Help on building small foot print gaming PC

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Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 3:43 pm

Short version - I need a quiet, powerful HTPC/gaming rig for playing Diablo 3 and older Steam games (not the latest Crysis, but certainly Diablo 3, Skyrim, Mass Effect 1 & 2, and Valve's catalogue) at 1920 x 1080 rez, hooked up to my 60" TV and 7.1 surround sound system in the home theater room.

Budget $1000

THANKS to everyone for their suggestions. And PLEASE, no Mac v. PC sniping or flame wars.

Now on to my full post.

I am looking to build a HTPC, with a priority to playing games. I have a PS3 where i do most of my gaming, but Diablo 3 is my main driving force to want to build a box.

By way of equipment, I have a Sony KDL NX 800 60" LED LCD, a PS3 and a Wii, all hooked to a Marantz 7005 receiver in a 7.1 surround set up. I also have a wired internet connection there, so the HTPC will be wired.

Quiet (preferably whisper silent) operation is a priority!

It has been 10 years since i last build a PC, and I have switched over to a Mac since, so have not kept up at all on hardware, except that Ivy Bridge Intel chips were just released. I am an all-Apple household right now, so that means a 2007 Macbook 13" white, 2007 Macbook Pro 15", the latest new iPad, two iPhone 4, as well as Apple's Airport router with N networking.

I would like the ability to stream media and movies to my iOS devices, hence the HTPC capability, but priority is gaming.

In terms of parts, I am completely open to suggestions. Total budget is $1000.

In terms of size and looks, I am looking at a case like this one, or may be this. Something like that - compact, black, and no stupid blinking lights.

I have a license for Windows XP Professional I can use, and would rather save money not buying another windows license. Do I need Windows 7? I don't care if it has a DVD player, since I can download my Steam catalog and Diablo 3. Probably get SSD if it helps, probably from Micron. For memory, don't know what speed to get, but whatever it is, it will be from Micron.

Not interested in overclocking. Just want something I power on and get to gaming. Upgradablity would be nice, but something i will likely do every 2-3 years, if that.

Do I need a sound card? What about bluetooth - do motherboards come with bluetooth now? - I have a bluetooth Apple keyboard and mouse I can use, as well as bluetooth headset for ventrillo, etc. Would like to use those.

So suggestions? I need rec's on everything - motherboard, power supply, CPU, graphics card, case, memory, cooling, everything.

Thank you all in advance.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 4:07 pm

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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 4:35 pm

Well here's what I see.

Sound Card: Having one is generally better for your sound quality. Going with a Mini-ITX board would probably eliminate this option, but I would divert to someone with more sound experience with these boards. I'm sure someone here has dabbled. Definitely check into this since you seem to have a nice sound setup.

Bluetooth: Also an addon option. This one has USB options, however, so picking up an adapter would be easy, and could be done whenever you feel like it.

OS: I guess Windows 7 would be nice if you needed an option for a media center (and did not have it paired to your XP license), but that might not help streaming to iOS devices. I'm in your boat, and would rather get the power I needed before considering the OS. Also, you can upgrade to 7 later.

Case: Your board size determines this. TR did publish a Micro-ATX case review today, and while it seemed great for packing a lot of power in a small space, it has some major intake fans which might rule it out on the noise front. I would figure out what cards you need first (if any), choose a board, then check out cases. There are some quiet cases listed in the current system guide if you end up with a full-size board.

Good luck!
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 4:36 pm

Well, there is hope for building a small foot print gaming PC, and you don't need an uber PSU to do so.

My OEM rig (Dell) only has a 350W power supply, yet it supplies enough juice for a Core i7 870, 8GB DDR3-1333 and a Gigabyte Radeon HD 7850 Windforce OCed to 1,010 Mhz on the core (memory is at stock however). I can crank up the settings to Ultra on BF3, Crysis 2 and Metro 2033 at my monitor's native res of 1600*900 with zero stability issues and ultra low temps and almost silent fan noise.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 4:43 pm

For mini-ITX build, consider intel core i5 quad core T-series which is only 45W TDP. (2500T sandy or 3450T ivy).
For vid card, HD 7750/7770 has the highest performance/watt. 7750 is only 55W TDP and some of them are single slot (powercolor, XFX for example).
Not the best performance/dollar, mind you.
There are fanless PSUs but quite expensive. PSU fans are not noisy unless temp gets really high.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 4:59 pm

Thanks for all the replies so far. All the suggestions for parts is slowly buiilding up my information store on what to pick.

What about something like this system that I can just stick the parts in? Would this work for Ivy Bridge and decent graphics card?
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 5:12 pm

A Shuttle barebones is indeed an option, but the one you've linked to has a 2011 socket, which is a bit excessive for your uses. Their Z77 barebones would be a good option, I think.

Another option would be the Bitfenix Prodigy you linked to, with a modest ~500W power supply, a Z77/H77 mini ITX motherboard, an i5-3xxx processor and something like a GeForce 560, 560 Ti or Radeon HD 7770 or 7850. Or the GeForce 660, when it comes out. With the Bitfenix case, to help a bit with silence, you could use an aftermarket cooler like the Cooler Master hyper 212+.

As for Bluetooth, I know the Asus Z77 Deluxe mini ITX board ($199) comes with it. It doesn't seem like the Asrock stuff has Bluetooth. Zotac also makes ITX motherboards, but their Website is dog slow at the moment.

Edit: about the Shuttle barebones you linked to: it has an X79 chipset and an LGA 2011 socket, so it's only compatible with Sandy Bridge-E (at the moment). To get Ivy bridge, you need an LGA 1155 socket with an new Intel chipset (such as the Z77 and H77), or possibly a previous-gen chipset and an updated BIOS. Since you're buying new, you probably just want to go with a newer chipset.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 5:27 pm

If Micro-ATX is an option, consider the Silverstone Grandia GD05 (horizontal HTPC case) or Antec NSK3480 (vertical mini-tower case).
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 5:27 pm

At Newegg, priced out the TR Sweetspot http://techreport.com/articles.x/22972/4 sans the SSD and replaced mobo/case/PS with the Shuttle SZ77 XPC and came out to $990.
1

Shuttle SZ77R5 Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 (LGA1155) Intel Socket H2(LGA1155) Intel Z77 Integrated in CPU 1 x HDMI Barebone

Shuttle SZ77R5 Intel Core i7 / i5 / i3 (LGA1155) Intel Socket H2(LGA1155) Intel Z77 Integrated in CPU 1 x HDMI Barebone
Item #: N82E16856101129
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy




$359.99

1

ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM

ASUS DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS Black SATA 24X DVD Burner - Bulk - OEM
Item #: N82E16827135204
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy




$17.99

1

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 HD103SJ 1TB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive
Item #: N82E16822152185
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

-$30.00 Instant



$139.99
$109.99

1

GIGABYTE GV-R785OC-2GD Radeon HD 7850 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card

GIGABYTE GV-R785OC-2GD Radeon HD 7850 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready CrossFireX Support Video Card
Item #: N82E16814125419
Return Policy: VGA Standard Return Policy




$259.99

1

AMD Gift - Dirt SHOWDOWN Gift Coupon

AMD Gift - Dirt SHOWDOWN Gift Coupon
Item #: N82E16800995124
Return Policy: Standard Return Policy

-$59.99 Saving



$59.99
$0.00

1

Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model 997030

Mushkin Enhanced Essentials 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model 997030
Item #: N82E16820226288
Return Policy: Memory Standard Return Policy




$42.99

1

Intel Core i5-3450 Ivy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.5GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2500 BX80637I53450

Intel Core i5-3450 Ivy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.5GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 77W Quad-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2500 BX80637I53450
Item #: N82E16819116506
Return Policy: CPU Replacement Only Return Policy




$199.99

Subtotal: $990.94
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 8:44 pm

How about some of these components?

Mini-ITX:
$105¼ +fs Silverstone Sugo SG05 Mini-ITX case w/ 450W PSU
$200 +7½sh Asus P8Z77-I Deluxe Mini-ITX LGA1155 motherboard
$48 +4sh Scythe Big Shuriken 2 CPU cooler
$155 +3sh Sony BD-5740H-01 slim Blu-ray burner
Integrated audio

or Micro-ATX:
$100 +10sh Antec NSK3480 w/ EarthWatts EA-380 PSU
or $75 +fs Silverstone Grandia GD05 Micro-ATX case (no PSU)
or $98 +fs Silverstone Temjin TJ08B-E Micro-ATX case (no PSU)
and ≈$50 Antec EarthWatts Green EA-430D power supply
$160 -10 code "EMCNDNJ52" +fs Asus P8Z77-M Pro Micro-ATX LGA1155 motherboard
$34 CoolerMaster Hyper 212 Evo CPU cooler (for NSK3480 or TJ08B-E)
or $48 +4sh Scythe Big Shuriken 2 CPU cooler (for GD05)
$80 -10 code "EMCNEHA34" LG WH14NS40 Blu-ray burner
Integrated audio or room for a sound card
Room for an internal tuner card like the Ceton InfiniTV4

Common components:
$240 +fs -15 gift card Intel Core i5-3570K quad-core 3.4 GHz LGA1155 processor w/ HSF
$55 +fs 2x4 GiB PC3-12800 Corsair CML8GX3M2A1600C9W (DDR3-1600, CAS 9, 1.35 V) memory
$240 +fs HIS IceQ X H785QN2G2M Radeon HD7850 2GB graphics card
or wait for NVidia's mid-range GPUs to arrive in the second half of the year
$145 +4sh 0.13 TB Samsung Series 830 SSD
$179 +fs 3.0 TB Western Digital AV-GP WD30EURS (≈5400 rpm) hard-drive
$100 Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit OEM
$26 -11 code "EMCNEHA69" +fs MCE remote w/ USB receiver
Wireless keyboard / touchpad / mouse
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 8:48 pm

Thanks --k and JustanEngineer . The list was what I was looking for.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Tue May 29, 2012 10:00 pm



This is a good suggestion. The OP would be wise not to ignore it.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed May 30, 2012 2:20 pm

Okay, here is my proposed build.

Asus P8Z77 motherboard
Intel Core i5
Gefore GTX 670
Antec 500W PSU
Crucial 128 gig SSD
Crucial 2 x 4gig memory
Win 7 Home Premium 64 bit
Case

I plan to scavenge my old desktop tower for DVD drive and HDD - they are the SATA - got them when the SATA interface was just introduced.

Yes, I know it is a bit overbudget. I want to enjoy my games at 1920x1080.

Questions

Will the old HDD and DVD SATA drives work with the new kit?
Will the power supply install in the case listed above?
Will 500W be enough to power the CPU and GPU?
Do I need a CPU cooler, or does the retail box come with a cooler? And is the retail cooler adequate?
Will HDMI output 3D to my TV, which is 3D-capable?

How will the sound be handled? Do I need a seperate sound card? Do I need a separate cable for sound? I am assuming sound will not out put over HDMI through the video card.

Am I missing other parts? Not worried about keyboard and mouse, got extras lying around.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed May 30, 2012 3:26 pm

Since I'm here :).

The motherboard is fine, except that you're not overclocking, and thus have zero need for its fancy power circuitry. It will work though. Save $50 with an ASRock board. The ASUS will probably have better fan control, but it doesn't look like you'll be needing it.
If you're not overclocking, you also don't need a -K series CPU. So, Intel's i5-3550 will save you $30.
Excellent choice on the graphics card- EVGAs cards have a slightly modified shroud on the cooler that reduces the noise at load and smooths out the noise profile.
500w is actually overkill, but that Antec is a good inexpensive unit, good choice.
The Crucial M4 is a great choice, but also look for sales on Samsung's 830.
The Crucial RAM is fine, but you can usually get 1600MHz RAM for the same price.
That case is great, but I don't know if you'll be able to get it soon. There are also smaller cases available.

For the CPU, assuming you're using that case, you can get CoolerMaster's Hyper 212 Evo. If you change to a smaller enclosure, that point will have to be revisited.

Also, sound can be run from the analog or digital outputs on the motherboard, or through HDMI, depending on what works for you.

Your old SATA drives will work fine, it's backwards-compatible. The GPU *should* be able to output 3D to the TV, but that point will probably take more research.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed May 30, 2012 4:51 pm

Thanks for the info. Some followup questions:

Airmantharp wrote:Since I'm here :).

The motherboard is fine, except that you're not overclocking, and thus have zero need for its fancy power circuitry. It will work though. Save $50 with an ASRock board.

Does the AsRock board have Bluetooth? Looking for that as well, since I have a BT keyboard, mouse and headset i can reuse.
That case is great, but I don't know if you'll be able to get it soon. There are also smaller cases available.



What other cases are recommended?

Thanks.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed May 30, 2012 6:40 pm

MacUser wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:Since I'm here :).
The motherboard is fine, except that you're not overclocking, and thus have zero need for its fancy power circuitry. It will work though. Save $50 with an ASRock board.

Does the AsRock board have Bluetooth? Looking for that as well, since I have a BT keyboard, mouse and headset i can reuse.

That ASRock motherboard does not have Bluetooth. A quick search shows that the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB has Bluetooth ($210 + 9). The Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe has Bluetooth, but it is $275 + 9.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed May 30, 2012 7:39 pm

integer wrote:
MacUser wrote:
Airmantharp wrote:Since I'm here :).
The motherboard is fine, except that you're not overclocking, and thus have zero need for its fancy power circuitry. It will work though. Save $50 with an ASRock board.

Does the AsRock board have Bluetooth? Looking for that as well, since I have a BT keyboard, mouse and headset i can reuse.

That ASRock motherboard does not have Bluetooth. A quick search shows that the Gigabyte GA-Z77X-UD5H-WB has Bluetooth ($210 + 9). The Asus P8Z77-V Deluxe has Bluetooth, but it is $275 + 9.


He's looking for an ITX case- and Bluetooth is a $10 USB plug-in, if that's acceptable. It's a lot less than buying a board specifically for it.
Canon 6D||[24-105/4L IS USM|100/2.8L Macro 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|
Canon EOS-M|11-22/4-5.6 IS STM|22/2 STM|EF-M 18-55/3.5-5.6 IS STM|
For sale!|24/2.8 IS USM
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed May 30, 2012 8:26 pm

Airmantharp wrote:
He's looking for an ITX case- and Bluetooth is a $10 USB plug-in, if that's acceptable. It's a lot less than buying a board specifically for it.


Good point on the BT dongle. $50 is a big difference. And the cheaper processor will do as well.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Wed May 30, 2012 10:30 pm

The GTX 670 will be extremely proficient at doing anything that you could possibly want. It is completely ridiculous. It is definitely overkill for your needs, however overkill is often the recipe for happy computing. Fast hardware is something that you won't have to worry about upgrading or tweaking or fooling with for years to come; a desirable quality in an appliance like an htpc.
As for 3D, the way that Nvidia's 3D usually works is that it just sends a 120Hz refresh video signal to the (capable) monitor, and the nvidia-specific glasses and ir-emitter would handle the rest. I'm not sure at the moment whether current video cards transmit this correctly over hdmi (i.e. using hdmi 1.4's protocols). Nvidia has a software called Nvidia 3DTV Play which doesn't actually say what it does specifically, but it seems like it allows you to use your TV's glasses, but you still need to use the Nvidia emitter (?).
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 12:04 am

how about Newegg's Rosewill Capstone 450w 80plus gold psu, versus the Antec Earth Watts 500w you picked?
far as the power rating stickers on the sides, the antecs 12v+12v results in the same 444w output of the Rosewill which is rated at 37a.
has a larger fan over the 80mm on the Antec so lower noise likely from less needing to speed up at load.
same price $69.99 with no shipping price vs 3.99 on the Antec.
just throwing that out there.
probably drinking some tea.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 1:27 am

If I'm not mistaken you will need a sound card that supports Dolby Digital Live or DTS if you want to wire your HTPC to your receiver via toslink (much less messy than your alternatives) I couldn't find any cheap sound cards to link here, but many upper level cards come with these features.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 5:14 am

You cannot use an add-in sound card with a Mini-ITX motherboard. Mini-ITX has only one PCIe slot, and it will be occupied by the graphics card. Micro-ATX has four slots.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 7:05 am

BloodSoul wrote:If I'm not mistaken you will need a sound card that supports Dolby Digital Live or DTS if you want to wire your HTPC to your receiver via toslink (much less messy than your alternatives) I couldn't find any cheap sound cards to link here, but many upper level cards come with these features.


The Asus board says it supports DTS
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 7:07 am

Blazex wrote:how about Newegg's Rosewill Capstone 450w 80plus gold psu, versus the Antec Earth Watts 500w you picked?
far as the power rating stickers on the sides, the antecs 12v+12v results in the same 444w output of the Rosewill which is rated at 37a.
has a larger fan over the 80mm on the Antec so lower noise likely from less needing to speed up at load.
same price $69.99 with no shipping price vs 3.99 on the Antec.
just throwing that out there.


As long as the Roswell does not crap out on me and is a quality unit, I am fine with it .
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 12:18 pm

Score, thanks Mac-User (Never thought I'd say that).

I had run into this issue when I connected my receiver to my xonar dg's digital out and only got 2 channels playing... I had assumed that since the card was advertised as 5.1 compatible and had a digital output that it had DTS or DDL support. I was wrong :-(! Luckily a friend had a Xonar D2X that he no longer needed, but otherwise I would have had to pick up a new sound card. Long story short I didn't want the OP to make a similar mistake, because there is nothing more frustrating than putting everything together only to realize you made a small miscalculation!
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 2:11 pm

Don't most new graphics cards like the 670 GTX here output 7.1 surround sound via HDMI as well? Is there a need for a dedicated sound card?
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 5:03 pm

yea from amd 3xxx series and nvidia 2xx series the video cards gained audio through video outputs, it should all be 7.1 capable, whatever it cant do i imagine it will just do a passthrough to the receiver, have yet to try it out
probably drinking some tea.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 6:49 pm

While digital audio through HDMI is supported by current graphics cards, you may find that you're limited to 2-channel stereo rather than 7.1-channel audio.
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Thu May 31, 2012 8:43 pm

The BitFenix Prodigy you're proposing, while cool as all hell, is bigger than many mATX cases. Might as well go mATX. The Silverstone Temjin TJ08-E that David Morgan reviewed for TR two days ago is ~6,000 cm3 smaller (or like 1/5 cu.ft). I have an 'HTPC' in that case and it's a great setup with a 120mm tower cooler for the CPU. I would recommend the ASUS P8Z77-M ($168) or the cheaper ASRock Z77 Extreme4-M ($138). I'd opt for the ASRock one, myself.

Also, "whisper silent" is an oxymoron — this PC won't be "silent" and it may or may not be whisper-like. Stock GPU & CPU coolers generally aren't very quiet. If you want things to be especially quiet so you don't hear an annoying whir during those important "silent" parts of the movie, you'll likely need aftermarket coolers (or, in the case of the GPU, at least a custom preinstalled cooler from one of the vendors). You can also appreciably underclock Ivy Bridge...

wrt audio: Kepler hardware is capable of 5.1/7.1 over HDMI, but there are reports of only 2-channel working in some instances, as JAE alluded to. This would be a driver issue. The media industries are so full of love that they've bestowed unto us the gift of "protected audio streams" and suchlike. Customer appreciation! "YOU WILL USE OUR POINTLESS SCHEMATA AND LIKE THEM, YOU FILTHY THIEVING FU— ahem, this is a feature! It's a luxury. HD! HD!"
Jambe
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Re: Help on building small foot print gaming PC

Postposted on Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:46 pm

Thanks Jambe on the tip for the computer case. Strongly considering it.

In the mean time, I have ordered the Intel i-3570 and the Samsung 830 SSD to take advantage of the sales NewEgg is running. Will slowly order parts if they come on sale.

Question - do I have to worry that the CPU I ordered comes with only a 30-day return policy? Any issues of duds being delivered to customers? I may not have all the parts in time the 30-day return window.

Also, will I need a CPU cooler? Is the CoolerMaster one linked above quiet?
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