[conspire] Parts is Parts

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Tue Apr 8 13:17:53 PDT 2008

Quoting K Sandoval (indigo.kai at gmail.com):

> I also got a few things for the CABAL install-fest. Rick, can I use
> your stove for about an hour?

Why, certainly.  

> I tried to get good hardware that should (knock on wood) go together
> without too much trouble.
> CPU Heatsink/Fan
> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835186134

Big sucker, isn't it?  As always, you need to make sure there's
clearance above and to the sides.

> Two RAM sticks
> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820141202

Impressively cheap, I must say.  Note the users' posted comments that
the sticks don't necessarily reliably achieve the advertised 3-3-3-8
memory timings.  But then, you'll have noted my earlier comments about
the advantage of sticking to brands that are known to deliver what they
promise with high degrees of quality control.  PQI was not among those.

> and Two Antec 75003 120mm Case Fans to go with my case.
> http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835129030
> Antec 75003 120mm Case Fan - Retail

Yeah, those are the same size as the replacment fans I put in the VA
Linux Systems StartX MP workstation case.  Having the fans be about 5'
(120mm), i.e., large, on top of the quality bearings used by better
brands makes them be really quiet (along with being less prone to
failure over the long run).

> I read the side of the box for the case and it does support two 120mm
> case fans (front and rear)

I have a cavil -- and it's really (as was the case with your PQI sticks)
the same one as in prior posts:  A well-designed workstation case is
designed specifically to control airflow and reduce turbulence inside
the machine, and, as part of that, comes _with_ suitable case fans in
the places where they do the most good.  You don't need to supply them
as aftermarket modifications because they come built-in.  In the matter
of Cheryl's workstation, that was the advantage of her buying at Central
Computer one of the nicer Antec workstation cases of the day (probably
Antec Sonata, if memory serves).  

That was why I recommended looking at current Antec cases at Central
Computer:  Modifying a case by adding aftermarket fans might make it
better without making it substantially noisier, _or_ it might make it a
bit noisier without really improving heat-handling.  

Basically, there's no guarantee that, merely because you're pushing a
lot of air around, you're actually doing much good.  The better
companies hire thermodynamics engineers to design their cases as 
complete systems _with_ fans in the right places.  Personally, I know
that I'm not a thermodynamics engineer, so, when helping Cheryl, I tried
not to pretend that I am one, and instead left that matter to the
professionals at Antec.  

With a big, spacious case, or one with few parts that generate large
amounts of heat, or one where you don't really care how quiet it is, you
can afford to be more sloppy about this than with a tiny case or one
with heat-producing parts such as 10k RPM hard drives, gamer video
cards, the hotter-running CPUs, etc., or one where the machine has to be
truly quiet.

I must say that I didn't really appreciate the difference in quality of
life you get from a truly quiet system until I helped Cheryl build her
workstation:  I'd taken the usual background racket so much for granted
that the improvement was really rather startling.  (That's when I
decided to experiment with the StartX MP -- and, lo! -- VA Linux
Systems, Inc.  had not only used a fairly generic Sunsheer case without
meaningful sound-reduction engineering, but also had used terribly noisy
120mm case fans.)

On occasions where one yields to the temptation to play thermodynamics
engineer anyway, one _general_ principle that governs is that hot air
rises.  Therefore, you want to help cool air enter the case near the
bottom, flow smoothly through the middle of the case and around
obstacles, and flow out of the case near the top.

> what do you think?  Should I post this to the CABAL list too?

Yes.  And I'll take that as your approval for me to post this reply there.

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