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Balance between a silent HTPC and a decent gaming machine

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I started off my plan with a 3D capable simple core i3-3220 based HTPC which should be able to play HD and 3D movies with less than 15% utilization. I slowly got into plans of turning it into a decent gaming machine with a Radeon HD 7870.

Is there a way where I can "turn down" the system while watching movies so that all the PWM case/cooler fans and GPU fans go all the way down when I'm watching movies for a quiet experience and then switch to full-on mode when I'm gaming?
post #2 of 17
Unfortunately, most graphics cards use almost as much power when processing video as they do when drawing 3D graphics. If ithey're noisy for one, they're noisy for the other.

Some motherboards include fan-speed controls which vary fan speeds depending on the internal temperature. You have to use fans which understand the control signals that the motherboard provides; often a 4-wire connection is used. There also are add-on fan controllers with thermocouples to measure local temperatures so each fan's speed can be set appropriately.

Of course, another option is to upgrade to water cooling. It's much quieter than forced-air cooling, but has its own set of problems.
post #3 of 17
This is my main feature when I shop for video cards. Has to have a quiet fan.

There are fan control add ons that have dials you can just turn up or down at will.
post #4 of 17
One of my gaming rigs has 8 x 120mm fans that have the voltage lowered along with a GTX680 TwinFrozr III and even at full load it's barely audible while sitting right next to it.

Nearly silent is obtainable while still having a powerful gaming rig.

Jason
post #5 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by komalthecoolk View Post

I started off my plan with a 3D capable simple core i3-3220 based HTPC which should be able to play HD and 3D movies with less than 15% utilization. I slowly got into plans of turning it into a decent gaming machine with a Radeon HD 7870.

Is there a way where I can "turn down" the system while watching movies so that all the PWM case/cooler fans and GPU fans go all the way down when I'm watching movies for a quiet experience and then switch to full-on mode when I'm gaming?

Yes. Just pick components that are known for being the quietest in their class. That's what I did for my videocard and it's very quiet. I never hear it and it rarely needs to spin up fast playing the most hardcore games.
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Simonian View Post

Yes. Just pick components that are known for being the quietest in their class. That's what I did for my videocard and it's very quiet. I never hear it and it rarely needs to spin up fast playing the most hardcore games.

That makes sense! All good advice. I'll get rid of all the stock cooler and case fans and get the most quiet ones I can find and run them on low voltage. I'm trying to figure out a way where I can use the Core i3's processing power for movies and the GPU for games so that the GPU can be idle when I'm watching movies. Is there a way to do that? I do have an Onkyo AVR with 4 HDMI inputs.
post #7 of 17

You would need to change the settings in BIOS. Not hard, just not convenient.

Assassin shows how to rewire the fans to run slower. Post #3
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1302559/assassins-simple-beginner-htpc-buying-guide

Just keep an eye on the temps for a while.

post #8 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by komalthecoolk View Post

That makes sense! All good advice. I'll get rid of all the stock cooler and case fans and get the most quiet ones I can find and run them on low voltage. I'm trying to figure out a way where I can use the Core i3's processing power for movies and the GPU for games so that the GPU can be idle when I'm watching movies. Is there a way to do that? I do have an Onkyo AVR with 4 HDMI inputs.

Some media players will have an options if you want to use a software (cpu) or hardware (gpu) for decoding. It should just that easy but things aren't always as easy as they ....should be. wink.gif
post #9 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaGamePimp View Post

One of my gaming rigs has 8 x 120mm fans that have the voltage lowered along with a GTX680 TwinFrozr III and even at full load it's barely audible while sitting right next to it.

Nearly silent is obtainable while still having a powerful gaming rig.

Jason

 

8 120mm fans?!  I've got to see a picture of that.

post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Scott Simonian View Post

Some media players will have an options if you want to use a software (cpu) or hardware (gpu) for decoding. It should just that easy but things aren't always as easy as they ....should be. wink.gif

I'm not sure using CPU for i3-3220 will use its IGPU but probably will use the real CPU for decoding. Will that be able to handle full HD and high bitrates?

Another thing that came to my mind is:
HDMI-1 goes from onboard HDMI port on the PC to HDMI-1 of my AVR.
HDMI-2 goes from the Graphics card to HDMI-2 of my AVR.
I use extended desktop mode with onboard GPU as my primary monitor and Graphics card as the secondary.
|-> I can access both on the same monitor by switching between sources on the AVR.
|-> I use HDMI-1 for all applications and disable extended monitor therefore not using the graphics card, hopefully making it run in idle.
|-> I play all games on my extended desktop (I have to figure out how) therefore using the graphics card.


I understand computers to an extent but haven't tried this setup before. Will this meet my requirements? One confusion about the above settings is about how can I get the audio out through the HDMI when i'll be switching between them.
post #11 of 17
Quote:
Originally Posted by bd2003 View Post

8 120mm fans?!  I've got to see a picture of that.

Will do later...

There are 2 on top, 1 in front, 1 in back, 1 on the bottom, 1 on the side and 2 on the cpu cooler.

There would be 9 (one more on the side) but not enough room with the large cpu heatsink.

Jason
post #12 of 17
Another thing to consider is the power supply fan. I recently replaced my PS to get one that doesn't buzz (capacitor?), but the replacement PS's fan was so loud under load that I returned it and put the old one back in.

Seasonic has models that are fanless under low load - been thinking about getting one of those.
post #13 of 17
Indeed, I have had a couple of those.

I guess if I count the PS fan then my case has 9 x 120mm fans and still extremely quiet (even under full load and of course there are dual fans on the GPU as well).

My main rig is not flashy (no high gloss or lights) the case is just plain and inexpensive with a single purpose in mind... to keep everything cool, and it does that exceptionally well.

I made the image flashy since the pc is not. cool.gif



Jason
post #14 of 17
Damn, I had forgotten how huge PCs can be. I haven't built anything bigger than microatx in like 10 years.
post #15 of 17
That's actually small compared to many gaming rigs.

My previous case was even taller.

Jason
post #16 of 17
Thread Starter 
I don't see a point in having these HUGE Cosmos-II or Corsair 900D unless you are planning for a multi-GPU gaming rig. IMO, I feel the cooling is better with smaller cases and positive air-pressure.
post #17 of 17
Agreed, I think many buy to induce case-envy. wink.gif

I have seen several pics of those cases with single gpu's, the use of a single Titan does not require a case with the same cubic as a 12-15" subwoofer enclosure.

Jason
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