Three Dollar Ferrite Core May Be One Way for Reduced Noise During 3-D Gaming
Oct 13, 2009 at 3:38 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 23

Linyanti

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What will follow is a lengthy discussion of my system for anyone interested in the parts and how it may apply to your situation. But, the conclusion will be first to spare everyone else the tedium.

If you experience noise (hiss, etc.) when 3-D Gaming and do not experience this otherwise then the cause may be the extra electricity needed to power the videocard during gaming. The power consumption of the video card soars when playing a 3-D game. After much experimentation the solution that works for me to attenuate but not completely eliminate this problem is to clamp on ferrite chokes around the power cable(s) that go to the video card. I wanted to get the choke right at the connector but was only able to attach it on the power cables about an inch away from the connection because of the sleeving and shrink wrap tubing.

These chokes are pretty common and you may have some already. Here is an example for 3 dollars from Radio Shack.

Snap Choke Core - RadioShack.com

Now onto the pedestrian description. Here is my system: i7 920 CPU, EVGA x58 SLI Classified (759) motherboard, Antec Signature 850 power supply, WD Raptor 150, Mushkin HP3-12800 x3, Noctua NH-U12P, Vista 64 Ultimate.

Audio: Auzen X-Fi Forte 7.1, Auzentech OP AMP OPA637AU times two (only for right and left front, not for headphone amp section), Ming Da MC-8407 tube headphone amp (tubes rolled: Two x JJ Tesla EL94, Two x 12AX7LPS Sovtek), PS Audio Power Cable (expensive, used only because it was in a cabinet).

Headphones (these are the key to the experiment) Sennheiser PC 166 USB. This is a headset that has a USB adapter to hook in the 3.5 stereo headphone and 3.5 microphone. So this headset can either be hooked directly to the computer or Ming Da through the 3.5 mm audio connections or through a usb connection.

Cables To Go brand Velocity model cables (great blend of economy and quality) with 3.5 mm stereo out from the right and left front of the Forte X-Fi to two RCA connectors for the Ming Da and also a 3.5 mm extension cable from the headphone out on the X-Fi Forte to the keyboard area also to use for the headset. A 3.5 mm extension cable from the microphone input on the Forte X-Fi to the keyboard area for microphone input regardless of whether using the Ming Da or the headphone amplifier out from the sound card.

The Ming Da and the X-Fi Forte had over one hundred hours of solid use before testing.

Very brief sound review. The Ming Da is extremely interesting to use when gaming. Lots of subtle leaves moving, etc. The solid state gives "More" but I gravitate to the Ming Da. I have run every combination possible and in the end use the right and left front out of the Forte X-Fi to the Ming Da to the headphones. Including using 2/2.1 or headphones in the gaming mode. It is all different and the quality is very subjective.

Regardless, music through any of the above means has different textures but no noise. The clarity is wonderful in all of the situations. But as soon as a 3-D game starts up then the noise floor rises and there is ungainly hiss, etc. Once the game starts the noise floor is muffled and not noticed much. I have seen this problem mentioned in other threads.

The USB adapter was attached to the headphone and microphone on the Sennheiser PC 166 USB and then plugged into the USB hub on the monitor. The sound was "different" as expected but there was zero noise when starting up the 3-D game. It was so different that I played a whole game like it was new. The sound was not as good but it was quiet. Something is wreaking havoc in the pc case.

The slot for the GTX 285 video card is the top (leftmost red) PCIe slot and the sound card is in the second red slot from the rightmost slot in this photo. This is the suggested positon for two videocards since they are on different IRQ's.

http://images.anandtech.com/galleries/414/main3.jpg

There is some sort of component under the slot for the sound card and I do not know what it does. Maybe it could be contributing something. There are chokes installed on all of the audio cables coming out of the back.

I also thought that maybe it was all of the fans that are installed into the motherboard instead of into molex from the power supply. I disconnected these and there was no effect.

Then I started thinking that this problem is completely related to increased current to the videocard. Perhaps there is some nasty EMI coming off of the cables. The card takes two six connector PCIe power cables.

Techgage Image - eVGA GeForce 285 GTX SSC Edition

I took two ferrite chokes and put them on each of the power cables while listening to the 3-D noise and it went down dramatically.

I used to have Creative Soundblaster cards and did not remember as much noise in gaming but in those days there was one small power connector on my video card. Not the cabling and power required for these beasts of today.

I have got more of these ferrite cores in random drawers and will dig them out. Isn't more always better?

My next purchase (not soon that is for sure) may be for a USB DAC. Then the decision will be to go balanced or stay unbalanced.

I would be interested in a reply if anyone has this noise only with 3-D gaming and not just listening to music and whether the choke has any benefit or not.

I am adding a link that shows the power cable. I put the choke around the cable where the label that says, "Pin PCI Express" is located in the top photo.

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coo...ic-psus_4.html
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 4:07 PM Post #2 of 23

leeperry

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good point! I remember some company selling PCI-E power cables w/ ferrites and stuff for a premium.

BeQuiet does it too on their top-end server line PSU's: techPowerUp :: be quiet! Dark Power Pro 750W Review :: Page 2 / 5

and so does Lian Li: bit-tech.net | Review - Lian Li Silent Force 850W PSU

and many others do: ferrite cable pci-e - Google Images

OTOH, all ferrites don't filter the same frequencies...anyway, I'll try and report back
wink.gif
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 4:09 PM Post #3 of 23

Gilly

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so your soundcard goes into the 2nd lowest (away from CPU slot) PCI-e slot? the 2 silver things are just capacitors, no doubt to help with the power delivery of the PCI-e socket.

on a side note, is the whining from the card audible in your headphones or just audible? the higher GTX series (9) have a "common" fault of having a noisy power stage that can in some instances even interfere with RF controls for garage doors (yeah I lolled when I heard it too, but aparently its true), in that case, it makes sense why the ferite cores make a difference. I personally slap them all over the power input to the PC, I installed TV's and aerial/ satellite systems in England, and have seen all sorts of dodgy pictures with mains leads being too close, poor quality shielding etc.
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 6:02 PM Post #4 of 23

Linyanti

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Thank you leeperry and Gilly for your responses. I had no idea that ferrite shielding was being used on some of the power cables from the power supplies. It would seem that with these giant power supplies that could run a refrigerator that there may be some crazy emi/rfi from these loose wires.

I do not hear any of these sounds with the naked ear, even sticking it dangerously close to the moving parts. The most pronounced event is starting up the game. I also thought that it could be the hard drive kicking in to load the game. But purely electrical and not mechanical since I cannot hear it in the case. I am going to slap some Ferrite on that also.

Running these circuits at such high unexperienced frequencies would seem to cause unintended consequences like openning garage doors. Maybe it would even start some of these remote starting cars!

But also the extreme silence of the USB connection was noteworthy. There is a granite countertop between my pc and the USB jack in the monitor I used for the USB hookup.

I looked around the internet for emi/rfi tape but mostly it is made of metal to conduct a ground. There may be a market for a synthetic spiral tape wrap that would have enclosed ferrite.
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 6:17 PM Post #5 of 23

Ntropic

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Quote:

Running these circuits at such high unexperienced frequencies would seem to cause unintended consequences like openning garage doors. Maybe it would even start some of these remote starting cars!


Somebody's going to take that seriously.
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 6:22 PM Post #6 of 23

leeperry

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try to defrag your HDD, see if the noise is there...then goes away w/ the ferrite maybe.

but indeed, Geforce VRM's are known to create wreak havoc
evil_smiley.gif

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ntropic /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Somebody's going to take that seriously.


well I remember reading on overclockers.com that after a guy put a nice window on his PC side panel, his neighbor's garage door would stop working
biggrin.gif
 
Oct 13, 2009 at 6:52 PM Post #7 of 23

ROBSCIX

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Linyanti /img/forum/go_quote.gif
Thank you leeperry and Gilly for your responses. I had no idea that ferrite shielding was being used on some of the power cables from the power supplies. It would seem that with these giant power supplies that could run a refrigerator that there may be some crazy emi/rfi from these loose wires.

I do not hear any of these sounds with the naked ear, even sticking it dangerously close to the moving parts. The most pronounced event is starting up the game. I also thought that it could be the hard drive kicking in to load the game. But purely electrical and not mechanical since I cannot hear it in the case. I am going to slap some Ferrite on that also.

Running these circuits at such high unexperienced frequencies would seem to cause unintended consequences like openning garage doors. Maybe it would even start some of these remote starting cars!

But also the extreme silence of the USB connection was noteworthy. There is a granite countertop between my pc and the USB jack in the monitor I used for the USB hookup.

I looked around the internet for emi/rfi tape but mostly it is made of metal to conduct a ground. There may be a market for a synthetic spiral tape wrap that would have enclosed ferrite.



Ferrite chokes are very common and there are many PSU's that have them on their cables. My one PSU had Ferrite chokes on the power connectors for the GFX card. The are a very good idea for devices that can possibly cause interference.
You have tried other things of course like moving to different slot..etc.?
These chokes fix your issue 100% for you?
Will have to keep that in mind next time I hear of a person with your issue. Great you got it fixed.
 
Oct 14, 2009 at 3:58 PM Post #8 of 23

Linyanti

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The final report is this: things are improved but not perfect.

The standard was that the USB connection on the headset has essentially zero noise in 3-D but there still is some noise when connecting the headset to the sound card directly or indirectly through the Ming Da headphone amp. But the sound card is so much better now with the ferrite cores that most people would not notice it.

I swapped out the small ferrite cores on the two cables to the videocard with some large three inch cores. I put one regular size core on the power lead to the hard drives. I also put one on the 4 Pin 12 volt ATX cable.

When I can find another large core I will put it on the 24 pin cable.

All of the "noise" is related to 3-D videocard activity. It is absent in 2-D mode. The videocard and soundcard are on separate IRQ's but that may not even be an issue. A 300 watt appliance inches away from a highly sensitive electronic device would be expected to cause problems. Adjusting fan speeds, etc has no effect so I do not think it is a grounding or electrical noise issue in the motherboard. I think that the problem is all just emanations.

So there is some noise still present but overall things are much better and definitely enjoyable. But I am getting convinced that the pc case is just too noisy a place for conversion to analogue. However, this is definitely good enough for a few years.

Thanks for all the constructive feedback.
 
Oct 14, 2009 at 4:02 PM Post #9 of 23

leeperry

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do you have a good PSU? because the graphic card might increase its 12V ripple...and jeopardize USB operations somehow.

you could also play around w/ a few options in your mobo BIOS: Spread Spectrum and SB/NB clock skew.
 
Oct 14, 2009 at 6:40 PM Post #10 of 23

ROBSCIX

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Quote:

Originally Posted by Linyanti /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The final report is this: things are improved but not perfect.

The standard was that the USB connection on the headset has essentially zero noise in 3-D but there still is some noise when connecting the headset to the sound card directly or indirectly through the Ming Da headphone amp. But the sound card is so much better now with the ferrite cores that most people would not notice it.

I swapped out the small ferrite cores on the two cables to the videocard with some large three inch cores. I put one regular size core on the power lead to the hard drives. I also put one on the 4 Pin 12 volt ATX cable.

When I can find another large core I will put it on the 24 pin cable.

All of the "noise" is related to 3-D videocard activity. It is absent in 2-D mode. The videocard and soundcard are on separate IRQ's but that may not even be an issue. A 300 watt appliance inches away from a highly sensitive electronic device would be expected to cause problems. Adjusting fan speeds, etc has no effect so I do not think it is a grounding or electrical noise issue in the motherboard. I think that the problem is all just emanations.

So there is some noise still present but overall things are much better and definitely enjoyable. But I am getting convinced that the pc case is just too noisy a place for conversion to analogue. However, this is definitely good enough for a few years.

Thanks for all the constructive feedback.



Changing slots for the sound card never helped?
 
Oct 16, 2009 at 1:01 PM Post #12 of 23

leeperry

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Oct 17, 2009 at 7:04 PM Post #13 of 23

Linyanti

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Now, I am into some big ferrite cores! I was in that gullible era of past audiophiledom where there was no tweak that was questioned. I painted all of my contacts with stuff that eventually made them all gooey. I even had a Tice power conditioner.

But the fact is that the best investment every made were the dedicated 20 amp circuits I ran straight from my breaker box to my preamp and amplifer outlets. I now have the same for my computer. I had been able to read voltage drops to the 115 range on my old circuits. Plus running Romex is fun.

In the end I found very little importance to the ferrite cores on my interconnects and in retrospect it was because of two things. First, all of the devices (amps, preamps, tuners, etc) were all constructed as a unit. And the manufacturer would not let them out unless there was no outrageous noise. But now we are all in the DIY era. Even PC Configurators like HP just throw in whatever parts the consumer wants. Throw in this power supply with an unknown videocard, etc. My motherboard is also tricky. The EVGA 759 x58 is very troublesome with psu's.

The second point is that RCA and XLR interconnects are pretty well behaved. These naked power cables strewn about the pc case seem like they should cause some interference.

But the ferrite cores on the psu's I see advertised are really not in the league of the stuff I bought in the past. I have some huge three inch diameter ones. The more I put on the quieter it gets.

Shielding is fickle. The microwave shielding in our microwave ovens is a very flimsy mesh because that emi is a known quanitity. But who knows what is emanating from these giant power supplies dealing with unknown loads.

Thanks for your input. Since my last post my pc has gained ten pounds.
 
Oct 17, 2009 at 7:17 PM Post #14 of 23

leeperry

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well, these are magnets...so leave them as far as possible from the HDD.

I will prolly add one on the EATX cable that goes to the mobo, this prolly pumps even more juice than the PCI-E
wink.gif
 

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