Articles: Cases/PSU

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The Zalman TNN500A permits installation of an optionally purchased and more powerful PSU – its landing place is marked on the side panel. Compared to the ZM-350, that PSU takes more space. If you prefer to leave the standard PSU, you should be very careful when assembling a system: a powerful graphics card needs 3-5amp on the 12v line; a top-end processor requires 5-7amp more; and the hard and optical drives take 1-2amp. Thus, it is very simple to reach the maximum of 12amp, and the PSU will be working under very harsh conditions.

Let’s move on. The central processor and the graphics processor – the hottest components of any system – are cooled with heat pipes. The CPU, as the main heat source in the system, has as many as six heat pipes:

With one end, the pipes go into a special unit that contacts the CPU. With their other end, the pipes fit into the aluminum “landing grounds” that transfer heat to the side panel of the case. The CPU unit is a massive contraption consisting of two parts: one, all-copper with golden coating, transfers heat from the CPU to the heat pipes; the other, aluminum, is placed on top and is fastened with heavy screws for a tight contact between the pipes and the copper part:

The surface of the copper unit is smooth, but not ideally flat, as you can see in the photo:

Zalman claims this system can digest up to 150 watts of heat. This is evidently enough for all the modern processors. Note that the set of heat pipes that you receive with the TNN500A and see in my pictures suits only those mainboards that have the CPU socket near their edge. For mainboards with the CPU socket shifted to the center, i.e. farther from the “landing grounds” of the heat pipes on the side panel, you have to use longer pipes. These longer pipes are purchased separately.

The GPU is cooled down with heat pipes, too. With one end, these pipes contact the GPU unit, with another – the side panel of the case, using the same aluminum fastenings as the CPU heat pipes do:

The GPU cooling system is capable of removing up to 50 watts of heat, and that’s enough even for the new-generation cards. However, Zalman recommends using another set of pipes with graphics cards more powerful than the RADEON 9700 and GeForce FX 5700. Such pipes are fastened to the side panels with their ends and to the GPU unit with their middle. You may have guessed that such pipe-work is purchased separately, too.

Special aluminum plates are fastened to the top slab of the case – you can accommodate two optical drives on them. Lower, there’s a special cooling basket for the hard disk drive:

This basket contacts with the sides of the hard disk, and the row of heat pipes, inserted into the sides of the basket, must facilitate heat transfer to the air inside the case. The basket is fastened to the panels with four stiff rubber bushes – you can see one in the snapshot.

So, the TNN500A, unlike a decent computer, does not have a single fan. Heat is taken off the system components by means of heat pipes, or air, or through direct contact (through the mounting plate and the side panel). So, the only noise sources of such a system will be hard and optical drives – they have moving parts. Well, even the drives will be more quiet in the TNN500A than in ordinary cases – the drives installed on the ledges attached to the side panel of the case produce much less vibration and noise due to the stiff fastening and the huge mass of the case that absorbs vibration. The drive installed into the cooling basket is less noisy because of the stiff hanger. For the system to be even more silent, Zalman quite expectedly recommends that you use hard disk drives with fluid dynamic bearings.

Now that we are done with the internal inspection, I am going to try to assemble a system in the TNN500A.

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