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  1. #1

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    Default Computer Case Fans

    The time has finally come to upgrade from my low-budget Cooler Master Centurion, and I've picked out the Corsair 600T (<- that's a link to it). However, I've read the included fans aren't the greatest, so I'm looking to replace them with higher quality, high-volume, variable fans (since the case comes with a fan controller on the front panel).

    The case uses a 120mm fan on the front and then two 200mm fans, so right now I'm looking at buying a 120mm fan and two 200mm fans. Any advice you could share that would help with this would be greatly appreciated! Also, if you have a convincing argument on a different fan setup (for instance, multiple smaller fans instead of a 200mm fan), I'd love to hear it.

    Thanks so much!!
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    From the fairly limited applicable hits I get from googling and searching computer forums, it seems as though inadequate cooling for demanding systems is pretty common in this case, and it seems difficult to find replacement fans that fit. Appears as though I may have to set out looking for a new case again!
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  3. #3

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    Often times the more vents on a case, the harder it is to properly channel air where it needs to go. You end up with a bunch of fans inefficiently competing with each other with no clear path for the air to follow. Case manufacturers started putting vents and lighted fans everywhere in response to the case modding scene because that's what users liked. But for adequate cooling, the standard front input/rear output configuration works just fine. There is a method behind the ATX standard, after all.

    Also if you care about silence, you don't want that many holes in your case for noise to escape out of, and the holes it does have you want to face away from you. The best configuration for both cooling and silence is to have an input fan facing the floor at the front, with the output fan blowing out the rear, and a separate chamber for the PSU located at the bottom of the case so it can draw/vent air separately from the rest of the case. You don't want any vents or exposed fans facing the front, top or sides of the case.

    My system's components run extremely hot: dual quad-core Xeons, Intel 5400 chipset, FB-DIMM memory, HD6870 graphics card and 1000W PSU. But everything is kept relatively cool and quiet with absolutely massive heatsinks and slow-turning PWM fans, none of which face me in my Cooler Master Cosmos 1000 case. The weakest point of this case is the top-mounted fans, but they are covered with fins directing their airflow and noise towards the rear.

    So my advice is to forget about building an exposed pile of fans and spend your money on a case that is designed for silence, and fill it with the largest heatsinks you can afford.

    Check out http://www.silentpcreview.com/section9.html for silent case reviews.

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    For the 120mm I would suggest Noctua, for the 200mm I would check out Xigmatek or NZXT.

    If you're looking for a case replacement, check out NZXT Phantom, or 810 case.
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    I disagree with Syndil on more openings equaling more noise. This certainly is not always the case, at least not if done correctly.

    I actually prefer more quiet fans over fewer louder ones. Going with more quiet fans will give you the necessary airflow while not creating significant bearing noise or vibration. I also recommend using the "rubber screws" that are available to attach them to the case, as this further avoids resonance.

    Now, the key when dealing with multiple fans is to setup the airflow properly, especially if it isn't the conventional front to back. The way to set it up is simply to remember that hot air rises. Specifically, the front and bottom are intake, while the back and top are exhaust. If you set it up this way, you shouldn't have any problems with cooling.

    Now, for a specific example I will use my personal server. I use a 3rd party heatsink for my CPU (dual-core E-series Celeron), with a quiet 92mm fan and a direct intake from the outside air. I don't remember the model of fan or heatsink though. In my case the PSU (Corsair HX850 with 120mm quiet fan) is on the bottom, and I have it setup as an intake. I also have 3 120mm exhaust fans, one in the rear and two on the top. For the exhaust fans I used these: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16835185005

    Unfortunately the seem harder to find now. There are actually three speeds available in this one, the model numbers ending in D, E and F. I got the middle speed (1200rpm). If you want ultra quiet, get the D, or if you don't mind a bit more noise, get the F. I personally find the E perfect, as they have good airflow and are essentially silent.

    Now, I also currently have 5 7200rpm 3.5" drives in the system, with room for 2 more. With this configuration, everything is cooled to well within spec, including all the drives. In addition, due to the use of quiet fans, the system is extremely quiet; I never notice the sound unless everything is off, including the ceiling fan. Even on low, the ceiling fan covers up the noise, and this is a very quiet Hunter fan. Even when I do her it, it is just the sound of moving air; no vibration or humming or anything like that.

    Oh, and I also recommend these for your drives: http://www.frys.com/product/5650831?...H:MAIN_RSLT_PG
    They're fairly inexpensive, and nice if you want hotswap capability. However, they also have another great use, and that is noise reduction. They have built in isolators, so the seeking and other drive noises are drastically reduced. Even with multiple drives under heavy seek, they're very hard to hear in anything but a perfectly quiet room.

  6. #6

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    I'm not necessarily recommending less fans, but a bunch of holes in your case (especially front-facing and side-facing) is a path for noise to escape. Doesn't matter how little of it there is, you will hear more of it if it's got a straight shot to your eardrums. A lot of these cases with vents and lighted fans everywhere are just for show and are not actually good at cooling, as the OP discovered regarding the Corsair 600T. I'd be looking for something with zero exposed vents/fans on the sides or front, preferably in a case that was designed with silence in mind, with features like noise damped side panels and a HDD suspension system. YMMV.

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    Thanks for all the input, guys. I enjoyed reading through the philosophies of cooling expounded upon here. Though I don't want a case that sounds like a helicopter taking off, I'm really not overly concerned with noise. I definitely agree there are a lot of cases that may look flashy or look like they'd have good cooling, but just have too many openings that serve to confuse the airflow rather than enhance it. However, I don't view Corsair's 600T as being like that. It'd be much simpler to just get a case that works out of the box, but I cannot find another case I like even half as much as the 600T, so I'll probably end up buying it and doing what I can to make it work.
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    Do what you want, but that thing is basically an open test bench chassis. Open on every side but one. Would basically be like running your system without a case at all. Zero chance of blocking any noise, and if you put higher-volume fans in there, it's just going to be that much louder.

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    I've used this unit on 4 PC builds so far with very good results

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...tec-_-35209054
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    Personally regarding computer cases I moved from a CoolerMaster case (with massive fans) to a CoolerMaster ATSC 840 to a Antec P182.

    The P182 will stay till its time to get rid of the computer and then I will probably build something with a HTPC case so I can rack mount it.

    The fans I use are dead silent (Noctua 120mm fans) and I cant hear them at all running at 1000 rpm. I also have them on a automatic fan controller as well and unless you get right next to the case you cant hear them.

    A great brand for case fans is Scythe, their fans normally make very little noise as well.
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  11. #11

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    Cooler Master Cosmos 1000
    Best case i ever bought to this date. Has had 3 different computers in it within the last 6-8 years and i will never part with it. A 4th is in the works....

    As everyone has already stated Scythe and Noctua are fantastic fans for quality and noise levels. I've even used Thermaltake but some say they are louder than the others. I wouldn't really know as the case i have has sheets of sound dampening in it.

    That 600T case looks pretty slick. I'd say go for the Special Edition version, black cases are boring.
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    If noise is an issue then use a fan controller to manage fan speed, etc. Very simple fix.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    Do what you want, but that thing is basically an open test bench chassis. Open on every side but one. Would basically be like running your system without a case at all. Zero chance of blocking any noise, and if you put higher-volume fans in there, it's just going to be that much louder.
    I agree. I look for cases that have exhaust on the back, and intake on the front only, with that setup you don't even need front fans, they don't do anything. You can only intake as much as you exhaust, no more. This arrangement also allows you to put a filter in the front, and keep the case from sucking in tons of dust. I don't understand why case manufacturers put vents on the side or bottom, you want the air to flow all the way through the case, not just half of it.

    In twelve years I have yet to find a case that has better airflow than my trusty old Antec SX-840. I've grown quite attached to it.
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    Wow, this got a lot more responses!

    I'm really not sure I understand the overwhelming criticism of the Corsair 600T's ventilation. However, I do admit I don't like the mesh on the side door and would get a windowed version with no openings on the side door. However, front, back, top, and bottom all seem to be fair game to me. Intake at the front, exhaust at the back and top (where hot air ends up anyways). And then a vent on the bottom for the bottom-mount PSU. I don't see anything inherently wrong with that setup, just Corsair's execution, ie crappy fans.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lasareath View Post
    I've used this unit on 4 PC builds so far with very good results

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...tec-_-35209054
    Very interesting idea! I remember seeing some of those before and had considered the idea. How do those work? They come filled with coolant and they're a sealed loop that can't be added to? Or can they be maintained and topped off?

    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Personally regarding computer cases I moved from a CoolerMaster case (with massive fans) to a CoolerMaster ATSC 840 to a Antec P182.

    The P182 will stay till its time to get rid of the computer and then I will probably build something with a HTPC case so I can rack mount it.

    The fans I use are dead silent (Noctua 120mm fans) and I cant hear them at all running at 1000 rpm. I also have them on a automatic fan controller as well and unless you get right next to the case you cant hear them.

    A great brand for case fans is Scythe, their fans normally make very little noise as well.
    I've heard "Noctua" mentioned almost everywhere. Will definitely have to check them out.

    Quote Originally Posted by mrbiron View Post
    Best case i ever bought to this date. Has had 3 different computers in it within the last 6-8 years and i will never part with it. A 4th is in the works....

    As everyone has already stated Scythe and Noctua are fantastic fans for quality and noise levels. I've even used Thermaltake but some say they are louder than the others. I wouldn't really know as the case i have has sheets of sound dampening in it.

    That 600T case looks pretty slick. I'd say go for the Special Edition version, black cases are boring.
    Friend of mine had an early model of CM's Cosmos, and I really liked it. Was a beast of a case!

    Quote Originally Posted by WilliamM2 View Post
    I agree. I look for cases that have exhaust on the back, and intake on the front only, with that setup you don't even need front fans, they don't do anything. You can only intake as much as you exhaust, no more. This arrangement also allows you to put a filter in the front, and keep the case from sucking in tons of dust. I don't understand why case manufacturers put vents on the side or bottom, you want the air to flow all the way through the case, not just half of it.

    In twelve years I have yet to find a case that has better airflow than my trusty old Antec SX-840. I've grown quite attached to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Personally regarding computer cases I moved from a CoolerMaster case (with massive fans) to a CoolerMaster ATSC 840 to a Antec P182.
    The voice of experience. The Antec P180 series is where a lot of people end up when they tire of fan noise--a superbly designed case. I imagine the ATSC 840 would have been much quieter were it not for the two ridiculously large 230MM fan openings in the top. Could have been a decent case if not for that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    The voice of experience. The Antec P180 series is where a lot of people end up when they tire of fan noise--a superbly designed case. I imagine the ATSC 840 would have been much quieter were it not for the two ridiculously large 230MM fan openings in the top. Could have been a decent case if not for that.
    It was actually super quiet, but waaaayyyy to big in the end so I downsized it.
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    Good to know. They would have been right over my FB-DIMMs in my system, along with the fastest-spinning fan. So not really an option for me unless I ducted the top exhaust ports towards the rear like on the Cosmos. Of course they're about the same size anyway, so...

    I'm always on the lookout for a smaller case to cram my system into.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    Good to know. They would have been right over my FB-DIMMs in my system, along with the fastest-spinning fan. So not really an option for me unless I ducted the top exhaust ports towards the rear like on the Cosmos. Of course they're about the same size anyway, so...

    I'm always on the lookout for a smaller case to cram my system into.
    Yeah, I had the front one as an intake, the rear as an exhaust and 2 Noctua 120mm fans on the CPU heatsink and it was still deathly quiet, mostly due to the low rpm's I set all my fans at. I also added noise damping material to all sides of the case which helped a lot.
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    I have tested a bunch of 140mm and 120mm fans, both as case fans as well as CPU fans, through my review site. Noctua comes up tops and is what I usually recommend unless you are really on a tight budget (which it does not sound like you are).
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    The Scythe Slipstream 120mm 1200 RPM fans are one of the best case fans out there in terms of air flow and noise. I had 4 of them in my old Antec 300 in addition to a 140mm exhaust.

    Im also gonna disagree with the opinions above on cooling. I'm an avid overclocker and a gamer so I've got a GPU as well as a CPU that needs to be cooled. Those side openings are meant to cool a big, overclocked GPU and they work very well.

    I just this weekend moved over to a Corsair 500R which has a single 200mm fan on the side panel. I've dropped 2 degrees on my CPU under load with this case due to the increased air flow.

    If you're an overclocker and really hammer on your rig, you want all these fans. If you leave everything set to stock speeds then you wont so I'd just leave the stock fans in place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacLeod View Post
    The Scythe Slipstream 120mm 1200 RPM fans are one of the best case fans out there in terms of air flow and noise. I had 4 of them in my old Antec 300 in addition to a 140mm exhaust.

    Im also gonna disagree with the opinions above on cooling. I'm an avid overclocker and a gamer so I've got a GPU as well as a CPU that needs to be cooled. Those side openings are meant to cool a big, overclocked GPU and they work very well.

    I just this weekend moved over to a Corsair 500R which has a single 200mm fan on the side panel. I've dropped 2 degrees on my CPU under load with this case due to the increased air flow.

    If you're an overclocker and really hammer on your rig, you want all these fans. If you leave everything set to stock speeds then you wont so I'd just leave the stock fans in place.
    Either way your case is setup, airflow is important. Sometimes a side intake is nice, sometimes its not (if your sititng right next to it.)

    Just like cable management there are lots of ways to skin a cat here. I personally have used all kinds of different methods (cases with side intakes, top intakes, front intakes) and in the end personally prefer the 182, mostly due to the extra dampening thats added in the case. I dont find it to hurt my CPU Q9650 OC'd to 4.0 Ghz or my GPU AMD 4650 (used to be a 4870x2) even with its lack of a side intake. As long as you get air moving past the parts and out effeciently it doesnt matter.

    Obviously if you have multiple GPUs where the bottom intake fan on the GPU has little space a side intake is better. If you dont have that sometimes a front intake is better. Sometimes its better to get a case like the Lian-Li's where the CPU is at the bottom and the GPU is at the top. Totally depends on your setup, heat dissapation needs and where your planning on putting the case.
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    My antec 900 has quite a bit of fan noise...but it doesn't really bother me. Maybe I just got used to it?

    I don't think I could go back to a case that doesn't have storage on the top. Great place to keep my extra USB's / SD cards.
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    Quote Originally Posted by EndersShadow View Post
    Either way your case is setup, airflow is important. Sometimes a side intake is nice, sometimes its not (if your sititng right next to it.)
    True. If we were to have a pissing contest on whose system shed the most heat, I think I would win, OC'd or not. My FB-DIMMs alone idle at ~70C, and under extreme load I have had them up to 110C. In case you haven't grasped it, that's hotter than boiling water--and it is perfectly within spec. The advanced memory buffer chip (the "B" in FB-DIMM) on these are quite efficient at turning electricity into heat--which of course is exactly what you don't want in a PC component. The Xeon CPU I am using has a max TDP of 120W, and there are two of them. Four spinning hard drives, 1000W PSU, NTSC/QAM tuner (those run pretty hot), X-Fi sound card, Radeon HD6870... All stays cool and quiet in my Cosmos 1000 with fully-damped side panels and no exposed vents on the front.

    Yes, those FB-DIMMs run stupidly hot. The memory manufacturers have stopped attempting to make fully-buffered memory any more because of the heat issues, but it's what I am stuck with. For a 4-year-old system, however, it will still outperform all but the most extreme modern systems, so I have no motivation to upgrade. I'll run this system till it dies, probably.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    True. If we were to have a pissing contest on whose system shed the most heat, I think I would win, OC'd or not. My FB-DIMMs alone idle at ~70C, and under extreme load I have had them up to 110C. In case you haven't grasped it, that's hotter than boiling water--and it is perfectly within spec. The advanced memory buffer chip (the "B" in FB-DIMM) on these are quite efficient at turning electricity into heat--which of course is exactly what you don't want in a PC component. The Xeon CPU I am using has a max TDP of 120W, and there are two of them. Four spinning hard drives, 1000W PSU, NTSC/QAM tuner (those run pretty hot), X-Fi sound card, Radeon HD6870... All stays cool and quiet in my Cosmos 1000 with fully-damped side panels and no exposed vents on the front.

    Yes, those FB-DIMMs run stupidly hot. The memory manufacturers have stopped attempting to make fully-buffered memory any more because of the heat issues, but it's what I am stuck with. For a 4-year-old system, however, it will still outperform all but the most extreme modern systems, so I have no motivation to upgrade. I'll run this system till it dies, probably.
    Its not about a pissing contest or e-peen. That's just ridiculous. If you're overclocking, the more cooling you have, the higher you're going to be able to overclock. I've got my X6 at 4.0 but have to stop there because I would have to go from 1.45V up to 1.49V in order to get it stable at a higher speed and at that voltage, I shoot up to 62C pretty fast which is the max safe voltage for Phenoms. So if I can get more cool air flowing thru my case, that will lower the CPU temp as well and Ill be able to push it faster.

    If you're not overclocking them you don't need that much cooling because the stock CPU or GPU cooler or heat fins on your RAM or NB or whatever will be sufficient. If you're an avid overclocker and looking for the best results you can get, you'll need more and the more fresh, cool air flowing thru your case the better your results will be.
    Last edited by MacLeod; 05-07-2012 at 02:00 PM.
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    My point was that if I can keep my beast of a system going without the need for side vents and massive fans, anyone can. If you want to push your hardware to the edge of the envelope, that's another story. The OP made no mention of OC'ing.

    BTW OC'ing is all about having a bigger e-peen. Totally pointless other than seeing slightly larger numbers from benchmark software.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    BTW OC'ing is all about having a bigger e-peen. Totally pointless other than seeing slightly larger numbers from benchmark software.
    Depends, for things that are CPU intensive (converting FLAC to AIFF, zipping large video files) the more Ghz you can get per core the faster it goes. Is there a point that the returns diminish, of course, but those same limits exist in audio too . Doesnt mean we dont ignore em
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    I'd argue that the returns are diminished from the start. Saving a second or two encoding a file isn't worth all the extra heat, noise and wear on your components. That's why I built a beast of a system that did not require OC'ing. YMMV.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    My point was that if I can keep my beast of a system going without the need for side vents and massive fans, anyone can. If you want to push your hardware to the edge of the envelope, that's another story. The OP made no mention of OC'ing.
    Right which is why I said you don't need any additional cooling if you're not overclocking.

    BTW OC'ing is all about having a bigger e-peen. Totally pointless other than seeing slightly larger numbers from benchmark software.
    Sorry but that's just wrong. Overclocking aside from being fun, is about getting a nice, FREE performance boost out of your gear. Overclocking your rig can give up to 20% boosts in performance which is a big deal. I remember when the GTX460 video card came out back in 2010. You could buy it for well under $200 but you could overclock the nads off that thing and it would perform equal to a $400 GTX480. You just got $400 worth of performance for $185. The current $350 7950 will outperform a stock $480 7970 when its overclocked. You just saved $130. I personally got over a 20% bump in frame rates by overclocking my previous rig by overclocking my 4850 and Phenom II X2 which was not only overclocked but also unlocked to a 3 core CPU. My current 5870 wont hardly overclock but my X6 will and while I picked up a nice bump in frame rates with it OC'd, I picked up a big increase in minimum frames because Phenoms really come to life when you overclock their NB's.

    Go around and look at CPU and GPU reviews that shows overclocked results as well. Its a sizeable bump in most cases.

    Do you need to? No especially if you're running a $500 processor but if you want to buy a $200 i5-2500K and crank on it to where it'll outperform that $500 CPU, then it is by all means worth it not to mention a lot of fun.
    Last edited by MacLeod; 05-07-2012 at 02:34 PM.
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    If your system is hooked to an LCD panel, it's limited by its refresh rate anyway, which, unless you have one of the newer 120Hz models, is 60Hz. So any FPS over 60 and you're going to have tearing unless you enable vertical sync, in which case you simply discard the extra FPS.

    Anyway I prefer to buy hardware that will meet my performance needs without overclocking. If you want to save a couple hundred bucks at the sacrifice of extra heat, extra noise and increased wear on your components just to have a few extra FPS...

    Each of my two CPUs cost >$1000 when new, so obviously we don't share the same design philosophy.

    Anyway the OP made no mention of OC'ing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Syndil View Post
    If your system is hooked to an LCD panel, it's limited by its refresh rate anyway, which, unless you have one of the newer 120Hz models, is 60Hz. So any FPS over 60 and you're going to have tearing unless you enable vertical sync, in which case you simply discard the extra FPS.

    Anyway I prefer to buy hardware that will meet my performance needs without overclocking. If you want to save a couple hundred bucks at the sacrifice of extra heat, extra noise and increased wear on your components just to have a few extra FPS...

    Each of my two CPUs cost >$1000 when new, so obviously we don't share the same design philosophy.

    Anyway the OP made no mention of OC'ing.
    At 1920x1080, there are a TON of games that take a lot of horsepower to get to 60 fps. There are no single cards that will play Metro at max settings and give a steady 60 fps. Batman Arkham City and Crysis 2 are also beasts at DX11. BF3 will also take a lot of GPU muscle.

    But yeah, I don't think its a bad idea to save a few hundred bucks but getting the same performamce at the expense of a little extra noise. Heat and wear and tear are non issues. So if you want to spend $2000 on processors then that's great but I'd rather go with a <$200 proc, overclock it and get a ton of performance. And like I said, its a lot of fun and that's a big reason as well.
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