Building a 4 PC Lan. How do I cool the cabinet and keep it silent?

Discussion in 'Cases & Cooling' started by 007ELmO, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    Hello,

    I have a nook area of my basement where I want to build a 4 player LAN setup. I will have approximatley 6 ft of width to store 4 identical PCs.

    I was hoping of keeping them hidden for the most part. I have a carpenter I work with. I was thinking of him making a simple cabinet with glass doors. But HOW DO I ENSURE THE PCs stay COOL AND QUIET? Do I just buy a lot of those quiet case fans and install them into the cabinet itself?

    I know my one machine that has a "silent case", is like a jet taking off with just one AMD 7970 in it.

    Any other suggestions?

    Thanks!
    ELmO
     
    #1 007ELmO, Dec 21, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
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  3. dma0991

    dma0991 Platinum Member

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    Your description is a little vague but if I understand correctly, you would want to place 4 PCs with their casing in a wooden cabinet. If you keep the PCs far away from the monitors, it shouldn't be too loud. There are Dell monitors that comes with USB hub, so essentially you would only need 1 USB cable and 1 DVI/HDMI cable for each PC routed to the wooden cabinet.

    Assuming the wooden cabinet is made of thick, sturdy wood, it should dampen most of the noise. Not quite sure the dampening properties of glass but it should be sufficiently thick and sealed to keep the noise in the cabinet itself.

    Placing them in a wooden cabinet creates an interesting situation. You can use industrial or large sized AC fans with large ducts that intakes and exhaust the air elsewhere. This keeps the room temperature unaffected by the heat radiating from the PCs. You can create a strong negative pressure in the cabinet by using a large fan as an exhaust. Since there are ducts that channels the air directly, you can place the exhaust fan elsewhere where the noise doesn't affect the room.
     
  4. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    Thanks for that information. I was actually hoping to heat a small part of that basement where the PCs are with the heat, LOL! But I realize it might get loud (but not sure how loud?).

    Here's a picture, it's actually only 6ft wide. I was going to build a nice cabinet around it, maybe put granite on top, and put my popcorn machine there.

    [​IMG]

    The right side of the wall is where I want to mount 4 monitors. It is 12ft long, giving 3ft per player. I need to have audio out (either via USB or audio out, on the monitor or not). Each PC will have a set of headphones. I will build out a shelf along the wall for the keyboard/mice. The reason I didn't paint the whole wall is I'm going to put wainscotting below, so I can easily route wires! HAHA!

    [​IMG]
     
    #3 007ELmO, Dec 21, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  5. dma0991

    dma0991 Platinum Member

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    You could build an enclosed cabinet with casings small enough that it doesn't feel cramped. Add in a large exhaust fan(12") with a filtered hole(intake)/another 12" fan and it should be fine as long as there is sufficient air going in and out from the sealed cabinet. The ducts might not be feasible as it involves punching a large hole on the wall.

    The other option is to have a cabinet where both ends are opened. Think of it as a regular bookshelf without the panel at the back. This allows wires to be routed at the back and allow air to be exhausted. This assumes that you will be using cases where most of its cooling depends on the front and back as the top and sides will be blocked when you place each casing side by side. It doesn't isolate noise very well compared to the first method.

    I wouldn't suggest mounting the bare components directly to the cabinet. It looks nice but a PITA if maintenance needs to be done.
     
  6. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    Thanks. Sorry for the crude drawing, but would you think the intake (blue) and out-take (red) would be something like this? (let's say I used a few more fans). The blue would be covered by some filter, like metal mesh, so my pets don't get hurt xD. It would be nice to use something like subwoofers do for their ports?

    Since heat rises I assume it would be like that? It would have been nice to spit heat out onto the floor, most of the rest of the basement has underfloor heating - but I left this part without any because I thought the PCs would heat it up like crazy by themselves, lol.

    [​IMG]
     
    #5 007ELmO, Dec 21, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2012
  7. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    Or how about hiding the intake fans underneath the cabinet, and building the cabinet raised? Not sure how high it should be raised, and how much room should be underneath it. In that case, I could even do a floating cabinet (1ft up in the air). That should be enough room underneath to intake air and not see the fans underneath. The question are the exhaust fans, if I put granite on top, not easy to incorporate that look - lol.
     
  8. dma0991

    dma0991 Platinum Member

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    I think the raised version would look the best. Sucking air from the bottom would cause more dust to be sucked in, try getting filters that are not too restrictive and easily detachable for easy cleaning. The 2 fans at the bottom should be sufficient. When you blow air in, the internal pressure in the enclosed cabinet is higher than the air outside. What goes in must come out. With that said, the hot air will be exhausted without the need of an exhaust fan if you're planning for 2 intakes.

    You could probably have slits/holes at the sides(highest point of the enclosed cabinet) of the cabinet where hot air could escape. That way, you could still have your granite top.
     
  9. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    Superior ideas and technical information. Thanks!
     
  10. tracerbullet

    tracerbullet Golden Member

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    I can't add anything better than what has been, but wanted to suggest you plan to have a filter your intake air, and easily get to those filters to clean them once in a while. It'll keep the inside of the cabinet much cleaner especially around CPU heat sinks and such.
     
  11. aigomorla

    aigomorla Cases&Cooling Mod<br>PC Gaming Mod<br>Elite Member
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    how much money we talking about here?

    I helped a friend design a water setup for 12 pc's in a silent lan room.
    The radiator was located outside, as well as all the big pumps.

    The only noise the pc's would make would be the hdd and psu.

    The setup used a car radiator, as well as car radiator fan located outside.
    The res was a shared 40 gallon fish tank.
    Piping was done with copper piping and koolance pipe barbs for conversions.
     
    #10 aigomorla, Dec 23, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2012
  12. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    OK interesting. Not that much of a budget, lol. Each PC is going to be about 1K each, and I didn't want to spend more. a 12 PC setup (PC only) is already $10,000. I don't LAN game that much, :)

    How much is water cooling per PC?
     
    #11 007ELmO, Dec 23, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  13. Zap

    Zap Elite Member

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    Do you have an idea of the specs for the PCs? What about a shelf above the monitors to hold the PCs? I've seen LAN centers like that. If you build small PCs (micro ATX or smaller), shouldn't be an issue to keep them somewhere near the monitor. Added benefit is that there is often less dust if the system is farther off the floor.
     
  14. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    Very good idea! Will they be quiet, though? I don't know if a 7970 can fit in a microATX.

    I was basically going to take MFenn's Mid-range build (which is always around 1K it seems), and take out the SSD:
    http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2192841

    Thoughts? Honestly, if I could get the system down to to $500-600 each, I could make it an 8 LAN setup, which is much nicer. 4 LAN setup is sometimes only 2v2 if you don't go online...

    I'm just worried my family will like playing MMOs, and in general I don't like skimping on a video card for gaming system's framerate. What can be cut down from MFenn and still be "very good"?

    Thanks everyone!
    ELmO
     
    #13 007ELmO, Dec 24, 2012
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2012
  15. Kenmitch

    Kenmitch Diamond Member

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    Where in Ohio do you live? Reason being Microcenter has 3 stores there. The 3570k is $189 but gets you $50 off a motherboard also.
     
  16. owensdj

    owensdj Golden Member

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    Do you mind spending money on it? You could build the PCs in rack mountable cases designed for quiet operation and put the 4 PCs and the network switch(also rack mountable) into a rack cabinet made for quiet.
     
  17. T_Yamamoto

    T_Yamamoto Lifer

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    Way to bump an old thread.
     
  18. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    It's OK that it's an old thread, because I'm still shopping - LOL. I live only 50 minutes away from MC. I was thinking of taking MFenn's midrange build thread and going to MC and seeing what the parts cost. The only problem is MC is usually "limit 1 per person".

    So I'd have to get 3 friends and give them cash and stand in line with me, haha! Could work fine.
     
  19. Kenmitch

    Kenmitch Diamond Member

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    I must have had a brain fart. Not sure how I bumped your old thread as I for the most part don't go beyond the first page....Hmm

    Taking the friends idea would work tho. If you came up short you might be able to flip a shopper a couple of bucks to do it also.
     
  20. natto fire

    natto fire Diamond Member

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    Way to crap a tech thread, that isn't really that old. If you have never taken a couple months to shop around for something like the OP is talking about, you are naive, but your age will bring that, so carry on.

    OP: I second the Microcenter idea, especially for their motherboard/CPU combos. I used to live 10 minutes from the one in Columbus, but am now more like 30. Not sure which one you are near but I could help if you find a great "limit 1" deal.
     
  21. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    Got around to buying a Middle Atlantics rack and cooler guys 2U assembly (with thermal controller) for intake:

    [​IMG]

    I found 4U racks, so I will use this to house the gaming machines!

    [​IMG]

    Yeah, I don't want to be mean to anyone, but we're talking about $5000 here for the machines, monitors, and rack mounting/surge protectors, it's not something I spend every month so it takes time to plan and purchase.
     
    #20 007ELmO, Mar 13, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  22. Kenmitch

    Kenmitch Diamond Member

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    Cool....The bottom of that rack reminds me of a cpu at first glance :)

    Should be a nice setup once done.

    Dependant on which gpus you plan on getting you might be able to offset the cost by selling off the game codes....Just a thought
     
  23. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    Thank you, good idea! The second picture there *IS* a rack mountable PC case (if that's what you're referring to, that's why it looks pretty much like a PC - LOL).

    Actually, I bought a ton of racks for my basement - I have a lot of equipment powering various setups:
    [​IMG]

    One of the taller racks is actually the LAN rack. I'm using MFenn's midrange build minus the SSD as the rig. I wonder if I can downgrade the GPU to save even more money, I don't know. I know my single 7970 I have right now is like a jet plane, but I can't hear it when I put headphones on. I'm hoping 4 7970s will be quiet with headphones on, but I don't know about placing that kind of bet...
     
  24. Kenmitch

    Kenmitch Diamond Member

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    What I meant was the very bottom of the rack in the picture....For some reason at 1st glance it looks like a cpu :)

    [​IMG]

    Not sure what your gonna do for storage on these rigs.

    If going with HDD drives there is a deal at staples currently.

    1TB WD Blacks(Retail) for $79.99 free shipping. Only thing is I'm not sure if they are Sata 3GB/s or Sata 6GB/s as the part number is not complete it looks like. Staples shows WDBAAZ0010HNC which looks to be missing the -xxxx at the end. Best Buy shows WDBAAZ0010HNC-NRSN which is the Sata 6GB/s drive with 64mb cache....The one I picked up at least not sure if it's a YMMV or not.

    http://www.staples.com/product-nr_918227

    I price matched one at Best Buy without issue. The one I got at Best Buy was Sata 6GB/s 64mb cache version tho.
     
    #23 Kenmitch, Mar 13, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2013
  25. 007ELmO

    007ELmO Golden Member

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    Alright, so I need to probably make a new thread for this one.

    I just realized the power consumption requirements of 4 gaming machines! I was researching which rackmounted UPS I should use, and saw once you start going much above 1000W, you'll need 20A breakers - and if you cross into 2000W you'll need a 30A.

    I have a 240V-30A pair I was going to break out into two 120V circuits, but I didn't want to use both of those circuits to power 2 UPS for the gaming machines.

    I'm thinking I need to use SSDs and less power hungry graphics cards (do those exist? that's going to hurt the purpose of gaming!). If we consider a heavy duty gaming PC to take about 400W peak, that means I need 1600Wish of a UPS?

    Any thoughts on this?
     
  26. piasabird

    piasabird Lifer

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    Might be a nice place to put an air return to the furnace so every time it came on it would suck out the warm air. Would be nice to have some kind of exhaust fan. The room looks like it has some windows. I had an office in a center room and we had 2 air conditioners that sometimes ran non-stop. Some people use portable Air Conditioners or just put in a window unit to keep it cool. Might need a 220 circuit for that.

    I was just thinking you could put Computers in overhead cabinets just as easily as lower racks. Even those Chromed Wire Racks would work. Looks like you already have some racks though. That might not be my best choice. So do you plan on sitting or standing or what? I worked in an office for a while and we had a cubicle and it had like a counter top.

    I was just looking at another possible solution like a Kitchen island or one of those tall tables and higher chairs. They seem popular lately. I am not much into office racks in an entertainment area.
     
    #25 piasabird, Mar 19, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013