—Trinity: The Build – A Temperature Control Scheme (& Schematic)

February 19, 2012

Cool vs. Noise — a delicate balance in my quest for the silence of the fans. I ask myself, “just how many fans are too many before I find myself having to crank up the volume on a riveting scene of Burn Notice?” Fans do the job, but they can be annoyingly loud for the purposes of home entertainment.

One of the problems I’m having with Trinity’s fan setup is airflow optimization. There really isn’t enough space to direct air in a straight path over the components I want to keep cool, mainly the CPU. From the power supply, to the mess of wiring, air is buffeting around the case’s many obstacles. I’ve tidied things up quite a bit with wire sheathing and cable ties, but it’s still pretty messy. As I may have mentioned before, I started with a 120mm blower in the second HD bay, which worked well when out in the open. However, the minute I tucked Trinity away inside my TV stand, CPU temps crept up to 60°C just idling, and 70°C on a full load. Ok, no big deal… I bought a second 80mm fan to mount on the opposite end to help move things along (another 120mm fan wouldn’t fit because of where the PCIe slot is located). Now we’re looking at temps of about 50-55°C mostly on idle, and 60°C on full load. Not bad, but it’s winter now and I can only imagine how bad the summer will get as the mercury climbs. Also, it’s… a little noisy. I know that heat is the silent killer (remembering Silvia‘s ordeal), and I really want to conquer this problem now. I also want to get the most use-life out these parts, and the most bang for my buck. Water cooling looks like a great solution, but it’s a tight space, and to be honest, sounds risky for a first timer (not saying that should deter me). I’ve read about deionized water being a poor conductor, but I’m not in a testing mood. Are there any non-corrosive (& non-oily) liquids that conduct no electricity whatsoever? Diethyl ether perhaps?

• • •

One day at work I “found the time” to think about my air cooling problem. I even made a few illustrations. ‘Cause you know, who doesn’t love pictures? (see fig. A).

fig. A

fig. A

I came up with a plan to cut a hole in the bottom of the case for mounting a third 80mm intake fan, as there really isn’t any other place I can fit one inside the case. Theoretically (I would imagine), this should pull cooler air from the front of the TV stand up into to the case, whereby the other two fans would dump the hot air out the sides. In doing so I wouldn’t have any room left for my second 3.5″ hard drive, which currently sits in the bottom of the case on a piece of cardboard (I’m deathly afraid of short circuits). I recently discovered I could get a smaller 2.5″ laptop drive or SSD (= more $$$ so… no), for what appears to be a third 2.5″ hard drive mounting point. I love surprises!

I’m thinking this will probably work, but I’m short on time right now so I won’t be able to commit to this particular project at the moment. Not to mention this ever-increasing budget isn’t really ideal. I’ll need a few more parts to fine tune things:

  • In addition to the third fan, I’ll need a three-way fan controller to regulate each fan independently and get the right balance of cooling power/noise.
  • I’ll also need to find somewhere to mount it, as I have a single fan controller occupying the expansion slot which I want to free up for a possible graphics card or TV tuner (more Dremel/X-Acto action?).
  • Lastly, some noise dampening acoustic foam.

For now it’s something I guess I’ll have to live with. Until such time comes that I can begin work on this mod, I’ll keep revising my plans. I’ll… keep you posted.

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