Quiet Eyefinity Gaming PC

Hey guys, I'm trying to throw together a 3240x1080 eyefinity gaming rig with a twist, I want it effectively silent at idle (so under 20dba) and under 40 dba at load. Lot's of details below so bear with me =D

Approximate Purchase Date: This month/early next month

Budget Range: $3,000 including shipping and taxes

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming at 3240 x 1920, some video and graphical work with CS5, media storage

Parts Not Required: KB, mouse, speakers, optical, OS

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: Newegg, tigerdirect. Amazon and microcenter (tax in both though)

Country of Origin: USA

Parts Preferences: by brand or type: ATI for eyefinity. Not much in CS5 is cuda accelerated, and since 3d surround has issues... I've decided to stick with ATI. Also, for the added VRAM for the money would make a diff at my resolutions.

Overclocking: Yes, CPU as high as I can go w/o v increase or getting too hot for passive cooling.

SLI or Crossfire: Yes

Monitor Resolution: 3 1080p monitors in portrait mode, so 3240x1080

Additional comments: I've been poking around on SPCR (a great resource for quiet PC building) so I've thrown in some of their suggestions.

Parts so far:
Case: ~$250
I'm considering between a Fortress 2 and Raven 2 Evolution.

My main question here is whether the FT02 will be quieter, or I should go with the RV02-E and add Acoustipack or mass loaded vinyl myself.

Cost is pretty close for either option, so my question for you guys would be which would be the better option (if there is even a difference) and whether I'd run into any space/won't fit issues adding either material to a RV02-E case.

CPU $330
I'll be pushing as high as I can w/o a v increase. I also do video editing and other graphical work in CS5, so it's worth getting the 2600k over the i5-2500k for me.

Mobo $230 - $260
Asus p6p67 ws rev $260
Sapphire Pure Black $230

Basically, here I'm going for cheapest board with at least 3 empty slots btwn PCIe 2.0 slots. Basically, to allow more space btwn the cards for better airflow to keep temps down. I've actually never seen a sapphire Mobo before, which makes me hesitant to purchase it, even though it's $30 less.

I'm tempted to also wait for z67 since it's transcoding abilities would greatly offset my lack of CUDA. Hence, the up to early next month build time.

HSF $40-70
Megahalem Rev B, or scythe Mugen
I read an interesting article from benchmark reviews about using the FT02 and AP181 fans to passively cool the CPU w/ a megahalem, and wanted to give it a try, especially since SB CPU's are so much cooler running than the Gulftown used in that article.

Anyone have thoughts on which one might work better? (greater height/surface area in front of airflow from megahalem), but overall more surface area to vent heat with the scythe mugen.

RAM $105
G Skill Sniper DDR3 1600 Cas 9 1.25v 8gb 2x4gb kit

I'm hoping to get the latency down to cas 8 with a small bump in voltage. I really don't feel it's worth it to pay $50 more for the 1.6v cas 7 8gb kit. (yea I know, saving $50 in a $3k build is kinda silly, but I don't like spending money unnecessarily).

PSU $160
Seasonic x-750.

Either this or the identical Corsair AX 750, w/e I can find for less. Can't really get better than silent below 300W load.
Based on Anantech's numbers, the system should be around 169 at idle, 509 under furmark (xfire 6950's i7-920@ 3.33ghz).

Given this, the 750W fits the max efficiency curve of a PSU better than an 850w.

Intel 120gb 320 $235

HD $80-100 each $320-$400 total
4x 2tb Samsung spinpoint F4 in Raid 5 or 4x 2tb WD Green EARS in Raid 5 for storage

Not sure which set would be more quiet, though the EARS does seem to have a higher failure rate, so I may just go with the F4's even if they are slightly louder. I actually have 4TB of stuff I'll be transferring over to this PC, so I figure 2 TB of additional space should last me for a while.

Xfire 6950 2gb $270-$300 each $540-$600 total
Here's where I'm kinda stuck. Should I go with shroud type cooler of the reference design? or a blower such as MSI twinfrozen III's.

I Imagine that the top card would be better cooled with a shroud design since it has limited space to draw in air from, while the bottom card would be better off with 2 blowers like the MSI. The 90degree rotation and additional space btwn cards should help, but I'm still not sure what type of cooler to go with in top card, or how a blower type cooler is affected by the 90 degree rotation.

I'm also not sure how much better going aftermarket would work, especially since the hotter card on top would have limited space, making most aftermarket coolers less effective.

Monitors $230 each $690 total
I was going to grab 3 Dell 21.5" 1080p Ultrasharps mainly for the IPS screen and stand with built in portrait mode pivot.

I've also considered going with TN monitors and using an aftermarket stand to cut cost's.

Total Cost as above ranges from $2900-$3100 before shipping costs. So, depending on choices, I may need to make some changes to cut cost's.

Appreciate any thoughts you guys may have!

edit: Fixed links
13 answers Last reply Best Answer
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  1. Re: Mobo, that's exactly the purpose for my two choices so far. Either would allow me 3 full slots btwn cards. The problem with using a 7th slot PCIe is that a dual slot GPu won't fit in either with the RV02-E and FT02 due to their design.

    The Asrock and Ga you linked unfortunately only feature 2 slots of space btwn PCIe 2.0 slots 1 and 2, as opposed to the 3 in the mobo's I linked. I would be nice if there was a mobo with PCIe 2.0 in slots 1 and 6, but I haven't been able to find one >.<

    Price is great on the 8gb ddr31600 ripjaw kit. I'll keep that in mind as an alternative.

    HSF wise, I'm not looking at HS + fan performance. I'm going to be passively cooling the CPU, hence I'm looking for HS only numbers, which are much harder to come by.

    The only numbers I was able to find for passive cooling was from the article I linked. I was hoping there might be someone who knew a good place for passive cooling benchmark, or had passive cooling experience (SPCR is limited in what they review).

    Thanks for the links though!
  2. Best answer
    Oops, didn't even look at your username. :)

    I think on that Asus mobo the second PCIex16 slot is the black one right under the first blue one not the other blue one but I might be wrong. Are you sure you can use the blue slots?

    For the HSF I think you can take a look at the Thermalright HR-02. But a slow fan wouldn't be heard over the other stuff.

    For the case here's some more, I like the Zalman MS1000-HS2.
  3. Haha that's fine, I just skip to the text myself most of the time =D

    According to Asus that things got a NF200 bridge so theoretically any of the 4 slots should have same bandwidth. However their manual says the two blue are x16 or x8, and the blacks are x8... which makes no sense. I'll just put it to marketing fail at describing how the NF200 bridge works.

    That thermalright looks perfect though. Thanks a lot!

    Case wise, I wish SPCR testing more stuff.

    I went with Raven 2/ft 02 since they're the SPCR top tested cases for quiet cooling.
    I'll do some research tonight and see if I can get some numbers for that Zalman.

    SPCR did a RV02 + dual 4870 system that was 21dba at idle.

    However, they only used 1 HD and I'm using 4, so I figure I'm gonna need to cut some noise somewhere to keep it at 20dba.

    The newer AP 181 fans, + acoustic foam will help, but that's only a few dba and the only place I can think of cutting is the CPU fan.

    I dunno, the feedback I'm getting from the SPCR forums seems to be that I may be aiming a little too high, or err low in this case
  4. The Thermalright is the best passive cooler but kinda big and heavy. I don't know if the HSF/HDDs will matter so much you'll be running multiple monitors and from what I know the video cards won't idle so low.
  5. with your budget, adding another 8gb of RAM could be helpful if you are going to use CS5 a lot
  6. Sucks SPCR didn't test the 6950. However, they did test a 5850 which when idling at 22% fan speed was 18dba, 24 dba under load. Idle was actually higher than what it should be, and they've had hotter cards than that idle at 13 or 15dba.

    Silent PC testing as I've discovered is a complicated beast! Even Tom's and anandtech just test theirs in their lab, which varies in background dba from 35-45, so their sound measurements are valid for comparing cards, but aren't a good indicator of absolute noise.

    SPCR uses an anechoic chamber with an ambient of only 11dba (10 is limit of human hearing). So, cards idling apparently aren't as loud as we think they are.

    It also helps if there's a heavy steel panel and acoutic foam btwn you and the GPU fans =D

    The one of the bigger issues with getting a silent idle PC is apparently fans at the edges of chassis which have nothing btwn the user and them to insulate noise.

    Odd I know haha, but that's apparently why the RV02 and FT02 are so quiet, all their fans are buried at the bottom of the case with tons of stuff in between to block noise.

    Re: the 8gb of RAM, I'm actually either right at, or a little above budget right now, moreso if I have to get aftermarket GPU cooling >.<

    I may just forgo the 3 IPS panels and stick with TN and an aftermarket stand to rotate them. That would save me about a hundred.

    I haven't actually run into RAM issues yet, and for the really heavy rendering I sorta just take it to my work PC and queue stuff up overnight, haha. This one has an i7-860, 16gb of RAM and a fx1800 so it's a bit more suited to the task.
  7. I've read that the Sapphire motherboard team includes quite a few ex-EVGA motherboard designers/builders. Don't know if that says anything to you about the quality of Sapphire boards.
  8. Hmm the good ex employees or the bad ones? =D well if it had just been a re branded EVGA board would've been fine.

    Ah scratch it, I'll just grab the Asus and avoid the potential headache.
  9. A single large monitor isn't an option? This way you can use only one card.
  10. Well I don't actually have any 2560 x 1600 monitors, and those things are stupidly expensive anyway =D

    I figured this would be a cheaper way to get an even more immersive experience.

    I don't actually need a new PC, it's more of I wanted to try something new and unique and see if I can pull it off build.

    I have a i5-750 dual 5850 rig I use for gaming, as well as a i7-920 dual gtx 260 PC that I've donated to my sister (she does lots of graphical design). Tons of random parts lying around too.

    I've done a few eyefinity rigs before and I actually find it really neat, and honestly, you don't notice the bezels after a while, kinda like how when you're driving you stop noticing the metal strips on the side of the car btwn windshield and mirrors.

    This would be the first time I'd be doing 3 1080p monitors and portrait though, took a while to get the hardware to run it down to a reasonable price =D.

    I also moved from the city to a house in the suburbs recently so my bedroom is REALLY quiet at night, so my PC is starting to annoy me, so I wanted to go quiet this time.

    My GF's suggestion was to just turn off my PC at night. How silly is that? :D
  11. I'm gonna shamelessly bump this in the hope someone out there has some experience with custom sound dampening in RV02 and/or shroud vs blower GPu cooling in 90 degree rotated case.
  12. Best answer selected by banthracis.
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