• Opal: How I planned my new build

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    HARDWARE DIY By Will Fastie I’ll say it again — it’s not the building, it’s the planning. A favorite saying about war plans is that they do not surviv
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    • #2386818

      Will, Thanks for all these great choices.

      For readers who may not be as familiar with cooling as you already are,

      your next “build” article could briefly mention the extra help that

      results from exploiting the physics of “hot air rising”.  In our larger chassis

      which he leave on the floor — where the cooler air is plentiful —

      we typically add an Antec V-Cool fan.  This 3-speed fan intakes air

      from the bottom rear exterior of the chassis, and blows it upwards inside.

      Clearly, this configuration works best when the PSU is top-mounted.

      If a PSU is bottom-mounted, its warmer exhaust air will simply

      be drawn into the Antec V-Cool, which is not ideal.  Nevertheless,

      the higher quality PSUs are so efficient now, their exhaust air

      usually does not get nearly as hot as high-performance CPUs and GPUs.

      Hope this helps!

      • #2387054

        The Noctua DH-15 comes with two fans, both of which push air rearward. That should make the general front-to-rear airflow stronger and thus tend to take the heat rising from the PSU and bend it toward the rear more than it would otherwise.

        In the be quiet! case, the PSU is on the bottom.

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    • #2386820

      Also, I wish more chassis manufacturers would add an extra PCI slot

      in the otherwise empty space between the left side panel, and

      the other PCIe slot covers.  This would be an ideal place for another

      intake fan which would blow more cooler directly onto the PCIe slots

      and add-in cards.  Lots of fans are designed to exhaust air out

      an otherwise empty PCI slot;  an identical fan that intakes cooler air

      is much harder to find.  If my memory is correct, I believe Cooler Master

      did offer a few tower chassis with an extra PCI slot arranged parallel

      to the left side panel.  I’m looking forward to your “build” article.

      Keep up the good work!

    • #2386907

      exploiting the physics of “hot air rising”

      Fans overcome any passive cooling effect so there is no point in trying to use that in addition to forced cooling. It’s more important to prevent fans competing against one another than anything else.

      cheers, Paul

      p.s. hot air doesn’t rise, gravity pulls the heavier cooler air down which disperses the warmer air.

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      • #2387308

        The convention is for air intakes to be on the front (or sometimes on the bottom, and more rarely the sides these days, though that used to be more common) and exhausts to be on the back (or sometimes also the top). This directs the hot airflow away from the user, and it has a minimum amount of mixing of cold and hot air externally. The airflow is fairly linear within the case, front to back, so that passively-cooled components like hard drives, VRM mosfets, and the PCH are cooled by the air being delivered to the CPU fan or GPU.

        A PSU that pulls air from within the case will, under heavy load, run warmer than one that pulls its air from the bottom or from the front (with the PSU partitioned from the rest of the case). When I was doing stress testing on my desktop (Sandy Bridge, 95w TDP with factory clocking… that was with ~3400 MHz turbo boost speed on all four cores, and I have it at 4500 on all four, so it is well above 95w, and the GPU is even more than that), I noticed a lot of fan noise, but when I checked, all of my system fans were at moderate speeds.

        The only one that was not directly being monitored and controlled by SpeedFan was the one in the PSU. Not only was the PSU being asked to supply a lot of power, but it was also pulling its cooling air from the inside of the case, where all that power it had supplied had heated the air. The intake of the PSU faced directly toward the CPU cooler and the area right behind it where the hottest air pooled before being removed from the case by the exhaust fan.

        That was with a bronze-rated PSU; my current one is gold rated, and it gets its air from the bottom of the case. With this setup, the PSU’s fan has never spun fast enough to be audible, which also means the PSU is running cool and should last longer than if it was getting really hot.

        Dell XPS 13/9310, i5-1135G7/16GB, KDE Neon
        XPG Xenia 15, i7-9750H/32GB & GTX1660ti, KDE Neon
        Acer Swift Go 14, i5-1335U/16GB, KDE Neon (and Win 11)

    • #2386952

      We have RAID controllers in several PCs, and

      we prefer to cool the AIC heatsinks with active cooling.

      This has worked very well for us, for many years.

      Downside, of course, is a little more fan noise.

      I wish to disagree with you about “hot air rising”

      e.g. hot air balloons — because of the gas laws (PV/T aka “ideal gas law”).

      Just hold  your hand over a toaster long enough to feel the heat.


    • #2387062

      p.s. hot air doesn’t rise, gravity pulls the heavier cooler air down which disperses the warmer air. ”

      …. and then it rises!

      The Core i5-11600K is an excellent choice. It does, however, have one parameter that may be problematic for some users. It’s 125W TDP rating is rather high and, during heavy workloads it may burn up to 176 watts, thus generating considerable heat (per Tomshardware.com). Your Noctua cooler is an excellent choice to deal with this extra heat so long as there’s a couple of good air intake fans at the front of the case. The Noctua is really pretty darn quiet, but having sufficient case fan airflow may be more audible. If the heat or fan noise are a problem for certain situations such as the PC being used for home theater, productivity and gaming (i.e. all-purpose) then one could compromise a little and use an AMD Ryzen 5 5600X cpu. It’s around 10% lower performance overall, but it draws 50% less power and generates significantly less heat. Also, it comes with a good heatsink/fan at no extra cost; not as good as the Noctua, but definitely adequate to the task. Still, what you save by not needing the Noctua cooler you’ll need to spend on a graphics card because the Ryzen 5 5600x (and 7 5800x) doesn’t have an onboard graphics chip. Anyway, I favor your choice of the Intel cpu, but some buyers will probably go with the trendy Ryzen 5 option.

      • #2387129

        It’s 125W TDP rating is rather high and, during heavy workloads it may burn up to 176 watts

        Not in standard configuration – that’s the 125W bit.
        If you overclock it you can cause it to generate more heat, but then you need to keep it cool with an after market heatsink.

        cheers, Paul

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    • #2387120

      One of the expenses of a DIY build is that individuals don’t get the OEM break on the price of Windows.

      As you point out elsewhere in your article, you are the OEM, so why couldn’t you save $50 or so and buy the OEM license rather than the retail one?


    • #2387127

      why couldn’t you save $50 or so and buy the OEM license

      An excellent question.

      Reason #1: I’m not selling the PC. I’m using it myself and therefore want the end-user support I get from the retail version but not from the OEM version.

      Reason #2: The OEM version cannot be transferred from one PC to another. The retail version can.

      If I was selling PCs and building lots of them, I’d be intensely interested in that $50 because it would be a significant factor in the profit margin. And I’d probably be getting a volume discount, lowering the cost further. But for one PC I intend to keep for five or more years? The $50 is worth it for the support.

      In the same vein, I’m buying all the hardware at retail, too. I’m not really an OEM.

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    • #2387131

      Reason #2: The OEM version cannot be transferred from one PC to another. The retail version can.

      Reason #2 makes sense – I wondered if that played into your decision.   However, I’ve never found it worth the time and effort to try to get any help from Microsoft beyond what’s on their website(s) and elsewhere on the web, with one notable exception.

      I get excellent support for Microsoft 365.  Callbacks are almost always prompt, sometimes very prompt, and the agents know their business (or aren’t afraid to escalate if necessary).

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    • #2387135

      It’s 125W TDP rating is rather high

      You are absolutely right about that. It makes me nervous. It’s also the reason I stuck with a tower case (greater interior volume) and bought the Noctua cooler (top of the line).

      However, I will not be overclocking the processor, just letting it do its Turbo-Boost thing. It will thus be using Intel’s factory defaults for automatically protecting itself and I will not be modifying those settings. What I am doing is giving it maximum headroom by providing as much cooling as I can without resorting to liquid solutions.



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    • #2387142

      … with one notable exception.

      And that can make all the difference.

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    • #2387312

      my current one is gold rated, and it gets its air from the bottom of the case

      The be quiet! Dark Power 12 PSU for Opal is Titanium rated (not to brag or anything), pulls air from the bottom and exhausts through the rear. The Corsair PSU in Onyx has the same airflow.

      As for fans, the be quiet! Pure Base 500 case comes with one front and one rear, but there is room on the front for another. I haven’t decided what to do about that yet. Onyx’s Corsair case came with two front fans, but it also had racks for up to six HDDs sitting right behind those fans. My sense is that I won’t need the extra fan because of the two fans on the Noctua cooler, but adding that second front fan is easy should I decide it’s needed.

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    • #2387615

      “About DIY – If you contemplate building your own PC, you should be aware of the pitfalls. Attention to detail – If you are not a detail oriented person or you find it hard to stay organized, DIY might not be for you.
      Important: – All manuals and instructions should be read thoroughly.”

      Will Fastie, thank you for writing ‘The Manual’ for us on this DIY project.
      Here is an attempt at a little humor to try and keep the smiles with us (?)


      Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you’re donating blood.
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    • #2387669

      Okay, full disclosure. This time around, it’s a bit shorter, about 72 pages. It’s probably about half the size of Onyx’s Z97-A manual. But it does have the most important stuff, and it is only English, not one of those 8-language deals where each language gets eight pages. And it’s even got a CD with the chip support stuff!

      That IS a real manual!    I know where I’m getting my next motherboards.  I like ASUS anyway, but now I like it even more!

    • #2387772

      end-user support

      Really ?? 😲🙄
      You ??


      Just because you don't know where you are going doesn't mean any road will get you there.
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    • #2387813

      Really ?? You ??

      Very flattering, but I ain’t no spring chicken. In a couple of years, I may need all the help I can get.

      But on a more serious note, what I’m really after is having Microsoft view me as an end user and not as an OEM, because I’m really not.

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    • #2396835

      I’m not sure I placed my question where you will see it on this forum, so I will repeat it here since I really am interested in your answer: Did you purchase a TPM 2.0 module for the ASUS Prime Z590-V motherboard? It doesn’t appear to come with one, but there is a 14-pin header for it. Newegg and Amazon seem to be in short supply. The one on Newegg ships from Italy and takes 9 to 10 days for most customers to receive it. Your parts list didn’t include it. I found your article to be of great interest to me. Thanks!

    • #2410065

      I read that you have been using KVMs for over 20 years.

      I have been using a software solution that lets me share one mouse and keyboard across multiple computers
      Makes all your computers feel like a single device, I have no connection with the firm but highly recommend this solution. Just google Synergy and you can get a great solution for 30$ / 40$

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