Im using this case. I thought it looked ugly at first but havign it all set up it looks quite nice. The reason I got it was because of the cooling. The nice thing about 250mm and 120mm fans are that they can spin at slower speeds and still get the same cfs as 80mm fans. It has 2 250mm fans and then a spot for a 120mm in the back. I picked up the scythe Flex 120mm fan (~60 cfs) This thing is very quiet and Im amazed at the cooling. I actually catch a chill sitting next to it. I have cold air pooring out of my case
Quiet and fast will work against each other. The main approach is probably to avoid actively-cooled video cards, and to use large-diameter (eg 120mm) fans instead of smaller ones for intake and venting.
I'm not a gamer. I'm a software developer.
Good. You won't need a very fancy card. Get a relatively low-end one to minimize heat generation; make sure it has a passive heat sink (no heat pipe) and no external power connector. It'll cost you $50-100. I think ATI has better multi-monitor support, but for Ubuntu Nvidia driver support may be better.
I haven't picked a sound card yet.
You don't need a sound card; builtin sound is fine for you.
Will it be possible to add another video card to drive a 3rd monitor?
If your MB has a PCIe x4 slot and the video card works in a x4 slot, probably. It might be better just to buy a PCI video card and use a PCI slot.
Do I need a CPU cooler?
Yes, but one is included in the "boxed" CPU. Start out with it, and see if the noise is acceptable.
You can save a fair amount of money by getting something like an e6300 and just overclocking it. Your memory is too expensive, too. Even an overclocked e6300 to 400MHz FSB just needs DDR2-800 RAM, and you can find decent DDR2-800 2x1GB for $180 or so.
You should also think about going to a 64-bit OS, as you'll be able to have more than 3GB or so of RAM on a 64-bit system.
You can save a fair amount of money by getting something like an e6300 and just overclocking it.
My thinking was that a non-overclocked e6700 would run cooler than an overclocked e6300, letting me use a quieter (perhaps passive) CPU cooler. Am I offbase? Low noise is more important than low price to me. Thanks for your feedback.
Contrary to popular belief and utter misconception, Performance and Quiet are possible at the same time. I know, because my system is. I have a highly overclocked 6300, 4 hard drives, and my system is very fast and also very quiet. But you have to choose your components carefully......
Building a quiet hotrod is not difficult, but it does cost some more $$ than the average system. I've spent ALOT of time building one for myself (and I'm my harshest critic), so I'm gonna give you the secret on how to easily build a fast and quiet system without breaking the bank. Here's how you do it:
-A CPU doesn't make noise, but an overclocked one will get hotter, so you need a good aftermarket heatsink. So you get one that performs well and will be quiet. A Scythe Ninja will do beautifully.
-But you need good airflow in your case. Fans will cause noise. So, to beat this you do 2 things: 1) buy a fan controller; 2) buy silent fans. Noctua 120mm fans @ 1200rpm are the BEST you can buy. Dead silent, and move some great air. They cost a bit more, but they're the Ferrari of fans. Forget Yate-Loons, Nexus, or Scythe....all of them are either louder or push less air....but not both. Noctua does. Get them.
-Next thing that will cause noise is your power supply. To beat this get a Seasonic. End of story, hands down, it's the BEST PSU for silence and performance on the market. S12 or Energy Plus is the way to go. Absolutely top notch product.
-Next thing is your graphics card. Cheap cards are loud, period. So you either get an aftermarket VGA cooler like a Zalman VF-900 and it's cool and deadly silent, or you get a graphics card that has a silent stock cooler, but these generally cost more money. So it depends on your budget. An 8800GTS, for example, is a high end card that is silent.
-Hard drives. These are generally quiet, especially in an Antec P180 case. However, Hitachi's are extremely quiet and run cool too. Not the fastest drives on the market, but very respectable. And good quality too.
-Lastly, your optical drive. These are loud no matter what. However, you can control the drive speed via Nero software. But you can also get a quietER one to begin with. Samsung SH-S182.....quieter than most and very inexpensive. It's noticeably quieter than alot of drives.
And that's it. Performance that's quiet. Not that hard really. Just need a bit of patience, and a bit of extra money for quality components mentioned above.
Just don't install the fan on the Scythes, the Thermalrights don't even come with fans. With those Noctuas Skyguy mentioned, there should be plenty of passive airflow around any one of those coolers to keep things chilly. I think Noctua makes a CPU HSF too, the U12. Google it, it's hard to find.