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Passive CPU Cooling - High Power CPU


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Is passive cooling really necessary? The fans on my Noctua NH-D15 are currently spinning at about 200rpm and are completely silent.

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10 hours ago, Nenon said:

 

It's not about the mechanical noise from the fan as much as vibration. If you are building a $10K server, you most likely have a very resolving system and can clearly hear the effects of different vibration treatment under the server. All these clocks and capacitors are super sensitive to vibrations that we can't even feel. Ask some hardcore headphone users - they use vibration treatment too, even though they don't have huge speakers blasting sound waves. 

 

Adding fans to a computer of that class is like buying an expensive telescope to watch the stars and using it from the car while driving on a dirty road. Sorry, I could not come up with a better example. In simple words, it's completely unacceptable.

 

I'm far from being an objectivist, but I think a lot of these statements are articles of faith more than anything else.

 

I have an extremely resolving high end headphone setup - An Nagra HD DAC/Classic PSU, EAR HP4 and Niimbus US4 headphone amps and Audeze LCD4 headphones (amonst others).

 

I have tried completely fanless audiophile servers run on linear power supplies - an Antipodes DX3, for example - and found that my high end gaming PC with its i9 processor and about 12 fans connected to the motherboard and ATX PSU sounded better.  This is consistent with my experience in general that higher powered PCs sound better than lower powered ones, even where the high powered PC is run with a conventional switching PSU. In fact, I once built a mid range server with an i5 processor and an HD Plex linear PSU, and it sounded much worse with the linear PSU than with a conventional ATX power supply.

 

So my experience is that having a very high powered PC which necessarily requires fans to run at acceptable temperatures, even with a conventional switching power supply, sounds considerably better than a lower powered fanless one. I have built and used PCs with fans and without fans. The processing power of the CPU in my experience has a far bigger impact on sound quality than a few fans.

 

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I should have clarified that in my experience, when connecting a PC directly to a DAC, as both server/core and streamer, then the higher powered PC will generally sound better than a lower powered one.  

 

The exception to this is where a PC is used as the server/core and audio is streamed via ethernet to a DAC. In this case the higher powered PC will sound better as the server/core, but a low powered device can be used as the streamer, since it does minimal processing of its own. A lower powered purpose built streamer such as an ultrarendu or optical rendu powered by a linear PSU and streaming from a high powered PC is the optimal combination. In my experience, using something like one of the Rendus or a Lumin U1 sounds better than an "audiophile" PC (eg Antipodes) as a streamer, and the combination of high powered PC and streamer sounds much better than a lower powered PC performing both functions and connected directly to a DAC.

 

I should add that this is my experience using a range of streamers and PCs, but obviously I have not heard every combination or product.

 

 

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It does not surprise me that a Taiko Extreme would sound better than an Optical Rendu. The Taiko PCs are both extremely powerful and use very high capacity linear power supplies.

 

But in my case, adding an Optical Rendu (or even an Ultrarendu) gave superior sound quality compared to the same server connected directly to the DAC via USB (with the USB card powered by a linear PSU). The difference was small, but definitely noticeable. I did this comparison quite recently, which is why I ended up with my current set up.

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I use a Sonore Signature power supply.

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On 3/1/2021 at 10:21 PM, matthias said:

 

In the case of a Taiko Extreme a DAC connected via USB to the Extreme did sound superior to connected to an OpticalRendu which was connected via network to the Extreme.

 

So I am curious in your experience did adding an OpticalRendu to a good sounding high powered server give really a superior SQ than the server alone (with the same DAC connected via USB)?

 

Thanks

 

Matt

I've just done this comparison again - very briefly. This time the server connected directly to the DAC via USB sounded better than the OpticalRendu. It sounded slightly darker, fuller and more liquid. This was using a Teddy Pardo power supply on the SOTM USB card.

 

Then I tried the Sonore Signature psu and another locally made (and very good) psu on the USB card in place of the Teddy Pardo. The sound from both of these was somewhat drier and less liquid than with the Teddy Pardo, which was a bit of a surprise. They sounded a lot closer to the EtherRegen/Optical Rendu - which had been powered by these two power supplies.

 

Now I need to do some more comparisons to determine if the PC with TP psu on the USB card really sounds better than the OpticalRendu. I will need to see if I have some other Teddy Pardo PSUs of the right voltage to power the EtherRegen and OpticalRendu to remove this variable.

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