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Old 02-01-2013, 09:08 PM   #1
Loogs
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Question Passive or quietest active heat-sink for (non-OC) Ivy Bridge cooling in Mini P180

Hello,

I'm putting together my first build and I was looking for some suggestions & advice on CPU cooling. I will only be running it at stock speeds and not overclocking (apologies if this belongs in the "CPU" forum instead).

I plan to use either the i5 3570 or, most likely, the i7 3770 (unlocked K model as it is cheaper). It will regularly power HTPC HD playback & will be no stranger to 100% use for media encoding & rendering so I would like something quieter & more efficient than the stock cooler.

I have diagrammed what I am working with in a relatively roomy Antec Mini P180. The bottom 3.5" HDD cage, as the transparency illustrates, will be removed to place an intake fan. Teal represents where negative pressure will draw in outside air.



1) With the large volume of air moving through this case, greatly due to the 200mm right above the CPU, to keep the air flow smooth & even, can I safely get away with a premium passive heat-sink while running at stock speeds? (not factoring dust accumulation, will be regularly cleaned + has dust filters)

2) Due to stressful & lengthy encoding times, if I were to honestly see a substantial temperature difference by utilizing even just a single quiet fan, how should it be optimally positioned & angled?
  • below heat-sink, pointing towards 200mm exhaust (advantage: direct feed off intake flow, encouraging naturally rising thermodynamics, also drawing heat away from a passively cooled GPU (not likely but possible future addition))
  • right of heat-sink, pointing towards 120mm exhaust (advantage: also drawing minor heat away from upper HDD cage, not imposing on (low priority) GPU space)
  • go for the gold & utilize both mentioned positions simultaneously with 2 fans, but is that a foreseen conflict?
3) Regardless of fan decision, not including fan cost(s), what premium passive & active heat-sinks under $100 are recommended for maximum heat dissipation in this configuration? The case width is 212mm O.D.

If you are pro-fan, please suggest the quietest fan(s) you are aware of, also.

I will greatly appreciate any suggestions & knowledge you can share as I construct my first build!

Last edited by Loogs; 02-01-2013 at 09:10 PM.
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Old 02-01-2013, 11:12 PM   #2
Vectronic
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1. Yes, but you would be better off with a quiet non-passive heatsink and either running the fans really low, or taking them out entirely, my Zalman 9900 will easily keep my 3570K (at stock) in decent temperatures (<70C) under LinX (more than your CPU will pump out using normal applications), and that's just turning the fan off, not removing it. (don't think it will fit in your case)

2. For CPU cooling alone (disregarding GPU, or anything else)
--- Passive: switch rear exhaust to an intake, 200 as exhaust. Set rear fan to about half what the front fan (still as intake) is set to.
--- Active: disable rear exhaust, aim cooler upwards.
ie: [||] instead of [=]

3. Probably this... otherwise, the usual... 212 Evo, NH-D14, etc, there's really no "best", at stock speeds you'll probably see more difference based on the TIM you use rather than the heatsink.
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:47 AM   #3
Loogs
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Thanks for your reply, Vec.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectronic View Post
1. Yes, but you would be better off with a quiet non-passive heatsink and either running the fans really low, or taking them out entirely
The more I think about it & analyze, the more sense it makes to use an active cooler. I will already be utilizing fans natively, so what's one more? Especially if they're Noctua or Be Quiet! units. The mild priority is silence, and I'll take their lower CFM, especially with the 200mm "big brother" to back them up, spec'd to move 134 CFM on high @ 800 RPM.

I'm forgetting the Mini P180 also has decent tri-layer paneling, it's designed to absorb some sound, anyway. The 200mm will probably be the only source of unfiltered 'noise', albeit a low-pitch, subtle whisper. It's too bad the 200mm market is so small, though I might do some digging around.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectronic View Post
2. For CPU cooling alone (disregarding GPU, or anything else)
--- Passive: switch rear exhaust to an intake, 200 as exhaust. Set rear fan to about half what the front fan (still as intake) is set to.
--- Active: disable rear exhaust, aim cooler upwards.
ie: [||] instead of [=]
The logic is there. I tossed around the thought about changing roles on the side exhaust, though I believe it would be more of a negative impact e.g. encouraging more dust (especially as rear grill is not filtered), cool airflow quickly removed by 200mm, etc.

Currently favoring active CPU cooling, I am more confident in the CPU fan facing the 200m, but also still keeping the side exhaust role in place to discourage dust from entering through its unfiltered grill and encourage negative pressure for passive filtered ports throughout.

I think the caged HDDs will survive on the negative pressure draw. The native gap between an installed cage and its optional fan mount is around 8/9mm. Mounted HDD permitting, I could trim the cage end by 4mm & mount a 120x120x12mm Scythe Slip Stream Slim in there simultaneously I might check that out if I get bored
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectronic View Post
3. Probably this...
Hah, the Nofan. Actually, I am really intrigued by their offerings, something unique no one else is doing. In this personal application, the fan-based Mini P180 just isn't a match, not to mention the newer 95C is (still) quite huge, occupying precious real estate such as GPU & 200mm territory. They are reported to run pretty hot when CPU is pushed, not good for the regularly full loads I have in mind.

I think I'm now over my quest for passive cooling. It will be all or nothing if I do decide to go passive on a future build, but, save component heat technology doesn't change, I don't think I ever will, honestly

I'm pretty confident in choosing a heat-sink combo like the NH-U12P SE2. If I'm going to put one Noctua fan in the case, I might as well line the rest with the ugly bastards from Austria. As mentioned, even with their low(er) CFM, I feel confident the closely overseeing "big brother" will pick up the slack.

Thanks for documenting your own experience, stimulating my thoughts & being the rebound for which I bounced them off! I really appreciate it

On a random subject, isn't all fan cooling technically "passive", anyway? And all multi-metal heat-sinks, fan or not, are technically "active" due to thermoelectric properties? Yet, we casually consider fans as "active", and some builds of heat-sinks as "passive". Maybe that's just me making an uneducated mistake. I can understand why people shy away from DIY computing to prevent getting lost in translation among other obvious reasons, like actually having to think
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:44 AM   #4
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P180 is wide enough to fit a Thermalright HR-02. In passive mode, it easily handles any processor at stock clocks. With all that exhaust airflow, you'll have excellent temps. The U12P is much more expensive and inadequate unless using at least one fan. The upsides with U12P are size and warranty, but if you're going to be running HR-02 without the fan, warranty is completely irrelevant - what could possibly happen to a 720g lump of metal?
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:56 AM   #5
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Even the 140mm market is pretty small, it's really only just now becoming common-place.

There's a decent amount of 200mm fans, but there really isn't much R&D going into them it seems, some are low RPM, some are higher, but the low RPM ones are basically the high RPM ones but limited, roughly the same CFM, noise level, etc.

Will you use the lower two 5.25" in bays? If not you could mount (some?) of your HD's there with a converter. (quickest result, not necessarily the best, lol).

I really like Nofan's attempts, if I was creating an HTPC I'd probably get one, passive cooling, looks neat, and kinda reminds me of old TV antennas. It would probably work really well in my case (FD R4) so I might try one.

NH-U12P SE2... that's one of my biggest problems with them, their horrible fan colors, if I got one, I'd probably put Cougar Vortex fans on it (120 CFM, 20db) and then run them at 300RPM.

Well yeah they are passive in the sense that there's no thermoelectric or chemical reactions going on, but any heatsink with a fan isn't passive because it's redirecting the ambient air. I suppose if the fanse were always blowing upwards, it could be "enhanced passive cooling" or something... but nope...lol
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Old 02-02-2013, 07:53 AM   #6
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I would go with the HR-02 since you want it to run passively.
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Old 02-02-2013, 02:45 PM   #7
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I would avoid passive. Even a 120mm fan running sub 600RPM provides a HUGE boost in air cooling potential to a heatsink. 600 RPM is inaudible inside of a case with nearly any fan, never mind well made ones.
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:21 PM   #8
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Some Dell cases have a cool design where they use a duct from a passive HS to a fan that vents to the outside of the case.

This way the load is on the case instead of hanging it on the CPU. Also because of the bell shape of the duct the fan can be larger than would fit directly on the HS.
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Old 02-02-2013, 04:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EarthwormJim View Post
I would avoid passive. Even a 120mm fan running sub 600RPM provides a HUGE boost in air cooling potential to a heatsink. 600 RPM is inaudible inside of a case with nearly any fan, never mind well made ones.
HR-02 simply doesn't need a fan for a stock clocked CPU. If the OP has a slow RPM 120mm fan lying around then sure he can use it but I wouldn't recommend paying for a new one
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Old 02-04-2013, 10:11 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lehtv View Post
HR-02 simply doesn't need a fan for a stock clocked CPU. If the OP has a slow RPM 120mm fan lying around then sure he can use it but I wouldn't recommend paying for a new one
True. But just in case, it comes with the best 140mm fan available. And it's pwm controlled, unlike NH-U12P.
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