I tend to opt for retail CPUs and stock heat sinks and fans (HSFs) as in the past it has been a pain to properly mount third-party solutions. However, manufacturers now greatly support “enthusiast” options and motherboards, cases, and sockets now make it quite easy to mount third-party cooling solutions (to CPUs at the very least). As such, looking at a good after-market heat sink, with a quality, quiet fan can be a good option to reduce both the heat and noise of a system, while at the same possibly improving its stability!
Quarter 1, 2012 Suggestions, Alternates, & Other Considerations
Suggestion: Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO
The CM Hyper 212 EVO is not the most jaw-droppingly impressive aftermarket heatsink available, nor is it the quietest. It is however very affordable and very efficient (in terms of acoustics, heat dissipation, and weight!). Further, it would be a cinch to slap on a different fan (such as the SilenX EFX-12-15) and further reduce the noise without sacrificing cooling.
The CM Hyper 212 EVO also avoids one of my pet peeves about after-market cooling solutions, and that is fiddling around with making sure the heatsink and fan will fit my preferred motherboard without hitting the RAM or GPU (or anything else). Fortunately, this HSF combo should fit most, if not all, motherboards thanks to its relatively small length and width dimensions (120 x 80 mm). The one caveat here though, is that it is fairly tall (159 mm).
Note: Corsair offers a product that is very similar to the Hyper 212 EVO (the Air Series A70) in case you like the styling, dimensions, price, or brand on this more than the Cooler Master Hyper 212 EVO!
Alternate: SilenX EFZ-92HA3
If you’re interested in running the mATX case from above (the Lian Li PC-V354) and still would like to run an aftermarket cooler, then the SilenX EFZ-92HA3 could be a fit (123 mm high). With all copper construction, it is rather efficient despite its small size.
With that said, don’t mistake this for a heavy duty heatsink targeted at overclockers. This HSF is meant for small cases and CPUs at or near default speeds. With that said, it should still provide improved CPU cooling, with a reduction in noise to boot!
Note: For an even shorter option see SilenX’s EFZ-80HA2 (the 80 mm fan version of the heatsink above). If you need an even shorter option, you may want to consider sticking with the stock cooler, or looking into other options.
Other Considerations: Case fans & more
Cooling is such a broad topic that I really can’t hope to get into it properly here.
The first place to start is with an aftermarket cooler for your CPU (as discussed above), and then replacing your cases’s stock fans with ones that are either quieter, flow more air, or both. I tend to take both improved cooling and decreased system noise on at the same time. Thus, I’ll keep things like rubber grommets in mind when mounting fans, hard drives, or anything else that is mechanical and will be vibrating.
In a similar manner, cooling and acoustics should be kept in mind throughout your entire build process. Just as I have hopefully demonstrated from the start of this article, if you choose hardware that consumes less energy, then it will likely also produce less waste heat, and it will then be easier to cool, should also be quieter, and, as a further benefit, it should cost you less to run over the long term!
Further, just as I did with my GPU selection, you can try to prioritize hardware that already has great cooling solutions built into the product. Spend a few more bucks and get a GPU or motherboard with more (or bigger) heatsinks and better fans built in. All these choices will add up in the end, making your system cooler, quieter, and (hopefully) more stable.
Of course, if all the above is far too pedestrian for you, you may certainly want look into the more “exotic” cooling options such as water cooling, thermoelectric cooling (TEC), or any of the other far less common solutions (such as oil immersion). These types of solutions are all generally more suited to enthusiasts that find the journey just as much fun as the destination.
Well, that’s the system. We have covered all the necessary components for our outlined system above (HTPC, Gaming PC, HS, general PC usage). Of course, to interact with the system you’ll need peripherals such as a keyboard, mouse, display, audio system, and cables to connect those components as well as data and power to the system.
In the Addendum that follows I will go into each of these peripherials (and possibly others) at varying depths. I likely will not spell out a specific recommendation, but I will try to provide solid guidelines to help you find solutions that work best for you and your needs!
Like much of the other content on Ainer.org, I wrote this Omnis-System Guide out of a personal interest and desire and to further develop my writing proficiency and to share the information that I’ve gathered in my years of computer nerd-ery.
I will likely do at least one major update (Mark Two) once Ivy Bridge and NVIDIA’s 600 series are fully out in the wild. I may also do a smaller “special feature” on designing an SLI’d gaming system focused on NVIDIA’s 3D Surround Vision tech based around (again) Ivy Bridge and NVIDIA’s GeForce 600 (Kepler) series (likely the GeForce 670).
Additionally, if you are interested in seeing more in the hardware realm from me, let me know and spread the word about this guide and my site! Further, if you work in the hardware industry yourself, and would like me to sample and review one of your products (in my fairly unique style) send me a message via the comments below as I review each one before I allow them to go public (just leave me an email address with which I can contact you and I’ll do so directly!).
That’s about it. If you care to, you may certainly feel free to donate via my PayPal link below. Though, of much more benefit (to us both) would be for you to buy your system via my Amazon.com (or Mwave) affiliate links!
Cheers, and I hope you enjoyed this guide and have found it useful!