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Old 19th March 2013, 07:40 AM   #1
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Default Fanless HD-PLEX Music Server

Hello guys,

I built a fanless media server/player, and I am very impressed of the result, so I thought I'll share it with you.

I used the following components:

HD-Plex H5S fanless pc case
Magic Power 80W Fanless Open Frame Power Supply
Asus P8H67-I Motherboard
Intel Pentium G850 CPU
4GB DDR3 Kingston Memory
Asus Xonar STX Sound Card
Samsung SpinPoint F3 500GB hard drive.

The hard drive will be replaced soon by a 3TB Caviar Green and a Samsung 840 Pro SSD.

So the story is like this: I tried about 8-10 "silent" PC-HTPC cases. I was never really satisfied with the results, I was too cheap to buy a fanless case to start with, so I ended up spending more money changing various cases, coolers and fans, than I would have if I would have just bought a fanless case from the start.
I got fairly decent results with an Antec Fusion Remote and a Scythe Ninja Mini, with 2 Noctua Fans. The case was, however, too deep and pretty tall. I replaced it with a Silverstone GD05. Better cooling, as silent as the Antec, and a depth of only 32cm. But still not silent enough...
Than I tried going smaller, with a mITX motherboard, and various cases/coolers combinations. I think the worst case was the Thermaltake Element Q. Impossible to turn into a silent case!
I finally decided to buy a fanless case. I checked out the offers, and the best ones I could find and suited my taste/needs were the HDPlex H5S and the Streacom FC5 WS. The Streacom is a copy of the HD-Plex case, is only offered with a PicoPSU power supply, while the HD-Plex is offered either with a PicoPSU, or an internal fanless PSU. The cooling also seems better on the HD-Plex case. Plus the HD-Plex case, with the fanless PSU, IR sensor and remote, a PCI-Ex X1 flexible riser and shipping, costs a bit less than the Streacom "naked". And the Streacom has thinner panels, and a thinner faceplate (10mm vs 15mm, and the HD-Plex weights as much as a Streacom and a half). So HD-Plex it was.
I placed the order, and the case arrived in pristine condition. Delivery took a bit longer than expected, because I asked for longer heatpipes, to suit my motherboard better (on the mITX motherboards, the CPU socket is closer to the PCI-Ex slot -so farther away from the case walls- than on a regular mATX motherboard). The case was double boxed, very well packed, with accesories in separate small boxes. The package contained every screw I could possibly need, an Allen Wrench, Arctic Silver 5 thermal paste, and a "tool" to apply the thermal paste with.
The assembly took longer than expected (about 3 hours!), because it's a bit different than a standard PC case. I needed to use a file on the 3 pin plug of the PSU, since it wouldn't get into the socket, but beside that small issue, everything was fairly easy.
I must say the case looks and feels as a very high quality product. It's built completely out of aluminium, the front panel is a solid lump, 15mm thick, the side radiators seem to be built from a single piece of aluminium (vs 2 on the Streacom), and the top, bottom, and rear panels are BY FAR the thickest panels I have ever seen in a computer case. The CPU cooler base is a really solid, hefty lump of cooper, very well machined, with an aluminium top with fins. 6 6mm heatpipes go from the CPU block to the side panel, in unpainted grooves.
The open frame fanless PSU just oozes quality! It was designed to power medical equipment, and has a 130.000 hours MTBF!
I started the PC and I couldn't believe how silent it is. I can barely hear my noisy HDD, while in other cases, sometimes it was louder than the fans! I guess the solid bottom panel and the excelent silicone grommets really do their job!
The CPU goes to 62 Celsius after 2-3 hours of Prime, the side panel on which the PSU is mounted barely gets warm, and the CPU side panel gets pretty hot. In regular use, the CPU stays about 20-25 degrees above the ambient (I usually get 42-45 Celsius). The PC is really stable, I have never experienced any crash. So the PSU is up to the task, altough my Xonar STX needs quite a bit of power, especially at the start.
A couple of assembly tips: start the assembly with the front USB port mounting (it's difficult to mount it after you put the motherboard in), and make sure you tight the cpu cooler screws evenly, for optimal contact.
Anyway, I am really satisfied with the case and the PSU, and I really recommend them. I am placing some phone pictures, but they really don't do the case justice. You can find beeter pictures on their website:
HDPLEX H5.S Fanless Computer Case - HDPLEX INC

Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
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Last edited by cosmindaniel12; 21st March 2013 at 08:46 AM.
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Old 19th March 2013, 10:09 AM   #2
ttan98 is offline ttan98  Australia
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Melb
Hi,

I believe another option is to use Mini-Itx motherboard, you can use Intel Atom Processor or AMD E350 processor like these:
Thin mini itx setup

The processors on these motherboards are fanless esp. the Intel Atom. Furthermore I believe you can run battery on these motherboards.

Alternatively I am using an AMD E450 based processor LAPTOP, i.e. HP - model: DM1, I run the laptop on battery and it lasts for at least 5 hours on a full charge.
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Old 19th March 2013, 12:34 PM   #3
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Bucharest, Romania
Default Atom is too weak

Well, I tried using an Atom. I had an Asus AT3IONT-I (Atom 330 + Nvidia Ion), and it was not enough to play smooth 1080p. I also want to use the HTPC as a PC, for web-browsing, etc. And the Atom really isn't enough for that!
The nice thing about my setup is that I can use an i3 CPU, or an i5S, an i5T, or even an i7S or an i7T CPU, and the case would still easily cope with the cooling. The PSU would also cope with the "T" CPU's.
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Old 19th March 2013, 12:58 PM   #4
ttan98 is offline ttan98  Australia
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Melb
Hi,

Most owners of Atom processors use it for Audio only that is why it is adequate. My AMD E450 is very useful it can stream video via 1080p with no problem because it has better video performance than Atom processors. Even then I use exclusively for Audio when I am not running Audio streaming I use as a web browser on my lap, very fast, esp. if you have 8G memory.

Your case is far too expensive for me, my laptop 2nd hand costs me only US$175.
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Old 19th March 2013, 01:34 PM   #5
diyAudio Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Randers, Denmark
I have two Atom 330 based PC's. Both with nvidia ion and with Windows 7 as operating system. One is for audio, and one is for TV. These are perfectly capaple for both applications. Both PC's also serves as internet and gaming PC's (not hard core gaming).
I can streame TV, record live TV, and watch 1080p material. No problems at all.

They are both with fan, but at good fan like my nexus psile fan is silent (Recording and watching TV, DVD's and streaming Netflix), it's the hardrive and optical drive that have noise issues. The fan i my Asus eebox is to small to be silent, but still not an issue.

I have had small issues with one streaming source because their player didn't support nvidia ion grafics acceleration, and the the 330 processor is not enough.

Last edited by Kjeldsen; 19th March 2013 at 01:36 PM.
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