Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

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Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 9:28 am

Hello!

I am someone who has always built their own PC, mostly because I dont have a computer shop nearby that I trust enough to do things the way I want them to be. Maybe I am not trusting enough, but I had a bad experience. And I enjoy building the PC, aside from that.

I am looking at building a new PC, and one of the things it should be is quiet. In general I am thinking along the lines of March 2012's system review's sweet spot machine, which includes the NZXT H2 enclosure, but I am wondering if the additional components (especially of course the cooler that comes with CPU and graphics card, as well as the PSU) are quiet enough, or whether I should choose something else. Also I am wondering, since most cases allow for up to X additional fans to cool the gear, but I have not yet found a good guide as in just for how many fans I should go. Are the fans that come with the case enough? Do I need any additional fans at all?

I guess it would be good to say what I want to do with my build. Aside from work, I want to play strategy games and such at good graphics settings. Right now I am thinking Total War series and Diablo 3 - so no hardware-heavy 3D-Ego Shooters planned. The question is, maybe I am even performing an overkill with the sweet spot machine (Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz, EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti Superclocked) - maybe I could go for a little less horsepower and invest the saved bucks into quieter gear. But then again, as I upgrade very infrequently, I d like a build that will keep me happy for a little while,not something that is completely outdated in no time at all. Maybe I want too many things at one time.

Since computer gear evolves so fast, and I don't regularly keep up to date, I have to start from scratch every time I decide to invest in a new machine. Therefore, I would be all too happy for any pointers and tips anyone can give!

Thanks in advance!

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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:31 am

If you reduce the amount of heat that your computer generates, you won't need as much airflow for cooling. That makes it easier to keep the noise level low. Nearly every bit of the energy consumed by your PC is turned into heat.

For lower power consumption, you want a GPU fabricated on TSMC's current 28nm process instead of the previous-generation GPUs produced on their 40nm process. Either wait for NVidia's new mid-range GPU to arrive or else get a Radeon HD7850 instead of the GeForce GTX560Ti. As a bonus, it's also a significantly better performer in games.
Power usage:
http://techreport.com/articles.x/22573/10
Performance and price:
http://techreport.com/articles.x/22573/12

Intel's 22nm Ivy Bridge processors will come out in a month with similar performance to last year's 32nm Sandy Bridge processors but with less power consumption. The Core i5-3570K Ivy Bridge processor is slated to replace the Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge CPU in the price/performance sweet spot. If you're buying today, Intel's Sandy Bridge offers lower power consumption than AMD's Zambezi for similar performance levels.
http://techreport.com/articles.x/21987/15

For your graphics card, processor and power supply (the three components that generate most of the heat in your PC) You want large coolers with large fans spinning slowly instead of small fans spinning fast.

Recent enthusiast motherboards from Asus have done a better job than the competitors at controlling your case fans. This may influence your motherboard selection. Don't get a motherboard with a whiny failure-prone 40mm fan on the chipset. Large passive coolers with heat pipes are quieter and much more reliable.

Once you've selected components that generate less heat, put them into a quiet enclosure. Antec's P183 V3 comes to mind along with the NZXT H2 that you mentioned. You may end up replacing the original case fans with quieter PWM-controlled versions. This list may be helpful.

The folks over at http://www.silentpcreview.com can provide you some good tips and noise-specific component reviews.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 10:40 am

JAE, those are great suggestions and links. I am also considering building a quiet PC. Thanks a lot!
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 11:47 am

Take a serious look at Coolermaster's tower-style heatpipe CPU coolers. Even the inexpensive ones like the Hyper TX3 provide better cooling than stock retail Intel/AMD HSFs, at significantly reduced noise level. I really like the TX3 because it is an easy retrofit (compatible with the standard HSF mounting bracket on all recent AMD motherboards); but for a new build you could even go with a larger one that requires replacement of the backing plate underneath the motherboard like the 212 EVO, for even lower noise level.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:01 pm

Schlendrian wrote:Hello!
[...]I guess it would be good to say what I want to do with my build. Aside from work, I want to play strategy games and such at good graphics settings. Right now I am thinking Total War series and Diablo 3 - so no hardware-heavy 3D-Ego Shooters planned. The question is, maybe I am even performing an overkill with the sweet spot machine (Intel Core i5-2500K 3.3GHz, EVGA GeForce GTX 560 Ti Superclocked) - maybe I could go for a little less horsepower and invest the saved bucks into quieter gear. But then again, as I upgrade very infrequently, I d like a build that will keep me happy for a little while,not something that is completely outdated in no time at all. Maybe I want too many things at one time.[...]


@CPU cooling
If you get the 2500K you need an overkill CPU cooler to keep the noise down while sporting good temps. I'm thinking something along the line of a Prolimatech Megahelms or Termalright Archon or if you can afford it, a Noctua D14 or Thermalright Silver Arrow. All the fans on the aformentioned coolers are considered "quiet".

@GPU cooling
The lowest noise is always produced by custom coolers. You got 2 options, either buy a custom cooled card already equipped by the board partner, like MSI Twin Frozr or Asus DirectCu, to name a few, or buy a stock card and an aftermarket cooler from independent companies like Arctic, Thermalright etc....and install the cooler yourself. If you choose the 2nd option keep in mind to choose a card from a board partner that will not void the warranty if you replace the original cooler (EVGA afaik maintains the warranty even if you change the cooler, be sure to read more about it on their website as not all variants might be covered).

@Case cooling
There are cases out there that have been specially made to isolate the noise as much as possible. On top of my head i remember Antec doing some SKUs and also Cooler Master. Another choice would be to buy a good case and add the noise isolating foam yourself.
But that's only if you need the system to be absolutely silent. In my situation i'm not that demanding although i despise noisey systems myself. But in my case silent fans are all i need. My advice is to buy a case and replace the original fans with something like Scythe Gentle Typhoon and add a fan controller.
Antec line of silent cases
http://www.antec.com/Believe_it/product.php?Per=NA==

CM Silencio 550
http://www.coolermaster-usa.com/product ... e=Silencio 550

I haven't kept in touch with the latest and greatest in terms of fans but there are extensive articles out there that can give you the best fans that make a good compromise between silence and airflow.

@PSU
I remeber from back when i used to read "silent computing" posts on overclock.net they also kept notice of what PSU to use. Some considered the PSU to be the noisiest part of their PC :roll:
If this is your type, then i'd recommend the gold series of PSUs from Seasonic. They are known to be extremely quiet, actually during idle or low demand the fan of these PSUs shuts down on it's own :wink:

@HDD
Mechanical HDDs can be noisey and annoying as hell. I mean i got one, it's a SATA II Western Digital Caviar Black....you should also pay attention to what HDD you choose. For silent computing ofc the best HDD is an SSD.....
Last edited by Arclight on Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:15 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Disclaimer: All answers and suggestions are provided by an enthusiastic amateur and are therefore without warranty either explicit or implicit. Basically you use my suggestions at your own risk.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:04 pm

just brew it! wrote:Take a serious look at Coolermaster's tower-style heatpipe CPU coolers.... like the 212 EVO, for even lower noise level.
The Newegg TV video on that page has a good explanation of the differences between the older Hyper 212+ and the newer Hyper 212 Evo.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:16 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:
just brew it! wrote:Take a serious look at Coolermaster's tower-style heatpipe CPU coolers.... like the 212 EVO, for even lower noise level.

The Newegg TV video on that page has a good explanation of the differences between the older Hyper 212+ and the newer Hyper 212 Evo.

Ahh, hadn't bothered to click that. So they've bent the heatpipes inward, to concentrate the contact area around the center of the CPU package where most of the heat is going to come from. Seems like a sensible modification to me; Coolermaster continues to impress.

Edit: The only nitpick I have with them is their use of sleeve bearing fans. But I also realize that this isn't just a cost tradeoff; sleeve bearings -- while less reliable than ball bearings -- also tend to be quieter. Even if you decide to slap an aftermarket fan (or would that be after-aftermarket given that Coolermaster is already an aftermarket HSF vendor?) on their HSFs, they are still good value from a price/performance perspective.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:25 pm

When the pump on a three-month-old Corsair Hydro H70 failed, I installed a CoolerMaster Hyper 212+ on a Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition in its place. The CoolerMaster unit was essentially silent, certainly no louder than the much more expensive, bulkier, heavier and apparently less reliable water cooling system that it replaced. The improvements in the newer Evo version seem worthwhile, as well.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Sun Apr 01, 2012 12:30 pm

JustAnEngineer wrote:When the pump on a three-month-old Corsair Hydro H70 failed, I installed a CoolerMaster Hyper 212+ on a Phenom II X4 955 Black Edition in its place. The CoolerMaster unit was essentially silent, certainly no louder than the much more expensive, bulkier, heavier and apparently less reliable water cooling system that it replaced. The improvements in the newer Evo version seem worthwhile, as well.

Yup. Coolermaster seems to be the current "rock star" if you want an affordable, effective, quiet, and (possibly) more reliable CPU cooling solution. (And I only add the "possible" qualifier to the reliability side of the equation because I've only been using them for a year or so... but so far, so good.)
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:58 am

Corsair just put out their silence-oriented 550D (Anandtech's review). Looks nice. It has foam on the panels and a door as opposed to a grill on the front which seem to be the biggest factors in preventing sound from leaking out. Lots of similar cases on the market, though. ottomh, there's Cooler Master's Silencio 450 and 550, the aforementioned P183 and the updated P280, Silverstone's FT02 and Fractal Design's Define series (XL, R3 and Mini). I'm sure there's like half a dozen others, too, at least.

If you like tinkering and have some extra cash to spend on the project, you could also get stuff from e.g. Acousti who make specialist noise-reducing products for PCs and servers, or you could get industrial sound-dampening foams from McMaster-Carr or similar outlets.

The preinstalled fans should suit you just fine in any reasonable $100-or-so case if you're not overclocking. JAE's recommendation of a Radeon 7xxx or GTX 6xx graphics card + an i5-3570K sounds right, though as was said you'll want custom coolers for each (the GPU one can be factory-installed). Arclight's recommendation of a Seasonic PSU is also good. If I were building a quiet PC right now I'd probably opt for their X-series 560 (which would be plenty for a 3570K and even a flagship GPU). There are considerably cheaper units that are 95% as efficient (or more) but I don't know if any of them have decent PWM fans. Meaningful reviews of PSU fan behavior are hard to come by, but generally speaking the cheaper units usually have correspondingly-cheap ball-bearing fans that tend to make a distinctive whirring sound which may stand out annoyingly in an otherwise especially-quiet PC.

@jbi/JAE: I imagine most of the tower coolers Newegg is peddling (dozens of them) work well. I know Xigmatech's Gaia and its 92mm sibling the Loki are just fine, ditto CM's offerings. I also installed an EVGA tower cooler for a friend which was nice. I'm curious about the history of those heatpipe tower coolers. The Thermaltake Silent Tower became popular in 2004 and there's this thing from 2001... I wish there was an article somewhere on the design and market adoption of these things.

/edit: oh crap, anybody remember Swiftech with their massive copper slab heatsinks with the corkscrew pins sticking out of them?

http://www.swiftech.com/mcx-vcore.aspx
http://www.swiftech.com/polaris120heatsink.aspx <--- they have a touchy heatpipe tower cooler now too!
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:21 am

If you do the above, the HDDs will no doubt be the loudest components. Using only SSDs can be prohibitively expensive. If you can do without the capacity, you should consider buying 2.5" HDDs. Lower noise and lower power consumption (= less heat).

I have been tampering with silencing my PC for the past 15+ years, and changing from 3.5" to 2.5" HDDs made a really big difference.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:04 am

For PSU's, the better "80 Plus" rating you end up getting, the more efficient (and cooler) the PSU will run also. A 80 Plus Gold PSU will generally run cooler than just an 80 Plus PSU, thus lowering noise levels.

I like the case recommendations that have been made. I would like to add that well thought out placement of fans can make a world or difference as far as temps and noise. The NZXT H2 case (for example) has a fan mount option in the base of the case which would supply fresh cold air directly (ish) to the GPU. Something like a Scythe Slipstream or a Cougar CF-V12HP should work well.
I was amazed at how much cooler and quieter my GPU ran when I added a side panel fan next to my GPU. While very effective, side panel fans will not be able to take advantage of noise insulation. This is why good noise-reducing cases typically dont have mounts for side panel fans, also because open side vents allow noise to escape without being dampened. Bottom mounted 120mm or 140mm fans would be the next best thing as far as I'm concerned.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:14 pm

Here, a review you asked for:

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2012/0 ... tigation/1

I bought a new case recently, so spent quite some time on tweaking the noise/cooling ratio. I can tell you that most of the noise is produced by case fans, if your GPU is idling and you already have an aftermarket CPU cooler.

When you play games, your GPU - if it has a reference design - will be the loudest part in your system. Surely, you can tweak that, if you provide enough cold air to its small cooler that blows the hot air out of the case. The picture will change if you buy a GPU with an improved cooling solution. Overall, people on the forums agree that blowing more air inside the case, compared to how much is blown out is best for reference GPU design, while blowing more hot air out is best scenario for any case, as above-mentioned review concludes.

My experience with fans tells me that in most cases you'll end up replacing your case fans, unless you have some kind of noise isolation. Go with bigger fans that move more air and have high static pressure - mesh/drive cage like obstacles won't stop those. So far, Noctua fans seem to be among most silent ones, and Zalman's ZM-F4 fan is also highly praised.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Thu Apr 05, 2012 1:39 pm

Wow, you've already got a lot of good advice.

I'll definitely second the vote for silentpcreview. Even though they don't update as much as they used to (and not as often as I would like) they remain the best site on the subject. Other sites may "test noise levels" with some of their component reviews, these guys look at everything from a "How quiet is it/ how does it fit into a quiet system" point of view.

In fact, if you have a little reading time to spare, I'd suggest reading one article each from the Cases/Damping and Heatsink sections, and maybe a fan article if you can find one. Just so you get a taste of how they approach quiet systems.


Other than that, the only bit of advice I have to add is building a silent PC is a lot like building a PC in general. There's only so much you can do "correctly" by reading articles and advice. You're going to learn so much more just by trying to build a silent PC, and that's the only way you're going to get better at it.

So if you don't get exactly what you were expecting first build around, don't worry. Do what you can to make it more quiet, and just know that your next build will come out better.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Thu Apr 05, 2012 3:43 pm

glacius555 wrote:Here, a review you asked for:

http://www.bit-tech.net/hardware/2012/0 ... tigation/1


I've been watching this thread, and in reading through this review (I also own the Define R3 and a 2500k, but I have a pair of HD6950 2GB cards and a Corsair H60 integrated water-cooler), I noticed that they made two choices that conflict with the compact, directed airflow spirit of the enclosure:

1. They used a traditional CPU tower cooler
2. They used an aftermarket GPU cooler with traditional fans instead of an exhausting blower

Both of these decisions, in my opinion, lead to a warmer and louder system than necessary in an enclosure like the Define R3.

First, a traditional CPU cooler, tower-style or otherwise, will require more in-case airflow as well as airflow directed at the cooler itself. You can get this easily in cases like CoolerMasters High-Air-Flow (HAF) series, but it's not likely to work well in tight enclosures like the Define R3. Here, if you use an integrated water-cooler, while adding slightly more cost to the system, you get better CPU cooling performance with every CFM of intake airflow you add to the system.

Second, aftermarket GPU coolers that do not channel hot air out through an exhaust vent require highly turbulent airflow that can add cool air to the system while also circulating enough warm air out to keep the GPU cool. Again, this works fine in an open-air system and in such systems, as well as on reviewer's open test-benches. It can definitely lead to a cooler and quieter GPU, but in space constrained enclosures with focused airflow this is sub-optimal, especially in the case that a second or third GPU is added to push higher resolutions or multiple displays. Instead, with a blower-style exhausting GPU cooler, you get the same effect as using an exhausting integrated water-cooler: every CFM of intake airflow adds to the PSI at the blower's intake, effectively reducing the needed fan speed and associated noise needed to cool the GPU.

For additional fans in my Define R3, I decided to go for broke. I took the rear 120mm fan and installed it in the front-upper position, and then added four 140mm fans in the bottom, side, and two top positions, all intake facing. My H60 CPU cooler is mounted on the rear, exhausting, and the two HD6950's are in the second and fifth slots. This has resulted in a system that generates a little more 'airflow' noise, but keeps the turbine 'whine' of the GPUs to a minimum; in fact, I can't make out the sound of any individual fan at all, and I'm able to keep the CPU overclocked to 4.8GHz without issue. Also note that temperatures and fan speeds rise when I take the side panel off. In compact enclosures like the Define R3, positive airflow (more intake than exhaust) really does augment cooling considerably.

Additionaly, to combat dust inside the case, I added 140mm magnetic filters from Silverstone to the side and top fan positions, and my case stays remarkably clean, even after a year of use.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Thu Apr 05, 2012 4:57 pm

Arclight wrote:@PSU
I remeber from back when i used to read "silent computing" posts on overclock.net they also kept notice of what PSU to use. Some considered the PSU to be the noisiest part of their PC :roll:
If this is your type, then i'd recommend the gold series of PSUs from Seasonic. They are known to be extremely quiet, actually during idle or low demand the fan of these PSUs shuts down on it's own :wink:


Seasonic X PSUs are nice. The X-650 is probably the sweet spot, and it does turn off its fan under ~120W-ish. It is $139, though, so is not cheap.

SPCR is a good resource for quiet PSUs and for quiet computing in general. You can also look up the NZXT H2 review on their site (spoiler: it did pretty decently).

I consider myself a lover of quiet computing, but I'm nowhere near as thorough or fanatical as the contributors and posters on SPRC. If you're looking for a gold standard for silent (not just quiet) computing, they're the gold standard.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Fri Apr 06, 2012 5:58 am

I am always astounded at the amount and quality of advice you can get by posing a question in this forum. Thanks a million everyone for your thoughts and pointers.

I am aiming to indeed wait for the Ivy Bridge processors to be released (I can wait that long) as was suggested. Until then, I will have plenty of stuff to read up on, and to form a decision on how exactly I will build my PC. I might just drop in with the results of my considerations and see what you might have to say on that, for fine tuning.

Once again thanks a million for your advice!!

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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 3:12 pm

I am making my threat come true, I am back with more thoughts on my new system. Here s what I ve come up with:

Core i5 3570K
ASUS P8Z77-V
Radeon HD7850
Coolermaster Hyper 212 EVO

Err.. alright. I said I am still in the process of consideration, didnt I. CPU seems like a good choice for a substantial upgrade. As for the MoBo - since the system should be quiet, I think ASUS gives me best control over my fans. I am thinking, a Deluxe or Pro board is probably shooting over the top, as I don t intend to OC (quieter is more important than faster), and thus 8 cycles will be enough, and I can probably live without Bluetooth, extra SATA etc. I am no enemy to my own money, so if there are suggestions for a good option thats cheaper, I d be very happy to hear it. LE? LX? ASRock?

The Radeon 7850 seems to be the card of choice for me. Anyone seen a good review about who manufactures the quietest 7850s? The aforementioned MSI Twin Frozr or Asus DirectCu seem like decent options, although I m worried as they both seem to have 2 fans mounted - wouldnt that be loud? I have no experience with installing my own coolers on a GPU - probably not too hard? EVGA doesnt produce 7850s AFAIK - I have to research more into who retains warranty when I modify the cards.

What about the RAM? I am thinking 8GB - enough? Will the DDR3-1600 be fast enough? Is there a noticable improvement in gameplay if I buy OC-RAMs (2000,2200,2400)? Then again, doesnt make much sense if I want to keep my system cool and quiet, does it? Besides, I seem to recall that in earlier times you had to make sure your FSB frequency and the RAM frequency matched - that is obsolete isnt it? Bus frequency is now around 100 MHz, so I d have to OC my CPU to even use all that OC-RAMs, is that right? I havent found a decent guide that teaches me about what you do these days with those RAMS and how to make sure they are in line with your other equipment, maybe someone knows a link where I can read up... Also, it is better to occupy two slots (2x4GB) than four (4x2GB) isnt it?

I ll probably put a SSD in there, 128GB Samsung 830 sound like a good idea? Probably big enough to run Win 7 plus a VM with Ubuntu for Internet surfing as well as my favourite games? Or is that too big?

Now I have to really start researching on the case as well, I ve gotten so much good advice already, it will be hard to decide... I will also see what silentpcreview.com has to say about the matter.

Once again thanks a million for your help! Hope the post is not too confused - myself, before a upgrade, I am always heftily confused. all part of the fun S-)

Cheers

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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 3:17 pm

EVGA is NVidia's leading graphics card partner and offers very good warranties on most (but not all) of their cards. XFX is AMD's leading graphics card partner and offers the best warranties in the business. Asus builds cards with both flavors of GPU. I have had very good success with Sapphire branded graphics cards with AMD/ATI GPUs.

2x4 GiB of memory is "enough" for most applications. Memory is pretty cheap at the moment. PC3-12800 is fast enough. It's no more expensive than slower PC3-10600 or PC3-8500 memory, so that's the one that I choose. Overclocking of Intel's K processors is done by changing the turbo multiplier. The memory and front side bus do not change.

A 128 GB SSD like the one that you have selected is an excellent choice. You'll be able to put your operating system and your most-used applications on the SSD and put everything else on a spinning hard-drive. I'm afraid that anything smaller than a 90 GB drive would feel cramped.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 4:12 pm

Video card. The MSI and ASUS are renowed for their quietness af SPCR (I'm a member myself). Unless you want über SPCR-hard-to-measure silence, then video cards from MSI and ASUS should be very quiet.

RAM. Any review I've read about the impact of high-speed RAM shows that the difference is neglectible. We're talking approx 2 %. I'd save the money spent on high-speed RAM and use it on something else. Personally, I believe amount is more important than speed.

http://www.anandtech.com/show/4503/sand ... est-ddr3/8

I'd always go for those RAM sticks with the highest amount of RAM. Why? Because they are always easier to sell when your system has become old. Just think how difficult it is to convince second-hand buyers to buy sticks of 1 GB or even 2 GB. It's much easier to sell 4 GB sticks. So always buy the highest amount of RAM pr. stick. Ivy Bridge is also limited to dual-channel RAM, so as long as you have a couple, then you'll be fine.

CPU. If you don't intend to OC, then why buy a k-version?

SSD. The primary criteria for SSD's should be reliability! I can't stress that enough! Here, the Samsung 830 shows a clean record (no firmware failures etc.). This also applies to Intel SSD's and Crucial M4's. The Sandforce BSOD-issue has allegedly been resolved now via a firmware-update, but personally, I don't trust them Sandforce-driven SSD's yet.

CPU cooler. A very good choice, especially for price. The 212+ had a mediocre fan with some annoying ticking but I've heard that the fan of the 212 EVO has been much improved.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 4:26 pm

Schlendrian wrote:Core i5 3570K
ASUS P8Z77-V
Radeon HD7850
Coolermaster Hyper 212 EVO

Your build is looking quite similar to my build-in-progress.

Schlendrian wrote:LE? LX? ASRock?

Motherboard - Some differences noted below, which could help. If most/none of these don't matter, then pick the lowest priced motherboard among these.
  • The LE / LK / LX versions have Realtek 8111F LAN controllers, instead of the Intel controller on the -V.
  • No Wi-Fi on the others.
  • Additional ASMedia SATA 6 Gbps controllers (-LE has a Marvell controller, others have none. Recommended to still use the Intel 6 Gbps controllers for primary storage).
  • No ASUS Auto Tuning (-LE has it).
  • ASUS Fan Xpert 2 on the -V (the others have Fan Xpert+).
You could read TR's review of the Z77 motherboards (along with details on their features) about the Gigabyte, MSI motherboards.

Schlendrian wrote:I ll probably put a SSD in there, 128GB Samsung 830 sound like a good idea? Probably big enough to run Win 7 plus a VM with Ubuntu for Internet surfing as well as my favourite games? Or is that too big?

SSD - You just missed an excellent deal (IMHO) on Newegg. The Crucial m4 128 GB was at $99.99+FS. You should be able to find similar deals on this SSD every week though.

Schlendrian wrote:Now I have to really start researching on the case as well, I ve gotten so much good advice already, it will be hard to decide... I will also see what silentpcreview.com has to say about the matter.

Case - TR likes the NZXT H2 ($100+10). Have been hearing good reviews about the Fractal Design Define R3 ($110+23) too.
Last edited by integer on Mon May 07, 2012 5:45 pm, edited 2 times in total.
(My build, thanks to TR) i5-3570k | P8Z77-V | DDR3 1600 (4x4 GB) | 7950 | m4 128 GB | Blue SE16 500 GB | Green SE16 1 TB | Xonar DG | M12II 520 W | 550D | LP2475W | Blu-Ray | Shine Zero | MX310 | Windows 7 Home Premium SP1
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 4:59 pm

I seem to recall an old friend of mine resorted to liquid cooling to make a silent PC. The PSU fan was the only fan in his machine, but it doesn't make any noticable noise anyway. He piped water over his CPU, GPU, and maybe his chipset, but I can't remember for sure about the chipset. The pump was in an external water tower with heatsink fins protruding around it, relying on convective heat transfer to dissipate the heat. I don't remember the brand of the whole cooling setup. Maybe Thermaltake? Yeah, it was probably a bit expensive just for the sake of having a silent PC, but then again, I always shell out the extra $300 for a decent sound card, so I'm in no place to chastize someone about spending extra on certain luxuries. :wink:
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:10 pm

Good work from Integer on the differences between motherboards. I will say that I went with an ASRock Z68 board instead of ASUS, and I certainly haven't regretted it- I've found the fan controls to be exceptional at maintaining a quiet system in my Define R3 (with the USB3 module). I even have it outfitted with four 140mm fans set to intake, with the original 120mm fans both on the front also intaking. This works great with an integrated water-cooler on the CPU set to exhaust and a pair of HD6950's with the stock exhausting coolers. They all stay nice and quiet under the heaviest game load (the CPU is a 2500k running at 4.8GHz).
Canon 6D|24-105/4L IS USM|70-300/4-5.6 IS USM|40/2.8 STM|50/1.4 USM|85/1.8 USM|Samyang/Bower 14/2.8 Full-Manual Rectilinear Wide-angle|24/2.8 IS USM|
Canon EOS-M|11-22/4-5.6 IS STM|22/2 STM|EF-M 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS STM|
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:12 pm

moresmarterthanspock wrote:I seem to recall an old friend of mine resorted to liquid cooling to make a silent PC. The PSU fan was the only fan in his machine, but it doesn't make any noticable noise anyway. He piped water over his CPU, GPU, and maybe his chipset, but I can't remember for sure about the chipset. The pump was in an external water tower with heatsink fins protruding around it, relying on convective heat transfer to dissipate the heat. I don't remember the brand of the whole cooling setup. Maybe Thermaltake? Yeah, it was probably a bit expensive just for the sake of having a silent PC, but then again, I always shell out the extra $300 for a decent sound card, so I'm in no place to chastize someone about spending extra on certain luxuries. :wink:


You can definitely get silent PSUs nowadays that can handle a top-end CPU and GPU (just one); but the real noise challenge will be in the pumps for such a system. Otherwise, by increasing the surface area of the cooling system that's exposed to air, a completely fan-less system could easily be built.
Canon 6D|24-105/4L IS USM|70-300/4-5.6 IS USM|40/2.8 STM|50/1.4 USM|85/1.8 USM|Samyang/Bower 14/2.8 Full-Manual Rectilinear Wide-angle|24/2.8 IS USM|
Canon EOS-M|11-22/4-5.6 IS STM|22/2 STM|EF-M 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS STM|
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 6:35 pm

I bought these fans to replace my noctua's.

They start at low voltages, I have seen them running at 300 rpm-ish on start up.

I am very happy with them.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835185148
and review
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cooler ... html#sect0
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:25 pm

Airmantharp wrote:
moresmarterthanspock wrote:I seem to recall an old friend of mine resorted to liquid cooling to make a silent PC. The PSU fan was the only fan in his machine, but it doesn't make any noticable noise anyway. He piped water over his CPU, GPU, and maybe his chipset, but I can't remember for sure about the chipset. The pump was in an external water tower with heatsink fins protruding around it, relying on convective heat transfer to dissipate the heat. I don't remember the brand of the whole cooling setup. Maybe Thermaltake? Yeah, it was probably a bit expensive just for the sake of having a silent PC, but then again, I always shell out the extra $300 for a decent sound card, so I'm in no place to chastize someone about spending extra on certain luxuries. :wink:


You can definitely get silent PSUs nowadays that can handle a top-end CPU and GPU (just one); but the real noise challenge will be in the pumps for such a system. Otherwise, by increasing the surface area of the cooling system that's exposed to air, a completely fan-less system could easily be built.


I do remember the pump not making noise. I would say the pump was easily just as quiet as a small aquarium pump, if not quieter.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 7:35 pm

anotherengineer wrote:I bought these fans to replace my noctua's.

They start at low voltages, I have seen them running at 300 rpm-ish on start up.

I am very happy with them.
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835185148
and review
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cooler ... html#sect0


Scythe makes some very good fans- they're in the running with Noctua. I use a stack of S-Flex fans in my server.
Canon 6D|24-105/4L IS USM|70-300/4-5.6 IS USM|40/2.8 STM|50/1.4 USM|85/1.8 USM|Samyang/Bower 14/2.8 Full-Manual Rectilinear Wide-angle|24/2.8 IS USM|
Canon EOS-M|11-22/4-5.6 IS STM|22/2 STM|EF-M 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS STM|
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Mon May 07, 2012 8:08 pm

Airmantharp wrote:Scythe makes some very good fans- they're in the running with Noctua. I use a stack of S-Flex fans in my server.

Agreed. Got 6 of them in my P182 build that's about 5 years old and 24/7 running hasn't changed their low noise levels one bit.
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Wed May 09, 2012 7:16 am

Thanks for the replies! It s all starting to come together now.

Motherboard: It seems the motherboard can really be the cheapest one that features everything I need. Now, with just one storage HDD and one SDD I dont need tons of SATA ports. I dont need tons of USB 3 ports either, I think any board will give me enough. I might take a Xonar DG, so I might need an old PCI slot, but other than that I dont need many PCIe slots, as I dont have the cards to fill them. Dont need SLI, one HD7850 will do me fine. Only one computer, so no LAN, although WLAN might be nice (smartphone, TV, Blurayplayer etc) - but is it 80$ nice? - hardly. About the stuff the more expensive boards have that could be important, but i m not sure if they really are:

ASUS P8Z77-V Deluxe has ASUS SSD Caching - do I need that when I ve got a 128MB SSD? Or will it be big enough to put the things I need frequently on the SSD anyway. Once again, I am talking OS and game of the month, basically.
ASUS p8Z77-V (no suffix) and above have Fan Xpert 2, the other ASUSes have only Fan Xpert+ - do I really need all that fan control of v2? Or will it be possible with the Fan controls of say an ASRock board to get decent enough settings without manually adjusting each and every parameter of the fan management, say to have a low load, med load and high load setting. I have too little experience to judge if the "worse" fan controls are still good enough for me.
I am thinking decent OC options (including cooling options and plenty of CPU cycles) might be nice to make my build futureproof, for if I really see a game I want to play in a few years time, maybe I ll be happy for the extra horsepower. That is also the reason why i m happy with a 3570K, as it gives me leeway if I need it. I figure, a well cooled quiet non-OC system will give me leeway in that regard, if at some point I want the horsepower and am willing to have it a bit louder for it.
What about "Premium Gold Caps" like the better ASRock boards have - worth the $$? Should I care about these things, ASUS offers 100% Japan built caps, etc?

So if I dont really need the stuff above, I ll probably be fine with the cheapest z77 board I can find, being where I live a ASRock Z77 Pro3. Is FanXpert2 worth taking a ASUS p8z77-v for almost double the $$? Is there any difference in reliability between brands? Or should I just lash out the $$ to buy a decent ASUS MoBo just to be on the safe side? I think I am wasting some energy here on a matter thats probably not worth all the consideration....

Graphics card: i have read up a bit, seems the sapphire HD7850 seems to be a good & quiet option as well. It s only so hard to find a comparison between the cards. Oh well, they re probably all fine. BTW can i regulate the GPU fan through the Fan Xpert2? Dont think I can, actually.

Once again thanks for all your help!

Cheers, Schlendrian
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Re: Bulding a silent PC and a few other questions

Postposted on Wed May 09, 2012 11:02 am

I wouldn't worry about the motherboard too much. The Asus fan controls look sweet, but Speedfan can handle most anything*.

A 2500K looks dated next to a 3570K, but it will be easier to maintain good temperatures. Either will work fine if you're not OCing, and IB does produce less heat. Your call.

Above advice about tower HSFs & the 22nm Radeons is good.

Seasonic X-series PSUs also are amazing, but I recommend an M12 or S12. You want something that runs its fan all the time. Here's why:
  • Start with a case that has a bottom-mounted PSU but no divider. IOW, H2 good, P183 bad.
  • Duct the CPU HSF to the rear and/or top so that its heat leaves the case.
  • Put an Accelero S1 Plus passive cooler on your 78x0.
  • Mount the PSU with the intake up.
  • Duct the GPU to the PSU. People will bitch about this, but the heat will be fine.
  • Boot & enable power-saving features in the UEFI.
Congratulations! You have a powerful system that cools its ~200W with 2 fans at 800rpm or less. The loudest part of the PC will be your storage HD.

* I just built a 3570K on an Asrock Z77 Pro4. It passed 8 hours of Prime95 last night with Speedfan controlling an old Yate Loon at 800rpm. AC draw was ~115W.
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