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Advice wanted on quiet PC build

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December 23, 2009 6:40:01 PM

APPROXIMATE PURCHASE DATE: Early January
BUDGET RANGE: Flexible, expecting approx. $600-$700

SYSTEM USAGE FROM MOST TO LEAST IMPORTANT: Software development, photo editing, Web browsing, video playback, basic home video editing. No 3D gaming anticipated.

PARTS NOT REQUIRED: case, HD, optical drive, keyboard, mouse, monitor, speakers, OS
PREFERRED WEBSITE(S) FOR PARTS: any highly rated seller
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA

PARTS PREFERENCES: Probably Intel CPU for performance reasons.
OVERCLOCKING: Probably not
SLI OR CROSSFIRE: No

MONITOR RESOLUTION: 1920x1200

I'm doing a major upgrade on my quiet PC, aiming for the quietest possible PC with good performance. I've chosen lower wattage components whenever possible. I want RAID 1 support for redundancy.

Intel Q9550S (65W version of the Q9550)
Gigabyte GA-EP45T-UD3LR
2x 2GB DDR3 (recommendations?)
Nexus VALUE 430 PSU
Sapphire ATI Radeon HD4550 512MB DDR3
Thermalright HR-01 Plus heatsink
Scythe Kama PWM 120mm CPU fan
Scythe Kama Flex 120mm case fan

Components from my existing system to be re-used in the new system:
Antec Sonata case
2x Western Digital 200GB SATA HD (RAID 1)
Lite-On IDE DVD/RW DH20A4P

Comments, suggestions?

Thanks!

More about : advice wanted quiet build

December 24, 2009 2:07:28 PM

I'm going for quiet over top-notch performance. The LGA 1156 processors all run 120W or more, compared to 65W for the Q9550S. Less heat means less fan noise, and I doubt I'll notice the difference in CPU speed for the things I do.

It bothers me some that I'm not using the latest socket, but I'm willing to pay that price for a quieter PC. For my next upgrade (I do this about every 5 years), I'm hoping to get low wattage, solid state, passively cooled everything.
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December 24, 2009 2:31:24 PM

Check out AMD CPUs then. You're not likely to get 5 years out of an LGA775 build.

For the RAM, G.Skill makes some good low voltage sticks. The 1333 mhz ones are CAS Latency 7 and usually run $100.

That's a really expensive HS. I recommend the Coolermaster Hyper 212. It's $29 on Newegg, and one of the better HSF out ther.
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December 24, 2009 3:02:48 PM

Why won't an LGA775 build last five years? Will the CPU crap out, or what?
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December 24, 2009 3:13:45 PM

rainfingers said:
The LGA 1156 processors all run 120W or more, compared to 65W for the Q9550S. Less heat means less fan noise, and I doubt I'll notice the difference in CPU speed for the things I do.


Don’t waste your money.

Intel Core i7-860 Processor , consumes 95W and costs about $70 less. Go for P55 Asus/Gigabyte board with USB3.

Your choosen GPU comes with only 1 year warranty, other manufactures like Asus/Gigabyte give three years, Powercolor/Diamond 2 years and XFX gives lifetime. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

The $70 which you are saving invest it toward another 4GB DD3 memory [4x2GB] http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...


Read up more on Powersupply here http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...
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December 24, 2009 3:20:34 PM

The LGA775 is very old tech. It's soon to be 3 sockets behind in Intel's line (1156, 1366, and whatever the i9 will run on). It's not to say it will break before 5 years, but you won't be able to any upgrades. It also uses DDR2, which is all but dead.

It's a really bad idea to build a new computer on 3-4 year old tech.
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December 24, 2009 9:58:37 PM

ibnsina said:
Don’t waste your money.

Intel Core i7-860 Processor , consumes 95W and costs about $70 less. Go for P55 Asus/Gigabyte board with USB3.

Your choosen GPU comes with only 1 year warranty, other manufactures like Asus/Gigabyte give three years, Powercolor/Diamond 2 years and XFX gives lifetime. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...

The $70 which you are saving invest it toward another 4GB DD3 memory [4x2GB] http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...


Read up more on Powersupply here http://www.jonnyguru.com/modules.php?name=NDReviews&op=...


Your advice about the graphics card warranty is excellent. Two previous GPUs have died on me, so a longer warranty is definitely a good thing.

95W for the i7 860...I'm not sure if the extra 30W would make an audible difference in the noise level. I would err on the side of quiet, even if it costs more, but perhaps more research is called for. Does anyone have a technical answer/link for that?

As I understand it, all 32 bit versions of Windows are limited to 3 GB of RAM. I have 32 bit XP.
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December 24, 2009 10:05:28 PM

MadAdmiral said:
The LGA775 is very old tech. It's soon to be 3 sockets behind in Intel's line (1156, 1366, and whatever the i9 will run on). It's not to say it will break before 5 years, but you won't be able to any upgrades. It also uses DDR2, which is all but dead.

It's a really bad idea to build a new computer on 3-4 year old tech.


But Lo and w00t, the motherboard I've picked supports DDR3!

However, I see your point. But even if I upgrade sooner than expected, say in 3 years, won't the LGA1156 be just as dead as LGA775? Does LGA1156 get me any flexibility besides the CPU? My old single-core Athlon is adequate for almost everything I do, so I'm not too worried about needing a faster CPU than the Q9550S.
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December 24, 2009 10:12:46 PM

Yes, because Intel moves through their sockets very quick. And you're getting in on it at the middle of its life.

If you really cared, you could go with AMD. Their AM3 socket has single, dual, triple and quad cores available for it, and will be the main socket for the next several years.
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December 24, 2009 11:03:19 PM

Everyone has given you sound advice. If I were building today, I'd stay away from LGA 775 as stated, but it's up to you.

To help with your quiet PC, have you checked this site for ideas?

http://www.silentpcreview.com/

Good luck with the silent build.
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December 24, 2009 11:10:53 PM

huron said:
Everyone has given you sound advice. If I were building today, I'd stay away from LGA 775 as stated, but it's up to you.

To help with your quiet PC, have you checked this site for ideas?

http://www.silentpcreview.com/

Good luck with the silent build.


Yes, I love that site. I relied on it heavily in choosing the PSU, heatsink, and fan.
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December 25, 2009 12:23:38 PM

rainfingers said:


95W for the i7 860...I'm not sure if the extra 30W would make an audible difference in the noise level. I would err on the side of quiet, even if it costs more, but perhaps more research is called for. Does anyone have a technical answer/link for that?



http://www.guru3d.com/article/core-i5-750-core-i7-860-8...

http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/intel-core-i5,2410....

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/cpu/display/core-i7-87...

Quote:
As I understand it, all 32 bit versions of Windows are limited to 3 GB of RAM. I have 32 bit XP.
[/url]

Yes it's around 3.58GB. (You didnt mention that you were going to use 32bit OS).
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December 25, 2009 11:16:02 PM

ibnsina said:
(You didnt mention that you were going to use 32bit OS).


True, I didn't say that at first.

Thanks for the links.
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December 25, 2009 11:56:03 PM

A thought...

There are 45w triple- and quad-core Athlon II processors available:

http://products.amd.com/en-us/desktopcpuresult.aspx?f1=...

And 65W models for the Phenom II processors :) 



Myself, I'm not sure how much of a premium one should pay for the lower wattage... from what I've gathered, the TDP ratings AMD claim are for full load on all cores, which I reckon would happen infrequently.

Then again, your usage is likely very different from mine! Anyway, hope that helps, good luck :) 
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December 26, 2009 2:33:55 AM

Just out of interest, why is everyone recommending a GPU? Surely an IGP would be just as useful for no 3d gaming, and require less power, quieter, etc? Am just a newbie so pls alleviate my confusion!
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December 26, 2009 11:43:36 PM

arakrazy said:
Just out of interest, why is everyone recommending a GPU? Surely an IGP would be just as useful for no 3d gaming, and require less power, quieter, etc? Am just a newbie so pls alleviate my confusion!


IGP would probably work for me, but in my admittedly brief search I couldn't find a motherboard that had everything else I wanted (DDR3, SATA RAID, etc.) If someone directed me to one, I'd sure like to see it.
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December 27, 2009 12:21:12 AM

Hiawatha said:
A thought...

There are 45w triple- and quad-core Athlon II processors available:

http://products.amd.com/en-us/desktopcpuresult.aspx?f1=...

And 65W models for the Phenom II processors :) 



Myself, I'm not sure how much of a premium one should pay for the lower wattage... from what I've gathered, the TDP ratings AMD claim are for full load on all cores, which I reckon would happen infrequently.

Then again, your usage is likely very different from mine! Anyway, hope that helps, good luck :) 


From what I could find, Intel's 65W parts handily outperform the 65W Phenom II. But the 45W parts might be something to think about for even quieter operation.
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December 27, 2009 12:44:58 PM

Ooh, links please!



The 785g and 790gx chipsets have the best IGPs right now from what I've gathered, and you should be able to find motherboards with either of those that support SATA, RAID, most other things you want... unless you want something especially exotic?


As for power-consumption and heat generation, you may want to consider undervolting whatever you get as these new processors seem to undervolt pretty well even without underCLOCKING :)  if you underclock and undervolt a little you should be able to reduce the power-consumption and heat-generation considerably without paying a premium for the companies' "green" products.
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December 27, 2009 3:51:12 PM

Hiawatha said:
Ooh, links please!



The 785g and 790gx chipsets have the best IGPs right now from what I've gathered, and you should be able to find motherboards with either of those that support SATA, RAID, most other things you want... unless you want something especially exotic?


As for power-consumption and heat generation, you may want to consider undervolting whatever you get as these new processors seem to undervolt pretty well even without underCLOCKING :)  if you underclock and undervolt a little you should be able to reduce the power-consumption and heat-generation considerably without paying a premium for the companies' "green" products.


Here are the links I used to gauge CPU performance. First of all, here's dozens of CPUs ranked by performance (data by user submission). To find a specific CPU, go to this page and search (the browser's text search is more useful than the the "Find CPU" box).

Since that chart lists the 95W Q9550 but not the 65W Q9550S, I found SPCR's comparison of the two, in which the performance is virtually identical.

I think you're right on about undervolting. The author of the SPCR article opines that the Q9550S is just a Q9550 with the default voltage set lower, and verified at the factory to work that way. The problem with undervolting a non-"green" CPU (which the author did successfully) is that it's not guaranteed to work at a lower voltage--results may vary from one unit to the next. But maybe I can undervolt the "S" even more!

I'm not looking for anything I would call exotic in a mobo. I want LGA775, P45 chipset, DDR3 support, SATA RAID, and an IDE connector. I could give up the IDE and replace my DVD drive with a SATA if it saved me from buying a GPU, but removing that criterion didn't seem to help. I'll search again and include those IGP chipsets, maybe that will find something.
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December 27, 2009 4:19:59 PM

Aha, I just learned that the IGP, when present, is part of the chipset. The P45 doesn't have one.
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December 27, 2009 4:57:27 PM

If you're dead set on that setup then of course you should go ahead and get it! =P

I took a look at that SPCR review:

"While the Q9550S does indeed use less power than the Q9550, it is much less than the 30W suggested by their TDP ratings. Thermal Design Power is an "up to" specification indicating maximum power dissipation under the most extreme loads, so caution should be used when looking at these numbers. We found that the difference in power consumption was much too small to justify the $125 higher price-tag. To add insult to injury, our retail Q9550 sample could be undervolted to the point where it became more energy efficient than the Q9550S at stock voltage. Our Q9550S didn't undervolt any better — when both processors were set to their respective minimum operating voltages, the numbers were indistinguishable. There were no significant performance differences between the two."



Chances are the low-TDP processors are already operating pretty close to their lowest stable voltage :) 

If value/upgradeability is at all a concern, then the AMD-platform would allow you to drop in a more powerful low-TDP processor in a year or two, which may be harder to do with a system based on the LGA 775 socket.

With the 785g and 790gx chipsets, you also get a competent IGP, which may allow you to work without a discrete video card. Great for lower power-consumption and heat-generation? :) 

You can find those chipsets with support for DDR3 and RAID.




I dunno about the passmark charts... have you any reliable info on how it'd be for benchmarks relevant to your usage? :) 

cheers
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December 27, 2009 10:13:24 PM

I'm not dead set exactly, but I haven't yet found a compelling reason to get something else. :)  However, the actual wattage difference from the SPCR review is disappointing; I must not have read that carefully the first time. Anyway, I do major upgrades about every 4-5 years, so all my hardware will be out of date and dropping in a new CPU won't be a good option. I'd like to get a CPU now that will last me until then.

I'm not sure about the real-world relevance of the Passmark charts; I think they slam all available cores to the max and report that result. But it applies the same test to every CPU, so I'm fairly confident in the rank ordering. That's why I didn't go with AMD; Intel has better peformance for the same 65W rating.

I'm guessing I'd get minimal heat savings on an IGP, considering the HD 4550 GPU is rated at only 25W. But I haven't seen any numbers on IGP heat output.
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December 27, 2009 10:18:42 PM

how much wattage a cpu uses doesn affect noise at all, you could have a billion watt cpu dead silent with a good cooler ,so just get a top notch cpu cooler with a noise blocker fan(s)
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December 28, 2009 12:08:54 AM

obsidian86 said:
how much wattage a cpu uses doesn affect noise at all, you could have a billion watt cpu dead silent with a good cooler ,so just get a top notch cpu cooler with a noise blocker fan(s)


CPU heatsinks, good and bad alike, only dissipate heat into the inside of the case. You need fans to expel the heat from the case, and the more heat the CPU generates, the more airflow you need. That's why hardcore gamers put six screaming fans on their madly overclocked systems.

A good heatsink helps, and so does using quiet fans at slow speeds. But the less heat your system generates in the first place, the easier it is to dissipate the heat quietly.
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December 28, 2009 11:26:23 AM

If you want smooth high definitions video playback, take the idea of intergraded graphics out of your mind and crash the idea even more, if you are going to do graphics/video editing.
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December 28, 2009 12:50:21 PM

Another option is the i7 860 with corsair H50 liquid cooling. The H50 generally got good reviews and it’s not that expensive.

http://www.legitreviews.com/article/1025/1/

http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/coolers/display/corsai...

http://www.guru3d.com/article/corsair-h50-cpu-cooler-re...

.................................................................
Edit

Even is got excellent customer reviews in newegg, is seems to be very quite.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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December 28, 2009 1:33:42 PM

ibnsina said:
If you want smooth high definitions video playback, take the idea of intergraded graphics out of your mind and crash the idea even more, if you are going to do graphics/video editing.


I can't comment on video-editing performance, but if there's one thing reviewers and users seem to have consistently concluded re. the 785g's IGP it's that it's perfectly capable of handling HD video and blu-ray playback. Which isn't surprising given that even ion-based systems can manage the same, for the most part =P

Photoshop and basic home video-editing are also supposed to be all right with this IGP. Look, it's not as if the graphics chipset is ancient.

I say this for the sake of accuracy, not in order to persuade the OP :p 

If budget and upgradeability are not important constraints then you can certainly build a powerful, cool-running system to suit your needs and preferences with the parts you've chosen. Would it be significantly cheaper than a core i5 build btw?

Just not sure how to interpret the myriad performance benchmarks and claims about power-usage :) 

cheers!
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December 28, 2009 2:08:06 PM

I'll second that Hiawatha - 780g and 785g are very capable for high-def playback. There are tons of articles out there confirming it as well.
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December 28, 2009 4:46:52 PM

Smooth Blu-ray playback that’s encoded 40 Mbps bitrates, with noise reduction enabled and no skipping?

Any way even if it flawlessly plays back the highest bitrate HD movie, still you wouldn’t want to do video editing on it.

It just doesn’t make sense to spend $350 on a processor and then use intergraded graphics :na:  .

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December 31, 2009 12:45:15 AM

ibnsina said:
Smooth Blu-ray playback that’s encoded 40 Mbps bitrates, with noise reduction enabled and no skipping?

Any way even if it flawlessly plays back the highest bitrate HD movie, still you wouldn’t want to do video editing on it.

It just doesn’t make sense to spend $350 on a processor and then use intergraded graphics :na:  .


My main problem with integrated graphics is that the LGA775 boards with IGP don't support DDR3, and the AMD 65W processor doesn't perform as well as Intel's. If there were an IGP setup I liked, I could always toss in a GPU later if the performance wasn't enough, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

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