Music Server help
Feb 21, 2009 at 5:40 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 26

Denim

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Ive used spare PC's in the past for music servers, and now I'm beginning to build one from new parts. I want this thing to be much quieter than a standard PC. I've selected a 45W AMD processor to keep the heat down. It may work with just a heat sink, but I want a CPU fan on it anyway. The fan doesn't need to push a lot of air, so I've got that in my favor.

Does anyone have a recomendation for a really quiet CPU fan / heatsink assembly that's not overly expensive. Say $30, or so. The HTPC case is at least 6" high, so I don't expect clearances to be a problem.

I haven't selected the hard drives yet. Any loud ones to avoid?

A related subject to hard drives - Back in the DOS days, Virtual RAM disks were pretty common. Can a dedicated RAM disk be used now to queue the music files? A 100MB disk would probably keep a few hours worth of songs in the queue and eliminate the hard drive spinning up as often to retrieve the music (and keep the PC noise down). Is this a valid option? Or is this handled well enough by the operating system and CPU cache? I'll probably use XP for the OS.
 
Feb 21, 2009 at 6:31 PM Post #2 of 26

MrSlim

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Have you purchased the CPU and the HTPC case yet? If you are planning on using this system just for music, and you want a very quiet system, you should check out the MSI Wind PC, which is Intel ATOM based, and is super quiet and has very low power usage as well..It's a very small case though, but if it is dedicated to just serving up music, then it is the way to go.
Newegg.com - Mini / Booksize Barebone Systems, MSI
Check out the reviews on the Wind, but the new Wind 100 is the newer dual core version of the same system

Arctic makes some good coolers, that use very large open frame fans, which are very quiet.
Newegg.com - ARCTIC COOLING Freezer 7 Pro 92mm CPU Cooler - CPU Fans & Heatsinks
more of their products here:
Newegg.com - CPU Fans & Heatsinks, ARCTIC COOLING


As far as your Virtual disk question, did you mean a 1Gig Ram disk?
Either that or you are using very highly compressed MP3's , since 100 MB is not going to give you much in the way of playing time. I suppose even a 1Gb ram disk may reduce disk access, since you could probably hold something like at least 3 hours of music stored in it. The trick would have to be how the music server software (if you are using anything like SqueezeCenter) handles using the Ram disk. There would have to be some kind of "prefetch" from the main hard drive into the ram disk, where it would the stream it out from there. Interesting idea, that might be worth looking at.

As far as quiet hard disks are concerned, look for the "green" models from Western Digital, I think. I think they are low power and quieter.
also, since you don't need the extra drive speed, look for 5400 RPM drives vs 7200 RPM, since they will also be lower power and quieter.
 
Feb 21, 2009 at 6:37 PM Post #3 of 26

iriverdude

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Quote:

I haven't selected the hard drives yet. Any loud ones to avoid?


10K and 15K Raptors and SCSI's. You want a 5400rpm Western Digital Green, or Samsung

Quote:

Can a dedicated RAM disk be used now to queue the music files?


No need, although I understand what you're saying.

As for CPU cooler that depends on your case, my HTPC has a tower heatpipe and is running without a fan. Runs around 25 degrees C.

For all fans use large low rpm ones.
 
Feb 22, 2009 at 12:22 AM Post #4 of 26

Denim

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Thanks for the replies --

I use PC's similar to Atoms for some projects at work. While I see the benefits, it's not what I want for this task. I selected an HTPC case that fits in with my existing stereo equipment.

The 5400rpm drives never crossed my mind. Glad I asked!

It will be a few days before this comes together. Plenty of time to narrow down the cooler choices.
 
Feb 22, 2009 at 4:53 PM Post #5 of 26

HammerSandwich

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The HSF question is dangerous to answer without knowing what case you'll use.

The Xigmatek 1283 is an excellent cooler for the money. It won't require its own fan for a 4850e or similar, unless the case has cooling issues. If you're dead set on using a CPU fan, try the 500rpm Scythe Slipstream.

If the 1283 won't fit, you'll need to look at something like the Scythe Ninja Mini. SPCR should be your new best friend.
 
Feb 22, 2009 at 11:30 PM Post #7 of 26

iriverdude

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I don't think a mega tall heatsink will fit ie Tuniq Tower. Measure the gap between top of CPU to case.

Quote:

The case is 6.6" high


You need to go by internal dimensions, take away the feet, gap between motherboard and case, motherboard, CPU socket, and space between top of a possible heatsink and case door, you've got internal size.

A Mini Ninja may fit but triple check for yourself- looking at your case the exhaust fans are 8cm- plenty of space above and below, the ones on the mini ninja are 8cm- plus space for top of heatsink and clamp.
 
Feb 23, 2009 at 12:27 AM Post #8 of 26

obobskivich

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that HTPC case will be noisy if you want it cooled right, its got 80mm exhaust fans, and boy do they whine (if they're gonna move any signifigant air)

I would spend the few extra bucks on an Antec with 120mm fans:
Newegg.com - Antec Black Aluminum / Steel Fusion Remote Black Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - HTPC / Media Center Cases

you save some bucks if you get silver:
Newegg.com - Antec Silver Aluminum / Steel Fusion Remote Micro ATX Media Center / HTPC Case - HTPC / Media Center Cases

just make sure its got some clearance on the side to breathe, the advantage is, if you suck your HT rack up to the wall (like most of us do, and I don't mean like 2" away, I mean like less than a foot away), this one won't be contributing directly to the heat bubble, like some amps/receivers will, assuming its got side clearance

you'll probably also wanna look at vibration dampening feet for the HDs (little rubber gromet type things that help keep vibration down on the case, makes it quieter), a gasket for the PSU (does wonders), a quiet PSU (Seasonic, PC Power & Cooling, Corsair), and if you go "over-rated" on the PSU, basically to keep it out of overheat range (i.e if the system needs 300W cont., get something thats rated 500-550W cont., so it isn't running as hot, it'll use the same amount of power at the wall btw), you can replace all the factory fans with quiet ones from Panaflo, Noctua, TT, or Delta (check Sidewinder, really good selection of high end fans (probably all they have a good selection of too) (and heatsinks, see below), noise dampening pads might help some, but it takes a while to install them (never had an issue with them thermally insulating a case too bad though)

heatsink wise, undisputed king of quiet is probably still Thermalright, prices have gone way way up in the last few years though, but its worth a look (IFX-14 will probably give you fanless with that CPU, its also probably more dollars than that CPU)

the RAM disk issue is handled 110% in the OS, there will be virtual memory assigned, and whatnot, and the OS handles that, a modern HD (be it the Caviar GP or a normal 7200 RPM, noise-wise there isn't a big difference (the fans will drown it out either way, even quiet fans)) with NCQ and all the other good toppings is pretty efficient and does pretty well with "read ahead", now if you went with an SSD you'd quiet things up quite a bit (like zero mechanical parts, except fans), issue is, SSD's are expensive and have questionable operational life cycles, your call though (if you got the cash, I highly suggest it)
 
Feb 23, 2009 at 3:56 AM Post #9 of 26

rjp

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Quote:

Originally Posted by obobskivich /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I would spend the few extra bucks on an Antec with 120mm fans

you'll probably also wanna look at vibration dampening feet for the HDs (little rubber gromet type things that help keep vibration down on the case, makes it quieter), a gasket for the PSU (does wonders)



X2 on the Antec case. Note that it comes with the vibration dampening grommets, and the power supply bay has its own separate airflow path. Airflow is good throughout; even the hard drives run nice and cool.

So far, the stock PSU has held up well in mine, but if it goes, I'd probably replace it with a Corsair unit.

The only real downside to it is that the VF display seems awfully sensitive to ESD; hit the case with a spark and the display will garble while everything else hums along without skipping a beat.

I use mine as a MythTV box.
 
Feb 23, 2009 at 6:10 AM Post #10 of 26

obobskivich

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rjp /img/forum/go_quote.gif
X2 on the Antec case. Note that it comes with the vibration dampening grommets, and the power supply bay has its own separate airflow path. Airflow is good throughout; even the hard drives run nice and cool.

So far, the stock PSU has held up well in mine, but if it goes, I'd probably replace it with a Corsair unit.

The only real downside to it is that the VF display seems awfully sensitive to ESD; hit the case with a spark and the display will garble while everything else hums along without skipping a beat.

I use mine as a MythTV box.



yes, Antec makes a very good PSU, their freebie units usually are from their lower range, or middle range, not their top end performance series though, didn't catch the vibration dampening included on that case, and I don't believe that model comes with a PSU, although you can obviously add one in
 
Feb 23, 2009 at 8:47 AM Post #11 of 26

olblueyez

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Feb 24, 2009 at 2:05 AM Post #12 of 26

Denim

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I look at a lot of Antec cases. I know they are great. I told myseld that I wasn't going to have a case with a volume control knob. That limited the search down quite a bit. I may regret the one I selected, I'll probably know in a week.

I believe I can make this case work. I've got a 45W CPU. I should have 3 hard drives. I hope the rest of the audio system is external to the case. What I'm saying is that the power is low and a less than ideal case should still work out.

Good suggestions from all. I haven't built a PC in years. This will be fun.
 
Feb 24, 2009 at 2:37 AM Post #13 of 26

obobskivich

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Denim /img/forum/go_quote.gif
I look at a lot of Antec cases. I know they are great. I told myseld that I wasn't going to have a case with a volume control knob. That limited the search down quite a bit. I may regret the one I selected, I'll probably know in a week.

I believe I can make this case work. I've got a 45W CPU. I should have 3 hard drives. I hope the rest of the audio system is external to the case. What I'm saying is that the power is low and a less than ideal case should still work out.

Good suggestions from all. I haven't built a PC in years. This will be fun.



the thing is the power isn't really "low", you'll need a decent 50 CFM through there just to approach cooling it, and thats looking at a pair of ~30 CFM fans, thats sorta noisy with 80mm's

but, again, guess we'll know if its too loud for you in a week (some people just aren't annoyed by fans, others go crazy, so it really does depend on you)
 
Feb 26, 2009 at 1:57 AM Post #14 of 26

HammerSandwich

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With all respect, I disagree with a lot of what you posted, obobskivich. Allow me to reorder your points to address them in a methodical order.

Quote:

the thing is the power isn't really "low", you'll need a decent 50 CFM through there just to approach cooling it...


Much less airflow will be fine. With a 4850e, reasonably efficient PSU (80% or so) & 3 GPs, Denim should expect a peak load around 100W AC. Let's design for a peak of 150W just to be conservative. This 150W load will produce exhaust temps approximately 26C higher than the intake temp with only 10cfm. Even in a case, a single 120mm fan can provide 10cfm at something like 450-500rpm, if you believe these results. I don't know what PSU Denim plans to use, but I'm confident that any reasonable PSU will provide enough airflow for his entire PC. 50cfm would provide a delta-T of 5.25C for 150W; this is excessive cooling in silent-PC applications.

Quote:

that HTPC case will be noisy if you want it cooled right, its got 80mm exhaust fans, and boy do they whine (if they're gonna move any signifigant air)


A pair of 80mm fans can make 10-20cfm at low noise, but there's no requirement to fill every possible fan location. As noted above, I believe the 80s are completely unnecessary.

Quote:

you'll probably also wanna look at vibration dampening feet for the HDs (little rubber gromet type things that help keep vibration down on the case, makes it quieter), a gasket for the PSU (does wonders)...


I agree with all of this, though I'll note that HD enclosures, such as the Smart Drive 2002 and Scythe Quiet Drive, massively reduce HD noise. These things are gold for a silent PC, and Denim needs to look at them. With 3 naked HDs, the new PC will be audible at a significant distance, regardless of fan noise.

Quote:

, a quiet PSU (Seasonic, PC Power & Cooling, Corsair), and if you go "over-rated" on the PSU, basically to keep it out of overheat range (i.e if the system needs 300W cont., get something thats rated 500-550W cont., so it isn't running as hot, it'll use the same amount of power at the wall btw)...


All great brands. Seasonic makes a few of Antecs PSUs as well. Choosing a bigger PSU is not a help IMO. If, as obob states, 2 different PSUs pull the same power from the wall at a given load, both require the same amount of cooling. X watts = X watts, period. However, real-world PSUs don't fit this pattern. PSUs typically are designed to be most efficient over a range of outputs in the middle of their ratings. (This has been demonstrated in numerous tests; see SPCR, Anandtech, etc. for details.) IOW, a 300W PSU better fits a 70-100W system than a 500W PSU would. The good news is that percentage points mean relatively less at 100W than at 400W, but buying a big PSU that will never exceed 25% of its rated load is a waste of money and likely to increase your cooling requirements.

Quote:

...you can replace all the factory fans with quiet ones from Panaflo, Noctua, TT, or Delta...


If Delta's making quiet fans, I've been out of the loop for too long. Noctua is okay, though their fans don't handle resistance well. Yate Loon is a great budget choice, Nexus supplies good fans, Scythe has some good models, etc. IME, a decent fan at the slowest possible speed is better than the best fan at 12V. How much time are you willing to invest, Denim?

That's the real issue here. There are many ways to build a quiet computer, but success demands as much patience & specialized knowledge as assembling a good audio system, and Head-fi's not the ideal place to learn how. Fortunately, good resources already exist.

Sorry for the dissertation, but this stuff matters to me.
 
Feb 26, 2009 at 5:40 AM Post #15 of 26

obobskivich

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to hammersandwich, I disrespectfully disagree with everything you've said, and am calling you out as a troll

yeah, you can run low and slow with small fans, and run your CPU at 50-60* C, overheat it, kill it in 3 years, etc, you're not taking into account that we aren't talking about free air motion, we're talking about almost zero airflow due to having the trio of HDs, the processor, and any heat created by the mainboard, we also aren't talking about AC power consumption, we're talking about TDP, now if you wanna talk about DC consumption, that system will be approaching 200W, the PSU is going to dissipate (by itself) roughly 20% of whatever the system is eating up, and the CPU is going to dissipate 45W on a good day, and probably closer to 50W on a normal day (who cares what the specs say, experience man, experience!), thats your 100W TDP estimate right there, you've still got a graphics controller, mainboard, main memory, and not one, but THREE disk drives (the GPs don't save *that* much power, and aren't *that* much quieter, again, experience), again, you're gonna exceed the fairy land 150W estimate you've got, and you don't allow any headroom for heavy loads (which jack TDP up on everything, remember that the TDP estimates given by the manufacturer are a composite/average of a few chips in a lab environment, or simply a computed # given the electromechanical properties of the device, they aren't exacted)

no you don't have to fill every fan port, but with 80mm's your cooling ability is pretty much kneecapped, and a 120mm will be so much quieter, therefore so much better for this kind of solution (even if you have the same airflow, the 80mm has to spin faster, faster = higher RPM = higher freq output noise = oh yeah you hear that more)





yeah, I mentioned that PSUs are beneficial in the midrange, if you uh, read what I said instead of trying to pick a flame war, 300W is roughly 60% output to a 500-550W unit, which is where its gonna hit roughly peak efficiency (unless we're talking about something like TurboCool, that will hit peak efficiency across a huge range, granted the smallest TC is 850W, and the bottom end of its "good efficiency" range is around 450-500W, not 300W, but its still "better" at doing it)

chosing a bigger PSU is a help, as if this system needs between 250 and 350W (as it very likely will, you're ignoring so many key points of power consumption, for example that CPU doesn't USE 45W, it DISSIPATES 45W, by spec, you've still gotta compute #'s with something
wink.gif
, along with the other issues of relying on TDP #'s)

hence why I gave the 300/550 example, if you're going with 250-350W of consumption, going with a 500W unit is a sound choice, because under ~40% is bad, and over ~65% is bad (for most units, some can go right up to, and beyond their max rating with relative ease (again, if we're talking TurboCool, Galaxy, etc))

Delta does make quiet fans, check Sidewinder's retail section, they offer quite a few high flow low-noise solutions, just like Panaflo, Noctua, and TT, personally I think Scythe is trendoid crap (I've seen Delta fans survive electrical fires, being stepped on, multi-thousand hour runtimes in server rooms, 20 year duty cycles, etc, I've never seen A Scythe fan run for >2 years)

sorry for the uh, "dissertation", but uh, I sorta know something about this

oh, and don't troll for a fights and then trash head-fi by suggesting users go to another forum just because of your own personal alligances, ok?
 

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