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wanshu

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  1. Building a DIY Music Server
    Building a DIY Music Server

    Guide on how to use a high power/high TDP CPU (AMD 3900x, 5900x, 10900K, etc) in a Hdplex H5 or Streacom fanless case, without loss of CPU performance

     

    I have 105w TDP 3900x in Asus ROG Strix B-550E and I can comfortably use it in a H5 case at less than 55 degrees, full speed, even if HDplex recommends a max of 95W TDP (and most people limit themselves to 65W TDP CPUs). No, you don’t have to limit yourself to lower TDP CPUs! And no, your fanless case doesn’t have to be an inferno...


    Why does it matter?

     

    High power CPUs sound fuller, weightier, more relaxed, more analogue, more inner detail than lower power (i personally tried 3700x vs 3900x). This is a very clear, very strong difference. I would only advice highest power CPU for audio PC after personal testing of different CPUs of different power levels. Lower power = thinner sound. Simple.

     

    High CPU heat is also correlated with harshness 

     

     Process 


    0) use Kryonaut thermal paste

     

    1) use custom acrylic lid with holes, as suggested by Streamfidelity. This is critical to let the heat of the chipset, copper pipes, PCIe and CPU out of the case. The heat pipe system is just not enough

     

    2) in the bios: lock the CPU core ratio to stock speed (eg 38 for 3900x). this will prevent the bios to dynamically change the speed of the CPU

     

    3) undervolt the CPU by using manual override. The 3900x runs by default at 1.3V or more. You can safely go to 1.2v or even lower. Use increments of 0.25V and test for stability. By going from 1.3V to less than 1.2v, fully stable, my Keces P8 went from 4.5a continuous consumption to 2.5A, a -45% reduction!

     

    On top of that, this technique gives more headroom to the LPS, boosting further sound quality
     

    there’s no loss (or very minimal, a few percent at most) of CPU performance. Huge difference compared to underclocking where some had to decrease CPU speed of 50% or more to achieve heat targets. And huge difference compared to lower TDP CPUs.
     

    In fact, you can lock the core ratio higher (ie overclock) if your temps are low and can go higher, and increase CPU voltage as necessary (which increases heat). I dont view this as necessary for audio considering the minimal performance gains from overclocking
     

    Full CPU performance is critical for sound quality: more cores, more cache, more CPU power leads to a fuller, weightier, more natural, more detailed sound. It’s very obvious and correlates findings of many others like Romaz etc

     

    this technique allows to have NO compromise sound quality in a fanless case.... you can even go 16 cores with 3950x/5950x: no problem (I will test myself soon but outcome is already known since 3900x/3950x/5900x/5950x are all 105W TDP with similar real life thermals, as tested all over the internet and YouTube)

     

    next topic: importance of power phases, chipset choice etc.


  2. Building a DIY Music Server
    Building a DIY Music Server

    Test of impact of power phases and 2 of the best AMD motherboard (MB) available on the market for sound quality

     

    The general consensus is that Asus MBs sound better and are favored by most. 

     

    However, I noticed 2 very interesting posts from Energy and Seetoyou on the Gigabyte Aorus Master MB. It’s the first MB on the market that has 16 direct power phases. Power phases/VRM down convert and regulate the 12V and provide power to the CPU and chipset. 
     

    Therefore, the idea naturally came that the Aorus Master might be the best MB for audio PC since it has the best power phases (along with 6 layer PCB, 2 oz of copper etc.) therefore benefiting from robust, low ripple, stable, more dynamic power to the CPU. Also high quality VRMs overclock better, generate much less heat etc. This is entirely measurable and all proven via benchmarks. In fact the Aorus master is considered one of the best MB for the AMD Ryzen in the PC world.
     

    We also all know the critical importance of power in general since music replay is just power transformed into sound.

     

    And there’s quite a consensus that power (and cable) specifically to the CPU is critical to sound quality - and that CPU’s power comes from the VRM.

     

    Therefore selecting a MB with the best power phases/VRM absolutely make sense (on paper) - all other things being equal (which they never completely are... but at least we can control for the variables as much as practically possible).

     

    However that hypothesis is to be tested as rigorously as possible using only 1 variable change at a time.


    Some key decision criteria for the MB, in my opinion:
     

    1) Chipset fan: no chipset fan since those generate noise and vibration. For AMD, that excludes most X570 chipset (except Asus Dark Hero). Pretty much all B550 qualify.

     

    2) Strong power phases/VRM: 


    As noted by Seetoyou, per LTT AMD VRM tier list, best MB on paper WITHOUT chipset fans (using process of elimination) are Aorus Master, Asus dark hero, both tier 1 (300A), and Asus B550e, tier 2 (250A).

     

    Test of Asus B550E vs Gigabyte Aorus Master

     

    Only the MB was changed. Test was performed with 3950x and - again - only variable is MB change. Burn in period for both MB. Same BIOS setup.


    Hypothesis: Aorus master is the best MB vs Asus due to the best power phases/VRM on the market.

     

    Result:

     

    - Aorus master has excellent PRaT: very sharp and well defined transients, excellent timing, however almost in a mechanical kind of way. Excellent instrument separation as well. Excellent control over all frequencies, no bloom or muddiness. Almost like having an upgraded clock. Excellent for electronic music. However sound is tonally much more grey and bland, more shut in, less open and colorful, less compelling and - dare I say - less analogue and less naturally musical. More homogenized as well.

     

    - Asus B550E. As soon as I put the MB back, there’s no question. Much more musical, natural, room filling, tonally rich, colorful, more real sounding.
     

    Bottom line: the MB absolutely matters for SQ and in this A/B test, in my system and OS, Asus is the way to go. No question and very surprised by the result. This test made me want to check out the Dark Hero (tier 1 with excellent VRM) but I lost interest since B550E sounds so good.


    It is unclear what the impact of power phases are - maybe transients and detail - but it is clear in my system/for my taste (usual disclaimers...) what is the best MB taken as *a package* and between those 2, it’s the Asus B550E.
     

    The best one overall for AMD Ryzen for Audio might very well be the Dark Hero but that is untested. 


  3. Building a DIY Music Server
    Building a DIY Music Server
    3 hours ago, Dev said:

     

    46-48C

    43C as we speak on the MB, and drawing 2.0 Amps on the 12V Keces P8, playing music with Euphony 

     

    the PCIe card on the photo with red Wima caps is an El Fidelity PCIE power filter, a must have for an audio PC (but that’s for another post...)

     

    DDCA80DC-DDDF-438A-9684-EF342D508ACD.jpeg

    26D6118E-F870-4132-90FF-0597421FB7AD.jpeg


  4. Building a DIY Music Server
    Building a DIY Music Server
    54 minutes ago, ASRMichael said:

    Thank you for the post. Can I ask what clock speed have you set? 
     

    I’m now using Intel i9 10900k. I had to restrict to 8 cores, no matter if frequency was set at 3.5ghz or 5.3ghz it would not work on 10 cores. Doesn’t get past boot. 
     

    Currently CPU is fully open on turbo 5.3ghz. Boots fine with 8 cores. 
     

    I’m using 10a LPS to power it. 
     

    My temps are 45-48c like yours. @ 5.3ghz. 
     

    41c @ 3.7ghz

     

    much higher than my i9 9900k. @ 5.0ghz idle was around 37c. 
     

    What doesn’t help is the XII Extreme MB has a heatsink close to cpu, its bit higher than previous MB. As a result the H5 copper pipes just fit but are touching the MB heatsink. 
     

    No listening tests as yet. Just powered it up, wait few days and will revert back. 

    First of all, 10900K is 125W TDP, that’s 30% above what HDplex recommends for H5. You have low temps but the 10900k does need power. It can pull up to 225W if I recall correctly.

     

    Right now with 3950x, my CPU is un-throttled for speed within the limits of the core voltage which is set manually at a pretty high 1.25V (I’ll explain what I mean by that).

     

    All the rest including Precision Boost Overdrive, Asus performance enhancement, CPU clock speed are all on Auto. Which means the CPU is free to boost frequency as needed (well

    above 4 GHz) as long as core voltage is no more than 1.25V. And based on Linus Tech Tips tests and others, the 3950x runs around a very low 1V voltage under most conditions / benchmarking tests. Also, keep in mind music is not a CPU intensive task (without upsampling). It’s not like you’re running Cinebench R20 or Prime95.
     

    To cut a long story short, my 3950x is pretty much running full speed in a fanless case....

     

    On the other hand, the very powerful 10900K is rated 125W TDP which means it draws a lot of power. Intel was very smart in optimizing with thinner die but it’s still 14nm.
     

    If I were you, I would first:

    1) run all cores - it’s critical for sound quality

    2) pick a decent clock speed - start with the stock speed and manually lock it (manual override in the BIOS). If needed you can decrease later on 

    3) disable turbo boost (for now) - that can potentially put strain on your LPS 

    4) Decrease CPU core voltage. Start with stock voltage and decrease in 0.25v increments, and check for stability 

     

    Another way to do it is manually set TDP (if you can on Intel) to 95W or less and let the BIOS adjust everything else. 


    Now - you mention you can’t go past boot. So a few more tips:
     

    It could be because your CPU is boosting on the 10 cores and exceeds 10A of power usage during boot. In that case, the locked lower voltage might help. The lower fixed TDP might help. Or if you manually lock the power going to the CPU (PPT for AMD), max peak amperage (EDC for AMD) or max amperage (TDC), that should help too. Under AMD terminology:

     

    - Package Power Tracking (“PPT”): The PPT threshold is the allowed socket power consumption permitted across the voltage rails supplying the socket. Applications with high thread counts, and/or “heavy” threads, can encounter PPT limits that can be alleviated with a raised PPT limit.


    - Thermal Design Current (“TDC”): The maximum current (amps) that can be delivered by a specific motherboard’s voltage regulator configuration in thermally-constrained scenarios.

     

    - Electrical Design Current (“EDC”): The maximum current (amps) that can be delivered by a specific motherboard’s voltage regulator configuration in a peak (“spike”) condition for a short period of time.


    i don’t know the intel equivalents of the above but that could fix the issue

     

    And I agree hyper threading should be disabled (for sound quality) if you’re not upsampling  but I don’t think it’s the root cause

     

    I couldn’t boot in euphony (maybe like you if you use it too) and I could see on the Keces P8 the CPU pulling much more than 8A (which is the max for P8), probably boosting the CPU during boot. When I manually locked the voltage to 1.25V, the issue went away.

     

    while you’re at it, disable spread spectrum as well since it measurably creates jitter. 


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