You are here

Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

For anything relating to music-making on Windows computers, with lots of FAQs. Moderated by Martin Walker.

Moderator: Moderators

Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby AMOS63 » Sun May 09, 2021 11:53 pm

I'm getting a Dell gaming desktop with an i7 8 core and 16GB RAM for recording onto Reaper, what would be a good CPU Cooler upgrade? I'm just a serious hobbyist but I don't want the CPU getting hot in the middle of a session. That appears to be one area this PC comes up short.
User avatar
AMOS63
Poster
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:44 pm
Location: Bourne, MA USA

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby rebelhead » Sun May 09, 2021 11:57 pm

I'm curious too. I've been looking at some nice looking ones on aliexpress. Currently my thermal paste is yucky so it's running pretty warm right now!

Sent from my ONEPLUS A6013 using Tapatalk
rebelhead
New here
Posts: 6
Joined: Fri Feb 14, 2020 1:58 am

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby Funkyflash5 » Mon May 10, 2021 2:11 am

I'd go with something from either Noctua or Be Quiet, a good quality air cooler with a very quiet fan is going to be plenty of cooling for modern CPUs unless you're seriously overclocking (which I'd avoid from a stability standpoint) or you're running something with 32+ cores. I went with the Shadow Rock 3 from Be Quiet for my last build, and it's plenty good for what I'm running. A Noctua NH-U12s or NH-D15 would also do well but are a touch spendier. No mater what, make sure you have room in the case for whatever you get! And if you're serious about noise you will probably want to replace all the stock case fans with quiet ones.
Funkyflash5
Regular
Posts: 98
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2018 12:43 am
Location: Wisconsin, USA

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby Logarhythm » Mon May 10, 2021 5:36 am

FWIW I'm very impressed with the Noctua NH-U14S I put in the new build I did a couple of months ago. Their website has a good compatibility section, although not sure they'll have OEM Dell cases on there.
Logarhythm
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1088
Joined: Fri Mar 30, 2012 12:00 am
Location: On an intergalactic voyage to collect fresh electrons

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby Moroccomoose » Mon May 10, 2021 6:32 am

A quick check on Google suggests the thermal dissipation power of an i7 is 130W. The Tmax is 100°C. Assuming a worst case ambient temp of 30°c then the thermal performance you require is (100-30)/130 = 0.5°C/W. You probably want some headroom (i.e. not run your processor at 100°C) so let's use (70-30)/130=0.307°C/W. Some of your thermal budget is consumed by the thermal grease joint. Allow at least 0.1°C/W, which means you need a heatsink with a thermal performance of around 0.2°C/W.

When applying thermal grease, more is not better
!! The thermal grease is only to fill in the microscopic voids of air caused by the surface roughness of the cpu and heatsink surfaces. Apply the grease sparingly. Enough so you get a bit of 'tac' between the surfaces, but there should be no squeeze out.

Now you know the thermal performance you require, you can shortlist your heatsink according to your noise requirements.

HTH.

Stu.
Moroccomoose
Regular
Posts: 346
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 12:00 am
Location: Leicester

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby merlyn » Mon May 10, 2021 12:02 pm

The stock cooler you get with a machine will be good enough from a temperature point of view. The reason to get a better cooler for an audio machine is that better coolers can be quieter.

be quiet! and Noctua make quiet fans and quiet coolers.

I got a Noctua D-15 recently and it is quiet. be quiet! have the Dark Rock 4 which is similiar. They're both very big and wouldn't fit in most cases. The D-15 is 160mm high and to fit this in you need a wide case -- the case I got will take coolers up to 185mm, and that is a big case compared with my last one.

The D-15 is about as big as an air cooler can get -- it hangs out over the RAM and that limits the RAM you can use -- the maximum height of a RAM stick is 40mm. That wasn't a problem for me as RAM over 40mm has the top part as a disco light show in the form of RGB. Non-RGB RAM like Crucial Ballistix or Corsiar Vengenace LPX is less than 40mm high.

Dell are also known for using non-standard layouts, so you will need to check the sizes carefully.
merlyn
Regular
Posts: 308
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:15 am
It ain't what you don't know. It's what you know that ain't so.

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby AMOS63 » Mon May 10, 2021 10:17 pm

Thanks for all the replies!
User avatar
AMOS63
Poster
Posts: 30
Joined: Sun Jul 21, 2019 7:44 pm
Location: Bourne, MA USA

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby S.Crow » Tue May 11, 2021 11:05 pm

Some OEM systems use proprietary mounting systems for their CPU heatsinks which means they won't be compatible with retail heatsinks.

It would help if you list the model number of the CPU as their power consumption can vary a lot.
The i9 K versions can pull 250W and that's before you overclock.
For DAW usage I doubt you would get close to that.
S.Crow
Regular
Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2021 4:34 pm

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby uselessoldman » Wed May 12, 2021 8:41 am

I am not sure putting a better cooler in their will help since the case is a custom design. Looking on Google it appears there might be as few as two case fans, one on the front and one on the back with not much if any room for more. But what would worry me more is the apparent lack of hard drive storage bays. The bios appears to have 2xM2 and 4xSata, one of the M2 is WiFI but where in heck do the 4 SATA drives go, I only see 2.

The reason business likes Dell and HP is continuity and consistency, build one system and you can roll them out in their hundreds, not something you much care about at home. The other issue is down the road when you came to upgrade. Its a proprietor system board, designed specifically for that case and range of computers. You cannot just dump in any old board, or a newer one once its older. Similarly once its out of warranty and you have any issues, you have to replace like for like same goes for the power supply.

I have a couple of older HP Z600s Pro Workstations with same issues, lack of storage bays. However they run dual Xeon and use cheaper to source EEC Registered memory so I was able to get 64Gb for less than half standard desktop. I also paid peanuts for them since who buys old systems?

Looking at their price £1,399 thats £440 CPU £220 GPU £90 memory £50 M2 it sounds a little on the steep side for what you actually get in the box. What do you get for the extra £500? A case and 500 watt power supply? Would I personally recommend it for audio production?

I also found 16Gb to be just under what my system really used and needed. I found an extra 8Gb made a huge difference when running multiple Kontakt tracks, Superior Drummer and other sampled plugins together. 8Gb is fine for recording a live band through a audio interface/mixer, but at home creating what would be a studio album it can use a lot more and there lies the issue.

Nope.
uselessoldman
Regular
Posts: 244
Joined: Sun May 03, 2020 7:39 pm

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby Wonks » Wed May 12, 2021 9:01 am

Is there much point fitting a quiet CPU fan if the high-end video card has several noisy ones? One downside of using a gaming machine for audio if it’s going to be in your recording or mixing space. You don’t need all that 3D processing power for simple 2D DAW graphics.
User avatar
Wonks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11625
Joined: Thu May 29, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Reading, UK
Correcting mistakes on the internet since 1853

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby uselessoldman » Wed May 12, 2021 9:36 am

to be fair the 1660 Ti is a decent if only towards the low end gaming graphics card and considering the current issue with availability and prices, not such a bad choice. The fact using two screen can be useful for music having 6Gb of GPU RAM would be beneficial.
uselessoldman
Regular
Posts: 244
Joined: Sun May 03, 2020 7:39 pm

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby S.Crow » Wed May 12, 2021 1:50 pm

Wonks wrote:Is there much point fitting a quiet CPU fan if the high-end video card has several noisy ones? One downside of using a gaming machine for audio if it’s going to be in your recording or mixing space. You don’t need all that 3D processing power for simple 2D DAW graphics.

Most decent retail GPUs have a semi passive mode whereby the fans don't spin at all until the GPU is put under a decent load, so for DAW usage they will be silent.
Not sure about OEM cards though!
S.Crow
Regular
Posts: 59
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2021 4:34 pm

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby jaminem » Thu May 13, 2021 10:25 pm

Why would you buy a gaming pc for recording? Seems like buying a Lamborghini to go off roading in? (Urus aside)
jaminem
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1168
Joined: Mon Mar 19, 2001 1:00 am

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby uselessoldman » Fri May 14, 2021 7:27 pm

I would guess there are people who can't justify, can't afford or just do not have the room for more than one computer. Also for many its a happy medium, a case of casual gaming and some music production neither one being necessarily a priority over the other.

We are not taking audiophile here we are taking music so there not so much up their ass in electrical interference, and its not a gaming forum where there all going on about the most powerful GPU or overclocking beyond normal settings. Its a little more down to earth practical solutions that makes our systems perform best and none of it rocket science.

The difference between a music system and gaming is one demands more RAM other other better graphics, the rest is basic off the shelf components everyone has and probably uses. I know plenty with steam libraries that dwarf many sample libraries, and others who demand the speed for fps etc. is that frames per second or first person shootups? I'm never quite sure what which, but speed also benefits music to.

AS for Dell HP etc thats another debate, same goes for those who choose Intel over AMD or nVidia over ATi Radeon (Now AMD), or those who can afford a Merc over those who make do with second best and buy a BMW against Mr Practical who buys a more affordable and still offers plenty of quality an Audi.
uselessoldman
Regular
Posts: 244
Joined: Sun May 03, 2020 7:39 pm

Re: Good CPU Coolers for Audio PC's

Postby merlyn » Tue May 18, 2021 1:48 pm

jaminem wrote:Why would you buy a gaming pc for recording? Seems like buying a Lamborghini to go off roading in? (Urus aside)

The car metaphor was used in another thread and may be a good way of understanding how servers, gaming machines and audio machines differ.

'Off-road' suggests rugged and indestructible. That's more like a server.

Servers are all about throughput and there is a trade-off between throughput and responsiveness. Let's say a server is like a transit van. A gaming machine is like a formula one car. An audio machine is like a small transit van that can take corners at 90mph.

The division in computer hardware is between server components and consumer components. The crazy powerful new chips like Ryzen 5000 series are consumer components. Server components are AMD Epyc and Intel Xeon. The advances in consumer hardware are due to a large extent to the demands of gamers. A lot of high performance consumer hardware does have the word 'gaming' in its name, and that shouldn't necessarily put a person off. For example I recently bought 3600MHz RAM which is described as 'gaming RAM', not 'audio RAM' although when I put it in it showed an improvement in audio performance.

An audio machine is kind of unique because it is aiming for the ideal of a 'real time system'. General purpose operating systems like Linux, Windows or MacOS are never going to be truly real time. An audio machine attempts to get as close as possible.

The main difference with a gaming machine is the emphasis on the graphics card. A gaming machine could have a CPU a couple of steps from the top but a top tier graphics card. With an audio machine the graphics are less important and the CPU is the most important, although if you also do video a reasonable amount of graphics power is recommended.

I've spoken with senior IT professionals who didn't get why I would want a 'real time' system. Their background is in servers and it sounds like a bit of a disaster to them as their focus is on throughput.
merlyn
Regular
Posts: 308
Joined: Thu Nov 07, 2019 3:15 am
It ain't what you don't know. It's what you know that ain't so.

Next