Building a powerful silent fanless gaming PC
If you work with a computer every day, chances are you are tired of listening to its buzz and feeling its vibration from HDD and a few fans spinning at a few thousands rpm. Provided fans are new - otherwise they howl.
You are tired of waiting for it to open or copy a file - which happens million times a day. Of course much depends on the amount of memory you have in that box. Low memory may turn your experience into a total nightmare. Your computer will write to a swap file and read from it permanently.
If you are on Windows you will have an antivirus, that will occupy your computer with high priority total scans. Or it may steal the file you work with and put it into the virus vault - which happened to me many times.
There are a few boutiques that assemble computers like that on demand - and they are very expensive. But why buy that high-end box from a boutique, if I can build it myself? Moreover if it is pure enjoyment!
Building a new PC requires studying tons of new technologies, choosing and planning.
- BIOS in no longer used - now there is UEFI
- The new CPU with open multiplier - new socket, TDP, Tmax, cooling modes
- A passive cooler
- A gaming overclockable motherboard with tons of novelties
- The SSD - a new socket, read/write speed, power
- Memory - type, volume, frequency, cl factor
- The Power Supply Unit (PSU) - highest effeciency, fan mode, noise factor
- A dual band 802ac WiFi adapter + Bluetooth v4.1
- The new advanced case for the new computer
This PC was assembled in March 2016. I selected the most powerful components that were available on the market:
|model||i7-6700K||HR-22||Maximus VIII Gene||HyperX Predator||Sugo SG10||Newton R3||TridentZ||AC 7260|
Intel Core i7-6700K was the most powerful CPU with open multiplier on the market. Over the latest years Tcase (the CPU case max temperature) was steadily going down and i7-6700K had Tcase=64C. This prompted me to assume that I can use fanless cooling for this most powerful CPU.
Thermalright HR-22 from the ground up was designed for 0 CPU Fan passive cooling. The HR-22 can cool down the latest high-end AMD and Intel systems purely on case airflow generated by the system fans. It eliminates the need for one of the noisiest components in a PC - the CPU fan!
ASUS Maximus VIII Gene is an overclockable motherboard by one of the best manufacturers with tons of tuning options. Offers different profiles for fans. I used a profile that lets CPU fan be idle until the temperature reaches 60C - when it starts blowing. Besides, it boasts an advanced sound card
Initially I used Kingston HyperX Predator M.2 NGFF 480Gb AHCI - the fastest SATA3 SSD at the moment. But in 2017 I upgraded to Samsung 960 Pro NVME.
The NVMe device interface capitalizes on the low latency and parallelism of PCI Express SSDs, and complementing the parallelism of contemporary CPUs, platforms and applications. At a high level, the basic advantages of NVMe over AHCI relate to its ability to exploit parallelism in host hardware and software, manifested by the differences in command queue depths, efficiency of interrupt processing, the number of uncacheable register accesses, etc., resulting in various performance improvements.
G.SKILL TridentZ DDR4 32GB 2133MHz CL 15 - the fastest available RAM. 32GB must have been enough for gaming and for zero waiting time at work
Fractal Design Newton R3 800w. The PSU is a device of extreme importance. It is a basement of successful machine. Besides, as this computer was intended mostly for work, its PSU must have been the most silent PSU available. On the other hand this computer was intended for gaming and overclocking, so its PSU must have been very powerful when needed.
WiFi + Bluetooth
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 + Bluetooth adapter provides 1750Mbps connection to the Router, which is actually a file-server. Bluetooth is a must-have for Bluetooth Headset. WiFi Bluetooth module is better than USB Bluetooth dongle
SilverStone Sugo SG10 is an outstanding case for a mATX gaming computer. It uses space in a very efficient way, has a lot of perforation for excellent ventilation and a huge 180mm CPU fan. In my computer it stands still most of the time, but it will start working if temperature reaches 60C.
The PSU and Case fans
CPU and PSU fans are in semi-passive mode, which means they stand still most of the time. 180mm CPU fan will start when the CPU temperature exceeds 60C (at normal load its temperature is below 40C), and PSU fan will start when PSU load exceeds 500w, which may never ever happen.
A good addiction to your panel is Hardware Temperatures Indicator. It will show temperatures of all your CPU cores, the CPU package and RPM of your CPU fan (if any)
System Monitor Indicators are a very good thing to have in your taskbar. You can turn all optional indicators on, and they will show you in real time your CPU, Memory, Network, Swap, Disk utilization - as well as the overall System load.
By default the System Tray will show you current Date and Time - and let you copy those with a rightclick, Temperature and Weather conditions, Sound, Connection, Updates, Language layout and Bluetooth icons. A good things to add are Dictionary and Clipboard Manager, that will keep a certain amount of text that you have entered on your keyboard recently for recovery - in case you delete it accidentally.
The combination of the advantageous factors, such as:
- Huge TDP of 91w @ very low 64C of Intel i7-6700K
- The outstanding cooling power of fanless HR-22
- The semi-passive mode of CPU fan
- The outstanding cooling capabilities of the case - good placement of elements and ventilation perforation
- The semi-passive mode of PSU fan
made it possible to build a powerful computer that is silent 99% of the time. Its CPU fan makes a few revolutions when the computer is switched on - which shows that it works. Its PSU fan rotates on average for 10 seconds every hour. The PSU outlet perforation is at the right wall of the case. If Silverstone would place its outlet perforation upwards, I guess the PSU would be enough of natural passive ventilation.
This computer has been in everyday use since March 2016. Its components and construction proved to be reliable and silent - which makes using it every day a pure pleasure!