Cool Computers

No, not that kind of cool. I am talking about cool in terms of temperature here. :P

My computer is hot. Very hot. Can you blame it, though? I run the hell out of it, heavily exercising every little bit of hardware. And because it is hot, it is also loud. The fans, oh how they hum!

Here’s what I’ve got:

Pentium 4 – 2.8E (Prescott core, Hyper-Threading, 800Mhz FSB, 1MB L2 cache)
Motherboard: MSI PT880 NEO-LSR
RAM: Patriot 1GB (2 x 512MB) PC3200 Dual Channel DDR (2-3-2-5-T1)
HD: 2 x Maxtor DiamondMax Plus 9 80GB 7200 RPM SATA150 (RAID0)
Video: Sapphire Radeon 9200 128MB
Sound: M-Audio Audiophile 2496
Optical: Toshiba SD-R5112 DVD-R/RW
TV Tuner: WinTV Go!
Fans: 4x80mm
Case: Raidmax ATX268WUP Blue Steel Gaming Tower
PSU: Raidmax KY-450ATX 350watt
Heatsink & Fan: Stock w/ Arctic Silver 5

Looking over the specs, it seems like a pretty good system, and it is. It does just about everything I need, and quickly at that. But I have definite concerns when it comes to the power supply, the case, and heatsink & fan.

Put simply, the power supply is weak. The label reads 24, 27, and 10 on the +3.3v, +5v, and +12v rails. So, the +3.3v and +5 rails are probably good enough. They are well within margins at idle and under load. But the +12v rail scares me. My CPU alone uses over 100 watts of +12v power, so that doesn’t leave much room to power my drives!

The lack of +12 power is causing problems, it seems. My computer case is hot to the touch by the power supply. What I suspect is happening is that the computer is using more power than the +12v rail is supposed to put out, and that is in turn causing excessive heat and poor efficiency. All I know for sure is that the CoolerMaster 80mm fan I put in the power supply is spinning as fast as it can, and it is vibrating my brain.

Here is the power supply I’m considering: Link. It’s from a relatively unknown brand, but it has great numbers: +3.3v = 28A, +5v = 26A, +12v1 = 17A, +12v2 = 17A.

It’s got more than enough power, and, as long as it is within the allowances, it should serve me just fine. I may just have to cross my fingers and order it.

The next problem is the case in general. It has mounts for four fans at the front-bottom of the case, but there are no intake holes! That makes no sense now, does it? Well, it is right where my hard drives sit, so I’ve got two 80mm fans setup to blow on them. Next, the side fans. There are two 80mm fans mounted on the side of the case. I’ve got the one that is by the hard drives blowing hot air out, and the one near the back of the case blowing in.

But that just doesn’t cut it. The only exhaust fan at the back of the case is the one in the overheated power supply, the one vibrating my brain. There is a mount for another fan, but it’s a 60mm mount. Who is going to use a screeching 60mm fan!? Not me.

This case is a wreck for a high-heat system.

The replacement for my case has already been chosen. Check it out here: Link. It is priced at $28, and I have a $5 off coupon.

That’s right– it’s a decent quality, all aluminum, removable motherboard, toolless chassis case for under $25. I would expect that simply replacing my current case with this case would substantially reduce the heat contained within my system (but not the heat produced by the system).

The last point of concern is the heatsink & fan. The stock Intel HSF is crap! My fan usually hums along at about 5,100 RPM, and it makes my computer sound like a vacuum. Small fans and high RPMs drive me nuts, and so I need a replacement.

I am on a big-fan-means-less-noise kick, so I am looking at getting one of these: Link This thing is huge– over 12 cm wide– but it also operates at incredibly low volumes, and with absolutely no vibration. I won’t be getting it from NewEgg, though– Froogle is full of places that beat NewEgg by $10 or more.

All in all, this should hopefully reduce the noise of my system to just about nothing. It’s going to be great!

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