Introduction: How to Build Silent (HT)PC
Making a completely silent PC is a dream for most of us and a challenge for many of us. Ideal PC runs as cold as possible. Well it is possible by adding fans to move colder air in to the PC case. Or making the PC liquid cooled. As for this project the challenge was to make a silent HTPC for cheap and with relatively good specs. The parts used are a bit oldish and don´t use much power witch equals less heat produced by the components. Still the parts are good enough to run even newer games and proper fullHD video. Only fan used inside is the PSU´s own fan. The main reason i don´t mind the fan in the PSU is that it is so silent. The nexus PSU is one of the most silent PSU ever made with a fan.
This guide also covers the peripheral of how to build a computer.
I made a video about how to apply the Cool laboratory liquid ultra on CPU and GPU so keep reading.
The parts are from an old gaming PC that i had laying around the house. Case is only new part.
Motherboard: ECS GF8200A black edition.
CPU: AMD phenom x4 9550 +Thermal compound: Liquid ultra.
CPU cooler : Arctic cooling, Freezer pro 7 REV.2.
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 4600 512MB GDDR3 ++Thermal compound: Liquid ultra.
GPU cooler: ZALMAN.
RAM: 2x2GB Adata + 1x2 GB kingston DDR2. (don´t remember the model name of the memory)
HDD: WD 500GB.
PSU: NX-4090, 400W.
Case: LC power, Mini ATX case 3001B.
Step 1: Assemble the Case and Insert PSU and Start Cable Management.
Lift the case on a table and start taking it apart. Remove both side panels and top panel and if necessary also the front panel. You will need all the space you can have for to allow air movement inside the case.
Push the case´s own cables to the backside of the case and install the PSU to its own place.
Then sort out the cables and push them to the backside of the case also.
With this method you can get tidier case in many ways and have a safely environment for the rest of the build.
And by safer environment i mean that if you install the motherboard first the PSU cables could tangle over some component and destroy it in the process.
In this step is recommended to also insert the motherboards screw bases that came with the case.
Step 2: Application of the Liquid Ultra.
Watch THISvideo to get the idea how to apply basically any thermal paste.
In the video i will show how to apply the paste on CPU and GPU. Also in the end of the video there is a sound test for the actual HTPC in this build.
The video is recorded with ZOOM Q4 video camera that has got a proper stereo microphone on it. So the sound is almost identical that you can hear with your own ears.
Watch the video here!
Step 3: Put the Motherboard in the Case. and Insert Ram.
Carefully slide the motherboard to its own place and start screwing the screws that hold the board in it´s place. Do not over tighten them because it´s not necessary.
Insert RAM to its own place. Be sure that the ram actually fits the motherboard!
Lift the case up back again and start sorting the cables again.
Also insert any HDD/SSD/CD/DVD/BD at it´s own place.
Step 4: Cable Management in Case.
This is one of the most important step about computer building. The PC case insides can be all HI tech this and HI tech that but if someone just vomited the cables in there the PC could suffer from heat problems and in worst case scenario actually destroy something. This also helps to clean up the PC when needed.
So get your cable ties ready and remember all those good old TETRIS times because finding the right place for the right block is a needed skill at this step.
First step: Figure out witch cable is needed and witch is not. If something is not needed why is it there on the way of the needed cables? Toss that cable in the back panel side of the case from the closest hole there is.
second: Insert the cables that were already in the case to the motherboard. There should be PWR/RST/HDD LED/PWR LED and USB and HD AUDIO cables. This case also had USB3 cable but this motherboard does not have support for that.
Third: Start running the cables back from the backside of the case so that they will make a sort of loop inside the backside of the case. Use the most logical method that suits you best to insert the cables in to their own place. I suggest to start with the PSU main power connector that has 20/24 pins.
When the cables are in place you can insert the graphics card in to the PC. This card uses PCI-E 16x connector like all of the modern gaming graphics cards.
Step 5: Cable Management Back Case.
If the insides of the PC looks something like in the first picture. it´s time to turn the computer around and start working with the cables that need to be "hidden".
Most of the modern cases have a small space in between the back plate and the case´s actual chassis. Use this space to store unwanted and unneeded cables.
Second and third picture should give you the answer how to roll up them. Use cable ties always when needed.
And lastly put the back plate in place.
Step 6: Insert the Rest of the Removed Parts to the Case.
The build itself is now done. Just put the rest of the panels removed earlier back to its own places.
Note! The CPU heat sink were really close call on the case since it is so big and the case is very slim so bear that in mind when building a PC.
Install any OS to the PC you like. I used Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 just because i got many free licences from my UNI.
Step 7: Start the Heat Testing.
I have run this setup with Arctic cooling MX-4 paste for a month about now without a fan since the case delivery time was so long and only had some old and ugly case. So the temperatures aren't a big surprise for me because i have seen the heats for a while
The thermal compound performances a lot like the MX-4 paste but only great improvement with this is that the heat sink reacts a lot faster to heat dispassion than with the normal MX-4 thermal paste.
If you have no interest at all about few degrees difference in CPU heat don't bother to use the Liquid ultra. But if you do mind then i recommend using it.
Taking photos from straight from the screen with your camera proofs that no Photoshop is used in the process :DDD
The first picture is straight from the bios and it shows the current temperature.
Second one is from about an hour of running fullHD video on the full screen and then the last three pictures are the current temperatures from straight after the hour long stability test.
The reason i didn't use any benchmark software for this that the actual stress of this PC is mosly caused by playing FullHD videos from Youtube and Netflix. And to play some old games and Emulator games. So there is no need to test the computers ultimate limit.
The PC is stable for everyday use.
Future upgrades include a SSD drive for the OS and a Blue-ray optical drive to play Blue-ray disk's.