Another mATX gaming machine attempt

Discussion in 'Small Form Factor Systems' started by Mousemagician, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    Hi guys,
    The life of we Hard Gamers in the small form factor never rests!:cool::cool::cool:

    After moving from a mITX LianLi PC-Q08
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    to a mATX with the ThermalTake Armor A30

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    ...I decided to change again.:rolleyes:

    Problems:

    1. The Armor A30 wasn't quiet as wanted: the 6cm fans in the back were too loud even at idle
    2. The 2x XFX Radeon HD 6950 2GB in CrossfireX, with the Scythe Setsugen 2 coolers overheated when playing Batman Arkam City
    Goals:

    1. I needed a more efficient cooling
    2. I wanted quietness
    Thus, I found on eBay a beautiful LianLi PC-A4, silver, pre-owned, in pristine conditions, for a good price ($72.33 shipped);)

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    Following, you will read the writing of this new adventure.:D

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  2. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    Thus, I went vertical:

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    Some pics of the empty case

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    The 2X 12cm in the front are a pretty good start for cooling:

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    The 1X 12cm top fan will help cooling down CPU and the other components:
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    Finally, there is the option to add one 8cm fan in the back:
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    What's missing here?
    The option of a side fan, or at least some vents there...
    We'll see how it goes with the CrossfireX configuration...:rolleyes:
     
  3. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    I had laying around 3 good Scythe 12cm Kaze-Juny PWM fans, 1,300 RPM, the perfect upgrade for the front intake and the top fan:
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    Who nowadays doesn't have 3 of these fans as a left over from former building projects?:p

    These fans are pretty different compared to the original LianLi ones.
    on the left, the LianLi, on the right, the Scythe:
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    The mounting screws for the front intake have rubber rings, to decrease vibration and for easy swap-in/out:
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    There is the new front intake:
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    ...and the top exhaust:
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    Now, be ready... the first (unpleasant) surprise is on its way...:(
     
  4. D4rkn3ss

    D4rkn3ss 2[H]4U

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    [​IMG]
     
  5. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    The MoBo is in:
    ASUS Maximus IV Gene-Z, with a Intel i7 2600 oced @4.7GHz, the CPU cooler is a Thermaright APX-140 RT:
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    The Thermaright APX-140 RT got a Noise Blocker NB BlackSilent-PRO PK-2 14cm fan (I love it!):
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    There it is the problem:
    The top fan hits the CPU cooler!
    AAAAARGH!!!!!:eek::eek::eek:
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    I thought that flipping the APX-140 by 90 degrees would have fixed the issue, but with this orientation it hits the first VGA:
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    ...but the solution was around the corner:
    I installed a 12cm Scythe SY1212SL12L SLIM fan on the top:
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    ...and it magically fits!:p:p:p
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    Who, nowadays, doesn't have a 12cm Scythe slim fan laying around from a former system building?
    (...oh, did I already say that?)
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  6. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    To compete the fan upgrade, I thought to add a 8cm fan to the back, as an intake:
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    It's a CoolerMaster 8cm, 3pin, that I purchased some day at my local MicroCenter, with 80% discount (I go there every week to find bargains like this); I believe I spent 2-3 USD for this one!:D:D:D
    I don't remember the model or specs, but this fan is quiet and surprisingly moves significant air.:p

    Here, how the assembling looks like:
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    At the end of the day, though, I had to change fan orientation:

    • The top became INTAKE
    • The back became EXHAUST
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    Doing so, it dropped 5C on the CPU and 10C on the MoBo!:cool::cool::cool:
     
    Last edited: Aug 20, 2012
  7. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    The main HD is a 128GB Crucial C300.
    There is a nice spot just below the HDD cage:
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    I got a couple of 5.25" to 3.5" adapters to move the spinning HDs from the bottom cage to where the HHDs should be:
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    They fit perfectly behind the 5.25" silver covers:
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    These brackets had to be opened
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    ...and adjusted to clip-in in the empty holes (the setting on the top is the right one):
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    Here, the 3 HDs:
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    Moving the HDs to the top bays, I hoped to have enough air form the intake to cool the 2 HD 6950 2GB.
    As matter of fact, they are pretty sandwitched...

    Instead, I had a freeze while playing Max Payne 3 when the top VGA card hit 100C!!!!

    Guess what?
    I needed more cooling...:(
     
  8. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    Whatever, I put back the smaller HD cage

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    ...and prepared the top of it with some vibration dampening foam to host a fan:
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    I first went for a quiet queen: the 92mm Nexus DF1209SL-3
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    ...then, I though: what the heck, I have some 14cm Noise Blocker BlackSilenPRO PK-3 in the closet!
    Why not this one, instead?
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  9. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    So, I have powerful breeze blowing to the CrossFireX configuration controlled by the ASUS AI Suite Fan Expert software.
    It's efficient and quite, finally!:):):)

    Here, some temp readings during Prime95:
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    CPU MAX temp: 81C
    MoBo MAX temp: 35C
    GPU MAX temps: 43C on the top and 40C the bottom

    Here, the system idling:
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    CPU: 39C
    MoBo: 45C

    The GPU temps of the top card, the hottest one during gaming, under stress (UNIGINE DX11):
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    These the benchmarks, all maxed out:
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    Finally, the Max Payne 3 test:
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    ...with the highest setting possible with these VGAs:
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  10. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    I'm very happy with this case.

    • It is "light-years" better than the Thermal Right Armor A30 as for airflow and cable management.
    • It is elegant, the LianLi style is still unbeatable to me.
    • The front 2X 12cm fan grille screams for a decent radiator and the case could afford a water cooling solution.
    I already know that for something like the Corsair H100, or the Thermaltake Water 2.0 Extreme, I have to cut out the HHD bays, but it is still feasible.
    I'm also thinking to a custom solution, with some loops for the CrossFireX VGAs, but it can be an overkilling... I would rather do that for a newer VGA setting (GTX 680 or a next to be 700 SLI maybe?).


    Anyways, this system is so far the most satisfying build that I made so far, I love it!


    Thank you for reading.;)
     
  11. xyexz

    xyexz Limp Gawd

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  12. D4rkn3ss

    D4rkn3ss 2[H]4U

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    [​IMG]
     
  13. Mousemagician

    Mousemagician Limp Gawd

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    Hi xyexz,
    I read your build when you posted it, I liked how you fitted the rad inside the case.
    The Armor A30 is quite a challenge for a gaming build.
    I changed fans endless times until I got a good cooling, but at the expenses of the quietness.
    Now, I have the Armor A30 in a corner of my bedroom and a lot of 6 cm fans everywhere.:p
    These Scythe 12 cm slim fans move some air... they are also quite noisy when spinning at max.
    I ended up with 2 slim PWM fans for the Setsugens, connected to the 4-pin header in the VGA through an adapter for videocard fans.
    The PWM slim fans came directly from Scythe. I wrote to the customer service and Ramon Pasqua sent me 2X SY1212SL12M-P that are sold with their BIG SHURIKEN SCBSK-1000 CPU cooler.
    These fans are sensibly more silent than the original 3-pin ones with rheostat that are sold with the Setsugen 2, but also less powerful.
    Anyways, the 14 cm NB PK-3 fixed all the cooling issues with the CrossfireX setting, and it's perfectly silent until I push it with games.
    Men this fans are an addition to me!:D
     
  14. xyexz

    xyexz Limp Gawd

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    It's definitely a challenge in stock form, if you can deal with removing the optical drive and using 2 x 3.5inch drives plus 2 x 2.5inch drives you can turn the case into a beast doing something like what I did but it's pretty extreme mod and takes some work and lots of fans.