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From the tpc.hardware Newsgroup

Project Silent Blizzard

From: Rick Mortellra <rmjapan@jcom.home.ne.??>
Newsgroups: tpc.hardware
Subject: Project Silent Blizzard
Date: Tue, 19 Mar 2002 11:49:03 +0900

Despite being keen on building a P4 1.6A OC'ed system, I knew I couldn't sneak another PC into my office without my wife noticing. Our deal is for every new toy I get she gets something 2x more expensive so I couldn't justify it.

Sean Bennett replied:
Ouch >*< She's obviously got a good eye for seeing how she can benefit from our fetishes...

She was keen on letting me try to make it less noisy however.
So I embarked on Project Silent Blizzard a few weeks ago. In short it has been a dismal, expensive time and money failure.

...so what's she doing with her 40,000? :)

Encouraged by the cpu temp drops I got by simply lowering my already overclocked Duron's vcore by .05v to 1.8v I experimented with disabling all my case fans except for the Volcano II 60mm HSF and PS. This made a noticeable sound difference and only resulted in a +2C increase in cpu temp to about 43C. My max temp threshold with Win XP and this overclocked Duron seems to be about 55C at this vcore setting before things turn flakey. Win98 seems to have a higher threshold I haven't discovered yet.

The Enermax 300w PS fan "seemed" at 3000rpm to be much louder than the Volcano II at 4800 rpm so I bit the bullet and shelled out 8500 yen for a new 370w Torica model that promised low 600-2500rpm speeds. At least if it didn't work I'll be future-proof for the P4 and Athlons I justified to myself. Sure enough, it is virtually silent. The downside was that now the Volcano II sounded much louder and my case temps increased about 4C but cpu temps remained steady.

Another trip to Aki yielded an 800 yen Zalman Fan Mate fan control. Reducing the HSF to about 3200rpm pretty much made the PC stealthy EXCEPT now the previously unheard 7200rpm Maxtor DiamondMax Plus HD idle whine was unbearable. CPU temps also shot up to 50C! Turning on the case fans didn't help either.

Back to Aki to find something to quiet this whining HD and more cooling.
Since the HD doesn't produce much heat I read an enclosure would work. Not much choice except an aluminum box insulated with foam called the Silent & Cool Smart Drive for 5800 yen. Ouch! Also saw a cheap plastic 80mm x 60mm HSF fan adapter for 800 yen that I thought might work with a 80mm 3000rpm case fan I had to replace the fan on the Volcano II. Cheaper than a new copper HSF I reasoned. Hah!
Well the drive enclosure works like a champ, effectively silencing the HD whine. Unfortuantely it can now only fit in a 5.25in bay and though I have a free space my motherboard capictors blocks its use. So the HD sits on the bottom of my case until I figure how to anchor it. The fan adapter idea only worsened my cpu temps.

I noticed if my case was left open I could still maintain a 45C cpu idle temp and 51C load. The solution seemed to be a flex duct running from my intake case fan directly to the HSF. I had seen prefabed kits in Aki starting at about 3,000 yen but it seemed like a ripoff. So I bought a 100 yen piece of 30mm flex duct from my local DIY and using some plastic cups and a lot of tape fashioned by own solution. Whoa, bad idea! PC could barely make it passed boot-up before crashing. The HSF just wasn't getting enough air through this 30mm tube I reasoned even with the HSF turned back up to 4800rpm.
So faced with few reasonable alternatives and sure I was on the right track, I again went back to Aki and forked over my 3,000 yen for a duct kit. Arrrrgh! It didn't help at all with cpu temps only slightly better than my homemade contraption. Tried all combinations with all the different fan speeds and adapters I had too.

But I have figured out a few things. The duct works if it runs straight to the the HSF. Any curves and cpu temps go up. And the fan speed can't go much below 4000rpm as well. In fact, cpu idle temps actually go down 1-2C to about 42C when the duct is placed on HSF even with the case open. Don't even know why. So if I am willing to cut a hole in a side panel, it should work *I think.* Of course had I known that, I could have bought a piece of PVC drain pipe for 100 yen instead of this 3000 albastross. BUT if it doesn't.....
Anyway, at this point I am pretty much willing to throw in the towel. My board has just had a BIOS update that should support the new .13micron Athlon XP cpu which hopefully should run much cooler given their 1.5v vcore. So I may still get my cool and quite rig and a nice speed boost for not much more than the 20,000 yen and 2 weeks I've already wasted on Silent Blizzard. Not to mention the inumerable OS reinstall headaches and troubles and wifely scowls of disapproval I endured during my failures.

Good chance to re-evaluate my computing needs though so stay tuned for my big Spring Clearance sale.

Ken Cotton's reply:
What started out for me as just a new mobo, CPU and memory to put into an old box turned into a whole new machine. I forgot to look into the case before heading out shopping and thought that everything might be SCSI so I bought a new CD-ROM and HDD at the same time. When I got home I realized that the case lacked the right back panel and the power supply didn't support the P4 mobo.
So I put everything back in the case and went and bought a new floppy drive and a 31,800 Windy case. Also bought an IDE PC Card reader.
I have yet to calculate the total as it may not be over, but it is more than double what I was thinking I'd be spending. And the worst thing is that the old machine works beautifully...


From: Rick Mortellra <rmjapan@jcom.home.ne.??>
Subject: Re: Project Silent Blizzard
Date: Wed, 20 Mar 2002 07:23:06 +0900

Well, this is a CRUEL CRUEL WORLD. Enermax has updated my case to give me the side panel hole I need
http://www.3dxtreme.org/enermax03p1.shtml
This is my exact same case dammit! Except now they increased the front panel intake to 120mm and put in an extra 80mm hole on the back.
not cheery this AM at all,Rick


From: Rick Mortellra <rmjapan@jcom.home.ne.??>
Subject: Re: Project Silent Blizzard II
Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2002 12:21:38 +0900
> Anyway, at this point I am pretty much willing to throw in the towel.

Seeing that new case review yesterday ticked me off and renewed my determination to get this right. Part of my frustration had to do with Win XP and it's constant auto rebooting when it didn't like something. I think the reboots eventually corrupted the pagefile and video drivers enough to run the system stable. So I decided to pull everything out and start from scratch using Win98.

One thing I noticed different about the flex hose was that it did indeed work to lower my cpu temp no matter if the hose was bent or elongated. However it actually MAGNIFIED the sound of the HSF even at low speed. The noise was that "sucking" sound you hear from a vacuum hose. So getting room temp air to HSF was a good idea but connecting a duct directly to the HSF to suck the air in wasn't since my ultimate goal was a quieter PC.

So then I thought I could run the hose from the rear case inlet to just over the HSF but not connect it to HSF. I tried using an 80mm case fan connected to the inlet and then by adapter to the 60mm hose. But having the case fan right next to the inlet grill also created a "whooshing" noise the defeated the purpose. The grill also restricted the airflow out of the 60mm hose to the HSF and temps went higher. But while taking the case fan off I realized the whooshing sound disappeared and airflow actually improved the further I moved it from the inlet grill.

Not wanting to cut out the grill I decided to get some long screws and mount the fan about 3cm away from the grill inside the case. Then using some lite cardboard and duct tape I sealed up the gap. Had to leave the hose off though as I ran out of space. Voila! QUIET & COOL room temp air blowing right over the HSF for it to suck in. Played with HSF fan control and settled on a silent 3000rpm for the HSF which left my CPU idle temps at 43C and 49C under load. GREAT!

Closed up the case and CPU idle temp went to 45C and 52C under load. Ran stress tests overnight and no stabiltiy problems either. My case temp increased to 31C but I realized this may be a bad reading since the sensor is down at the bottom right next to where I have the HD sitting in its soundproof box. When I move the HD the temp goes back down to about 25C. Funny as the box itself doesn't get that warm and monitoring the HD temp via SMART indicates HD idle temps of about 40C and 43C after a virus scan workout which is below the 55C max allowed for the HD. I mounted a low speed heat sensor 80mm fan on the front intake grill so that it blows over the box, putting the fan sensor inside the HD as well.

So Project Silent Blizzard hasn't been a total failure after all. I have a much quieter system and operating temps are pretty much the same. Only idle noise now seems to be case resonance that may be eliminated with some sound dampening material. Of course when the 16x DVD winds up it still sounds like a jet taking off :-( I spent a lot more than I wanted too. It probably would have been better to have waited a few months to buy a new .13 micron Athlon XP.

How all this works when the mid-summer heat kicks remains to be seen since my current room temp is about 21C. I also have to consider that the cpu temps reported may be too low since no current AMD systems use the on-chip thermal diode like Intel-based do. I also want to reinstall XP. Hah!

a little happier today,
Rick


Finally:
From: A.Sajjad Zaidi <sajjadz@yahoo.c??>
Subject: Re: Project Silent Blizzard II
Date: Fri, 22 Mar 2002 12:36:39 +0900

Might be able to make your system even quieter.
These are the steps I took after I started to leave the system on all the time:

  • 1. Put the covers back on. This improved air-flow and reduced dust and noise.
  • 2. Moved the case from the top of the desk to the side. This helped a LOT.
  • 3. Started blocking any openings like slot openings at the back or drive bay openings at the front.
  • 4. When things started to heat up, cut a hole in the front and put a fan and filter there. This increased the noise a LOT.
  • 5. Found sound proofing sheets at T-Zone. One pack cost 3,000 yen and had enough material for 2 PCs. This muffled most of the noise although I didn't notice it.
  • 6. Switched to a smaller case and then realised how much I had made the old case quieter.
  • 7. Put the rest of the sound proofing material on this one and felt relieved at the improvement.
  • 8. Kept the extra drives I had on the old case, so the new one had the bare minimum moving parts.
  • 9. For the next HDD purchase, decided to get a 5400 RPM drive instead of 7200. Although this is slower, its also quieter and cooler.
The sheets can now be found at other stores. I saw it at Sofmap Kakuta too. Really worth getting.


© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

April , 2002

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

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