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Absolute Silence - Server Build & Turemetal UP10 Case Review

digicidal

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I don't have any pink panthers, or wolves, but Domo likes it... so he volunteered for the picture.

I needed to upgrade my home server but have a couple of problems in that regard. I previously had two servers, both fairly standard builds - older hardware in mini tower cases with loud fans and poor scalability. Unfortunately I don't have the luxury of having a conditioned closet for datacomm duties - so they sit in the guest bedroom at the moment. While that is functional, it leads to other problems - that is the fact that I live in the desert, and I have a cat for whom "off limits" is considered code for "my favorite places". If I don't clean the fan filters every week or two, then I run into airflow issues and soon heat issues from that - making for an administration headache I just don't need at home - I have a job for that.

A passive design was required. I've done a few passive builds in the past, but the problem with most is the maximum dissipation capability is always measured in double digits... usually no more than 50W or so. So laptop components or NUCs or SBCs like a raspberry Pi have been the go to solution - but I would need multiples of those... which then becomes a different kind of administration headache. After some investigation, I found an enterprising individual in China who is working on creating solutions to this problem - and I knew I had to build my server in one of his cases. I was even more convinced after reading a review at Anandtech and seeing the monster build he sent to Linus of LTT (which is definitely beefier than what I'm building). :eek:

The Turemetal UP10 is not a cheap case by any means (it runs between $700-$1000 depending on options, shipped to US). It is also not a quick solution, with my lead time being about 7 weeks - including discussions with Mical Wong about configuration, etc. It's also about the farthest thing from lightweight... about 25lbs (before adding any hardware). This is definitely not a "my first build" kind of chassis... but it is very well made, and an amazing performer as well. As a bit of a bonus, he often live streams his assembly of cases, and notified me of when the marathon run which included my case would be up on YouTube.

To give you an idea of how huge the box I received actually is, here is a pic of the UP10 still in it's foam clamshell removed from the box:
D75_0549.JPG

Grabbed one of my co-worker's soda cans for size - no, I don't drink that stuff. ;)

I went back and forth a bit on the hardware side, initially wanting to go with a 12 or 16 core AMD setup, but because of the pandemic and a few other issues in the pipeline - availability was just garbage. Luckily Intel had just released their "new" line of 10th gen parts, and since everyone wants AMD stuff... it was in plentiful supply. One of the big requirements I had was Thunderbolt 3... because I knew I wouldn't have internal space for storage. Presently I have a NAS with about 40TB of storage space so that's not an issue - but it's also slow(ish) being on a 1Gb connection - so I wanted the ability to add fast storage, 10Gb networking, etc. without the need to get into the case itself. AMD may do more cores easily, but their TB3 implementations leave much to be desired until you're into the very top end Threadripper parts.

So the final hardware configuration of my server is the following:
Intel Core i7 10700 8-core CPU
ASUS Pro WS W480-ACE motherboard
64GB of 3200MHz DDR4 RAM (4X16GB) Corsair Vengeance LPX
1TB nvme SSD - Samsung 970Pro
evga GeForce GTX1650 Super GPU
Corsair SF450 PSU
Intel 1Gb NIC - for second management port access

At the same time I picked up another board for my workstation at work... and then bench tested everything prior to putting it in the UP10. If you are doing a build like this... testing everything before you start voiding warranties and getting thermal compound all over everything is a necessity.
D75_0566.JPG

Once all the hardware checked out OK... it was time to start building. The UP10 is made up of six (yep SIX) aluminum slab heatsinks all tied together by massive heatpipes. I mean that they are physically the largest I've ever worked with - definitely larger than any "normal" passive case uses. They run around the outside and have a selection bent appropriately to connect to the heatsinks on the GPU and CPU on the left and right sides respectively. Additionally, there are straight sections to promote more thorough transfer of heat from each half in the 3 pairs located in the sides and front of the case. You need to add a ton of thermal compound to help this transfer so a large clean area and some non-powdered latex gloves will be your friend here.
D75_0583.JPG

Removing the factory heatsink on the 1650 was no problem at all, nor was fitting the provided sinks for it and the CPU. It took a bit of work to get all the pipes seated properly (remember you're moving around 30lbs now) but everything was simple enough after a test fit. Goop it all up and start tightening everything down little by little to eliminate binds and maximize contact area...
D75_0587.JPG

Some heatsinks were provided to assist with the RAM on the GPU... but this particular card was not without some form factor issues in this regard... can you spot the problem? After getting everything else together it was time for the PSU cabling to get some love... definitely not my best work... but certainly good enough for something that doesn't have a window and will be sitting in a rack for it's life.
D75_0596.JPG

Since there really isn't a good way of fully loading a system like this using a hypervisor (OK, there is... but I can't be bothered to go through all that) - I threw Windows 10 on it and ran some benchmarks, played some games - and did some of both at once.

It isn't without limitations (naturally) but even with artificially loading both the GPU and CPU 100% with power virus utilities (furmark and Prime95) nothing overheated in a 60 minute run. Considering it will be operating at about 30% load on the CPU only most of it's life, that's the hardest pull it will ever have to survive. Testing was done with almost no airflow in the environment - and none at all directly on the case... and the side heatsinks were all extremely hot... but touchable at the least (~45C average).

Subjectively it sounds like... nothing at all. I did notice a tiny bit of coil whine when the GPU was under full load running Furmark... but since the GPU is literally only included for passing to a VM for Roon UI rendering duties... that won't be an issue. Other than a nice inrush click when switching it on... you need the LED on the front to even tell that anything has happened at all. Perfect silence and nearly impervious to cat hair! Easily running 4 VMs with room to spare for spinning up a few more whenever I need to... with loads of expansion potential down the road. It's hard to imagine needing anything more - and although expensive in a general sense... getting this much power, durability, and silence for just over $2K total... it's a heck of a deal in my book!

For the "business end" if anyone is interested:
D75_0602.JPG


Cheers!
 
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digicidal

digicidal

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Not trying to rain on your parade, but have you tried a quiet active solution? Fractal Design Define cases, good big fans (Nocua, Thermalright, Phanteks) and helium HDDs.
Many... here's what one of my workstations looks like (it's the one under the test-bench in the above):
D75_0480.JPG

even with Gentle Typhoons running at 800RPM it's still quite audible... but more importantly it's also a dust magnet which requires regular cleaning and lengthy annual maintenance on the loop.

No matter what you do with fans... they still have to move air, still make noise, and are still annoying (IMO of course).

In my next house... I'll have a fully filtered and conditioned data closet... and then it won't matter... but that will likely cost about $20K in construction alone. So in that sense this was a very cheap solution. ;) I've dealt with 1000's of fans in a variety of enclosures over the past 30 years or so - and although Noctuas and eLoops come close-ish... I've heard every single one of them. What I like about the GTs is that at least it's a very low frequency tone... but still not a good solution for the dust and cat hair unfortunately.
 
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digicidal

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I see, well, you must have quite stringent requirements, I find myself that the noisiest bits in my computer are the hard drives. The new Noctua A12x25 is quite remarkable, by the way, citing 12 dB(A) at 1200 RPM.

Thankfully I haven't heard a hard drive in quite some time - at least unless I'm in the room where my NAS is located. All storage is SSD in my workstations, laptops, and this server as well. The A12x25 is a great fan... I've got a few of them I use for cooling a switch enclosure at work (where they thankfully can't be seen... because they are so ugly).

I've also used their industrial line in a build before... better looks, great flow and static pressure... though not nearly as silent as their beige models. As far as "cited acoustics" are concerned, the GTs I use (I bought a case before they were discontinued) are listed as 21db(A) at 1450RPM... but that's not true either. The air turbulence itself is audible at levels above the noise floor of my office which is at least 40ish... which is about the same with the Noctuas... it's not the noise of the fan motor or bearings that is audible... they are both (A12 and AP-14) completely silent in that aspect... but the airflow "whoosh" is not inaudible.

Regardless, as stated before, it's the dust and cat hair that are the larger problems in this instance - the silence is simply a beautiful byproduct - as is the zero maintenance forever (well until an actual component fails at least).
 

Willem

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We had a high end silenced computer built for my wife some time ago, and it is indeed very quiet (and powerful), but not silent. At the time, there was not a chance in the world that her power requirements could be met with a fanless computer. Conversely, I am personally not a power user for much of the time, so I am still using a 2008 desktop computer that counted as powerful in 2008. It was fairly quiet by the standards of the time, but I can hear it all day. Since I also use one more demanding application (Dragon speech recognition software) I kept waiting for fanless computers to become powerful enough for my use case. That moment seems to have come, not only with this ueber silent power case, but also with a few cheaper fanless cases for fast enough frugal innards. I think I can now get a functional system (excl monitor) built for about 1000 euro, even though the Dutch market is still quite thin with such gear. The advantage will not only be that these systems are nice if you are playing music at the same time, but also that they are far more frugal with electricity. So thank you for an inspiring example.
 

Matias

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My desktop/server I chose an i5 9400 (TDP 65W), with regular air cooling, and set on the motherboard for the CPU fan to shut down and only starts spinning at 60°C, maximum speed at 85°C. PSU is also semi active (Corsair RM), only spins when booting.

The PC is 100% fanless when idle, serving or playing music or browsing the internet. Only when doing something more stressful like 3D or conversion I hear the CPU fan kicking in slowly.

To me that is the best of both worlds, and cheap.
 
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digicidal

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My desktop/server I chose an i5 9400 (TDP 65W), with regular air cooling, and set on the motherboard for the CPU fan to shut down and only starts spinning at 60°C, maximum speed at 85°C. PSU is also semi active (Corsair RM), only spins when booting.

The PC is 100% fanless when idle, serving or playing music or browsing the internet. Only when doing something more stressful like 3D or conversion I hear the CPU fan kicking in slowly.

To me that is the best of both worlds, and cheap.
Yes, that would definitely be a good and inexpensive option. I've tried some silent builds in the past with massively oversized coolers which then only needed a bit of circulation in the chassis... but they still eventually get caked in dust unfortunately. Your solution is really more optimal since it goes active only under higher loads, but I found this to also be a reasonably cheap option. Unfortunately, that cooler requires a rather large case and has significant restrictions as far as the MB and RAM selected as the height of other cooling components becomes a problem. Plus any vertical oriented MB with that heavy a cooler on it will fail eventually due to trace breaking stress on the substrate PCB I've found (though probably not until it's obsolete anyway - so not that big of a deal I guess).

I've since had to add aluminum heatsinks to the chipset cooler section as it was hitting 75C eventually - still 20C from it's Tjmax value but a bit close for long term reliability for my taste.

We had a high end silenced computer built for my wife some time ago, and it is indeed very quiet (and powerful), but not silent. At the time, there was not a chance in the world that her power requirements could be met with a fanless computer. Conversely, I am personally not a power user for much of the time, so I am still using a 2008 desktop computer that counted as powerful in 2008. It was fairly quiet by the standards of the time, but I can hear it all day. Since I also use one more demanding application (Dragon speech recognition software) I kept waiting for fanless computers to become powerful enough for my use case. That moment seems to have come, not only with this ueber silent power case, but also with a few cheaper fanless cases for fast enough frugal innards. I think I can now get a functional system (excl monitor) built for about 1000 euro, even though the Dutch market is still quite thin with such gear. The advantage will not only be that these systems are nice if you are playing music at the same time, but also that they are far more frugal with electricity. So thank you for an inspiring example.

I recently threw my NUC in a passive case as well and it is a fantastic solution for something where power requirements are not as strict, but speed is still desired. It's a conversion block for the ITX case from HDPlex (the H1 V3). With the speed of the newer AMD APU selections, that could make a fantastic fanless workstation for under your budget. Even with the custom PSU added (400W DC-ATX), you'd have around 600 euro left for components. I'd keep it at 65W or below for the CPU, but AMD has many APU (Ryzen G 3K/4K SKUs) that hit that target but have enough power for even recent games or rendering applications.
 

amirm

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Very well done! Promoted to home page.

After I built my silent Roon server, I was hooked. It is so uncanny to have a silent machine.
 

firedog

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Your build is impressive, and I understand it fits your needs

But I also built an i7 10700 machine. It has two SSD drives and one HDD. Large slow moving case, PS, and CPU fans. It has a gaming case with lots of room and is lined with "noise reduction" material.
I can't hear it all all from a meter away, and I only hear it a tiny bit if I put my ear up next to it.

It's actually quieter than it's predecessor, which was a fanless "silent" build - on that one I could hear the HDD that was the main storage occasionally. The newer PC is more powerful but rums cooler than the fanless PC. I also live in a desert - but no shedding animals - and I don't think it's a big deal to open it occassionally to spray out dust. Much cheaper and easier to build than a "silent" PC. So such a build might be a better solution for some people.
 
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Very well done! Promoted to home page.

After I built my silent Roon server, I was hooked. It is so uncanny to have a silent machine.
Thanks! Hopefully it will help others take the leap.

Our brains are so adept at filtering out low level consistent noise (especially electronics) but when something forces you to hear them it can really be unsettling. Most of the time I think my house and office are both subjectively "quiet" spaces... until the power goes out and come back on later. For that brief period after acclimating to an actual quiet environment... it sounds very loud when everything comes back on.

Luckily our auditory memories are short and the filtering returns in a few more minutes. ;)
 
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The newer PC is more powerful but rums cooler than the fanless PC. I also live in a desert - but no shedding animals - and I don't think it's a big deal to open it occassionally to spray out dust. Much cheaper and easier to build than a "silent" PC. So such a build might be a better solution for some people.

Definitely... this is about as far away from a "cost effective" solution to the problem as imaginable. It was much more a case of wanting to support an interesting startup company/individual and wanting to do something different with zero maintenance down the road. It's kind of the PC equivalent of an amp by Bryston or Benchmark... there are much cheaper ways of getting there - but sometimes over-engineered is worth the premium IMO.

The only other problem with something requiring occasional cleaning is that I couldn't just leave it running 24/7 in the rack. If I have to shutdown every VM, enter maintenance mode in the hypervisor and shut that down, then pull everything out and reconnect on the other side... then I'm less likely to do it as often as I should.
 

jae

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Very nice. I have been looking at the UP10 for months but think I would like to run a top of the line GPU in my upcoming build and unfortunately there's simply not enough mass in most passive cases to handle a 250-300+ W gpu on top of a performant CPU. There are a few that will (
for example), but they are getting back to ATX side of things. It would be interesting to have something like the HDplex/Turemetal cases as an external gpu, and have the rest of the components in one of these (or even the smaller itx versions). It at least look good stacked up with benchmark audio components!
 
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Very nice. I have been looking at the UP10 for months but think I would like to run a top of the line GPU in my upcoming build and unfortunately there's simply not enough mass in most passive cases to handle a 250-300+ W gpu on top of a performant CPU. There are a few that will (
for example), but they are getting back to ATX side of things. It would be interesting to have something like the HDplex/Turemetal cases as an external gpu, and have the rest of the components in one of these (or even the smaller itx versions). It at least look good stacked up with benchmark audio components!

Actually, that was one of the reasons that I settled on the WS W480-ACE motherboard, since it has dual TB3 connections, I could later add an external, active GPU solution if one was required. That wouldn't be silent, but also wouldn't be a maintenance issue and wouldn't contribute any heat to the enclosure itself. Considering the Anandtech/LTT sample was running a 2070 (~175W) and an Epyc 7551 CPU (~180W) - I would think you could run a more economical CPU and higher GPU and still make do with the UP10... but I definitely wouldn't be touching those heatsinks after a long gaming session.

One advantage of newer generation hardware is the advanced thermal protections which weren't available years ago - so even if you saturated the case capacity, things would just get slower - rather than going "POP". ;)
 

essence

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Nice! Was there an original processing power target/goal for the fanless build? I am running a fanless setup with AMD 3600 in a Streacom FC8 which had to be heavily underclocked in multicore loads to avoid throttling, (3.4ghz~ all core) surprisingly it handles single core loads at max boost just fine! I considered passively cooling the GPU (a RTX 2060) as well but the amount of heatsink and costs made it a very easy decision to not to. GPUs these days require significantly more cooling than their CPU counterparts, so I settled for a model that enables fans to stop while idle. My build meets my original goal of having enough processing power to upsample DSD256 via HQPlayer in realtime, however next time I believe I'll go the server + end node setup with the processing done on a workstation in the garage and streamed to a end node in the playback room.

Noctua has a upcoming fanless heatsink that they showed off at computex 2019 which handled a 9900k (although just barely) running at full load in prime95! Originally planned for release Q4 2020 but like everything else this year its has been delayed...

And the next step up from fully passive builds, binning components for coil whine ;)
 

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Many... here's what one of my workstations looks like
Is that jar the antimatter container for the fusion reaction mediated by dilithium crystals?
 

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Awesome build! I've always been a fan of silent PCs. One thing you might want to consider, although for a server like yours it's certainly not required, is to add some heatsinks to the VRM mosfets of the GPU.

I just built a 9700k PC a few days ago using the Noctua D15s, and it's as good as silent when i'm not nuking it with P95. From what i've read tho, it is not recommended to use P95 small FFT with AVX for stability testing on newer intel chips. Mine would draw over 220W at the package and hit 99c in a few seconds. Now I'm using OCCT and an x264 render loop, which use AVX instructions, but only hit about 150W package draw. Doing that, the D15s keeps temps in the mid 60's.

The worst thing about silent PCs, like you mentioned, is coil whine. My motherboard VRM had a quiet but noticeable chirping sound that I managed to alleviate this by disabling C-States in UEFI/BIOS. Currently running a mild OC at 4.8Ghz all-core with 1.25v from the VRM which is about 1.20V - 1.225V at the chip after losses. I don't like the idea of my CPU jumping around to lower speeds and voltages anyway, not that I can tell a difference in real world use, but there is inevitably some lag involved when that's happening. At idle, the CPU still draws less than 10W, so there is hardly any effect on my power bill.

One thing I would pay attention to when stress testing a passively cooled system, is the mobo VRM temps. Those can get pretty dang toasty with no airflow, but again, in normal use, it's not an issue. (tho, you can always upgrade the heatsink thermal pads with some high end Fujipoly if you want to go nuts)

EDIT : If you haven't already, you could also try undervolting your CPU to lower temps even more. Most of the time the mobo will provide significantly more voltage than the chip needs, even under full load, in order to make sure it's compatible with the worst CPUs out there. With my old 6600k AsRock board I could lower it by over 100mV and still pass P95 at stock clocks. Temps dropped considerably.
EDIT EDIT : Just looked up the W480 chipset, doesn't look like those boards support custom voltage. I just figured a board that was so purdy, would have those options. Sorry for the long rant
 
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@sharpty - Good suggestion on the GPU mosfet cooling... however the problem with that on this particular card is that I will have to either use ridiculously small sinks... or machine matching holes for the caps to poke through. Luckily this is a very efficient GPU with very little cooling provided to the VRM even with the stock cooler (part of the reason I chose the 1650 vs a 1080 or 1660). They did get very toasty during stress testing - but they won't be rendering anything significant in actual use. The RAM sinks are really inadequate if it were used for extended gaming or video rendering workloads... I hit them with a laser thermometer after the furmark run and they were 80C on the fins... naturally the GPU was already throttling down the memclocks to even keep them at those toasty levels! :oops: But thanks to that... no smoke, no artifacts, no crashes (the chips have 105C ratings IIRC).

The MB VRM actually stays very cool throughout the testing (peak temps were 65C) - but that's partially because of how the non-K 10-series CPUs deal with their power limits. You can specify voltages in a sense... but you are correct, it does not have the granular voltage adjustment per core that the Z490 has with K/KF cpus.

You can't adjust the per core voltages (nor multipliers on non-K SKUs), but you can still adjust all of the parameters related to package power. So I have my long power limit set to 75W (10W more than rated) and my short power limit set to 120W at 42 seconds. A single core load will hit 4.8GHz and all cores will hit 4.5GHz until either the ceiling is passed or the time limit - then it will pull back to around 3.2GHz for sustained 100% multithreaded workloads (up from the 2.9GHz it holds at default 65W limit). Under normal operation it basically just pops back and forth between 4.7GHz and 800MHz because 1/2 cores doing that still keeps the CPU well under the 120W limit.

For a hypervisor it's even easier to further balance by specifying core affinity per VM and dynamically allocating more cores as needed. I considered turning HT off for the CPU - since 8 threads is plenty for my 4 VMs... but I found it really wasn't necessary and only made a minor increase in clock peak duration. :cool:

A thing of the past !!!!

1 TB micro SD cards are around 250 US$...

https://www.amazon.com/-/pt/dp/B07P...s+10&qid=1604315636&sprefix=1+tb+micro&sr=8-3
Hmmm... same cost as an nvme SSD but with transfer speeds of a 10-year old HDD? Not sure about that... but it would be great for a video camera!
 
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sharpty

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@digicidal Thanks for the explanation. I'm surprised that the vRAM gets so hot, but I guess that's just a side effect of the fast GDDR6. Sounds like you've got everything under control though. Asus must be using a really efficient MB VRM, those temps are great, even for such a relatively low power draw. Mine sits at 55-60c when web browsing, but it's a low end Gigabyte Z390 UD and it stays at 1.25v, so that's to be expected. You get what you pay for with mobos usually. I also didn't realize that there were non-K variants of the 10700, interesting.

Anyway, really fantastic project. One of these days I plan to build a totally passive, high end, small form factor PC, but I can't justify the price of the cases for now. Hope to see some competition in the market in the future.
 
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