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Obsidian 250d: Quiet Living Room NAS Build


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This is a build log, being kinda treated as a blog, and started before I've picked up a single tool. (I poked at the empty Obsidian today. It's toolless.)

 

Actually, it's going to be my office workstation for awhile, and eye candy for the cubicle farm, so I'm going with my company's orange color and slapping our logo on it; but in the end, it will be serving files in my living room.

 

I'm only at the stage of collecting the parts I am sure about, and trying to pin down the questions about the ones I'm not sure about. I'd invite comment of all kinds.

 

This build isn't time-limited, and therefore it isn't really budget-limited. I don't mind spending 2-4 months collecting parts. I want to get it right. At the same time, I don't want to go overboard and make it into something it's not meant to be. The vision is for a very CPU/RAM heavy headless NAS that can boot a few lightweight VMs for the convenience of my home network, and that looks awesome glowing in the corner next to the tp-link router and cable modem.

 

So, two things right off the bat: it's not going to get sound hardware, and I'm going to try to live with the onboard graphics. If that turns out untenable, I'll spend $40 or less on a passively cooled older Radeon. So the usual fun stuff isn't in scope - this is a working horse, not a stage animal.

 

I say "Near-Silent" because I've decided against passive cooling generally, even a passively radiated liquid solution, not that I've seen any. I might move somewhere that doesn't have air conditioning and need the cooling capacity. So, the strategy is to use one 240mm radiator, and fill every fan bay with the quietest fans I can find, and run them as slow as they'll go until they're needed.

 

Overclocking will never be done. The goal is to make a home NAS box I can keep until PCIe seems antique-slow, and seamlessly migrate spindles as larger drives get cheap, so I won't be beating up my silicon looking for milliseconds of gaming advantage. I doubt the server-oriented motherboard will let me overclock anyway.

 

 

The parts list as it's evolved so far:

 

 

Bought:

Case - Corsair Obsidian 250d

Mobo - ASUS P10S-i motherboard and matching TPM module

Boot - AData 128GB M.2 SATA SSD

Misc - protective plugs for all unoccupied ports inside and out

Misc - ultra slim 4pt usb3 hub for internal mount, for front panel

Misc - teeny little pc speaker buzzer mounted on 2" wire

 

 

Decided but not ordered yet:

Intel Xeon E3-1270 v6 CPU

Matching KVM module for mobo, once they're back in stock

Corsair H100i kit, assuming it can be modded the way I want

BeQuiet Silent Wings 3 fans, 2x80mm and 2x120mm

BeQuiet Dark Pro 650w power supply (probably overkill)

ChaosKey USB random number generator, mounted internally

 

Disk: 2x WD Red SATA 6TB

 

 

Need but not identified yet:

16GB unbuffered DDR4 2400MHz ECC memory, x2

Interior RGB and maybe UV lighting modules

The quietest 200mm fan on the market

Water block for motherboard PCH

Hose solution for hacked H100i

Replacement coolant - orange available?

Lighting and fan control solution(s)

Identify Linux LVM block cache SSD needs

 

 

 

Open questions aimed at Corsair:

 

Will I need to add a reservoir and external pump, or will the pump that comes in the H100i's CPU plate suffice with the additional block(s)? I realize I'm voiding warranty and going directly off-script with it, just asking what the engineers think.

 

Will the H100i's CL feature separately report/control the pump and two fan speeds over USB, or am I barking up the wrong tree here and need the bigger unit? Any chance a medium size unit will come out soon?

 

Does the H100i's controller plug into the CPU fan PWM header so it can feed it a lie to prevent BIOS errors, or do the fan/fans/pump plug directly into the header?

 

 

A peace offering to Corsair about the fans and power supply:

 

1st of all I'm impressed with the build quality and design virtues of the Obsidian 250d. It's almost perfect, and that's really high praise coming from me. I'm glad I chose it.

 

I nixed the Corsair power supplies from my list, even though I like the Link integration and would prefer a power supply that's engineered into the case's cooling strategy by the company that built the case, because of a lot of frank and non-trollish-sounding reviews about your supplies frying soon after first power-up on a certain well known shopping site. I'm willing to add it back to my list and reconsider, if you can show me those issues have been addressed to my satisfaction.

 

Likewise about the fans, nobody seems to be coming close to the SilentWings 3's acoustic performance. If you've got a product I've missed, available in 80, 120, and hopefully also 200mm, in my choice of PWM or DCV controlled, that competes with the merits of a 6-pole motor that's rated for 300K hours of use, at <15db full speed, with a cross-section-optimized fan blade and a fluid bearing, then I'm happy to buy from an American company over a German one.

 

It just appears to me that the Germans have us soundly beaten on case fan design at the moment, and going with the absolute best I can find/afford on fans seems like the only way I'm going to make a has-lots-of-fans-turning-slowly strategy work well enough for a living room, or a cube farm populated solely by macbook pros.

 

 

Open questions to anyone:

 

Anything at all you'd like to chime in about.

 

Nice to meet you all.

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Okay, update:

 

I've done some more digging - Corsair, your marketing department seems to be asleep on one of the switches. I shouldn't have had to dig that hard to find your ML120 PRO. It should have come right up on top of the list when I Googled for "quietest pc radiator fan". I'm still going to use the SilentWings 2 80mm's for the back of the case, but there's now no doubt about it: I'm putting a pair of ML120 Pro's on whichever radiator I settle on.

 

Which, won't be the H100i. I won't settle for previous generation, and I won't deal with the fitment issues with the v2/GTX in the 250d. If I could get the H100i v2's CPU base with integral pump and Link all by itself, I'd buy it, but it's not sold that way. I do like the color adjustable logo, and I'd be proud to display Corsair's glowing logo in my company's colors, which then goes to red if something goes past a threshold, but alas.

 

Guess I've kinda flip flopped about which vendors I like for cooling and power. I've narrowed the negative AXi reviews down to the 860 for a period of time. Thanks, shopping site, for conflating reviews for different products and giving us no way to distinguish. I'd still like to hear it from Corsair that they believe the issues to be solved, but I'm ready to settle on an AX-760i. It's one of few on the market with such detailed monitoring, and the only one that's reporting it straight from the controller that's literally doling out the power microsecond by microsecond, versus measuring it with a DAC that might go out of calibration. Looks like BeQuiet makes the best *analog* power supply, and just got trumped by a microcontroller based one, which also can shut its fan entirely off, which the Dark Power Pro won't do.

 

I believe I now concur with the AXi having ball bearing fans, where the HXi had FHD bearings, on the hunch that a ball bearing is going to last longer under start-stop conditions. If it proves to be too noisy, I can always swap it out for an ML120.

 

 

Bill of materials adjustments to since last post:

 

Bought:

 

Flash - 64GB Ventura Ultra USB3.0 for swap and /var/tmp space, so it wears independently of the operating system on the M.2 volume. I'm tying up all the drive bays and I don't know of anyone making a direct plug motherboard SATA device, which would have an unmet power requirement anyway. This will live internally on a USB3 hub. Kinda missing the PATA header days, except for how slow it was.

 

Flash - 1GB Industrial SLC USB2.0 nano for a place to stash BIOS backups, config file backups, and whatnot, to survive OS reinstalls and unanticipated M.2 drive failures. This will live internally on a USB2 hub alongside the ChaosKey.

 

Liquid - XSPC X20 420 single bay reservoir and pump combo. Guess I'm not getting an internal optical drive after all, but with the USB hubs and all the cables on the bottom of the case, and things already being tight on the sides, I'm going to punt on playing Tetris with it.

 

Fans - ordered the two SilentWings 2 80mm PWM's and suitable cabling.

 

Misc - ordered some nylon and heatshrink sleeving kits in various diameters

 

Misc - a 30cm RGB led strip to play with (read: fill up a minimum order requirement)

 

Misc - BeQuiet's internal insulation kit

 

 

Decided but not bought yet:

 

Controller: Aquaero 6 LT, mounted on the 5 1/4 tray behind the tank and pump.

 

 

Need help deciding:

 

Which of two possible radiators?

 

I've found two in the sub-28mm category: the DarkSide LP240 at 17fpi and 27.5mm, and the EK-CoolStream SE 240 at 22fpi and 26mm.

 

The ML120 PRO is spec'ed to do just fine under low and high static pressure conditions, so that concern is a wash. The DarkSide is 0.5mm thicker than the original H100i, so that's a mild concern, but there's probably a half millimeter to spare, but it makes me lean toward the EK to leave room for decoupling material. But is a 22fpi radiator, even a super slim one, going to be noisy?

 

I don't think cooling capacity is a concern since I don't intend to overclock, so fit right is #1 concern, quiet is #2 concern, and EK's boast of having the highest cooling capacity in the 25-30mm class seems kind of moot. The tendency of denser radiators to clog with dust also seems moot given that the 250d comes with a magnetic screen over its intake, or is the dust going to be fine enough to get through that?

 

I'd really appreciate some stories about 17fpi versus 22 fpi, especially where they're pulling into the case through a screen.

 

 

New need to find:

 

A compact internal USB2 hub with at least one internal-type and one type-A downstream port, preferably also at least one extra of each, and its own power supply connection.

 

 

Other questions for folks:

 

How hard is it to work with hard tubing? Is glass used? Is bending glass difficult or merely hazardous? Are there clear flexible tubing products that look as snazzy with a color-coded or even UV-reactive coolant flowing through them?

 

How about inner diameter? With the 1/4" fitting adapters on the radiator and tank, I'm not sure I see the point of using any wider tubing. Is that a correct assumption?

 

No, I've never done a liquid cooling install before, and I've cornered myself into doing a custom build due to case choice. TIA for any warnings about pitfalls...

 

 

Really offbeat question for the materials hackers out there - these lightly tinted acrylic tops. Is there a process that could print frosting or something onto the inside of it? Say, a graphic, or text, or text laid over a graphic, so that the interior lights would make it stand out?

 

I realize I could do a shadow mask with a front-sticky sticker or a stencil, but that seems tacky somehow if there's a more sophisticated option. But, as an intermediate resort, I could do a shadow mask if I could get a fitted wet-install sticker, kind of like the films that a wise consumer gets for their smartphone screen, with printing that reads through the "sticky" side.

 

 

EDIT: Another question for the folks with experience, that I forgot before I hit submit:

 

Air flow direction.

 

The Obsidian 250d has intake screens on the front, bottom, both side grilles, and doesn't have one for the dual 80mm fans on the back. I suppose I could remove them if I like, but two things stand out: it's desirable to pull ambient air in through the radiator so the radiator gets filtered closely, and so we get the presumably cooler air from outside the case. It's also desirable to have the backup airflow cooling (and primary cooling for the two drives) going from front to back whether it's filtered or not. Appliances that blow air at you when they have a choice are rude.

 

So I'm thinking just go with it: front 200mm on intake, right-hand 240mm on intake through radiator, most exhaust goes through the screen to the left of the pcie card slot, and the twin 80mm's can spin up to create some negative pressure and assist airflow as needed.

 

Does that make sense? Or are the 80mm's going to be overworked because I won't get the flow I expect through the left of the 250d? Or are the 80mm's going to accomplish absolutely nothing no matter how hard they spin?

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Memory decision made: Crucial CT16G4WFD824A x2

 

Crucial 16GB DDR4-2400 PC4-19200 ECC UDIMM Server Memory

 

Is there any point putting heatsinks or waterblocks on them?

 

 

EDIT: By the way, Corsair, I'd sure love to have your wicked snazzy looking DIMMS in ECC unbuffered. Just sayin'. I realize there are probably very few performance-oriented builds that are going to use ECC and Xeon because they're doing server-ish work.

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Update:

 

Bought:

 

Fans: 2x Corsair ML120 PRO 120mm maglev bearing radiator fans

Fans: Cooler Master MegaFlow 200 sleeve bearing non-pwm case fan :(

Misc: ChaosKey USB RNG

Misc: NZXT internal usb 2.0 hub

 

The CPU, RAM, HDDs, and SSDs are going to be the last things I buy. They're obvious, easy to install, belong installed last, and are the most expensive.

 

I'm also toying with a $140 Sapphire Radeon RX460 with a heatsink the size of an anvil, over a lower end HD 6xxx series. Doubling the memory bus width might be worth it.

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Update: I've been spending money again. I better stop for the weekend...

 

 

Bought:

 

Liquid: DarkSide 240mm radiator and one gasket (liquid whoosh shouldn't be an issue?)

Liquid: EK Supremacy EVO CPU water block

Liquid: EK DuraClear 3/8 x 1/2 clear flexible hose

 

 

Still need to find a suitable water block for the chipset, but I'll no doubt need the motherboard in my hand to figure out what's going to fit. Should be here early next week.

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I'm such a schmuck. I've set a timer on my firewall so I can't hit Amazon again until next Wednesday.

 

I couldn't resist putting graphics into it. After all, it'll be on my desk for awhile, and I've evaluated it isn't THAT hard to remove a GPU from a flexible tube loop.

 

Bought:

 

GPU: VisionTek Radeon RX480, 8GB DDR5, reference board

 

 

Decided but not yet bought:

 

Liquid: EK-FC RX480 in copper and plexi

Liquid: EK-ACF compression fittings with copper ring

 

 

Yes, the CPU block is also the copper and plexi version.

 

The thing is, when I take the intersection the set of Radeons that can accept water cooling, and the set of compatible Radeon reference boards I can actually buy, and the set of compatible water blocks I can actually buy, the RX480 is the only game in town below $1000, and I think I got the last reference RX480 in any of Amazons' affiliates' inventory, excluding the 2x markup shysters. Snooze and lose.

 

No, I'm not going to backpedal on sound. There's only one PCIe slot and it's spoken for, and I made a point of finding a board without on-board audio. I'll have to hope that the cheap LCD's HDMI audio works.

 

Though, down the road, I may well take the excuse to buy the BiFrost from Schiit Audio. They're using cruise missile class multibit-ladder DA's instead of the usual delta-sigmas, and I already have the matching Asgard 2 headphone amp.

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Bought:

 

Liquid: EK-FC RX480, with backplate and plexi manifold

Liquid: EK-NB/SB ASUS 4 block - looks like it MIGHT fit...

Liquid: Aquaeros 6LT with heatsink and waterblock

Liquid: Aquacomputer mps flow rate sensor

Liquid: Alphacool Eiszapfen G1/4 temp sensor

Misc: Aquaeros power connect shutdown module

Misc: Aquacomputer RGB LED for reservoir

Misc: ASMB8-iKVM remote management daughterboard

Misc: bunch more socket plugs, screws, standoffs, etc

 

There is an additional module from Aquacomputer, with a cool-sounding German name, for controlling additional lighting channels. I'll do that later for the waterblocks and interior lighting. This one LED module, served directly by the Aquaeros and sticking into the back of the reservoir, shining through the front case window, is going to serve as a "check engine light." I'll modulate color to communicate things like temperature or flow rate out of bounds, excessive system load or swap usage, that sort of thing.

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