Author Topic: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC  (Read 3364 times)

youngdoc

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #30 on: April 11, 2019, 08:30:27 AM »
I installed the new fans last night.  I was able to fit full size 120 mm Noctua fans on both sides of the GPU radiator and a slim 15 mm Noctua on the CPU radiator.  There was just enough clearance for all of that.  I also moved the SSD to the outside of the case (under the panel), which added a little more space for air flow inside the case.  I should have taken some beauty shots last night when I put it altogether and turned on the RGB, but it was late and I was pretty tired.  I haven't had a chance to stress test yet, but I can confirm that there is a lot more air moving in that case than there was!  It will be interesting to see what sort of temps I get.  As you said, I expect mine to run warmer, but as long as it doesn't melt, I'll be a happy guy.  Now if only Steam would release the Index so that I can add the key component of this build...



























Ari Altman

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #31 on: April 11, 2019, 11:06:26 AM »
Wow - now that's a masterpiece! Feels good to get a build dialed in, doesn't it? See what I mean about it being wrong in YouTube videos? Now you know what it takes to get a high-end ITX build right!

Your GPU is going to be ultra-chilly with this setup, but keep an eye on CPU temps. There's a slim chance you might need to swap the radiators to give the CPU cooler an extra boost.

Ari Altman

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #32 on: April 11, 2019, 11:13:34 AM »
By the way, how did you connect the fan power cables? Noctua uses 4-pin connectors, so I assume you don't have the GPU fans connected to the GPU itself. And are you using y-connectors to the motherboard header?

I just want to give you one word of warning: controlling GPU temps when a fan is connected to the motherboard is tricky. The motherboard ramps up speed based on CPU temp, which isn't always a good approximation of GPU temps. I just installed a Corsair 3-pin fan on my GTX 1080 Ti Hybrid radiator specifically because I just couldn't get it under control when using a 4-pin fan connected to the motherboard. It's much better now.

Because you spent good money on those Noctua NF-A12x25 fans (like premium money!), you should hold onto them, and maybe opt for these 4-pin-to-3-pin adapters.

youngdoc

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #33 on: April 11, 2019, 12:35:36 PM »
Haha, I wondered when you would ask about the fan configuration.  The short answer is that I bought a variety of fans, hooked everything together, and crossed my fingers.  Everything spins, at least.

The longer answer: I bought two different full-sized (25mm) Noctua fans: one is a 3-pin variant (FLX model) and other is a 4-pin variant (PWM model) and I bought a single slim (15mm) Noctua fan, which is also a 3-pin FLX variant.  My setup starts at the motherboard:



- on CPU_Fan header, I have attached the single-pin tachometer lead connected to the Corsair Hydro CPU cooler pump. Now that I thibk about it, I need to make sure that that tach is on the PWR pin and not the GROUND pin.  Presumably, I can figure that out without opening the case via software -- one of the temperature monitor apps I have been using should be able to report tach speed, right?

- on SYS_FAN1 header, I have attached the 3-pin lead connected to the slim CPU Noctua fan (also a FLX model), which is mounted to the Corsair radiator.  Presumably this will run continuously.  I do have the option to attach a 4-pin slim PWM Noctua fan to the Corsair radiator, but since the Hydro came with a 3-pin fan, I assume that this means that the Corsair H60 cooler fan was designed to run continuously, rather than using PWM, so I kept it that way when I swapped out the fan.

- on SYS_FAN2, I have attached the lead from the default 140mm case fan that came with the case

For the GPU, my setup is:
- from the graphics card header, I connected the lead to Noctua's Y-splitter.  The pin configuration in the two splitter headers are different: one has three pins, the other has four. Presumably, this is because the fan controller would get confused if it received values from two different fans at the same time, so the missing pin in one header is the fan control pin
- to the splitter headers I connected the two Noctua 25mm fan leads -- the FLX 3-pin model to one and the PWM 4-pin model to the other.  I'm pretty sure that I connected the 4-pin fan lead to the 4-pin header and the 3-pin lead to the 3-pin header, but it probably doesn't matter, since the missing pin probably represents the fan control pin.   I suppose that I could have used two 4-pin Noctua fans, but I'm not sure if the GPU uses PWM or if it can manage PWM on two fans at once

What do you think? Do I need to reorganize any of that? It was a late-night project and my head was only half in it. 

I do agree that I will need to keep an eye on the CPU temp.  I was looking at that last night -- the CPU is now using a single, slim fan and that fan's airflow is just ever-so-slightly blocked by the GPU fan beside it, so it can only move so much air through the Corsair radiator, which was designed to work with a different fan. 
« Last Edit: April 11, 2019, 12:37:42 PM by youngdoc »

Ari Altman

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #34 on: April 11, 2019, 01:34:27 PM »
Haha, I wondered when you would ask about the fan configuration.  The short answer is that I bought a variety of fans, hooked everything together, and crossed my fingers.  Everything spins, at least.

The longer answer: I bought two different full-sized (25mm) Noctua fans: one is a 3-pin variant (FLX model) and other is a 4-pin variant (PWM model) and I bought a single slim (15mm) Noctua fan, which is also a 3-pin FLX variant.  My setup starts at the motherboard:



- on CPU_Fan header, I have attached the single-pin tachometer lead connected to the Corsair Hydro CPU cooler pump. Now that I thibk about it, I need to make sure that that tach is on the PWR pin and not the GROUND pin.  Presumably, I can figure that out without opening the case via software -- one of the temperature monitor apps I have been using should be able to report tach speed, right?

- on SYS_FAN1 header, I have attached the 3-pin lead connected to the slim CPU Noctua fan (also a FLX model), which is mounted to the Corsair radiator.  Presumably this will run continuously.  I do have the option to attach a 4-pin slim PWM Noctua fan to the Corsair radiator, but since the Hydro came with a 3-pin fan, I assume that this means that the Corsair H60 cooler fan was designed to run continuously, rather than using PWM, so I kept it that way when I swapped out the fan.

- on SYS_FAN2, I have attached the lead from the default 140mm case fan that came with the case

For the GPU, my setup is:
- from the graphics card header, I connected the lead to Noctua's Y-splitter.  The pin configuration in the two splitter headers are different: one has three pins, the other has four. Presumably, this is because the fan controller would get confused if it received values from two different fans at the same time, so the missing pin in one header is the fan control pin
- to the splitter headers I connected the two Noctua 25mm fan leads -- the FLX 3-pin model to one and the PWM 4-pin model to the other.  I'm pretty sure that I connected the 4-pin fan lead to the 4-pin header and the 3-pin lead to the 3-pin header, but it probably doesn't matter, since the missing pin probably represents the fan control pin.   I suppose that I could have used two 4-pin Noctua fans, but I'm not sure if the GPU uses PWM or if it can manage PWM on two fans at once

What do you think? Do I need to reorganize any of that? It was a late-night project and my head was only half in it. 

I do agree that I will need to keep an eye on the CPU temp.  I was looking at that last night -- the CPU is now using a single, slim fan and that fan's airflow is just ever-so-slightly blocked by the GPU fan beside it, so it can only move so much air through the Corsair radiator, which was designed to work with a different fan.

Does your EVGA GPU have a 4-pin header coming off the PCB? If so, that's a change from the 1080 Ti Hybrid I'm working with, and it's an improvement overall.

Too bad those two 25mm fans have different connectors. I'd actually suggest you plug the 4-pin model into the end of the splitter with just 3 pins, and here's why: it will probably force the system to control the fans by DC control, which is a less precise alternative to PWM. But it still gives you control. With the 4-pin fan connected to the 4-pin end of the y-splitter, you're going to lose all control over the 3-pin fan if running PWM controls. The missing pin isn't for PWM, it's for tach - you don't need two tach readings when both are supposed to be running at the same speed.

As for the slim 3-pin fan on the CPU radiator, you'll want to make sure you switch to DC control in the UEFI. You don't need that fan running at 100% all the time. On a related note, I checked my own H60 (2018) sample, and it uses a 4-pin fan, which is what I had remembered. It would be odd if Corsair made an undocumented update to the SKU, but it could be because they released new fans soon after the cooler was released. Can you provide a photo of the Corsair fan?
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 06:39:51 AM by Ari Altman »

youngdoc

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #35 on: April 12, 2019, 09:57:58 AM »
Did I mention that I was tired when I did the new fan installation? Lol, you were right, the Corsair H60 was indeed a 4-pin fan. The good news is that when I ordered the 3-pin Noctua slim fan to replace it, I ordered both 3-pin and 4-pin versions of that fan, and the 4-pin version is arriving today.

I just checked and I can confirm that the graphics card does have a four pin connector. As noted previously, I have two 25 mm width fans connected to it, one a 3-pin Noctua and the other a 4-pin Noctua. Would I be better off just making both of those GPU fans four pin fans? I'm going to have to tear everything out anyway to get to the slim CPU fan, so I can replace the that 3-pin GPU fan as needed. I don't necessarily even need to order a replacement fan for it, because the EVGA fan that came with the graphics card is a four pin.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2019, 10:22:57 AM by youngdoc »

Ari Altman

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #36 on: April 12, 2019, 11:08:16 AM »
Did I mention that I was tired when I did the new fan installation? Lol, you were right, the Corsair H60 was indeed a 4-pin fan. The good news is that when I ordered the 3-pin Noctua slim fan to replace it, I ordered both 3-pin and 4-pin versions of that fan, and the 4-pin version is arriving today.

I just checked and I can confirm that the graphics card does have a four pin connector. As noted previously, I have two 25 mm width fans connected to it, one a 3-pin Noctua and the other a 4-pin Noctua. Would I be better off just making both of those GPU fans four pin fans? I'm going to have to tear everything out anyway to get to the slim CPU fan, so I can replace the that 3-pin GPU fan as needed. I don't necessarily even need to order a replacement fan for it, because the EVGA fan that came with the graphics card is a four pin.

You've become a true fan collector - I'd love to see an inventory of all the fans you have for this build!

Good to hear the graphics card has a 4-pin. That being said, I'd probably just run the Noctua 25mm fans on 3-pin control, because they are much better than the Corsair fan, and mixing two different fans on a single splitter leads to loss of fine-grained control, since they aren't matched in terms of RPM. The signal might be "75% PWM", but one is spinning at 2000RPM and the other is at 1200RPM. If you want to run PWM control off a splitter using the GPU header, you'll want matched Noctua 4-pin fans... want to add another to your collection?

youngdoc

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #37 on: April 12, 2019, 02:16:19 PM »
Can a man really have too many fans? Haha! Ordering another 4-pin Noctua! Fan party at my place later...

Ari Altman

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #38 on: April 12, 2019, 08:22:52 PM »
Can a man really have too many fans? Haha! Ordering another 4-pin Noctua! Fan party at my place later...

Good fans never die, so you'll have these for the next project. I still occasionally pull out some great fans I've had since around 2006!

youngdoc

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #39 on: April 13, 2019, 07:34:04 PM »
Right on. Amazon was super fast -- I ordered an additional fan yesterday and it arrived today. I put it all back together and did a ton of stress testing with different apps. CPU and GPU temps are staying below 60C in the cabinet, so that's great news. Of concern, however, is the 1 TB nvme drive. It's hitting 85C when stressed. I realize that those drives like to be warm and it will throttle itself down if it gets too hot, but still -- that is pretty warm. It does have a mb-provided heat sink and the one case fan does blow across the mb in its general direction, but they don't seem to be helping much.

Ari Altman

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #40 on: April 13, 2019, 08:46:07 PM »
Yeah, that's hot, way too hot for an SSD. So hot in fact that I don'awt think that reading can be right. What I'd do is try a few different monitoring apps (hwmonitor, hwinfo, etc.) to check the temp, and if it stays that high, remove the heatsink and run it that way, again checking temps and touching it with your finger. 85C would like burn your finger, so be careful, but again, I don't think that can be right. Highest I've ever seen is 55C and that was with a lot of hot air from the video card being exhausted right on the SSD.

youngdoc

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #41 on: April 23, 2019, 09:18:18 AM »
Well, that took some effort.  As you may recall, I was wrestling with some heat issues with my NVMe drive, which is mounted on the motherboard adjacent to the CPU.  A 140mm case fan pulls in air and blows it across the CPU before hitting the NVMe drive.  There is no other real circulation in this part of the case:




When idling, everything except the NVMe drive is running nice and cool:







And while the NVMe drive temperature is not awful when idling, it rises steadily during ordinary use:





During a stress test (via BurnInTest), it goes off the rails:





These numbers were confirmed (following the stress test) by other apps:








Heat is bad, so I looked at some solutions online and found this:





It looks like cheap overseas-built expendable hardware, but I decided to give it a shot, so I ordered and installed it.  Very easy installation -- the directions are in the Amazon image set:





The installation went well, the fan is quiet enough, and the results following the same stress test are promising!





Hopefully this brings to a close the challenges of building a high-end VR gaming PC in an HTPC form factor. Thanks for all of your input, Ari!





« Last Edit: April 23, 2019, 09:21:23 AM by youngdoc »

Ari Altman

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #42 on: April 23, 2019, 10:16:36 AM »
Wow, what a saga!

I simply can't believe how hot that SSD was getting. You were right to be worried, and indeed it wasn't just a sensor or software failure. Love the graphic of the flaming SSD, by the way! ;)

That "expendable hardware", as you put it, does seem to have done the trick. I'm actually wondering if the heatsink that Gigabyte uses on its motherboard is having an insulating rather than dissipating effect. The airflow in that system is bad, but not that bad - you do have the intake fan right there, and unlike many systems, the video card isn't actually exhausting right onto the SSD.

Put another way, I don't think the form factor of this PC is to blame for the high temps you were seeing, especially given how cool everything else is running (which speaks to the fact that this setup is indeed superior to what you find on YouTube!). If you ever feel like experimenting again, try running that M.2 drive with no cover at all (just secured with a screw to the motherboard).

In any event, you're all set, and that AV installation looks great. Hope you agree that this unique, somewhat fussy HTPC case gave you a look like no other case could!

youngdoc

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Re: Case Woes in the Quest to Build a High-End VR/Gaming HTPC
« Reply #43 on: April 23, 2019, 12:25:28 PM »
The case was definitely the key bit, so thank you again for that find.  It fits the space ideally and it looks like it belongs there.  It was not the easiest case to work in, but I think that the parallel mounted graphics card was a neat -- if challenging -- implementation.  Phanteks would probably benefit from proposing the benefit of using one slim fan mounted on a radiator in the case, as I did, for those customers who are using dual-cooler setups. Their illustration of two coolers in the case manual was a little optimistic!

I think you're probably right about the default heat sink.  The temperature readings on that NVMe are so out of sync with the rest of the hardware, something seems a little fishy.   I suppose that you could make the argument that the air blown across the CPU is pretty warm by the time it reaches the NVMe heat sink, and then it just runs into the back of the other (2.5" SATA) SSD, but 80 degrees C hot? I dunno...

In any event, after toying with all of those stress tests and other analytical tools, I didn't feel much like tinkering overly much with the hardware, so I just went with the coolest solution that I could find. I could have tried it with no heat sink at all (as you suggested), and then with a heat sink with fins tall enough to actually catch some of the passing air, and then with the gadget that I finally chose, but I was ready for the sage to end.  If (when?) the expendable hardware fails, I will pull it out and see what happens. This thread will be here to remind me of the data that I gathered when I put it all together.