PCPartPicker

  • Log In
  • Register

Build

The Dream - Fully Silent Passively Cooled Gaming & Audiophile PC

by mgfoster87

235
82 Comments

Part List View full price breakdown

Details

Date Published

March 13, 2017

Date Built

March 11, 2017

CPU Clock Rate

3.5GHz

CPU Temperature While Idle

30.0° C

CPU Temperature Under Load

88.0° C

GPU Core Clock Rate

1.30GHz

GPU Effective Memory Clock Rate

7.0GHz

GPU Temperature While Idle

30.0° C

GPU Temperature Under Load

50.0° C

Description

This was a difficult build, but successful after months of research and a couple part changes. The result is a totally silent powerhouse of a computer. When my previous PC began to have some issues, I began researching various parts to create my ideal PC this time around. I knew I wanted something as quiet as possible - the sound of fans and other moving parts can really annoy me. I actually purchased a Nanoxia Deep Silence case and was using it for a few months before discovering that this case, the HDPlex H5, can passively cool a CPU and GPU at the same time, up to 95 TDP each. I had several parts from my previous PC in the Nanoxia case, some of which simply wouldn't work in the H5 due to space constrains or compatibility issues. I had an Asus GTX 660, an ATX power supply, a disc drive, and a 2TB HDD that I would have to give up for total silence.

The HDPlex does have a lot of flexibility to fit different components, but not many at the same time. It can fit an ATX, microATX, or miniITX motherboard, and ATX, SFX, Flex, or external power supplies can be used with the case. Its limitations are with the compact size of the case and ability to connect the necessary heatpipes from the CPU & GPU to the sides of the case unobstructed. I would have chosen some of the parts differently if I was choosing them specifically for this case instead of the Nanoxia. The motherboard for example is not fully compatible with the front panel of the case and the location of the CPU power connection is right underneath the CPU heatpipes so the connector just barely fits. The K-series i5 is also a little overpowered for the case, reaching very high temps if artificially stressed. I think Intel’s T-series CPUs would ideal.

The build included the following steps: mounting the motherboard and copper CPU base plate, installing heatpipes from the CPU to the side of the case, installing the power supply and storage drives, installing the backplate and making cable connections, installing the sound card above the CPU, installing the faceplate and front panel connections, removing the stock heatsink from the graphics card and installing the copper GPU base plate, & mounting the graphics card and installing heatpipes from the GPU to the side of the case.

A few issues I faced were connecting the sound and graphics cards to the motherboard, installing the copper GPU base plate on the graphics card, being able to make all power connections with the cables included with the power supply, and not having a USB 2.0 front panel connection on the motherboard. Connecting PCIe cards to the motherboard is definitely the most difficult part, since the height of the case prevents you from plugging them directly into the motherboard. HDPlex offers a PCIe x16 riser to solve this issue, but it’s not without its flaws and isn’t universally compatible. When I first installed my old GTX 660, it wouldn’t boot with the riser connection. It turns out some motherboard/GPU combinations simply don’t work with a PCIe riser, so I had to go with a different card. A 1050ti is what I went with. Unfortunately the copper base plate didn’t fit with the card right away due to a row of capacitors very close to the GPU. I had to drill a few more holes in the plate to shift it several mm to clear the row of capacitors. The sound card required a PCIe x1 riser to be connected to a PCIe slot below the graphics card. The riser was not very flexible, so it was a bit difficult to bend without damaging it. Luckily it works without issue. A couple of the power cables included with the HDPlex 300W DC-ATX converter were not initially long enough to make the necessary connections, so I had to move the unit to just the right spot so that all components could be reached. The final issue was with the H5’s power button and front panel USB ports. The EVGA Z170 motherboard does not have any USB 2.0 front panel connections, so I couldn’t utilized the case’s USB 2.0 ports. The power button LED also relies on a USB 2.0 connection for power, but luckily I was able to use an S/PDIF header for the same purpose.

With all issues resolved I’m really happy with the computer. It really is fully silent, no whooshing fan sound when I turn it on, no hard drive seeking sounds, no noise even under extreme loads. The heatpipes are very impressive. The i5-6600K CPU is nearly at the case’s maximum rated cooling power of 95W TDP, and it is about 30 °C when idle. It reached a maximum of 88 °C using Prime95’s Torture Test. The GTX 1050ti GPU has a 75W TDP, safely below the case’s maximum. Its temperatures are even more impressive with an idle temp of below 30 °C, and a maximum of just 50 °C using FurMark’s stress test. I even tested the GPU with the stock fan and got a maximum temperature of 60 °C, so the passive cooling of the H5 is better than the graphics card’s stock active cooling solution! The CPU did not come with a stock cooler, but I wonder how Intel’s stock coolers would compare to the H5. Here are PerformanceTest benchmarks, from Passmark software: Overall Score: 4710 (92nd Percentile), CPU Mark: 8527 (76th Percentile), 2D Mark: 896 (88th Percentile), 3D Mark: 5914 (87th Percentile), Memory Mark: 2706 (91st Percentile), & Disk Mark: 4372 (90st Percentile).

With processors becoming more and more power-efficient, I think passive cooling will and should become a lot more common, even for more powerful computers including gaming computers. With what I’ve learned about building these passively cooled PCs, I am now offering pre-built fanless PCs for sale here.

Comments Sorted by:

Shakaron 4 Builds 10 points 11 months ago

Wow! A pretty nice build. And it is silent.

The idea of doing a silent build has been interested me for a while. Now I see a good example to do it.

However, my current financial situation does not allow me to spend too much money on "toys", so I have to do with my closed cap headphones with turning up the volume. My girlfriend... She just have to put up with the noise. :D

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

It might be good to see what fanless cases are available when it comes time to replace your current computer, they might continue to get better and better, and maybe cheaper and cheaper.

Shakaron 4 Builds 2 points 11 months ago

I primarily want the silent PC for a server.

For my gamer PC, I would rather try a custom liquid cooling loop.

But again, I'll stick with research for the time being and not much spending. ;)

Connor_The_Gamer 1 point 11 months ago

I've heard that the Streamcom DB4 is a solid choice. Dmitri from HardwareCanucks has an excellent video dedicated to this case, so I recommend you check it out.

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Yes, I've seen that, the downside with that case is that it can't passively cool a GPU. It is nice though and I considered it.

fn230 9 Builds 4 points 11 months ago

I love passively cooled builds. We don't see them that often on PCPP, and when we do, they're usually small, low powered machines. Not this one. This one's badass. +1

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Thanks, I also noticed a lack of passively cooled builds here, that's one of the reasons I wanted to add my own.

fn230 9 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Glad you did. Let the upvotes roll in. :D

Razorwing02 1 Build 3 points 11 months ago

Thanks staff

You featured the world's first heatsink that can run windows

goldenappleguy 3 points 11 months ago

That moment when your monitor is actually louder than your entire PC...

Bartendalot 2 points 11 months ago

Very interesting build!

What are you using it for - HTPC? Seems like it could have been a good use case for a broadwell 5775C with fast RAM then no GPU for light gaming.

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 2 points 11 months ago

It's my main computer, I use it for general web browsing, as a music player, and for occasional gaming. Yes, I think the 5775C would work well, though the GPU side of the case would go unutilized. The 6600 and 1050ti together are close to the same price as the 5775C. The 5775C would be great with a miniITX board in HDPlex's H1 case, which is a lot more compact and uses both sides of the case to cool the CPU.

Omgukk 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

This is really cool! (Literally and how it looks!)

I'm a bit confused on the power supply for the case. I can kind tell it is above the motherboard and connects to what looks like that tiny board in the back(the psu I assume). What is the max wattage of this and did it come with the case?

EDIT: I see it was listed as the "HDPlex HiFi 300W DC-ATX". So this was a separate piece from the case it seems. Small package, lots of power! Once again, awesome build. It would definitely get a feature if you show some pictures of the final setup with your TV.

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Thanks, you can use different power supplies with the case. I went with a 330W laptop AC-DC adapter and HDPlex's 300W DC-ATX converter to keep it fanless. The HDPlex unit is available separately from the case. It connects to the laptop adapter and has outputs for each component.

thetortuga747 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

This should get featured! You took a risk going for an unorthodox cooling solution, and it definitely payed off. I'm particularly impressed with those GPU temps.

nostrocrompt 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

This build is so silent, I can't even read the description! +1

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 2 points 11 months ago

+1 for The Mollusk!

nostrocrompt 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

Let's be forever let forever be free

Zveir 9 Builds 2 points 11 months ago

Grab an i7 7700t and this build would be even more powerful, with much better CPU temps. +1!

Adding to my favorites list.

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Yes! An i7-7700T would be ideal.

The_Boom_Boy 1 point 11 months ago

Seriously cool

Trefexe 1 point 11 months ago

Dude that's a really cool build, I will probably try and make something like this once I move somewhere a little less noisy to make it matter :D

mlach 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

pretty neat for a full size motherboard. +1

garethccc 3 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Holy moly that's cool.

S0nny_WarBucks58 3 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Cream

cheekyMD 1 point 11 months ago

Cool case bro!

AC1DFOX 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Absolutely LOVE IT. So cool. I want to build a passively cooled system to replace our current media center now. Very awesome. Thank you for sharing the build!!!

AryanPtl 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

CONGRATS ON THE FEATURED SPOT! +1 nice thought out build

XFacility 1 point 11 months ago

Wow! That is one small PC case, must have been a challenge to build in it, right? +rep

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

It was a challenge, you have to connect everything in a certain order to make sure you can access what you need when you need it.

MuchLinux6500 2 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Looks AMAZING!

wanako 2 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Very nice! I love the idea of using the whole case as a heatsink. Well done!

TeyKey1 2 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Dam cool :D

eli_harper13 5 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

This is amazing!

MTHD 1 point 11 months ago

+1 for the HDPlex ! :)

702Wolfi 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

Very nice and smart build! Congrats on the feature!

Justiceinacan 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

I don't believe it

Well done

Mpabs 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

GPU temp of 50 under load? Really?

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 2 points 11 months ago

I was surprised too, it's a very efficient card. If you look at other builds with the same gpu, 50 is not out of the ordinary. I tested it with the stock heatsink/fan first and got a max of 60 C.

Apach3 3 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

fully passively-cooled systems have always been something i've wanted to do. though i never really have a practical use for it (other than maybe a fully solid-state NAS), i always admire the people who pull this off...

what i'm saying is, this gets my upvote. :)

WirelessCables 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

This is a very different build, and pulls it off extremely well! Instant +1 and feature for your work.

Cam84 2 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Nice! I mean I cool my i7 6700k 1.35v 4.7 w/ a cheap hyper 212 . Only hits 58 gaming, 70 full load stressing , no need to water cool unless you like the looks or want to test the voltage limits ;)

novajay1 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

Very cool build here! I'd never heard of HDPLEX and checked out the website. I've been a fan of the Fractal Design Node cases and they seem to take that idea a little further. Congrats on putting the build together. Now you'll be able to hear just what you want to hear.

Jcroker 1 point 11 months ago

Tried a mad overclock yet :P

znd125 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Great work. Always a big fan of silent builds.

Gooberdad 7 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

That's an amazing feat with that kind of power.

Great job.

Senikz 1 point 11 months ago

Now that requires some pc building skills! Everyone can watercool a system with no benefit :)

convertedconsolegamer_92 2 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Nice to see a build like this featured. Great job.

bgale47 1 point 11 months ago

sound card in pcs have always been classicly bad - im just curious if this one is different or if you perferred it over a cheaper but external option

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

I do think this card is one of the better sound cards available. I bought this card years ago and haven't had a need to upgrade. I haven't tried an external dac before, don't have anything against them.

Radox-0 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Very nice work, do not see these sorts of builds that often, looks amazing. +1

EdInk 11 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Only concern are the GPU/CPU VRMs after extended periods. Other than that very sleek build +1

drogo 1 point 11 months ago

Do you have the passive cooling through the case, is it grounded? +1

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Yes, it is through the aluminum fins on the sides of the case. It's not grounded. The case acts as a radiator.

DamagedEngine 1 point 11 months ago

Better cooling than my actively cooled build. Should have used more thermal paste...

marcelmunarolo 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

This is a really impressive build! You did a remarkable work, congratulations!

aim_ 1 point 11 months ago

wait... did u put a different heatsink on that zotac 1050ti mini????????? looking to get one myself and dont think it would fit cause of the casing of the 1050 would love to know thanks and if so what heatsink did you use?? link...

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Yes, I bought a copper plate and heatpipes from HDPlex to connect the graphics card to the case. I had to remove the stock heatsink and case of the 1050. It didn't fit at first though, I had to drill new holes in the copper plate to make it fit. http://www.hd-plex.com/HDPLEX-Passive-Video-Card-GPU-Heatsink-System-for-HDPLEX-H5.html

aim_ 1 point 11 months ago

thanks very much :)

TotalInsanity4 1 point 11 months ago

I'm curious, what's the four-pin connector under the USB ports for?

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

It allows you to power a device externally with the internal power supply using a molex connector.

TotalInsanity4 1 point 11 months ago

I guess I figured it would be something like that, but in what situation would that be useful?

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 2 points 11 months ago

It would make it easier to temporarily connect an internal drive without opening the case, I'm not sure what else it would be useful for.

FACUNDO 13 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

I have ever wanted to do this.

I am late :c

Gentleman00 2 Builds 0 points 11 months ago

Sweet jesus, that 88 degree is way too much...

mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

I think the soundcard sitting right above the CPU affects the temperature. During normal use the CPU is in the 40s or 50s C. 88 was after a lengthy stress test. I would recommend a lower TDP CPU for this case though.

Gentleman00 2 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

Something like from non-k or T series.

RhettRO55 1 Build 1 point 11 months ago

Thats under synthetic load temps, 100C is the throttle danger temp threshold for the 6600K.

Gentleman00 2 Builds 0 points 11 months ago

However, high temperature might shorten the lifespan of the CPU.

RhettRO55 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

That is true but, again, that was a synthetic stress test designed to push the CPU to its max to determine how effective the cooling is, thats not indicative of the CPU being under that temperature 100% of the time. If youd read the description and the details it shows that the idle temp is 30C and thats a very good temperature for an i5 K chip especially under silent passive cooling.

[comment deleted]
mgfoster87 submitter 4 Builds 1 point 11 months ago

I didn't know about the passively cooled RX 460, but I'm not sure how well a passively cooled GPU would perform in a case like that without airflow. I would want to see someone else try it first. Tom's Hardware tested a passive GTX 1050 with and without case airflow: http://media.bestofmicro.com/H/9/626589/original/01-Temperatures.png.

[comment deleted]
[comment deleted by staff]
WirelessCables 1 Build 6 points 11 months ago

jipster! You changed your profile pic! =D

Upvote stream
[comment deleted by staff]
WirelessCables 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

Ah.

Well, does mine count? I changed mine yesterday? xD

[comment deleted by staff]
WirelessCables 1 Build 2 points 11 months ago

Hmm... I would have to retake the picture, but...

Varan56 2 points 11 months ago

And that cucumber is about as green as that drink!

[comment deleted by staff]
[comment deleted by staff]
[comment deleted by staff]
[comment deleted by staff]