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very quiet, fairly low cost gaming system

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July 7, 2006 10:12:17 PM

I am working on building a very quiet, fairly low cost gaming system. I just need the tower, will be using the monitor, speakers, etc I have. So far all I've bought is the case, an Antec P150 (with power supply).

I have seen a lot of chat about 939 vs. AM2? I will wait until after 7/23 for price drops. AMD or Intel doesn't matter to me.

I am near always multi-tasking, but don't know if dual core is worth it. I've seen comments about if I stay at 3k speed it runs cooler and the system can be more quiet, that was months ago, so is that info still valid? Any comments on that and which motherboard to get are welcome, hopefully one with silent cooling.

I have read that RAID is not effective, with 250gb drives under $100 and liking the idea of having 500gb of space, I am wondering if I'd gain any HD speed by using RAID setup. I am looking at the wd2500ks due to the low noise it's said to produce (the report was on the wd5000ks, I am hoping the 250gb version is the same noise level?).

I am leaning towards a silent heatpipe 7600gt card.

2GB RAM, whatever is cheapest and reliable. Would like to leave the slots to upgrade to 4gb open.

Any comments on the Zalaman c8000 CPU cooler?

I'll want a DVD burner, nothing fancy as I hope to go to Blueray once the prices are reasonable, is there one of these more quiet than most?.

Anything else I'm missing?

thanks, Doug
July 7, 2006 10:41:40 PM

Low cost?

Get a cheap non-SLi mobo that will support Kentsfield
E6300 or E6400 ($50 difference I heard it was)
2GB (2 x 1GB) OCZ Gold or Corsair XMS DDR2-800 or DDR2-667 RAM
The 7600GT that you want

And about the sound man, relax, when you game, you probably won't even hear the system, you go as far as to ask for a quiet DVD drive and Hard drive, seriously :roll:
July 7, 2006 10:42:38 PM

Quote:

I have read that RAID is not effective, with 250gb drives under $100 and liking the idea of having 500gb of space, I am wondering if I'd gain any HD speed by using RAID setup. I am looking at the wd2500ks due to the low noise it's said to produce (the report was on the wd5000ks, I am hoping the 250gb version is the same noise level?).


Don't do raid. It's one thing to use raid as a way to backup your primary drive, but striping just means if one drive dies, you lose you data on both drives. If you want 500gb, buy a 500gb drive. If you want 250, buy that instead. Any performance benefit from raiding 2 drives isn't worth the risk, IMO.
Related resources
July 8, 2006 2:22:38 AM

The DVD is the least of my worries, but I really do need the rest near silent.
July 8, 2006 2:57:15 AM

I would've said a Lian-Li case, because they would dampen a foghorn, but they are way out of any price range, well most, and you've gotten a case already. How about get some sound-insulating foam? That always helps.

I would have RAID 0, but that is a personal preference. Anything that is important is backed up the minute I make it, once onto some DVD and then another at a online storage site. But, two hard drives = twice the sound. They do have vibration-dampening hard drive 3.5" enclosures, though.

The big "noise-makers" are the PSU fan (Get one w/o fans, or one with fan-control), CPU fan (Get a Tuniq Tower 120 or a Zalman CNPS9500 or a Arctic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro), and drives (look for reviews for "silent" ones). Also the GPU, but you are getting a silent one, anyways. If you are going ATI, the HIS IceQ I/II/III series are near-silent.

I say AM2, but that is just me again.

Limit the amount of total fans to 4: CPU, PSU (If needed), and two case fans (intake/exhaust). Pretend that you don't have money for more, so you can stick to just four.

Check this site out for other ideas:

Silent PC

~Ibrahim~
a b 4 Gaming
July 8, 2006 7:56:18 PM

If you want to spend the least amount of money and have a quiet system. Then I would recommend the following:

1. Single core S939 Athlon 64 3500+. Pretty cheap right now and can overclock pretty well for $109 at Newegg.com.

2. CORSAIR XMS 2GB (2 x 1GB) 184-Pin DDR SDRAM for $139 after a $40 mail-in rebate.

3. Samsung Spinpoint hard drives are the quietest 5.25" HDDs you can buy. But they are also a bit slow. Seagate's drives are almost as quiet at Samsung's and offers better performance.Two Seagate Barracuda 7200.10 320GB hard drives will be cheaper than a single 500GB HDD.

4. For an aftermarket heatsink fan, I recommend the Scythe Ninja
It can passively cool (no fan) a X2 3800+ easily inside the Antec P150 case. Some people have cooled up to a X2 4400+ with the Ninja, but that's a little extreme for me.

Here is a chart that show how much heat some CPUs produce:



The source is from xbitlabs.com.

5. Get the Asus A8N-E mobo, and replace the northbridge HSF with the Zalman ZM-NB47J Heatsink..

That all works out to be $598 including shipping and after rebates.
July 8, 2006 8:21:10 PM

You forgot the GPU and the DVD drives. Unless those are factored in already?

Otherwise, looks good, minus one minor quibble. Isn't 500GB a little excessive? I would just get one hard drive, less noise, too. Do get Zalman TIM, as it kicks a$$, beating the Arctic stuff by 8C on load. It'll help with a passive cooler. The Tuniq Tower 120 isn't passive, but it is quiet. Zalmans are good, too.

~Ibrahim~
a b 4 Gaming
July 8, 2006 8:23:00 PM

If you want to spend a little more money on a dual core CPU, then I would opt for a Conroe E6300, which will probably be about $220 when it is released.

I would pair that up with OCZ Gold Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 667 RAM for $154 after rebate.

Why Conroe and not AM2? Based on benchmarks that you can Google for Conroe will be an absolute performer. AM2 is merely a different socket for the Athlon 64. DDR2 RAM will at best provide marginal increase in performance at best. Therefore AM2 X2 3800+ will offer the same performance as a S939 X2 3800+. The E6300 is the slowest duo core CPU in the Conroe family, but based on some benchmarks of the E6400 Conroe, I'm guessing that the E6300 will be the equivalent to the X2 4400+.

The E6400 is likely to be around $260 - $270, best guess.
a b 4 Gaming
July 8, 2006 8:33:23 PM

Quote:
You forgot the GPU and the DVD drives. Unless those are factored in already?

Otherwise, looks good, minus one minor quibble. Isn't 500GB a little excessive? I would just get one hard drive, less noise, too. Do get Zalman TIM, as it kicks a$$, beating the Arctic stuff by 8C on load. It'll help with a passive cooler. The Tuniq Tower 120 isn't passive, but it is quiet. Zalmans are good, too.

~Ibrahim~


I didn't forget the GPU since the OP already decided on a passively cooled 7600GT.

At the moment I can't really recommend a DVD drive. I'm currently doing research to replace my NEC-3550A DVD burner. That thing really sucks at reading DVDs. Even after a BIOS update it cannot read 33% of the DVDs I stick it whether they are brand new or used. A 4 year old DVD drive can easily read the DVDs the NEC-3550A couldn't. Therefore, I'm researching for a new DVD Burner for my Antec Aria HTPC which only has one external 5.25" drive bay for my DVD Burner.

I'm considering paying $100 - $150 for a Plextor.

A 500GB HDD is what the OP would like. The two 320GB HDDs has more capacity combined, and cost less than a single 500GB HDD. Of course that does add more noise. So opting for a single 320GB HDD is also a good idea.
July 8, 2006 10:43:13 PM

Thanks for the replies. The Conroe 6300 sounds perfect. What motherboard would be good with it? Will the Scyth Nijna work on it?

The Seagate 320gb drive sounds great too, I just had not heard of it. I could add another later if I need the space and save some $ for now.

With all this do I need to worry about fans in the front of the case? The P150 has mounts for 2 92mm fans in front besides the one included in the back.

thanks for the help, Doug
a b 4 Gaming
July 10, 2006 12:08:29 AM

Quote:
Thanks for the replies. The Conroe 6300 sounds perfect. What motherboard would be good with it? Will the Scyth Nijna work on it?



Unfortunately there are no official motherboards out for the Conroe, but they should be available soon. There is one Asus mobo that does support Conroe, but I don't know the model # offhand. 975XBX mobos should be at least $200+.

965 chipset mobos will probably start at $125, but it is rumored that they will drop support for all PATA drives (IDE interface) and will only support SATA drives (both HDD & DVD drives). ATI and nVidia will be releasing chipsets as well, but I don't know how much they will cost.

The Scythe Ninja is compatible with Conroe since it can handle both socket 939 and LGA 775.

I'm don't have any experience with 92mm fans since I only use 120mm fans. But I would recommend the following:

EVERCOOL SFF-9 92mm

SILVERSTONE RL-FN91 92mm

Scythe DF series DFS922512L

Don't forget the ZALMAN FAN MATE 2 Fan Controller to slow down fan speed.
a b 4 Gaming
July 10, 2006 12:27:19 AM

I have posted some benchmarks for Conroe vs the Pentium 4 vs. Athlon 64 CPUs in the following thread:

Will X2 939 3800+ be faster than CONROE 1.86 GHZ

Begin with my 3rd post on that page (message #153).

I believe the Scythe Ninja can passively cool a non overclocked Conroe E6300 as well, but so far there aren't any benchmarks of how hot Conroe CPUs will be. I'll try to passively cool a E6600 when I get mine.

If you want to attempt passively cooling, then you should do it carefully. First install the Scythe with the fan and run some benchmarks on your PC to set how hot the CPU gets with Motherboard Monitor. Then remove the fan and underclock the CPU either lower FSB or clockmultiplier and run benchmarks and check the temps again. Then raise the speed a little bit closer to stock speed and check again.

Roughly speaking, I would say that if a passively cooled CPU is 10'C hotter (or less) than an actively cooled CPU then you should be okay. It depends on your comfort level.
a b 4 Gaming
July 10, 2006 12:30:04 AM

Quote:

The Seagate 320gb drive sounds great too, I just had not heard of it. I could add another later if I need the space and save some $ for now.


Oh yeah, don't forget to suspend the hard drive to reduce noise from vibrations.
July 10, 2006 10:18:21 AM

The P150 case comes with a HD suspension system and a 120mm fan at the back (it has a 3 speed switch on it). It also has mounts at the front for 2 92mm fans I am debating on using.

Only SATA drive support would be fine, though I see at least at the moment the SATA DVD burners are pricey.

Let me know how the 6600 passive cooling goes. What fan would you reccomend if it's not enough?

Doug
July 10, 2006 4:30:00 PM

The Inq had a bitchy article about how they won't implement SATA into CD/DVD drives...With the 500 series only having one and Conroe mobos having none, they'd better hurry up...

I would use one 92mm for an intake and one for exhaust.

~Ibrahim~
a b 4 Gaming
July 10, 2006 9:04:13 PM

Quote:
The P150 case comes with a HD suspension system...


Yep, that's why I recommend you suspend your HD. You can suspend up to 2 HDs in the drive cage.

Quote:

... and a 120mm fan at the back (it has a 3 speed switch on it). It also has mounts at the front for 2 92mm fans I am debating on using.


Yep, that's why I only offered a listing of 92mm fans.

Quote:

Only SATA drive support would be fine, though I see at least at the moment the SATA DVD burners are pricey.


No real experience with SATA. All my drives are PATA.

Quote:

Let me know how the 6600 passive cooling goes. What fan would you reccomend if it's not enough?


Not much experience with passive GPUs. The 6600 is a bit dated though, but I'm not sure how high your expectation are for that card.

If you can afford to spend around $220 for a GPU then you way want to consider the ASUS EN7600GT SILENT/2DHT/256M Geforce 7600GT.

A less expensive (and slower) passively cooled GPU is the XFX PV-T73P-UDS3 Geforce 7600GS 256MB which sells for about $140.

Here's a review of the XFX 7600GS. Sorry, but the Geforce 6600 is not part of the benchmarks, but the 6800GS is in there.

If you want an aftermarket HSF for a video card, then consider the ZALMAN VF900 – CU for $35.
July 10, 2006 9:27:38 PM

Oop, sorry for not being clear. When I said let me know about passive cooling the 6600, I meant the conroe 6600. :) 

I do plan on the 7600GT vid card, been looking at the gigabyte heatpipe one, it's a double wide card, but as long as nothing is in the way, I am not worried about losing a PCI slot.
July 10, 2006 11:22:06 PM

lol, "Conroe" 6600. Yeah, the GeForce 7600 owns the GeForce 6600, there was an article about it; I don't have it on hand right now....Looks good, though. Make sure the fan supports fan-control, or else you'll just have dials that are just asthetically-pleasing..

~Ibrahim~
a b 4 Gaming
July 11, 2006 2:30:27 AM

Quote:
Oop, sorry for not being clear. When I said let me know about passive cooling the 6600, I meant the conroe 6600. :) 



Sure. I'll post my build as soon as I can. Hopefully no later than the end of August, but that depends on parts availability.
July 17, 2006 11:39:53 PM

Was wondering, if I hope to possiblely upgrade to a conroe 6600 later would OCZ Gold Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 667 RAM still be fast enough? Doug
a b 4 Gaming
July 17, 2006 11:54:53 PM

Quote:
Was wondering, if I hope to possiblely upgrade to a conroe 6600 later would OCZ Gold Series 2GB (2 x 1GB) 240-Pin DDR2 667 RAM still be fast enough? Doug


It should be good enough as long as it's CAS 4, avoid CAS 5 RAM because the high latency will difinitely slow down your system.

I'm currently trying to figure out if there's any real benefits between DDR2 667 RAM and DDR2 800 RAM when overclocking and not overclocking.
July 18, 2006 4:17:40 AM

www.silenx.com - All of your noise problems solved. Well, most of them - their silent power supply is rubbish. They make fans, afterall.


Since you are looking at a passive cooling option on the video card, you need a case with two 120mm fans in the rear - and put the Silenx in them. That will draw 144CFM out the rear for 17db worth of noise(14*2=17db - 3db increase).
a b 4 Gaming
July 18, 2006 2:47:28 PM

Quote:
www.silenx.com - All of your noise problems solved. Well, most of them - their silent power supply is rubbish. They make fans, afterall.


Since you are looking at a passive cooling option on the video card, you need a case with two 120mm fans in the rear - and put the Silenx in them. That will draw 144CFM out the rear for 17db worth of noise(14*2=17db - 3db increase).


I've read some really bad things about Silenx, where employees would pose as "ordinary people" and posts really good "user experiences" with Silenx fans. They tried that at www.silentpcreview.com and got banned. Also, I thought they rated their fans at 17dBA each so two of them should produce 20dBA.

Posters at www.silentpcreview.com are also sticklers for silent or quiet parts including fans. Silenx is usually not part of any poster's recommended list. I stick with either Yate Loon or Nexus fans and use a voltage controller to lower the speed.

I already have my case and PSU which are the Centurion 532, and Seasonic S12 500. The Centurion has plenty of airflow, the Seasonic is quiet, cool, and efficient. As I stated before, I'll be using the Scythe Ninja to cool the Conroe E6600.

The only major noise producing part that I haven't picked out yet is the GPU. Since I want a powerful GPU, it may just negate the desire to passively cool the CPU since powerful GPUs are generally not cooled passively.

I'm considering either a HIS X1900XT because based on some reviews they have the quietest fan for the X1900XT. It also helps that the fan exhausts the hot air out the back of the case. Or I'll simply go for the less expensive and lower performance GeForce 7900GT and attach a Zalman VF900 fan on it. The only downside of the X1900XT is that it is power hungry compare to the 7900GT and puts out a lot of heat.

Because I'll be using a powerful GPU with an active cooling solution there may be no need to passively cool the CPU since all the other fans in the case may drown out a CPU fan running on just 5v.
a b 4 Gaming
July 18, 2006 3:08:57 PM

Quote:
With only $12 between the 2 I'm thinking of going with the 800, $160 vs $148.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Doug


Just an FYI, the motherboards that will be released for Conroe will not officially support DDR2 800 or 667. Only DDR2 533 is officially supported. Intel will probably add support for DDR2 667 and 800 in the future. The average performance gain from DDR2 533 to DDR2 667 will be about 2.4% based on this Anandtech article.

Quote:

On average at 2.66GHz, the 1333MHz FSB increases performance by 2.4%, but some applications can see an even larger increase in performance. Under DivX, the performance boost was almost as high as going from a 2MB L2 to a 4MB L2. Also remember that as clock speed goes up, the dependence on a faster FSB will also go up.

Thanks to the shared L2 cache, core to core traffic is no longer benefitted by a faster FSB so the improvements we're seeing here are simply due to how data hungry the new architecture is. With its wider front end and more aggressive pre-fetchers, it's no surprise that the Core 2 processors benefit from the 1333MHz FSB. The benefit will increase even more as the first quad core desktop CPUs are introduced. The only question that remains is how long before we see CPUs and motherboards with official 1333MHz FSB support?
July 18, 2006 6:05:47 PM

Silenx employees are one thing, but the fans themselves are very quiet. Note - those noise and CFM ratings are for the fan itself, so backpressure and so on will increase the noise considerably, as it will with any fan.

Look at the rear of the case. Notice the stamped grille with all of those holes? Now look at the power supply fan grille. You need to take out the stamped metal garbage(a Dremel works wonders - 3 minute mod) and put in proper wire finger guards(or none at all).

This will get rid of the excess noise and backpressure, plus give you the fan's rated CFM(in a stock case, most fans put out 1/2 or 1/3 due to the miserable grille).

Here are the two I'd recommend:
http://www.silenx.com/ixtremaprofans.asp?sku=ixp-74-14
14db each, times 2=17db 72cfm each. As I noted above, that's in open air. Silenx fans don't work with any real backpressure. Their rpm drops, their output hits the floor, and they start to sound noisy. Of course, technically you don't NEED a fan grille in the rear, do you? :) 

Silenx makes an 11db version, but the airflow isn't impressive enough, IMO. One 14db version does about what two 11db ones do.

http://www.scythe-usa.com/product/acc/002/sflex_detail....
Two of these should be about 11-12db, though you would need a case with two at the rear to pull this off, as 33.5cfm isn't any better than most 80mm fans will do. These are slow but quiet - and the fluid bearings will outlast a couple of systems quite easily.

When I build a new system, I'll try to find a case with dual 120mm fans at the rear to try this. But it won't handle overclocking or any passive cooling if the entire system is only moving 67cfm.
July 18, 2006 6:48:04 PM

Are you willing to do some simple case mods? You could use a dremel or hacksaw and cut out the stamped grills in the case, then replace them with plain old wire ones - instantly you'll get more airflow and less noise. Air moving over air makes no noise, but air moving over metal does - the wire grill minimizes that noise source.
July 18, 2006 8:22:27 PM

I've heard that mod presribed many times. I still, unfortunately, don't get exactly what it means. Are you talking about the mesh on the side of case, like in this picture?



The mesh on side would be cut out and replaced with what exactly?

~Ibrahim~
a b 4 Gaming
July 18, 2006 8:47:43 PM

For the moment I'm not going to modify anything. The first thing is to upgrade to Conroe E6600 and a 7900GT or the faster X1900XT. I already have a Yate Loon for the exhaust, the intake fan came with the system which will most likely be replaced. Both fans are currently spinning with about 7v so they are pretty quiet. Once I decide on an appropriate motherboard I'll look towards a passive solution to cool the chipset.

As I stated before the main concern for heat and noise will be the GPU. Not much of an avid gamer , but Oblivion is on my list and I would like to play it at 1280 x 1024 resolution with very high settings. That's why I'm leanning towards the X1900XT. Oblivion generally runs better on an ATI card, and the X1900XT exhausts hot air out of the case. A powerful GPU pretty much breaks the mold for a quiet PC.

Modding the case won't happen until there is nothing else I can do at a reasonable price to lower PC noise, if it is above my acceptable threshold. That also depends on how well a non-OC'ed E6600 will run passively in my case.

My HTPC however is a different story. That I expect to be almost dead silent at a distance of 1 meter. But that upgrade project isn't until next year once the 45nm Conroe are released. But I'll be keeping an eye out for Nehalem reports next year. If progress seems to be going fine, then maybe I'll just postpone the upgrade to 2008.
a b 4 Gaming
July 18, 2006 8:58:27 PM

With this:

July 18, 2006 10:10:27 PM

Ah, got it!

~Ibrahim~
July 18, 2006 10:23:09 PM

Quote:
With only $12 between the 2 I'm thinking of going with the 800, $160 vs $148.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.asp?Item=N82E1682...

Doug


Just an FYI, the motherboards that will be released for Conroe will not officially support DDR2 800 or 667. Only DDR2 533 is officially supported. Intel will probably add support for DDR2 667 and 800 in the future. The average performance gain from DDR2 533 to DDR2 667 will be about 2.4% based on this Anandtech article.

Quote:

On average at 2.66GHz, the 1333MHz FSB increases performance by 2.4%, but some applications can see an even larger increase in performance. Under DivX, the performance boost was almost as high as going from a 2MB L2 to a 4MB L2. Also remember that as clock speed goes up, the dependence on a faster FSB will also go up.

Thanks to the shared L2 cache, core to core traffic is no longer benefitted by a faster FSB so the improvements we're seeing here are simply due to how data hungry the new architecture is. With its wider front end and more aggressive pre-fetchers, it's no surprise that the Core 2 processors benefit from the 1333MHz FSB. The benefit will increase even more as the first quad core desktop CPUs are introduced. The only question that remains is how long before we see CPUs and motherboards with official 1333MHz FSB support?


The jump to DDR2 800, or 1600MHz RAM will be neglible as well if the motherboard's FSB can even be overclocked that high. But good for future proofing, unless the industry will be shifting over to DDR3 RAM.

I thought the supported 667 ram.

And ddr2 800 isn't 1600MHz its 400MHz.
July 19, 2006 1:19:31 AM

Quote:
I am working on building a very quiet, fairly low cost gaming system. I just need the tower, will be using the monitor, speakers, etc I have. So far all I've bought is the case, an Antec P150 (with power supply).

I have seen a lot of chat about 939 vs. AM2? I will wait until after 7/23 for price drops. AMD or Intel doesn't matter to me.

I am near always multi-tasking, but don't know if dual core is worth it. I've seen comments about if I stay at 3k speed it runs cooler and the system can be more quiet, that was months ago, so is that info still valid? Any comments on that and which motherboard to get are welcome, hopefully one with silent cooling.

I have read that RAID is not effective, with 250gb drives under $100 and liking the idea of having 500gb of space, I am wondering if I'd gain any HD speed by using RAID setup. I am looking at the wd2500ks due to the low noise it's said to produce (the report was on the wd5000ks, I am hoping the 250gb version is the same noise level?).

I am leaning towards a silent heatpipe 7600gt card.

2GB RAM, whatever is cheapest and reliable. Would like to leave the slots to upgrade to 4gb open.

Any comments on the Zalaman c8000 CPU cooler?

I'll want a DVD burner, nothing fancy as I hope to go to Blueray once the prices are reasonable, is there one of these more quiet than most?.

Anything else I'm missing?

thanks, Doug
my very quiet system..
AMD Athlon X2 3800+ socket 939 (quieter than AM2, based on what I've read so far
Asus A8R-MVP.. Fast passively cooled motherboard
Asus X1600XT silent video card
Samsung HDD. Way quieter than my Seagate that I'm looking to replace
Thermaltake TR2 430x PSU. Maybe not the best out there, but have been solid so far, just like the previous one (Tt Pure Power 420w) I sold to a friend to get this one. Very quiet
BenQ 1650 dvd burner.. no burner is really quiet, but that one is not that bad.. and burn quality is excellent.

All that in a case I forgot the name with a fan controller to ajust speed of all 3 case fans.

The only thing I'm hearing is sometime the CPU fan, when it is working full load or, my 2 seagates HDD...
a b 4 Gaming
July 19, 2006 1:27:00 AM

Quote:

And ddr2 800 isn't 1600MHz its 400MHz.


Oops. My bad. I figured if DDR2 533 = 1066MHz, and DDR2 667 = 1333MHz, DDR2 800 would equal 1600MHz.

Yeah, I thought DDR2 667 was officially supported, but apparently not.
July 19, 2006 6:29:48 AM

Dremels are amazing things. The cutoff wheel will slice through plastic and sheetmetal like butter. Literally. Of course, do this with a bare case and clean up the metal flakes and dust before you install anything.

The real thing is the rear exhaust. Yes, slice them out. If you want to get fancy, you can also carefully slice out the grille pictured above to that only every OTHER ring is left. :wink:

Pros: Quiet. case temp dropped 5C. Airflow doubled.
Cons: absolutely none.
!