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Building pointers and advice needed, I haven't built a pc since 2002.

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March 4, 2008 5:51:33 AM

Hey folks,

Been years since I've built a pc, last one was 1.3 ghz, Ive been using a 2ghz single core with a basic 6800 vid card I got from a friend.


What id like to do is have the PC be very power efficient (I buy clean electricity and want to contribute as little to pollution as possible) and have good value.

My budget cap is $1000 according to the lady who wears the pants, I've quit my job to stay home and raise the kids for a few years, so we are value conscious about it - but it's also become my social outlet. Excluded from that budget are the OS, PSU, Case, HD, optical drive, keyboard and mouse. (Monitor can stay, but if a bigger one fits in the budget, that'd be great).


I would like to be able to hook it up to water cooling (I use a water cooler I built out of scrap copper at the recycling yard, which is hooked up to a drinking fountain).
If it's a lot more power efficient to use some other kind of cooling, I'm up for that, but it has to be *really* quiet, because our house is all brick and tile, and noise seriously amplifies in here - and I'm mildly allergic to dust. I don't know what cooling is like now but it looks a lot different than the jet-engine thing that came with this computer, some thermaltake volcano or something, split the eardrums and I hooked the drinking fountain up to it straight away. Not worried about condensation (to those who always inquire), as the lines & filing cabinent the pc mounts into are highly insulated.

I have a 19" LCD, though I wouldn't mind going bigger if it fit into the budget.

Have winXP which I'm happy with.

Have a PC & C 610 Silencer with a single rail. It's massive overkill for my current system, but I bought it to be sure I was being efficient on electricity use.

Have a seagate HD, 7200rpm. Its like 250gb or so.

Just got a nice burner for making home movies on dual layer discs, a LiteOn, burns pretty much everything except blueray, which I care nothing for.



So those are the parts I have to keep using, OS, HD, PSU (monitor).


Now, I've done some reading, and I know that Intel recently came out with some power efficient processors lately, that sounds great. I don't know much about em though.

I wanted to upgrade awhile back, but I read that the 8800 vid cards ate massive power, and I just didn't feel right about it. Are any of them more power efficient now?


Anyways, would appreciate some pointers and advice to get me started on where to look, what to look at, and what might be coming up in the next months to wait for in terms of efficiency.


Oh - PC is to be used to play Warhammer beta, my current dog of a pc has hung in there just fine the past 9 months of beta, but I'd like an upgrade to enjoy it even more. Other than that, I'd like it to be able to run Age of Conan really well in pvp, and strategy games like Civ & Spore on really large maps - my current pc cannot handle the really big maps in Civ, etc, without taking *forever* to make one turn.


Thanks so much!
March 4, 2008 7:51:05 AM

E8400 would fit your green lifestyle. it is based on 45nm technology - uses less power and runs much cooler than the older 65nm chips. right now most places are out of the E8400 but hopefully intel will ship more soon. it just came out 1/20/08.

there is a nice green HDD i could suggest but you already have a HDD.

read stuff over at silentpcreview.com if you are looking for a very silent pc. water cooling is very expensive and your budget does not seem high enough to me to cover it, unless you already have the cpu block, pump, radiator and other things. building it from scrap parts yourself sounds great, but if it leaks or stops circulating, you lose your CPU and possibly your mobo.
March 4, 2008 8:33:07 AM

The E8400 is the processor to get, most are reporting 4GHz on just air cooling. Its a great overclocker and is 45nm so you know its going to run much cooler than the 65nm before it. They are hard to get a hold of but there not impossible to find. With that monster PC & C 610 Silencer you could easily handle two 8800GTX's, and the 9800 series is out this month with the 9800GX2 (two 8800GTS 512MB G92's on one card) which you can run on any mobo with one PCI-express 16x 1.0 slot.

It will be like having two 8800GTS's in SLI as far as graphics power is concerned. Although it would be overkill for a 19" monitor, it would be useful on 20-24" monitors. I think one 8800GTS 512MB would be plenty for your 19' monitor.
Related resources
March 4, 2008 10:39:00 AM

ATI does pretty well for having low power draw in their systems
March 4, 2008 7:46:47 PM

Thanks guys I do appreciate the advice. What is that low power req. HD? Im still interested!

It's great to hear that e8400 is low power, but not something that is old. I like to have a thing last a long time, so less materials are required to replace what I'm replacing.

How is the power draw on those video cards?


Cooling is easy, I have a great big 1/4" sheet of copper I got at the scrap yard before it was recycled, I cut out the size I want for the base, dremel it down where it would be hottest, then lap it - and then solder a copper pipe cap onto it, installing a barbed inlet and outlet on it.

I could make a heatsink for anything really with that design (would have to go get thinner copper for tighter spaces) because unlike a normal water cooling setup, it doesn't rely upon air temperature to cool, but refridgerated water.

However, the drinking fountain does take a lot of power and if I could get something really quiet which used less windpower, I'd jump on it to save the power. I'll check that site out, thanks a bunch!



I didn't realize I'd need 2 of those monster cards for a bigger monitor. While I have a wide 19", I'll upgrade to a 22 or 24 in the next year if I can't now, and often hook the computer up the the flat panel TV (which is just a 42" at 1900 or so rez)... so I guess it would really matter with that.

What I like is when playing a strategy game is to have it on the flat panel at a high rezolution, where it feels more like you're a commander in a war room =P
March 4, 2008 8:52:03 PM

As I write this post, my APC program tells me that I am drawing 268 watts of power. That includes the stuff in my sig, a router, cable modem, and only one of two 24" displays which takes about 130watts. Under load, the usage goes up to 320 watts. That is a delta of 52watts.

The 45nm E8400 is about as efficient as it gets today, unless you want to try some of the mobile options. It's thermal power is 65watts. With it, I can run civ4 on huge maps. The speed step technology reduces the cpu multiplier when it is not active from 9 to 6, saving power.

The biggest power draw will be the vga card. More so if it is a really high end one or overclocked. I would suggest that the 96000GT non-overclocked unit would do you well. It supports up to 2560x1600 resolution. A 24" monitor native resolution will be 1920x1200. You always have the option to run at a lower resolution if necessary. Get the EVGA card on the off chance that you will want something faster. Their "step-up" programs lets you trade it in for a better card within 90 days.
A 3850 might also be ok.

Air coolers are very good these days. The only power they need is a 12mm fan. A fan that runs at <1000 rpm will cool a E8400, and be very quiet, so long as it is attached to a good cooler. I think it has to be less power than a powered drinking fountain. The best is the thermalright ultra 120 extreme, but it is expensive. There are other good ones at half the price.

The Antec Solo case, which I love, is very quiet. I don't think you can be more quiet with any other case.

For memory, get a 4gb kit in a 2x2gb configuration. It is cheaper, takes less power, and preserves your option to go to 8gb in the future.

---good luck---
March 4, 2008 9:53:56 PM

My recomendations:

E8400
P35-DS3L/ DS3R/ P5K-x
7200.11 320+GB HDD (7200.11 is just as fast as a Raptor)
9600/8800GT -512MB

Any case you like
March 4, 2008 9:57:05 PM

divpers said:


Cooling is easy, I have a great big 1/4" sheet of copper I got at the scrap yard before it was recycled, I cut out the size I want for the base, dremel it down where it would be hottest, then lap it - and then solder a copper pipe cap onto it, installing a barbed inlet and outlet on it.

I could make a heatsink for anything really with that design (would have to go get thinner copper for tighter spaces) because unlike a normal water cooling setup, it doesn't rely upon air temperature to cool, but refrigerated water.


Bad idea. You are going to have a hell of a lot of condensation & short circuits. Just spend $30-50 on a good silent CPU cooler will you? Much safer. If you get a good CPU cooler (ie TQUIN Tower 120) - you can run it with out a fan. If you plan on making a quiet PC get Scyth S-Flex fans.
March 4, 2008 10:04:52 PM

Here is a review of CPU coolers (the Xigmatek was number 1):
FrostyTech's CPU Cooler Review

Here is a review of HDD rated for silence (the Western Digital Green Power WD7500AACS won):
Silent PC Review Recommended Hard Drives

(All those underlined things above are links.)

edit: oh, and listen to Shadow703793 - your home made water cooler solution sounds like a disaster waiting to happen, and Scythe S-Flex fans are very quiet (D=quietest, least CFM; E=quiet, ok CFM; F=not as quiet but still quiet, more CFM) - see the Silent PC Quiet Fan List review (Noctua fans won, but newegg does not have them and they are a little pricey everywhere else - newegg gives a discount on the Scythe S-Flex F fans if you buy a bunch - get 6 of them and run them through a Zalman fan controller to slow them down to D or E speeds until you can't hear them anymore).

If you are also looking for more tips on quieting your PC, silicone fan mounts, silicone gaskets, and a case rated for quietness will help. Also to quiet the vibration of HDD you can mount them with elastic cord.
March 4, 2008 10:20:04 PM

I recommendations:

E8400 @ 3GHz no brainer
Gigabyte P35-DS3L
7200.11 320+GB HDD I have to agree with Shadow703793 on this HDD
9800GX2 because you said you wanted to run on bigger screens and you won't have to upgrade for long time.


By systemlord at 2008-03-02


By systemlord at 2008-02-20
March 5, 2008 7:36:08 PM

^Agreed. Also take a look at the links HamRadio posted (esp the Frosty tec one) save your self the chaos with a dead system due to condensation.
!