R3.
It is very effective for removing warm air from the case, when used in combination with a rear fan. But, if you only have a top fan and no rear fan, chances are the top fan will suck in cool air from the rear fan grill and exhaust it straight out the top.
One drawback of the top mounted fan is that you can hear it more clearly than the rear fan. Assuming the case is standing on the floor.
post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Stompy View Post

I did some testing with a top mounted fan in the R3.
It is very effective for removing warm air from the case, when used in combination with a rear fan. But, if you only have a top fan and no rear fan, chances are the top fan will suck in cool air from the rear fan grill and exhaust it straight out the top.
One drawback of the top mounted fan is that you can hear it more clearly than the rear fan. Assuming the case is standing on the floor.

That makes sense—still learning about case airflow mechanics! I'll probably stick with the 2-in-front, 1-in-back you suggested then. I wonder, would three of these do it for that setup, or do they not move enough air? The specs list them at 44.73 CFM compared to, say, 68.54 CFM for the 1200rpm Slipstream. I get that that's less air flow but I'm not sure what that means in terms of real-world performance. Is a difference of ~20 CFM a huge difference?

Edit: Oh, I see in this guide, "About 100cfm in your whole computer is very good airflow!" Does that mean 3 x 45 CFM fans = 135 CFM in the computer = good airflow? Even if 2 are intake and 1 is exhaust? Or does that mean 100 CFM of intake?
Edited by mswn - 4/3/12 at 4:24am
My First Build
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 2500K GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-D2H-B3 SAPPHIRE HD 6870 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Windows 7 Home Premium ASUS PA238Q IBM Model M 
PowerCase
PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular  Fractal Design Define Mini 
  hide details  
Reply
My First Build
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 2500K GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-D2H-B3 SAPPHIRE HD 6870 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Windows 7 Home Premium ASUS PA238Q IBM Model M 
PowerCase
PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular  Fractal Design Define Mini 
  hide details  
Reply
post #6 of 9
My Define Mini showed up today for an Ivy Bridge build I'm going to do as well. I'm planning on using 3x or 4x 1400rpm Scythe Kama Flow fans on a fan controller so I can quickly adjust & figure out optimal configuration. My tenative thought is having the top fan blowing into the case, not out of the case, since higher pressure usually means better performance, even if the higher pressured air is slightly hotter or slower moving.

It seems like the worst configuration would be an outward blowing fan in the back and an outward blowing fan on top since that would result in low pressure around the CPU (vacuum effect)... granted the air will be rushing by very quickly, the heat transfer rate is lower with lower pressure.

Any updates on your system/thoughts? I'll subscribe to this thread and post anything I come up with. I have mobo/fan controller/psu arriving Friday and Saturday.
Fanless Gaming PC
(12 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
i7 920 @ 3ghz Rampage II Gene mATX 4gb @ 1600mhz 80gb Intel ssd 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Windows 7 1600x1200 Nexus 850 Watt (disabled fan) p180 mini 
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Fanless Gaming PC
(12 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
i7 920 @ 3ghz Rampage II Gene mATX 4gb @ 1600mhz 80gb Intel ssd 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Windows 7 1600x1200 Nexus 850 Watt (disabled fan) p180 mini 
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post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 
As I understand it, negative pressure setups are supposed to be better for cooling but worse for dust. There was a rather exhaustive (ha!) investigation of cooling with the R3 that seemed to indicate that rear/top exhausts and side intakes were most effective overall. But I have a cat who sheds an insane amount, so I'm shooting for positive pressure. At the moment, I have both the included fans as front intakes and have added a Hyper 212 Plus CPU cooler. Just setting things up the past few days, I've been running with the left panel off and both side and top modu-vent covers removed, using the included fan controller, and it's been pretty quiet—though I haven't had a chance to try any heavy-duty programs yet. The loudest thing is (I think?) the CPU cooler fan, so I may replace that with a Scythe or Noctua fan of some sort? I'd like to add a rear exhaust fan as well and a nicer 5.25" fan controller (the stock one really mucked up my cable management job!); but so far, so good. The case is really nice in person, isn't it?
My First Build
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 2500K GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-D2H-B3 SAPPHIRE HD 6870 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Windows 7 Home Premium ASUS PA238Q IBM Model M 
PowerCase
PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular  Fractal Design Define Mini 
  hide details  
Reply
My First Build
(10 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i5 2500K GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-D2H-B3 SAPPHIRE HD 6870 G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB-1333 
CoolingOSMonitorKeyboard
Cooler Master Hyper 212 Plus Windows 7 Home Premium ASUS PA238Q IBM Model M 
PowerCase
PC Power and Cooling Silencer MK III 600W Modular  Fractal Design Define Mini 
  hide details  
Reply
post #8 of 9
Yes, it's good quality for sure. I'm also not planning on using that stock fan controller either as I already have a 5.25" one on the way. I had not seen the thread on negative pressure- thanks for linking.
Fanless Gaming PC
(12 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
i7 920 @ 3ghz Rampage II Gene mATX 4gb @ 1600mhz 80gb Intel ssd 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Windows 7 1600x1200 Nexus 850 Watt (disabled fan) p180 mini 
  hide details  
Reply
Fanless Gaming PC
(12 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
i7 920 @ 3ghz Rampage II Gene mATX 4gb @ 1600mhz 80gb Intel ssd 
OSMonitorPowerCase
Windows 7 1600x1200 Nexus 850 Watt (disabled fan) p180 mini 
  hide details  
Reply
post #9 of 9
Anyone tried putting a h100 in this guy?
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CaseMouse
Silverstone Grandia GD07B Logitech M510 
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
Intel Celeron G620 Gigabyte Z68MX-UD2H-B3 G-Skill Eco 4gb WD 160GB Blue 
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cave
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couch
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cave2
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i3 2100 Biostar H61MU3 Nvidia 550 Ti Crucial 4gb 1333 
Hard DriveHard DriveHard DriveOptical Drive
Samsung Spinpoint 1TB Seagate 2TB Barracuda  WD Blue 160GB ASUS 24X DVD Burner 
OSMonitorKeyboardPower
Windows 7 64 Bit LG 32LD400 32-Inch Logitech k360 OCZ ModXtreme Pro 500 
CaseMouse
Silverstone Grandia GD07B Logitech M510 
CPUMotherboardRAMHard Drive
Intel Celeron G620 Gigabyte Z68MX-UD2H-B3 G-Skill Eco 4gb WD 160GB Blue 
OSKeyboardPowerCase
Ubuntu 12.04 CM Storm Quick Fire Rapid Antec Earthwatts 430W Antec SX1030b 
MouseMouse Pad
Logitech MX510 Steelseries QCK 
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