Author Topic: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC  (Read 3607 times)

Offline Chandler

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Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« on: Apr 10, 2005, 07:34 AM »


Let me introduce you to my quiet Athlon64-based HTPC.  The above image was taken before I decided on XP MCE2005 so it has a ShowShifter badge on it.  I've now got the green MCE logo instead.

Hardware:
- Evercase ECE-4252 Black/Silver TAC
- EPoX EP-9NDA3J S939 nForce3 Ultra motherboard
- AMD Athlon64 3200+ Winchester (90nm)
- Sapphire Atlantis 9800 PRO 128MB 256-bit with Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer Rev.3
- Scythe FCS-50 heatsink/fan
- Zalman NB47J northbridge cooler
- Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 200GB PATA
- Hitachi Deskstar 7K250 250GB PATA
- LG GSA-4163B DVDRW Black
- SB Audigy 2 ZS
- Hauppauge Nova-t PCI
- Hauppauge HVR-1100 PCI
- Nexus NX-4090 400W PSU
- Nexus 120mm Exhaust Fan w/Zalman Fanmate (~900RPM)




It's all extremely quiet with the hard drives being the loudest components.  In case you're wondering, yes that is a shoelace suspending the hard drives.  It's temporary until I get some stretchy elastic but it does a reasonable job of decoupling the hard drives from the chassis (no vibrations).

I picked two DVB-T PCI TV tuners to use in MCE2005 - a Hauppauge Nova-t PCI (Chelsea) which provides just Digital and IR support, and a Hauppauge HVR1100 which adds a second digital tuner to MCE (so you can record/watch at the same time or record two shows at once) and also analogue TV and FM radio.

The Scythe FCS-50 is in line with the exhaust fan, and so CPU heat is exhausted straight out the back.  The Radeon 9800 Pro's heat is exhausted directly out by the VGA Silencer.

Those photos were taken before I replaced the stock northbridge heatsink with a Zalman passive.  I had to bend 4 fins on the row closest to the AGP slot so that it would fit under the VGA Silencer, but that was expected.  Most nForce3/4 boards require at least half of the fins to be bent out of the way.  As the fins extend in front of the VGA Silencer the cooling is superb, and again heat is exhausted straight out the back.  The hard drives are cooled by the passive front intake - no need for an intake fan as airflow in the ECE-4252 is so good.

The whole case is lined with Nexus Damp-Tek acoustic damping material which cuts down on panel resonations and also filters out high frequency noise.

I'll put up some newer pictures later as I've hidden the IDE and floppy cables and made the power cables a lot neater.
« Last Edit: Apr 22, 2007, 03:44 AM by Chandler »

Offline Igloo

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #1 on: Apr 10, 2005, 07:56 AM »
nice  :D

i am wondering, for college next year, do i be a big kiddie and get a quiet rig, and shove it in my room with 2 tft screens for college work......

Or a monster gaming rig....

the first will probably have a a64 3500 + 1gb ram, xt800 agp, tv tuner and 2x 250gb wd's and 2 17" flat screens

the second, a64 4000 1.5gb ram ati 850 pe xt 2x 250gb wd's and 1 17"

i am probably going to go for the first option....

but i dunno yet :p

Hope she works well for you Chandler :D

Igloo
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Amd Athlon xp 2400
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Offline Carskick

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #2 on: Apr 10, 2005, 09:41 AM »
Nice, Chandler.

While I was looking at your computer, my Dad walked in, looked at it, and asked me when am I going to make a computer to put in the living room for recording. I told him when he gives me the money to do it. Then he pointed at the ol K6-2 and asked if he cold use that? I told him you'd need a capture card, and a new hard drive, and the CPU probably isn't powerful enough. Funny.

When our business takes off, I'll buy 2 of everything on newegg, and build a computer for myself and the living room. I'll just give him my capture card, and let that one be the recording system.
Athlon64 X2 3800+ Machester@2.45Ghz, 4x1GB A-DATA PC3200@204(2.5-3-3-6), XFX 8800GT, ASUS A8N5X NF4, Antec 300 case, Antec EarthWatts 650w, 640GB 16MB and 200GB 8MB 7200RPM SATA WD HDDs, NEC3540, NEC3550, Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate<br />Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/Carskick

Offline scuzzy

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #3 on: Apr 11, 2005, 04:38 PM »
That's a good lookin' setup, Chandler. That's also one heck of a big HSF assembly. I suppose you can't use it to cook burritos with.  :P

What is the VGA Silencer for the ATI 9800? Is that some sort of aftermarket cooler for the video card?
Antec Performance TX640B Case | WinXP Pro SP3 & Win7 64-bit | Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R | Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale LGA 775 3.16GHz Dual-Core | 8GB (4x2GB) PC6400 G-Skill RAM | eVGA 7600GT 256MB PCI-E | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 16MB Cache | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 8MB Cache | 320GB Seagate Barracuda SATA 16MB Cache | External 640GB WD Caviar SATA 32MB Cache | Sony DRU-V200S DVD/RW | PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W | Samsung SyncMaster 2494 (24") LCD Monitor | LG Flatron W2361V (23") LCD Monitor

Offline Chandler

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #4 on: Apr 12, 2005, 01:40 AM »
Thanks for the comments, I think I'm satisfied with this system now.

scuzzy, the VGA Silencer is an aftermarket cooler specifically designed for the Radeon cards.  It consists of a large heatsink along the length of the card (extending from the VGA core to the "rear") and then a "blower" type fan which blows air across the heatsink and directly out the back.  You can choose between "Low" and "High" speeds - low is inaudible in my system and provides similar cooling to the stock cooler.  "High" is a little quieter than the stock cooler but provides much superior cooling.

Arctic Cooling have screwed up a bit with their newer Silencers (ATI Silencer and NV Silencer) as the fan is now temperature controlled (and responds badly to PWM fan speed - it clicks), and the casing is a more brittle plastic.  You can still buy the VGA Silencer Rev.3 which suits most of the previous-generation Radeons including the AIW series.

You possibly could cook burritos on the HSF after a gaming session :D the top of the heatsink gets warm if you turn the fans off, while the CPU itself stays <45?C which shows just how well heatpipes work (the FCS-50 uses flat heatpipes).  In fact even with no fan on the HSF the CPU stays below 50?C.

Offline scuzzy

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #5 on: Apr 12, 2005, 09:51 AM »
Chandler,

Is this the unit?: Arctic Cooling "ATI Silencer 3"

Does it really make that much of a difference as compared to the stock fan on the Sapphire ATI 9800Pro?
Antec Performance TX640B Case | WinXP Pro SP3 & Win7 64-bit | Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R | Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale LGA 775 3.16GHz Dual-Core | 8GB (4x2GB) PC6400 G-Skill RAM | eVGA 7600GT 256MB PCI-E | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 16MB Cache | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 8MB Cache | 320GB Seagate Barracuda SATA 16MB Cache | External 640GB WD Caviar SATA 32MB Cache | Sony DRU-V200S DVD/RW | PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W | Samsung SyncMaster 2494 (24") LCD Monitor | LG Flatron W2361V (23") LCD Monitor

Offline Chandler

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #6 on: Apr 12, 2005, 09:56 AM »
It's this one:
Arctic Cooling VGA Silencer AVC-1000 REV.3

The ATI Silencer and NV Silencer are the new inferior models, although they will still suit anyone who isn't overly-obsessive about noise.

As for stock vs VGA Silencer, in terms of noise there is no comparison.  Even in a closed case you can clearly hear the stock cooler, whereas with the case open you can't hear the VGA Silencer (this is with it set on Low).

Offline scuzzy

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #7 on: Apr 12, 2005, 10:02 AM »
Thanks, I'll likely pick one up. I just happened to be looking at that model at Directron, where it's on sale for $14.50.
Antec Performance TX640B Case | WinXP Pro SP3 & Win7 64-bit | Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R | Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale LGA 775 3.16GHz Dual-Core | 8GB (4x2GB) PC6400 G-Skill RAM | eVGA 7600GT 256MB PCI-E | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 16MB Cache | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 8MB Cache | 320GB Seagate Barracuda SATA 16MB Cache | External 640GB WD Caviar SATA 32MB Cache | Sony DRU-V200S DVD/RW | PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W | Samsung SyncMaster 2494 (24") LCD Monitor | LG Flatron W2361V (23") LCD Monitor

Offline scuzzy

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #8 on: Apr 12, 2005, 10:07 AM »
Fudge. After including S/H charges, it's only $2.00 less at Directron. I'll just get if from NewEgg for convenience, since I'm ordering a few other items. The overall S/H cost drops, the more I order from NewEgg.
Antec Performance TX640B Case | WinXP Pro SP3 & Win7 64-bit | Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R | Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale LGA 775 3.16GHz Dual-Core | 8GB (4x2GB) PC6400 G-Skill RAM | eVGA 7600GT 256MB PCI-E | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 16MB Cache | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 8MB Cache | 320GB Seagate Barracuda SATA 16MB Cache | External 640GB WD Caviar SATA 32MB Cache | Sony DRU-V200S DVD/RW | PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W | Samsung SyncMaster 2494 (24") LCD Monitor | LG Flatron W2361V (23") LCD Monitor

Offline Hoot

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2005, 01:51 PM »
when am I going to make a computer to put in the living room for recording. I told him when he gives me the money to do it. Then he pointed at the ol K6-2 and asked if he cold use that? I told him you'd need a capture card, and a new hard drive, and the CPU probably isn't powerful enough. Funny.
When our business takes off, I'll buy 2 of everything on newegg, and build a computer for myself and the living room. I'll just give him my capture card, and let that one be the recording system.



You're HP will do it. You can get a better HSF of you wan't it to be cooler. You can use Snapstream to record as it has an interface kind of like XPMCE.

http://www.snapstream.com/
« Last Edit: May 08, 2005, 07:21 PM by Hoot »

Offline Whizbang

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2005, 11:40 AM »
I love that "cool" fire-breathing-red exhaust fan.  8)  The low placement of the hard drives is good.  There is usually far more heat that is introduced from other sources than most hard drives generate on their own.  Good air flow would virtually exclude any heat problems here.

Offline Hoot

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2005, 12:26 PM »
The thng i like about Chandler's HTPC is that it's using a real world case. Not a blinged up Thermaltake or something. It looks clean and efficient.

Offline Chandler

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2005, 02:27 PM »
The thng i like about Chandler's HTPC is that it's using a real world case. Not a blinged up Thermaltake or something. It looks clean and efficient.
Am I to take it you wouldn't like this:
http://www.asus.com/products/pccomponents/chassis/vento3600/overview.htm
;)

Offline scuzzy

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #13 on: May 09, 2005, 05:29 PM »
I agree with Hoot. I don't particularly care for souped-up cases. They look stupid and ridiculous, and quickly lose the "cool factor" once you've had it awhile.
Antec Performance TX640B Case | WinXP Pro SP3 & Win7 64-bit | Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R | Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale LGA 775 3.16GHz Dual-Core | 8GB (4x2GB) PC6400 G-Skill RAM | eVGA 7600GT 256MB PCI-E | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 16MB Cache | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 8MB Cache | 320GB Seagate Barracuda SATA 16MB Cache | External 640GB WD Caviar SATA 32MB Cache | Sony DRU-V200S DVD/RW | PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W | Samsung SyncMaster 2494 (24") LCD Monitor | LG Flatron W2361V (23") LCD Monitor

Offline Whizbang

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2005, 09:19 PM »
I do not like a case that tries to resemble something other than a computer.  The most I have done to improve air flow on my daughter's case is to put a Coolermaster heatsink/fan in it, but it is quieter than a standard small AMD issue unit and does not put as much pressure on the CPU clips, something that has always made me sweat.  CoolerMaster took the time to set the tension precisely to prevent torsion stress problem on mainboard.

Offline trav

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #15 on: Jul 11, 2005, 08:56 PM »
Chandler, I cannot see your pictures, however your setup sounds awesome. Are you using anything as a receiver or TV display?
CygBox | ASUS A7V400-MX| Athlon XP-2600+ (Barton core) (1900Mhz) |Gigabyte Radeon 9200SE| Onboard 6CH Sound|PC2700 400Mhz 768DDR

Offline Chandler

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #16 on: Jul 12, 2005, 12:53 AM »
I'll fix this tonight.  I lost most of my site after the hosts updated their server but I have a local copy on my hard drive.

Offline Whizbang

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Re:Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #17 on: Jul 12, 2005, 06:59 AM »
I lost most of my site after the hosts updated their server but I have a local copy on my hard drive.
I am sure that they will immediately reimburse you for their mistake and your time spent in repairing.   ::)

Offline Chandler

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #18 on: Mar 13, 2007, 03:05 PM »
I really do have a great CPU, or a CPU and motherboard which like each other.  Ever since I built this system, I've run at stock speeds (2.0GHz full, 1.0GHz min) with Cool'n'Quiet enabled and nice tight memory timings.  A BIOS update months ago unlocked the ability to set a negative VCore for the processor.  I started undervolting until I reached the largest undervolt -0.1V.  It's been left at that ever since and stability has been 100% (I don't recall seeing a BSOD on this system that hasn't been due to testing alpha/beta drivers).

At the weekend curiousity got the better of me and I had a go at overclocking.  It got up to 2.3GHz and was rock solid, and the amazing thing is that Cool'n'Quiet was still enabled (and stable) and I was able to achieve 2.3GHz with the -0.1V undervolt.  I didn't try any higher speeds and I've now set it back to the default 2.0GHz but I wonder just how much potential this processor has?  If it manages a 15% (at least) overclock when undervolted how high would it go on stock voltage?  I also wonder how much further it could undervolt at stock speeds if the motherboard allowed it.

If I had any use for the extra 300MHz I'd probably stick at 2.3GHz but I don't.  Temperatures weren't noticeably higher because the voltage stayed the same. 

I had some thoughts.  Would this actually decrease the life of the processor - in this kind of situation I'm not sure it would.  As I understand it the various speeds of processor are all the same design, it's just that some don't quite cut it for the higher speeds when tested.  If for example, I wanted to get it to 2.3GHz and had to increase the voltage over stock, then yes I could understand reduced lifespan, because the overclocked processor is running at a higher voltage than a REAL 2.3GHz processor.  But in the case of this one it is effectively running at the stock voltage of a CPU in it's own family, so is it really being stressed anymore than if it had been rated as a 2.3GHz CPU to begin with...

Edit:  PS, I can't believe how different my PC in those photos to how it is now.  I'll try to get some more photos taken of it.
« Last Edit: Mar 13, 2007, 03:16 PM by Chandler »

Offline Carskick

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #19 on: Mar 13, 2007, 09:55 PM »
Hows your mobo doing? I just realized it is the same as mine that died. Hopefully you'll have better luck. :)

I had mine overclocked from 1.8Ghz to 2.2Ghz almost since I built it, and the only problem I ever had was the motherboard dying, which most likely wasn't from overclocking because many people have experienced it with that board and the CPU was fine. I used a program called RM clock, which allowed me to adjust the voltage and multiplier settings it would step between. I believe I had it set on 5x = 1.15v, 7x = 1.25v, 9x = 1.35v, which were about 1.2Ghz, 1.8Ghz, and 2.2Ghz respectively due to the overclock.

I just replaced the CPU about a week ago. The old one was fine, I just wanted to grab a 939 dual core before the cheap ones disappeared again. I now have the 2Ghz 3800+ X2 running at my old overclock settings with a 10x multiplier, effectively 2.45Ghz on stock 1.35v, and it is perfectly stable, though max temps can get hot, but it seems to be the case with the dual cores I guess, unless I upgraded my CPU cooling situation, which didn't change from the single core. I no longer use RM Clock on my desktop, because the older version I had didn't step the dual core properly, and I am too lazy to setup a new one. Although my dual core runs hotter on full load, it takes a lot more to get it to full load, and normal windows usage varies between about 38 and 45C. Only in really intensive situations does it get into the 50s, and only in extreme cases the low 60s. I can live with that.

One thing I do now just to make sure I am not over stressing the motherboard is setting the HT multiplier to 4x instead of 5x while overclocked, making it about 1Ghz where it should be with my overclock. No point in overclocking something which isn't even close to being a bottleneck. Although with dual core it might make more of a difference, didn't think about that. Oh well, won't chance it.

I have no idea whether merely increasing clock speed reduces CPU life. My guess is that it is not significant. If an average CPU lasts 10-20 years, and a CPU with a clock boost lasts 8-16 years, I say I don't really care. I doubt I'll still care about the CPU in that time. (Those are bogus #s BTW)




Athlon64 X2 3800+ Machester@2.45Ghz, 4x1GB A-DATA PC3200@204(2.5-3-3-6), XFX 8800GT, ASUS A8N5X NF4, Antec 300 case, Antec EarthWatts 650w, 640GB 16MB and 200GB 8MB 7200RPM SATA WD HDDs, NEC3540, NEC3550, Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate<br />Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/Carskick

Offline Chandler

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #20 on: Mar 14, 2007, 01:44 PM »
Hows your mobo doing? I just realized it is the same as mine that died. Hopefully you'll have better luck. :)
Luckily mine's still going strong, although the last PCI slot doesn't work properly (and never has).

Offline Whizbang

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #21 on: Mar 14, 2007, 02:01 PM »
I just replaced the CPU about a week ago. The old one was fine, I just wanted to grab a 939 dual core before the cheap ones disappeared again.
I did the same thing with a 939 Biostar with onboard nVidia 6100 video.  I finally was able to find a retail package AMD 4200+ X2 for less than $200.00 and purchased both at the same time  on the Buy Now, Pay Later plan.  That Biostar still has the best reviews of any board I have seen.  It also has better video than any card I have had by far and reportedly is better than many PCI Express card setups.  Unfortunately, both mobo and CPU are still in the pretty boxes because I want to get a new and better case and power supply first. 

Offline Carskick

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #22 on: Mar 14, 2007, 03:19 PM »
Unfortunately, both mobo and CPU are still in the pretty boxes because I want to get a new and better case and power supply first. 

What power supply do you currently have?

I have the Smart Power Antec 350 non 2.0, and many people have had problems with the 2.0 versions, so I hope mine is okay. It has been doing fine even with my setup, though the dual core isn't supposed to take any more power.
Athlon64 X2 3800+ Machester@2.45Ghz, 4x1GB A-DATA PC3200@204(2.5-3-3-6), XFX 8800GT, ASUS A8N5X NF4, Antec 300 case, Antec EarthWatts 650w, 640GB 16MB and 200GB 8MB 7200RPM SATA WD HDDs, NEC3540, NEC3550, Windows 7 64-bit Ultimate<br />Photos: http://picasaweb.google.com/Carskick

Offline Whizbang

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #23 on: Mar 14, 2007, 07:53 PM »
The power supplies I have do not have the 24 pin connector.  I want to get another modular power supply.  They are just cleaner to hook up.  My first priority is a case that has 120mm fans.  After putting my son's new system in a dual 120mm fan case, I am hooked.  Almost dead silence is all I "hear."  When I first began the computer craze, I thought that loud meant better, but no more.

Offline Chandler

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #24 on: Mar 15, 2007, 01:16 PM »
« Last Edit: Mar 31, 2007, 04:48 AM by Chandler »

Offline Whizbang

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #25 on: Mar 15, 2007, 05:15 PM »
Another plus for the big fans is that the slower they turn, the longer they last because bearing wear is greatly reduced.  Big fans also are more effective in total air movement and tend to be more thorough in preventing "dead" zones of uncirculated air.

Offline Chandler

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #26 on: Apr 22, 2007, 03:44 AM »
« Last Edit: Apr 22, 2007, 04:01 AM by Chandler »

Offline scuzzy

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #27 on: Apr 22, 2007, 10:37 AM »
I did not know that Corsair was in the power supply business.

As for the VGA bracing bar that you referred to, is it provided by the case manufacturer or by the card manufacturer? And how would the brace work?
Antec Performance TX640B Case | WinXP Pro SP3 & Win7 64-bit | Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R | Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale LGA 775 3.16GHz Dual-Core | 8GB (4x2GB) PC6400 G-Skill RAM | eVGA 7600GT 256MB PCI-E | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 16MB Cache | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 8MB Cache | 320GB Seagate Barracuda SATA 16MB Cache | External 640GB WD Caviar SATA 32MB Cache | Sony DRU-V200S DVD/RW | PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W | Samsung SyncMaster 2494 (24") LCD Monitor | LG Flatron W2361V (23") LCD Monitor

Offline Chandler

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #28 on: Apr 23, 2007, 01:56 PM »
As for the VGA bracing bar that you referred to, is it provided by the case manufacturer or by the card manufacturer? And how would the brace work?
The case manufacturer.
http://www.evercase.com/images/e4252/4252inside.jpg

Offline scuzzy

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Re: Quiet Athlon64 HTPC
« Reply #29 on: Apr 25, 2007, 08:00 PM »
Oh, okay. Now I see how that works.

It seems that if you wanted you could "Mickey Mouse" something similar.
Antec Performance TX640B Case | WinXP Pro SP3 & Win7 64-bit | Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3R | Intel Core 2 Duo E8500 Wolfdale LGA 775 3.16GHz Dual-Core | 8GB (4x2GB) PC6400 G-Skill RAM | eVGA 7600GT 256MB PCI-E | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 16MB Cache | 74GB WD Raptor SATA 8MB Cache | 320GB Seagate Barracuda SATA 16MB Cache | External 640GB WD Caviar SATA 32MB Cache | Sony DRU-V200S DVD/RW | PC Power & Cooling Silencer 500W | Samsung SyncMaster 2494 (24") LCD Monitor | LG Flatron W2361V (23") LCD Monitor