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Project Whisper

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 



Project Whisper

All your dBA are belong to us.





In mid-2011, I started my first adventure in PC building. I learned a lot very quickly through Overclock.net, jonnyGuru, frostytech, and other sites, and immediately started upgrading parts. First the PSU, then graphics card, then CPU cooler... before I knew it, I'd essentially built a whole new system, retaining only the case, motherboard, and CPU. One of the biggest factors in all of my upgrades has been noise; the computer sits next to the bed and two feet from my head, often left running overnight for torrent seeding and Steam downloading. Come December 2012, I finally decided to complete the upgrades and actually start tapping ye olde Phenom. Quietly, of course.





Project Goal

To sum it up in one line: run Crysis 3 on max settings at playable FPS (30+) under 30 dBA. Seriously.




Parts
Case: Fractal Define R4
CPU: Phenom II X4 955
Motherboard: Gigabyte 990FXA UD3
Memory: Samsung 8GB DDR3 wonder RAM
VGA: Gigabyte 7950 Windforce 3
Power: Seasonic 660XP 760 or 860 (whichever I get a better deal on that's not known for coil whine)


Despite upgrading everything else, I've decided to stick with the 955 until DDR4 becomes mainstream in 2014 and on. Since the R4 supports much better cooling than my old Xion case, I should be able to pump the Phenom up to the 4GHz wall fairly easily. The MSI 460 Hawk [Talon Attack!] has been a great card, but is starting to see its limits in modern shooters. The 7950 should last me for a while, if Crytek's boasts that Crysis 3 will be top of the line for at least a couple year true; it seems to manage Crysis 3 fairly well at stock and is known to OC nicely up to 7970 levels. I'm strongly considering a 2nd to take advantage of the newest AMD gaming bundle, which happens to include Crysis 3.

Having said that, I need to figure out how much power I'm pulling from the wall to feed my CPU and GPU(s). Early research suggests a 4GHz Phenom 955 pulls between 300 and 400W and an overclocked 7950 pulls around 250W+... all of which must be cooled in 30 dBA or less. Bear in mind that most estimates are system-wide, meaning the whole computer. Hard to isolate how much power individual parts are drawing and how much heat they're crapping out. Which leads me to...




Air Cooling

Right now, my R4 is running the two stock fans (Fractal R2 140mm-that-are-not-actually-140mm), two AP-14s on my Noctua UH-12P SE2, and a basically-inaudible Noiseblocker BlackSilent PL-1 to cool everything, all hooked up to my R4's integrated fan controller. My room hovers between 22-25˚C on average. With the fan controller at 7v, AP-14 fan speeds drop to AP-13 levels (1150rpm or so), the PL-1 to about 680rpm, and I have no idea how fast the R2s are turning (base 1000rpm, so I'd bet in the 700-760rpm range). Web surfing gets system temps of 31˚C for the CPU and 34˚C for the GPU. Furmark bench with 4x MSAA at 1920x1080 brought the fans up to 39% and temps up to 57˚C. Prime I'm still learning how to set up, so I can't report on a CPU stress test yet. All of these are stock clocks; no overclocking until my new fans come in and I can do a proper before-after.

The temps are okay, but unfortunately even at 7v the system fans are too noisy (especially the R2s). Raising to 12v gives me a solid 2-3˚C improvement on temps, but the sound is unacceptable. Dropping to 5v loses a degree or two (sensor-pending) and I can no longer easily hear the system fans over the 7950's fans; the noise is still there, but it's subdued. The 7950 fans are currently the loudest in the system, followed by the R2s, then AP14s. That little Noiseblocker is doing its thing inaudibly at all fan speeds.

Yeah. Watercooling is definitely in Project Whisper's future.

However, I can't afford it yet. Two rads, four to six fans, two or three water blocks, pump(s), tubing, fittings... yeah. Can't happen right now. So to stave off the urge to spend that money I can't afford to, I just bought five TY-147s from Amazon.co.uk. These are factory black-frame-white-blade TY-140s. Shipped from Amazon in the UK, they come to $10.4 USD per fan. Here in the States, you can't get them cheaper than $14 per fan before tax and shipping.




Water Cooling

GingerJohn made an interesting post a while back mathing out how much heat contributes to how much of a rise in temperature over 30˚C water. Assuming my current guesses on heat produced by my OC'd CPU and GPU are true, my roughly 650W heat load will only raise water temps 2ish˚C above 30˚C at a flow of 1 gallon per minute.

Users on SPCR's forum have described the Apogee Drive II as inaudible at and below 20%. Gabe at Swiftech told me that the Apogee DII at 20% would be able to handle 2-3 radiators and 2 GPU blocks... aka, what I'd need to quietly cool Project Whisper. Game on.

kungfu.gif


The Gear
  • Apogee Drive II CPU block & pump (pump speed locked at 20%)
  • Aquacomputer AquagrATIx 7950 block(s) with that sexy 7970 back plate
  • Alphacool UT60 or Monsta 240 w/ push-pull AP14s or Noiseblocker Multiframes (intake)
  • 2x Alphacool ST30 or UT60 120 w/ single pull or push-pull AP14s, Noiseblocker Multiframes, or TY-147s (intake)
  • Any single 5.25 bay reservoir
  • Undetermined black tubing
  • Undetermined Bitspower fittings


The Apogee Drive II is chosen because it's an extremely capable pump and CPU block, and it saves space for a cleaner look. The Aquacomputer blocks because... well, my options for 7950 blocks are pretty limited. It's basically Aquacomputer, EK, and the much more expensive and highly restrictive Swiftech Komodo. Alphacool has been absolutely rocking the low-noise water cooling arena, particularly below 1400rpm fan speeds. Since I won't have any fans turning above 1200rpm, this is perfect for me. The front intake will be a 240 Monsta or UT60; I haven't decided on one or the other because I can't find out if at these fan speeds one performs better than the other (brief discussion here). Same dilemma for the rear rad: I'm not sure if a single 120mm fan on a thin rad is any better or worse than a two 120mm fans on a thicker rad. Since the UT60 did so well from 600 to 1400rpm with one fan, I might as well go that route and test with single or push-pull fans. If temps are better and noise is unaffected, great. If temps barely change at the expense of noise... not great.

Loop order, as shown in that previous link to GingerJohn's post, doesn't seem to matter too much. I'll figure that out once I have the hardware in hand and can see what pleases the eye most.

Tentative plans:
Option 1: 240 rad at front (intake), 120 rad at bottom (intake), 120 rad at rear (intake), 2x TY-147s at top (exhaust)
Option 2: 240 rad at front (intake), 120 rad at bottom (intake), 240 rad at top (intake), TY-147 at rear (exhaust)
Option 3: 240 rad at front (intake), blocked bottom, 120 rad at rear (intake), 2x TY-147s at top (exhaust)
Option 4: 240 rad at front (intake), 120 rad at bottom (intake), 1x TY-147 at rear (intake), 1x or 2x TY-147s at top (exhaust)

For single 120 rads, I can use the TY-147s. This lets me both recycle the fans used with my air-cooling setup and technically cover more area on the single 120 rad (I'm not kidding myself into thinking they'll be better at cooling than a Gentle Typhoon, but they should be about the same or slightly better than the 120mm Multiframe and they're PWM, which will let me play with how well that feature works for noise management). For 240 rads, Gentle Typhoons and Multiframes are where it's at.


Pre-Watercooling Mod List

Wouldn't be a good build log without a list of things to do eh?
  1. Measure the following:
    • All PSU cables to their intended destinations
      • 24-pin to mobo: 22-22.5"
      • 8pins to GPU: 21"
      • 8pin to CPU: 27.5"
      • power to fans: routing fan cables up and behind the 5.25 cage and alongside the vertical mobo tray grommets; TY-147s have 10" cables, so 5-6" plus the splitter should work fine
      • SATA power to SSD & HDD behind mobo: 7" bottom & 10" top
      • SATA power to top and to bottom 5.25 slots, from top of rubber grommet: 23", with plugs needed at 20" and terminating in non-right-angel at 23"
    • SATA III cable to drives behind mobo: both 7.5"
    • SATA III cable to Icy Dock (5.25 bay): 12"
  2. Once done, acquire custom PSU and SATA cables from www.moddiy.com (need help with color scheme, thinking black / grey-silver / white)
  3. Remove upper HDD cage mounting bracket
  4. Verify mounting single 120mm fan to vertical PCI slot [Possible, needs custom fab'd bracket]
  5. Find a way to cleanly support GPU; sag = no bueno
  6. Acquire 2.5" HDD (WD Scorpio Blue 1TB)
  7. Acquire TY-147s [en route]
  8. Reroute front panel leads behind the mobo itself to sneak them around just the mobo and not from the PSU grommet (cleans up looks) (here)
  9. Consider sleeving front panel leads
  10. Cover externally-visible fan mounts with acrylic/plexi panels (here) [acrylic here]
  11. Find a cool name & logo
  12. TAKE PICS



Thanks for tuning in guys. This is likely to be a long, ongoing upgrade process and is intended as much for discussion and idea sharing as it is for creating a log of crap I've done, why I've done it, and what's worked and hasn't. I'm all about participation. Preliminary shout-outs to Drake.L, S@wyer, airdeano, and HiCZoK for some awesome ideas that got me started on this project.
Edited by BBEG - 4/18/13 at 10:18am
    
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post #2 of 22
Ssubbing. Should be good.
post #3 of 22
I subbed so hard.
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post #4 of 22
Subbin disss!
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post #5 of 22
Definitely want to follow this one...
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post #6 of 22
I'm watching you smile.gif
post #7 of 22
Great choice for a processor! thumb.gif My old build and one of my new ones I used a Phenom II X4 965 OC'd and it ran all the games maxed out, It saddens me to say though it passed away about a month ago when my new $200 motherboard was burnt up by a bad LED lighting system mad.gif . I dident figure it our until recently after RMAing a perfectly good motherboard and trying it in a third new motherbord...... Needless to say I replaced it with a Phenom II X4 820 I picked up on ebay for cheap...... Its memory lives on! smile.gif

Processed By eBay with ImageMagick, R1.1.1.||B2||T0JKX0lEPTVjYTFhYjFlYTY1YTAyMjAwNTEwMGNmNDhjMzE5YTA1MTFiZTJjZGNhNWIzfHxTRUxMRVJfTkFNRT1yZW1pYy1zbWl8fE9SSUdJTkFMX0VCQVlfUVVBTElUWV9TQ09SRT00fHxDUkVBVElPTl9EQVRFPTIvMTMvMTMgMTI6NTEgUE0=
post #8 of 22
Thread Starter 
First update!

But it's a boring one. I've got 5x TY-147s inbound from Amazon.uk, but they won't be here until late March. I've also got a windowed side panel coming in. Apparently, both the windowed side panels for the R4 and Arc Midi use the same product code on Fractal's site, so I'm thinking/hoping it's the same thing. Otherwise I'll have a windowed side panel for Arc Midi owners up for grabs. rolleyes.gif

Only caveat: I'm saving that windowed side panel for liquid cooling, when I'm not making use of the side intake. While it's extremely tempting to cut some side vents in the acrylic, the rig will ultimately be water cooled, making that vent useless.

Sunday is measuring day. I'll also be bugging HiCZoK to find out what kind of acrylic he used to cover fan mounts.

Edit: Impatient and impulsive, I just picked up a 1/8" x 12" x 24" sheet of translucent black from Delvie's Plastics. Shipping was more expensive than the panel. wth.gif



Quick Poll: since the fan vents will be covered, should I go ahead and add filters to the rest of the intakes?
  • Yes, of course!
  • No, why bother?
  • lolwut

Edited by BBEG - 3/2/13 at 8:54am
    
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i7 2600k Asus ROG Maximus V Gene Reference EVGA GTX 680 (1306 / 7204) Reference EVGA GTX 680 SC (1280 / 7160) 
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RAMHard DriveCoolingOS
16GB Samsung 'Green' 1600 DDR3 (MV-3V4G3D/US) Samsung 830 256GB Noctua U12P SE2 w/ AP14s P-P Windows 7 Pro 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Hannspree 23" SL231 LED Logitech G710+ Seasonic SS-860XP2 Platinum Cardboard box & motherboard tray 
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Dying Razer Death Adder Desktop Schiit Magni + Optical Modi Swan M50W 
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post #9 of 22


In all seriousness....I would add filters thumb.gif
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post #10 of 22
Thread Starter 
99% of measuring done; fans are the only thing in waiting, and I won't have a great idea for those until I get them in. Now I just need a few paychecks to spare. I'm thinking black / silver / dark grey or black / dark grey for sleeving. What say ye?

Not so awesome email from Aquacomputer says the 7970 back plate will not work on the 7950 block due to a different hole layout. Challenge accepted.

Also, while I had cables out of the way I subbed in the 660 Platinum with it's godawful stock power cables. And in a couple days, it's going right back out back to Seasonic. It's got coil whine that starts when you turn on the I/O switch without the computer even being on (mad.gif). When I get the new one in, I'll probably flip it upside down so the nice sleek side shows instead of the big ugly label. The unit will sit in Hybrid mode full-time so it will basically function as a passively-cooled PSU, so I have no special need to mount it with the fan facing down and pulling in cool outside air; the fan won't be turning at all.
Edited by BBEG - 3/3/13 at 1:57pm
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
i7 2600k Asus ROG Maximus V Gene Reference EVGA GTX 680 (1306 / 7204) Reference EVGA GTX 680 SC (1280 / 7160) 
RAMHard DriveCoolingOS
16GB Samsung 'Green' 1600 DDR3 (MV-3V4G3D/US) Samsung 830 256GB Noctua U12P SE2 w/ AP14s P-P Windows 7 Pro 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Hannspree 23" SL231 LED Logitech G710+ Seasonic SS-860XP2 Platinum Cardboard box & motherboard tray 
MouseMouse PadAudioAudio
Dying Razer Death Adder Desktop Schiit Magni + Optical Modi Swan M50W 
AudioAudio
Sennheiser HD 600 Samson Meteor Mic w/ pop filter 
  hide details  
Reply
    
CPUMotherboardGraphicsGraphics
i7 2600k Asus ROG Maximus V Gene Reference EVGA GTX 680 (1306 / 7204) Reference EVGA GTX 680 SC (1280 / 7160) 
RAMHard DriveCoolingOS
16GB Samsung 'Green' 1600 DDR3 (MV-3V4G3D/US) Samsung 830 256GB Noctua U12P SE2 w/ AP14s P-P Windows 7 Pro 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
Hannspree 23" SL231 LED Logitech G710+ Seasonic SS-860XP2 Platinum Cardboard box & motherboard tray 
MouseMouse PadAudioAudio
Dying Razer Death Adder Desktop Schiit Magni + Optical Modi Swan M50W 
AudioAudio
Sennheiser HD 600 Samson Meteor Mic w/ pop filter 
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