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Fast, Quiet Non-Gaming PC Build

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February 12, 2010 3:53:48 AM

General System Requirements: Non-gaming, primarily for 2D business apps and HiDef video. Should play and edit AVCHD HiDef video without issues. Should run Windows 7 and MS Office apps effortlessly.

Must be quiet, the fan noise of my current Dell drives me nuts!

Total parts budget is about $2,000 with some parts reused from my current PC.

I will probably overclock the CPU only slightly, as I don't want a hot/noisy PC. I'm more concerned with solid performance and reliability, rather than having the ultimate benchmarking PC.

Below is my current parts list, with the reasoning behind their selection. (Prices below are from Amazon, but I'll check NewEgg before purchase.) My big areas of question/concern are the motherboard and GPU/video card.


Case: Cooler Master HAF 932 ($150)
Why: It's roomy for expansion, and can easily hold larger EATX motherboards. Also has large 120mm fans running at low RPMs for less noise. Nice hard drive swap bays, access to both sides of motherboard. Appears a high quality product all around.

Power Supply: Corsair HX-1000 ($235)
Why: Quiet fans, modular connectors, enough power to handle future upgrades.

Motherboard: EVGA X58 Classified ($390)
Why: Larger EATX size, more room for cards and components. Substantial North Bridge/South Bridge heat sinks to keep things cool (and quiet). Overclocking can be done right within Windows, rather than via the BIOS. Runs DDR3 at 1600Mhz right out of the box?

CPU: Intel Core i7 920 at 2.66GHz ($289)
Why: Should be straightforward to overclock slightly with the EVGA X58 Classified motherboard. Keep costs lower now, and upgrade in 2 years to a 6-core or 8-core i7 CPU.

CPU cooler: Cooler Master V8 ($60)
Why: It's big, effective, and hopefully quiet. Install isn't a big deal with the HAF 932 case, which provides access to both sides of the motherboard.

Memory: 12GB Corsair Dominator PC3-12800 1600Mhz Triple Channel DDR3 Kit ($425)
Why: Runs at 1600Mhz out of the box? (Correct?) EVGA X58 Classified runs RAM at 1600Mhz out of the box? (Correct?) Want lots of RAM for video editing. The Corsair fans shipped with this memory are apparenty not very good.

GPU/video card: EVGA GeForce GTX285 2048MB ($470)
Thoughts: Hope it performs well for non-3D tasks such as HiDef video editing. Hopefully it's quiet, but it looks noisy with that fan. The price of this card makes me ill.

- or -

GPU/video card: Zotac GeForce 9500 GT 512MB ($53)
Thoughts: Silent, has no fan, and a large heat sink. Seems dated, and 512MB seems low. Figured 1GB should be a minimum these days.



Parts reused from existing PC:

Monitor: 19" NEC MultiSync 1980FXi LCD at 1280x1024 resolution
Why: Love this monitor.

TV Tuner: Hauppauge WinTV PVR-150
Why: No point in getting a new one, right?

Hard Drives: 2 x 1TB Western Digital Caviar Black, 32MB Cache, 7200RPM
Why: These are very good performers, and large.


Likely Future Upgrades: Intel 6-core or 8-core i7 CPU in 12 to 24 months.

Parting thoughts: This will be my first build, do parts generally "just work" together? I recall messing with PC cards a few years ago and having to deal with jumpers and IRQ settings, are these headaches a thing of the past? I think I can pull the build off, hopefully a key part won't fail, where I'll be dead in the water for weeks returning something to Amazon/NewEgg.

All tips and suggestions much appreciated!
February 12, 2010 11:32:59 AM

Quote:
Non-gaming, primarily for 2D business apps and HiDef video. Should play and edit AVCHD HiDef video without issues. Should run Windows 7 and MS Office apps effortlessly

Err with the way tech moves i really dun see the need to splash so much for a rig just to do these tasks you mentioned to be honest @@
February 12, 2010 11:58:41 AM

Yeah...you could do that on $600.

Everything you picked is too much for your tasks. Why do you need a 1000W PSU to power a business PC? Why do you need a $500 GPU if you're not gaming?

It's just not realistic to spend that much to do so little.
Related resources
February 13, 2010 6:22:21 AM

Thanks for the feedback guys!

Editing HiDef video, especially AVCHD, is no easy task. Simply trying to play AVCHD video brings my current PC to its knees (Pentium 4 at 3.6GHz, 4GB DDR2 RAM, ATI Radeon X300 128MB).

Brought completely to it's knees.

Even on a brand new i7 system, opening up an AVCHD video project will take several minutes, and utilize 90% of the CPU.

The motherboard could be dropped down one level to the non-classified version (saves $100) and the power supply dropped down to 850W (saves another $100), but ultimately that isn't much different than the proposed system, and would be less flexible.

The video card is the real killer, and I wonder if the Zotac listed above would suit my needs?

Could a $600 system really handle HiDef AVCHD video editing? Without massive noise as the CPU maxed out at 100% and the fans kicked in?

I want the PC to last 5+ years, so that's also influencing my parts selection (good performance, upgradeable).

Thoughts?
February 13, 2010 6:36:44 AM

You got a single core and ancient gfx... ofc its gonna be brought to its knees...
Ill agree with the i7 920/x58 build, but dont spend that much on mobo... something around 250 will do you fine. PSU, drop down to a 750~ watt PSU. Get a 5770 for GPU. Get a HAF922, will save you money, near enough same thing... even 6gb will suffice... a SSD will be a better investment probably...

And as said, even a Athlon II build would work quite well for wat you need it for... As long as you have a quad youll be near enough fine...
February 13, 2010 1:14:53 PM

as I like to recommend an amd build, I'll recommend to stay at the i7 route but I agree with MadAd on the gpu and psu.
February 13, 2010 1:48:28 PM

Here's a ~$600 build that is still overkill:

CPU: X4 955 $166
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 $85 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
Case: Antec 200 $40
PSU: Corsair 450W $55 after rebate
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $20
GPU: HD 5770 $150

Total: $631
February 13, 2010 2:18:14 PM

MadAdmiral said:
Here's a ~$600 build that is still overkill:

CPU: X4 955 $166
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 $85 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
Case: Antec 200 $40
PSU: Corsair 450W $55 after rebate
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $20
GPU: HD 5770 $150

Total: $631

doesn't his needs require encoding too? that is why I've said the i7 is better.
also, why would he need 5770 if he isn't a gamer? the 75xx or 76xx are ok
February 13, 2010 3:14:05 PM

The 5770 is for the media. The 955 would do fine for the OP's needs.
February 15, 2010 5:56:50 AM

MadAdmiral said:
Here's a ~$600 build that is still overkill:

CPU: X4 955 $166
Mobo: Gigabyte GA-770TA-UD3 $85 after rebate
RAM: G.Skill Ripjaws 2x2 GB 1600 mhz CAS Latency 7 $115
Case: Antec 200 $40
PSU: Corsair 450W $55 after rebate
Optical: Cheapest SATA DVD burner $20
GPU: HD 5770 $150

Total: $631


Thanks again for the suggestions.

But these part selections seem more a "Bargain PC" than a high end workstation.

Motherboard with only 4 memory slots? No support for Tri Channel?

AMD processor to save $100 over an Intel i7?

An X58 i7 board will support adding a 6-core i7 CPU later (when they're dirt cheap), and a 450W power supply is too small for adding a second video card/GPU in SLI later (when they're dirt cheap). There's not much cost difference between a 750W PSU and a 1,000 PSU. Bumping up seems a no brainer.

I like the Solid State drives, will look into those further as an OS/boot drive. According to Microsoft, Windows 7 64-bit takes up 20GB right off the bat, plus the constant updates.

My parts list up top is about $1,600 assuming a $100 video card. All the parts were chosen for performance, longevity, upgradeability, and low noise level. Already have a new LightScribe DVD burner in the Dell, forgot to list that under "Parts reused."

Have no idea why EVGA, for example, needs to make over 50 different video cards, but I'm currently leaning towards these two priced at about $150:

EVGA GeForce GTS 250 1024MB DDR3

EVGA GeForce 9800 GT 1GB DDR3


Thoughts on either? Two different series 2xx vs 9xxx. Can then add a second card in 24 months, as prices drop further, via the SLI bridge. Hopefully that on-board fan is quiet.
February 15, 2010 6:54:44 AM

never under estimate the power of amd chips, they aren't intel but they give excellent performance per buck, for example, i7 and amd are neck to neck when it comes to gaming.
the i5 doesn't have any tri channel support.
it doesn't matter how many slots are they, it matters how much the mb can take, is that case it is 16GB of ram.
your initial request haven't mentioned any gaming, if fact the first line has non-gaming, you need to decide on the usage of that build.

I do like the "according to microsoft" way, remember that according to microsoft, windows server 2008 is the best server os around...
you're gonna do editing, meaning your gonna write alot to the drive (huge files don't fit ram and pagefile), if you use the ssd for that, you will ware it down.

according to toms monthly gpu review ( http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/best-gaming-graphic... ) at 150, neither of both gpus are recommended. if you want to pay 150 for a specific gpu when another gpu costs the same or less and is better then your specific gpu, then its your choice but you are investing wrong your money, it doesn't fit the "All the parts were chosen for performance, longevity, upgradeability, and low noise level" written by you.
you can be an fanboy, I for example am an ati/amd fanboy but with one big "but", when it isn't worthwhile to get a amd or ati, I won't get it.
I have two computers at home, both have intel cpu because when purchased, intel was the better choice for the task and both has ati gpu for the same reason.
February 15, 2010 10:27:58 AM

The AM3 socket will also be able to add 6 core sockets later. And not just the very first one released.

There is a HUGE cost difference between a 750W PSU and a 1000W one. There's also a lot of wasted headroom.

I'm not sure exactly what you think you're doing with the PC. You don't need a high end GPU, let alone two if you're not gaming. No one needs the i7-920, as the i7-860 builds are cheaper and better all around. The only thing the i920 has going for it is that it will likely see a single 6 core CPU.

As far as an SSD, you can always add that to the build.

Despite it only costing $600ish, it will be a great performer. That's what you get from AMD. Great performance at a lower price...
February 16, 2010 4:04:57 AM

Thanks guys, more to think about.

I'm liking EVGA these days because they have a "lifetime warranty" on their parts, and seem to have their stuff together as far as design and support. Have also heard people having issues with the HD 5770 on Windows 7 64-bit.

The Corsair HX-1000 ($229) PSU is actually only $80 more than the HX-750 ($149) at Amazon as I type.

I guess with the i7, I figured I'd be OC'd at 4GHz on day one, and add the last 6-core model made (in 2 years) when it's priced at $200. Not sure I'm capable of overclocking without the handholding provided by EVGA's E-LEET Windows based app for their i7 X58 boards.

Thanks for the link to the video card roundup, or should I say the Radeon Roundup! I'll read through that, but video card selection is ridiculously complex these days. Would be nice if each vendor made 5 HiDef video cards, 5 gamer cards, etc. There are literally several hundred cards to choose from!

This will be my 5th PC, and all of my prior PCs lasted about 5 years, and were about $1,500 when new. For each PC, not once did I think "This PC is too fast!" :D 
February 16, 2010 4:17:09 AM

"The Corsair HX-1000 ($229) PSU is actually only $80 more than the HX-750 ($149) at Amazon as I type. "
Only... thats easily the difference between a 5850 and a 5870 or the gap between a athlon quad and the 965... in other words, that 80$ is best spent else where... 750w is more then enough for crossfire/sli setups for 5 years at least to come
February 16, 2010 10:03:43 AM

RavenWood said:
Thanks guys, more to think about.

I'm liking EVGA these days because they have a "lifetime warranty" on their parts, and seem to have their stuff together as far as design and support. Have also heard people having issues with the HD 5770 on Windows 7 64-bit.

so? xfx are offering the same lifetime warranty and the problems that you've heard are caused by driver bug which was fixed partially for some gpus and will be probably fully fixed in the next release of ati drivers.
February 23, 2010 4:24:57 AM

Thanks again guys. Definitely like that silentpcreview.com site.

Just came across this fanless GeForce 9800 GT that looks ideal for my needs:

Gigabyte GeForce 9800GT 1GB GV-N98TSL-1GI
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/gigabyte...

http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/VGA/Products_Overvi...


Runs about $130 at Amazon.

Still working on my parts list, and will post once it solidifies, so you guys can tear it to shreds. :-)

At this point, I'm definitely going with the Cooler Master HAF 932 case, and if that's too loud out of the box will swap in some ultra quiet Scythe fans. Want low noise, but want to overclock too.

The i7 920 CPU is also a given at this stage, too. Overclocking this CPU to over 4GHz is commonplace. $288 at Amazon shipped.

Still stuck on the motherboard... With 6GB SATA and USB 3.0 hitting the market, it probably makes sense to start with a nice mid-level X58 board and see how the mobo marketplace looks next year. Expansion slots seem a scarce commodity these days, though. Need to fit a sound card + video card + TV tuner card + possible second GeForce 9800 later...
February 23, 2010 4:46:30 AM

Not gaming?

GPU = HD 5450 or HD 5670 if you really think you need some GPU power.

Why? Video encoding is still done by the CPU. GPU encoding is very limited.

Suggestion: Wanna improve encoding time? Drop the i7-920 and just get i7-960 since you don't need a powerful video card.
February 23, 2010 5:41:21 AM

RavenWood said:
Thanks again guys. Definitely like that silentpcreview.com site.

Just came across this fanless GeForce 9800 GT that looks ideal for my needs:

Gigabyte GeForce 9800GT 1GB GV-N98TSL-1GI
http://www.xbitlabs.com/articles/video/display/gigabyte...

http://www.gigabyte.com.tw/Products/VGA/Products_Overvi...


Runs about $130 at Amazon.

Still working on my parts list, and will post once it solidifies, so you guys can tear it to shreds. :-)

At this point, I'm definitely going with the Cooler Master HAF 932 case, and if that's too loud out of the box will swap in some ultra quiet Scythe fans. Want low noise, but want to overclock too.

The i7 920 CPU is also a given at this stage, too. Overclocking this CPU to over 4GHz is commonplace. $288 at Amazon shipped.

Still stuck on the motherboard... With 6GB SATA and USB 3.0 hitting the market, it probably makes sense to start with a nice mid-level X58 board and see how the mobo marketplace looks next year. Expansion slots seem a scarce commodity these days, though. Need to fit a sound card + video card + TV tuner card + possible second GeForce 9800 later...

take alook that these ati options, they cost less and will do the job http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductList.aspx?Submit=E...
February 23, 2010 10:28:57 AM

http://www.avid.com/products/Media-Composer-Software/sy...

I don't want to make a crusade outta this but the video card *IS* one the (if not *THE*) most importnt editing components.

I have not found this to be a clear area of study. On the one hand, AVID (and others) specify a $300 workstation card as a bare minimum (or we won't even entertain your issues on the open user's forum.) Avid only supports nVidia and, you can use a gaming card, (nVidia), but that is a hack and is not officially supported.

On the other hand, some pro editing and content creation suites do not even make mention of the video card.

I think if you cheap out and go with a DirectX-11 (ATi for now) with 1GB of memory, and spend about $240 on it, you may be happy for the life of the system.

If you are going to be doing rotoscoping (CG FX) and 3D titles (Fox Sports) or Slo-Motion (I do lot's) and render highest quality HD output (Blu-Ray+), then you might lean towards the top end because many partner products for such effects and long renders (like simulating film grain over an entire project) DO address the GPU directly!

It also matters how frequently you output projects, BUT, in my case (currently editing HDV on a 3.2MHz P4 HT), the output renders can take 7 hours for 5 minutes of video (.wmf @ 2 pass cbr) and that can really take the wind outta yer sails. If the renders were not so daunting, I might engage the process more.

So, as a "chicken vs. egg" thing, in the beginning, you don't need a fast system (gpu/storage/cpu) *IF* you don't crank out many projects . . . B U T . . . In the end, you may not crank out many projects BECAUSE your system just isn't up to it.

FINALLY and VERY IMPORTANT : If you are (at all) serious about doing some ART projects or Public Programming ... If you really want to edit at a quality that folks will actually want to watch (after the first minute), then (Listening?) You are most definately going to want a multi-monitor setup and that means at least one multi-head video card. nVidia cards only run two monitors, as of this date while (at least) some Ati cards can/will run three monitors (without adding a second card, as w/nVidia).

The second monitor not only lets you stretch out your video (or audio studio) timeline (at the bottom) while displaying clip bins and preview and trim monitors, above ... A 3rd mon (HDTV) is often very desirable for monitoring final output as it will be seen (without NTSC "safety-zones).

Just some considerations. (I will prolly get a 5870 at 1GB or whatever is newest in August 2010).

= G'luck =
February 23, 2010 11:07:42 AM

Very nice! I DO like that card. Saved it to my build file ... Looks perfect for an HTPC or audio production studio rig.

August 6, 2010 7:05:47 AM

Here's a great, futureproof and somewhat overkill'ish office build:

CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition 3.2GHz - $295.99
^ Just the top of the line AMD processor. Performs just as good as a i7-920 in office tasks. The stock cooler is told to be pretty good, only buy an aftermarket cooler if you are not happy with this one.

GPU: XFX Radeon HD 5770 1GB DDR5 - $159.99
^ Don't get any better graphics card if you don't game. This is already an absolute overkill for non-gamers.

RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws 2 x 2GB DDR3 1600 - $195.98
^ 8 Gb of memory should be more then enough for office tasks.

Mobo: GIGABYTE GA-890FXA-UD5 (890FX, SATA 6Gb/s, USB 3.0) - $179.99
^ Another overkill, as you won't need crossfire for office applications. Whatever, this is a PERFECT and very futureproof motherboard for under 200 bucks!

SSD: Intel X25-M 80GB - $214.99
^ This'll be your boot drive. Install your OS and your applications on this über-fast drive.

HDD: SAMSUNG Spinpoint F3 1TB 7200 RPM - $149,98
^ Put these two drives in a RAID-0 array. You will store your normal files on those drives.

Case: COOLER MASTER HAF 942 - $199.99
^ Not much to say, this is a perfect case! It's much better then a HAF 932, and got dust-filters anywhere. You don't need 2,5' racks for the ssd, as there are 2.5' drives inside.

PSU: CORSAIR CMPSU-750TX 750W - $109.99
^ Nothing much to say, just a great and stable PSU. Don't get anything more then 750W.

Grand Total: $ 1506.90
August 27, 2010 3:27:29 PM

If you are not really into gaming but still want a fast PC and be prepared for the future:

CPU: AMD Phenom II2 X4 955 Black edition Rev.C 3.2 GHz € 133,28 /$ 157,27

GPU: none

RAM: Kingston ValueRam Dual Channel 4 GB, PC3-10666, 1333 MHz, 9, Non-ECC, Kit Of 2 € 84,00 /$ 99,12

Mobo: Asrock 890GX Extreme3 € 110,00 /$ 129,80

SSD: OCZ VERTEX 2 Extended Capacities 120 GB, S-ATA, 275 Mb's, 285 Mb's € 276,00 /$ 325,68

HDD: 2x Samsung Spinpoint F3 500 GB, 7200 Rpm, 16 MB, S-ATA II/300 € 85,99 /$ 101,47

Case: Cooler Master Cooler Master Sileo 500 Zwart, 500 Watt PSU € 86,00 /$ 101,48

Grand total € 775,27 / $ 914,82

Feel free to leave your comments
August 27, 2010 4:24:04 PM

wait what about an amd phenom II x6 1090T ?
August 28, 2010 12:26:37 PM

The AMD Phenom X6 1090T is the upgrade for the future.
If you want to upgrade you can change the processor from X4 to X6 and add some extra RAM.
You can also add an GPU if you want/need.

For now this system is affordable and fast enough and upgrade proof for low costs I think.
GPU: XFX Radeon HD 5770 1GB DDR5 $ 159,99
RAM: Kingston ValueRam Dual Channel 4 GB, PC3-10666, 1333 MHz, 9, Non-ECC, Kit Of 2 € 84,00 /$ 99,12
CPU: AMD Phenom II X6 1090T Black Edition 3.2GHz $ 295.99

Total for upgrade on todays price level: $ 555,10 within 2 or 3 years prices decrease to a level you can buy all this for approx. $ 250,00 and you still have a fast system.

Or am I wrong?
!