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Silent Review

Passively cooled i5 system in Zalman's TNN500AF case: No moving parts, absolute total silence.  No buzzing, no beeping, not even a 1 decibel hum can be perceived. Truely zero dBA.

Build completed:
August 1st, 2010

Totally silent and fanless i5 build utilizing the world's highest clock speed processor released to date @ 3.6 GHz (3.83 GHz turbo mode) and is the fastest processor for single threaded applications on the market at the time of this build. This processor will overclock to 7 GHz but I'm leaving all settings at stock. Memory is capable of 1600 MHz but running at 1333 MHz for lower heat & increased stability. I transferred the SSDs from my previous system so no moving parts, low power consumption, and total silence. OS boots from Intel x25-e SSDs in RAID 10.  Applications load from ioXtreme PCI-E SSD.

View from within. Copper pipes required bending to conform to the location of the CPU on motherboard. Added heat sinks to the various chips that were exposed on the motherboard. For additional thermal conductivity, 16 rear mount thermal blocks were used instead of the traditional 8 that are included with the case.  Since it didn't fit anyways because the cooler componets were intended for LGA 775, I left off the socket back plate and replaced with fiber washers & neoprene rubber washers.  The used thermal blocks lacked their original adhesive pads so I improvised with a non-electrically conductive adhesive with high thermal transfer properties from Home Depot (a tube of silicone rubber, hehe). I'm not utilizing the heat pipes and cooling blocks for the VGA (GPU) since the nVida GT 240 & 7200 GS are both passively cooled with massive heat sinks of their own.


Two video cards for tri-display setup providing an expanded desktop. Simply drag window to right to use right display or drag window to left to use left display. The casters (wheels) come in handy for this 75 pound case (90+ fully loaded). Also has two heavy duty folding handles on the top.

This is not my computer desk.  PC was assembled in the kitchen since this room has plenty of countertops for the parts, the best lighting of any room in this house and plenty of snacks.

System runs insanely (instantaneously) fast while remaining remarkably cool and perfectly stable. 32 seconds to fully load Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit OS & all applications (no hourglass), but overall system performance should not be judged purely by its boot time.

Ambient temperature (room temp): 24C
CPU sub 20C shortly after boot, lower 20C idle and lower 30C @ full load after an extended period (1+ hour of gaming).
GPU high 20C shortly after boot, mid 40C idle and upper 50C @ full load after an extended period (1+ hour of gaming).

According to Intel, 72.6C (162.68 Fahrenheit) is the maximum safe operating temperature for the i5 680.
Most GPU (video card) maximum operating temperature is in excess of 100C.
FYI, modern mobile Intel processors support up to 100C approximately.

Comprehensive component list:
Price paid for each component includes shipping + tax (if applicable).  Keep in mind that just the NEC display and the Zalman case retail for $1,739, but I shopped around for lowest prices. All parts were purchased new except for the case.

Case: Zalman TNN-500AF Fanless Totally No Noise (TNN) Computer Case, $1259.95  $820 used

Motherboard: ASUS Maximus III Extreme LGA 1156 Intel P55 SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel, $392.14

CPU: Intel Core i5-680 Clarkdale 3.6GHz 4MB L3 Cache LGA 1156 Dual-Core Desktop Processor $311.99

Memory: Kingston HyperX T1 Series 4GB (2 x 2GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model KHX1600C8D3T1K2/4GX $151.57

GPU: ZOTAC nVidia GeForce GT240 ZONE 1 GB DDR3 VGA/DVI/HDMI PCI-Express Video Card ZT-20404-20L $91.99

2nd video card: Zotac nVidia GeForce 7200GS 256 MB (512MB TC) DDR2 $31.64

PCI Express SSD: Fusion-io 80GB ioXtreme $911.30

3rd display: NEC MultiSync LCD1990SX-BK 19 inch LCD TFT Monitor $115.01

DVD burner: Lite-On LightScribe 24X SATA DVD+/-RW Dual Layer Drive IHAS424-98 $28.99

Thermal blocks: Zalman Rear-mount Thermal Block ZM-RTB1 $26

VGA/RAM heat sinks: ZALMAN ZM-RHS1 VGA RAM Heatsink 2-Pack (New) $10.20

Thermal grease x 4 tubes: Zalman ZM-STG2 Super Thermal Compound Paste $28.94

Thermal tape:  Theragrip Thermal Tape $20.21

Dap Silicone Rubber Auto/Marine Sealant, Clear (local Home Depot purchase): $5.69

Fiber washers & neoprene rubber washers for bolting gold heat sink (local Home Depot purchase): $2.17


4-pin to 8-pin 12V converter cable: $4.66


24" inch Right Angle SATA Serial ATA Connection Cable $3.39


PS2 to USB adapter:  $0.99

1.5M HDMI to DVI cable: $3.86


2M Black DVI-D male to male cable: $5.82


3M Black DVI-D male to male cable: $7.75

Total cost (not including the SSDs transferred from previous system) =
Previous system was Intel Core 2 Duo E6600 2.40 GHz in Zalman's TNN300 fanless case, built February 2007.

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