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My silent gaming HTPC

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
Hi guys,

I just want to post my HTPC build log or configuration. The HTPC was build in March 2009 with an Athlon 5050e dual-core and an AMD 785G motherboard with IGP. It was opgraded in January with a Phenom II 910e and a passively cooled ATI HD 5750, and again in March with water cooling (because the passive cooling on the HD 5750 was insufficient and it kept crashing due to the heat).

I have just finished a major upgrade including a nForce 980a SLI motherboard, 1600 mhz RAM, a GTX 460 and a better PSU. I wanted to get better performance in games, better overclock and keep the HTPC silent when it's used for music, TV and movies. The HTPC is still as silent as it used to be, but you cannot call it energy efficient anymore. At least not after the last overclock. It has to be silent as it is connected to a high end stereo with DAC, pre- and power amplifiers.

Current configuration:

Motherboard:
ASUS M4N98TD EVO with nForce 980a SLI chipset

RAM:
2x 2gb Mushkin Enhanced Redline PC-12800 DDR3 @ 1620 mhz (6-8-6-24-1T timings)

CPU:
AMD Phenom II 910e @ 3650 mhz (2730 mhz CPU-NB, 1830 mhz HT)

GFX:
EVGA GTX 460 1GB SuperClocked @ 885/1770/2000mhz 1.087mV (850/1700/2000mhz 0.975mV)

Hard disk drives:
3x 1000gb Samsung Spinpoint F1
1x 1000gb Samsung Spinpoint F3

Power supply unit:
XFX XXX Edition 650w (to make it SLI-ready)

TV-tuner(s):
Hauppauge HVR-2200 dual analogue/digital

DVD-drive:
Pioneer

Case:
ThermalTake DH-103

Soundcard:
USB -> (bitstreaming) -> Cambridge Audio DAC

Comments on the hardware:

Anyone buying the ASUS M4N98TD EVO motherboard should keep in mind that the northbridge gets smoking hot compared to the northbridges on, for example, 780G motherboards (which I can compare to). We are talking 66-75 degrees celcius idle and under load with silent cooling. It's apparently a general nForce problem and not specific to this motherboard. Some people, who do not own this motherboard, have been flaming it in threads on this forum. To me, however, the motherboard seems to be great quality. The build of it is better than on the Gigabyte GA-870A-UD3 that I have lying around and its BIOS have way more options. It can be a bit harder to overclock due to vdroop, but this "problem" is honestly not as bad as some people make it sound.

The XFX XXX Edition 650w PSU seems to be just as quiet as the Corsair VX450 that it replaced, so I would recommend it for anyone wanting to build a silent gaming HTPC. Additionally it offers a greater value for money compared to its bigger brothers with 750 and 850 watts respectively. However, they are 80+ Silver certified whereas mine is only 80+ Bronze certified.

CPU-Z validation

Phenom II 910e @ 3,65 ghz CPU-Z validation

Heatsinks:
  • Alphacool Yellowstone HF 14 CPU heatsink
  • Aquacomputer Aquagrafx GTX 460 GFX full-profile heatsink

I tried adding MOSFET and Northbridge cooling blocks on another motherboard that I thought about using, but gave up as the tubing was simply too much for a relatively small case (not compared to other HTPC's but ordinary PC's). I
actually ended up damaging the Northbridge chip on the other motherboard because the thick tubing "pulled" the heatsink in one direction. Too much watercooling inside a HTPC case can be a problem.

Cooling radiators:
  • Alphacool Cape Cora HF 442 passive radiator
  • XSPC RX120 radiator

Current cooling fans:
  • 2x Yate Loon D12SL-12D (120mm x 3,8cm) mounted at RX120 in push-pull in case front
  • 1x Yate Loon D12SL-12D (120mm x 3,8cm) mounted in case rear
  • 1x Yate Loon D92SL-1 (91mm x 2,5cm) mounted in case top

Controlling the cooling
  • Alphacool Heatmaster controller
  • 2x Phobya Inline temperature sensors
  • 3x Temperature sensors

I measure the following temperatures:
  • Room temperature
  • Northbridge heatsink temperature
  • MOSFET heatsink temperature
  • Pump water temperature
  • RX120 water temperature (between CPU and GFX)

All fans are running at 20% PWM idle and increase gradually to 100% PWM under load. They do so as the water temperature approaches 44 degrees celcius. When the water temperature goes below 44 degrees celcius, they gradually revert to 20% PWM.

Additional items:
  • XSPC X2O 450 pump
  • Koolance inline water filter (relatively high flow capable)
  • 15,9mm OD/11,1 mm ID transparent XSPC tubing
  • Compression fittings everywhere except on CPU cooler (don't fit there)
  • Thermochill cooling fluid

Pictures





Temperatures

After 1 hour and 20 minutes of simultaneous Prime95 Blend Test and GPU folding the temperatures have stabilized at 61 degrees celcius at the CPU core (CPU is rated at 70 C max) and 55 degrees celcius at the GPU. The temperatures seem to be a little lower in-game.

As the Alphacool Heatmaster application reveals, the water temperature is at 50 degrees celcius and the incomming air in the room at 32 degrees celcius (no need to say that the radiator in the room is always off ).

The fans have been adjusted as follows:

- The rear 120mm will run at full speed when the water is above 45 degrees celcius. This have been done to prevent the Northbridge from overheating.
- The remaining three fans (2x 120mm and 1x 92mm) will run at full speed when the water temperature is above 50 degrees. This have been done to prevent the HTPC from emitting too much unnecessary noise. In fact I believe the water could be hotter than 50 degrees celcius and still keep the CPU well below 70 degrees celcius.


Edited by Gnavox - 10/19/10 at 2:48am
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post #2 of 8
Cable management needs some work

Good stuff though! What are the temps like? I see lots of sound dampening material
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post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Cable mana.. what? I got the same comment from a guy on AVForums. Basically I don't think I can do much. I have the exact amount of cables that I need in the case, the PSU is modular and I have tried to tie cables together where it was possible. I were told to put some of the cables below the motherboard, but the bottom of the case is noise insulated as well

I will post some screenshots with temperatures later. But it's Prime95 stable.
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Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
3x 1TB SpinPoint F1 + 1x 1TB SpinPoint F3 Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Panasonic G10 50" Logitech K340 
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Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
3x 1TB SpinPoint F1 + 1x 1TB SpinPoint F3 Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Panasonic G10 50" Logitech K340 
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post #4 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gnavox View Post
Cable mana.. what? I got the same comment from a guy on AVForums. Basically I don't think I can do much. I have the exact amount of cables that I need in the case, the PSU is modular and I have tried to tie cables together where it was possible. I were told to put some of the cables below the motherboard, but the bottom of the case is noise insulated as well

I will post some screenshots with temperatures later. But it's Prime95 stable.
There should be more ways to get the wires neat in the case,but nice HTPC build.
Btw, i've never heard of the PhenomII 910e.
    
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post #5 of 8
Yo. Gnavox, check out the rate my cables thread.

Very nice gaming/htpc btw! =)
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post #6 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geforce_GTX View Post
There should be more ways to get the wires neat in the case,but nice HTPC build.
Btw, i've never heard of the PhenomII 910e.
It's right here. 2600 mhz and 65 watt TDP stock.

It cost me the same as a 965 BE would have done when I got it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by majikmaynayZ View Post
Yo. Gnavox, check out the rate my cables thread.

Very nice gaming/htpc btw! =)
I should post a pic of my superior cable management in that thread. People could learn a lot from my skills
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Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
3x 1TB SpinPoint F1 + 1x 1TB SpinPoint F3 Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Panasonic G10 50" Logitech K340 
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post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
I just updated the thread with a temperature screenshot if anyone cares
HTPC
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I5 2500K @ 4600mhz ASUS P8Z68-V PRO EVGA GTX 460 1GB SC (SLI) @ 810mhz 4GB PC-12800 Mushkin Redline CL6 @ 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
3x 1TB SpinPoint F1 + 1x 1TB SpinPoint F3 Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Panasonic G10 50" Logitech K340 
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HTPC
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
I5 2500K @ 4600mhz ASUS P8Z68-V PRO EVGA GTX 460 1GB SC (SLI) @ 810mhz 4GB PC-12800 Mushkin Redline CL6 @ 1600mhz 
Hard DriveOSMonitorKeyboard
3x 1TB SpinPoint F1 + 1x 1TB SpinPoint F3 Windows 7 Ultimate x64 Panasonic G10 50" Logitech K340 
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post #8 of 8
Hey great thread! I have the same case and have put a lot of effort in making the best cooling for it.

Gaming HTPCs rule!!!!

I have 2X460 SLI in 849-1698-2000, 4 HDDs (WD black 1TB) and waiting for my intel 335 SSD. The HDDs are run from an ARECA hardware 8port raidcard.

Mobo is EVGA 780i (775) with an E6750 overclocked to 3.4. Will update soon to socket 2011 (no more NB overheating!).

I don't have much experience with watercooling that's why the whole thing runs on air. Recently changed the cpu cooler with a Noctua NH-U12P (NH-D14 will neither fit on my current mobo, nor the 2011 one I plan to buy)

PSU is corsair TX850 that sometimes overheats and turns pc off!!!

Fan setup - current ambient is 27C:
CPU:NH-U12P with 2 fans, pushing air to the back (current 50C), min 60%, max 100% at 54C and above.
Front intake 120mm: Scythe Gentle Typhoon 1850 rpm D1225C12B4AP-14 always at 100% as it is silent.
Rear outtake 120mm: Scythe Gentle Typhoon 1850 rpm D1225C12B4AP-14 always at 100% as it is silent (plan to try big 4250rpm fan).
HDD cage: As you know the HDD cage doesn't have a fan mount that's why one has to be inventive. Here I tried the GT 1850 but didn't work so I added 2 zalman 80mm 3000 rpm fans with tiewraps running at min 40%, max 100% according to HDD temp, system temp, or cpu temp.
NB: One zalman 60mm fan at 60% speed.
GPUs: Here I have put one big 120mm 4500rpm fan that gets activated when gpus are > 65C. This has been mounted with magnets http://www.amazon.co.uk/NesteQ-Magnetic-Mounts-RubberScrew-Magnet/dp/B0046YB776 on the top LEFT of the case pushing air towards the gpus. These magnets are great, just don't use them anywhere near HDDs as it will be a costly mistake.

Using speedfan to control fan speeds.

What I want to know from you is what you think is the most important in the case; IMO it is the rear fan that's why am expecting a big 4250rpm Scythe Gentle Typhoon to help exhaust hot air from the back.

Also, what is the setup you have in the front intake fan position? Is it 2 fans connected together or the watercooling setup?
Edited by Silkman - 5/23/13 at 6:44am
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