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Gaming (Skyrim) with a silent PC

Last response: in Overclocking
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December 27, 2011 11:25:29 PM

I have a 'silent' system I built 2 years ago for maximum system quietness while sound engineering. It works great for those purposes, even with my manually adjustable case fan on max, you can hardly tell a computer is running without actively concentrating on it. I've never had issues with it overheating or running too hot. For audio, I have already manually tweaked and removed most of the non-essential Windows 7 programs to maximize performance and I do routine virus/spyware scans and defrag my hard drives regularly. I knew I wouldn't be able to run games on ultra settings without a serious gaming video card, but I'm underwhelmed with my gaming performance.

My build:
Motherboard: MSI X58 Pro-E LGA 1366 Socket
CPU: Intel i7 Quad-Core CPU 930@2.80GHz
Memory: 6x Corsair 2GB DDR3 1333Mhz
Video: Geforce GT 520 Silent 1GB DDR3 (with latest drivers)
Audio: M-Audio Delta 1010LT

I recently helped my brother build his modest first PC and after overclocking his CPU and GPU, he is able to play Skyrim with settings on 'Ultra' and it puts no dent in his performance...he gets a consistent 58-60 fps in Whiterun (he hasn't gotten to Markarth yet). If I play with my settings on 'Low' for maximum performance, I am only getting around 25-30 fps in Whiterun. I never really felt my performance was lacking that much until I saw the performance he was able to squeeze out of his system.

His build:
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z68-V PRO Motherboard
CPU: Intel i5-2500K Quad-Core CPU @3.3Ghz
Memory: 4x Corsair Vengeance Blue 4GB DDR3 1600Mhz
Video: Sapphire Radeon HD 6870 1GB DDR5 (with latest drivers)
Audio: sound through motherboard

Just for a framerate test, I even loaded up Terraria, which has some of the most rudimentary graphics ever and couldn't even get up 60 fps playing that (hovered around 52 fps to display essentially SNES equivalent graphics). It seems like my system should at least be able to perform at maximum under those circumstances. Am I doing something wrong? Will overclocking improve my performance that much? Is it safe to overclock a silent PC with only one case fan and no CPU or GPU fans? I may end up having to invest in a separate PC specifically for gaming, but I feel like I should be able to get better performance from my machine with the parts I already have.

More about : gaming skyrim silent

December 27, 2011 11:42:44 PM

It's the GT 520 bud..... it doesn't have the gas to handle it nearly as well as the Radeon 6870.... if you threw a 6870 or even a 6770 ... or for a real good deal a geforce 560 ti.... you'd hit the same levels. You'd be surprised at how "silent" gpus that I mentioned are. My 560 ti is nearly dead silent
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December 27, 2011 11:43:08 PM

There's not much you can do, you could OC your GT 520 as much as you want and it still wouldn't deal with Skyrim well. Skyrim is a really demanding game, and your video card is pretty weak. I don't see anything else that would hold you back, you have a great CPU, and an abundance of RAM. I don't know what your budget is, but I'd say you should upgrade to a 6870 or something like that. If you have a budget that can accommodate a better card than a 6870 or so, go for it. Something like that would drastically improve your frame rate.
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a b K Overclocking
December 27, 2011 11:45:02 PM

I'm not terribly syrprised with your performance, the GT 520 was never a very powerful card.
No CPU fan, eh? Then no, you should def not overclock. At 2.8Ghz, I don't think your CPU is holding you back much-its the video card that I see as the major bottleneck.

I would try something different, if you want a silent PC consider getting a different enclosure. Although you don't mention what you have now, I'd consider the Antec p180, p280, or a few others like the budget minded BitFenix Outlaw.

If you want to game, the HD 6870 isn't a bad start but I would go for something in the range of the HD 6950 or the GTX560ti for gaming at 1080p. There are plenty of cards with aftermarket coolers that have bigger fans and can run much more quietly than the reference models. That's my advice.
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a b K Overclocking
December 27, 2011 11:45:59 PM

There are some better passive cards out there. For instance, gigabyte has a passive 6770(5770).

This card is a fair bit faster, but not blazing fast. You do at least have a rear fan in the case right? some air will be needed to remove the 100 watts or so of heat the card puts out.

This review has the 5770(its the same as the 6770 performance wise) listed as well as your card

http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/Zotac/GeForce_GT_520...

Canada
http://ncix.com/products/?sku=62244&vpn=GV-R677SL-1GD&m...

USA
http://us.ncix.com/products/?sku=62244&vpn=GV-R677SL-1G...
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December 28, 2011 12:36:36 AM

buzznut said:
I'm not terribly syrprised with your performance, the GT 520 was never a very powerful card.
No CPU fan, eh? Then no, you should def not overclock. At 2.8Ghz, I don't think your CPU is holding you back much-its the video card that I see as the major bottleneck.

I would try something different, if you want a silent PC consider getting a different enclosure. Although you don't mention what you have now, I'd consider the Antec p180, p280, or a few others like the budget minded BitFenix Outlaw.

If you want to game, the HD 6870 isn't a bad start but I would go for something in the range of the HD 6950 or the GTX560ti for gaming at 1080p. There are plenty of cards with aftermarket coolers that have bigger fans and can run much more quietly than the reference models. That's my advice.


My case is the Antec Sonata Proto...very quiet case, but definitely not a lot of ventilation. I built the PC with audio in mind rather than graphical performance. With the CPU fan, I should have specified, I meant no extra/double CPU fans...although I replaced the stock i7 cooler with a Zalman CNPS10X Quiet Processor Cooler. Right now my temperatures run about 48-52C. I know one person's definition of 'quiet' is different than another's, when I say my system is quiet, I mean 'quiet' as in 'can't hear it run without putting your ear directly up to the case' if the case fan is on low setting. Money isn't an issue for me, it's just the decibel level...I'm rather reluctant to make any changes that will add noise to my system, but from what you guys are saying, it seems like I don't have lots of options for improving performance (even if I sacrifice quality) without upgrading to a card with a fan on it and possibly investing in more cooling supplies. I will check out the gigabyte, though...I already upgraded from a 512 silent to a 1GB silent but hadn't been able to find anything more powerful in the silent series, so thanks for the heads up there!
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a c 147 K Overclocking
December 28, 2011 12:54:54 AM

More fans running slowly are better than 2 fans on high. I have two Antec combos up[stairs as follows:

Antec 1200 w/ SG-850 (10 fans) 920 (3.8Ghz) one 580 GTX (820 Mhz)
Antec DF-85 w/ CP-850 (8 fans) 2600k (4.6Ghz*) two 560 GTX (980* MHz)

*recently dropped from 4.8 / 1020

Both are almost dead silent....all fans are on lowest possible setting, CPU temps in mid - hi 60s, GPU temps < 82 ..... puters are inaudible unless there is dead silence in room and even then you have to be within 2-3' and strain to hear.

Check out this review on silentpcreview where they comment on the combos thermal and acoustical performance

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article971-page7.html

Quote:
The above is an obviously unfair advantage for the CP-850... but what of it? Antec has used an integrated systems approach for its CP-850 and its best cases, and if that approach is an advantage over all other case/PSU combinations, then, all the more power to Antec!


Having the combo upstairs to play on ...... when I can get my son off :)  ...... and having built well over a half dozen just like it in past 3-4 months, I have to wholeheartedly agree with the author .... since the box was built, seems the whole neighborhood wants one.
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December 28, 2011 4:04:53 AM

Omg 48 shaders? That's the old 220gt with a die shrink. There is no hope for that. The integrated gpu in the A8-3850 Llano is much faster than that.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

$138.99 GIGABYTE GV-R677SL-1GD Radeon HD 6770 1GB

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
XIGMATEK eXTREME OCTAGON Pure White Fan Series XOF-F1251 120mm Case Fan

$0.00 after mail-in rebate
A Free fan cant be all that bad right? 14 dBA 50 CFM should be silent.

Putting a fan on that big cooler on the fanless 6770 should let you overclock the card and ensure it wont overheat if your case cooling is silent with the case fans on low.
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December 28, 2011 4:30:27 AM

Buying a card that shares the same cooler as it's "big brother" like this example, usually results in a card that runs quieter.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GIGABYTE GV-R697OC-2GD Radeon HD 6970 2GB $359.99

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
GIGABYTE GV-R695OC-1GD Radeon HD 6950 1GB $239.99

It's also a factory overclocked card meaning you are getting a "cherry picked" gpu die that runs a bit cooler and faster.

You could unlock it to a 6970, or leave it as a 6950 and clock it down to stock hd-6950 clocks. Even underclocked to 700mhz it would still be fast with 1408 shaders.

With a bit of effort you could make a custom quiet edition hd-6950.

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