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Fast, Quiet, Mini Tower Business Machine Help

Hello All;

I've been browsing here for a while and I'm getting a little overwhelmed since I'm not an enthusiast nor a gamer. So much info, so many options, so little time. I need to replace a Dell box for business and decided to try building my own machine with decent components instead of buying another commercial box with mediocre parts.

This will be a business machine in an office peer to peer network, used to run MS Office, Adobe Acrobat, email, internet browsing, with some iTunes music and iPhone syncing thrown in. I hate waiting for my machine to boot up or re-boot after updates and I always have 4 or 5 programs open at once on a 28" i-Inc monitor and switch back and forth and convert Office files to PDF a lot. I bought an Intel SSD 80gb SATA2 drive to speed things up but didn't realize that Win XP doesn't take full advantage of an SSD and need to upgrade to Win 7 and decided to do that on a new machine.

My initial thoughts were to use a Mini Tower with a quiet fan(s) and a Micro ATX mobo to save space since I don't need a lot of boards and expansion area anyway. I'd like to use the Intel SSD as a boot drive and only need a 500gb HD for my data files. I was thinking about an Intel processor, maybe an i5. Don't really need separate graphics or sound boards if there are Micro ATX mobo's with decent graphics and sound onboard but am open to suggestion.

Already have:

Monitor
Intel 80gb SSD SATA2
Keyboard & mouse
Sony DVD RW
Speakers & subwoofer (good enough)

Will need:

Case & Power Supply (QUIET!!)
Micro-ATX board (Intel i5?)
At least 4 USB ports
Network card or built-in
Prefer WD 7200rpm HD 500gb, maybe a WD5000AAKS Caviar Blue
Win 7 Home Premium (will probably buy a Family Pack upgrade for 3 machines)
Odds & ends to make it all work.

What do you suggest for a FAST and QUIET machine?

Thanks,

HW
12 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about fast quiet mini tower business machine help
  1. Here's a fantastic combo, sounds like it has just what you need: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.648053&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-RSSDailyDeals-_-na-_-na&AID=10521304&PID=4176827&SID=1w7fqu7xfkewj
    It can use the intergrated graphics, but if you feel it needs a bit more oomph: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161367&cm_re=5450-_-14-161-367-_-Product

    If total silence is a MUST, grab one of these: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835185097&cm_re=scythe_shriken-_-35-185-097-_-Product

    that is a very powerful and cheap combo, should suit your needs perfectly!
  2. striker410 said:
    Here's a fantastic combo, sounds like it has just what you need: http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboBundleDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.648053&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Junction-_-RSSDailyDeals-_-na-_-na&AID=10521304&PID=4176827&SID=1w7fqu7xfkewj
    It can use the intergrated graphics, but if you feel it needs a bit more oomph: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814161367&cm_re=5450-_-14-161-367-_-Product

    If total silence is a MUST, grab one of these: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835185097&cm_re=scythe_shriken-_-35-185-097-_-Product

    that is a very powerful and cheap combo, should suit your needs perfectly!


    Thanks for the suggestion. That combo looks like a good bargain however I'm willing to spend a little more to get closer to my specs, including a smaller size box and a faster processor. I also have a personal preference for WD over Seagate due to prior experience.

    HW
  3. My go to quiet PC cases are those by Antec. I'd start with this case and power supply

    Antec Mid Tower Computer Case Sonata Proto
    http://www.amazon.com/Antec-Tower-Computer-Sonata-Proto/dp/B003EKT9NM
    $65

    Antec EA-380D 80+ BRONZE 380W PSU
    http://www.amazon.com/Antec-EA-380D-Power-Supply/dp/B002UOR17Y/
    $45

    I've used that case and several of those PSUs and they are very quiet.

    Similar but pricey and worth considering if you're ever thinking you want to drop in a workstation-class graphics card:

    Antec SONATA IV Black 0.8 mm SECC ATX Mid Tower Computer Case 620W Power Supply
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129099

    Definitely shop around for that case, though and also look for the Antec Sonata III 500 too. I've seen pretty crazy sub$100 deals every once in a while on the 500.

    CPU:
    I think the i5-2500K is the sweet spot in the 2nd generation Intel processor lineup. It's $224 at NewEgg.com but if you have a MicroCenter near you, you can pick it up for $180.

    Motherboard:
    With it, I would get one of the new Z68 motherboards and make sure it supports the integrated graphics, something like this GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128503

    RAM:
    Given the prices lately, I'd actually go for 8GB of RAM as 2 x 4GB. There are several choices under $100, for instance this G.SKILL Ripjaws Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model F3-12800CL9D-8GBRL http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231314 which is on the memory compatibility list for the Z68 motherboard mentioned above.

    HDD:
    The motherboard supports SATA III 6GB/s drives and there is a version of the WD 500GB Caviar Blue that fits that bill, the Western Digital Caviar Blue WD5000AAKX 500GB 7200 RPM 16MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822136769

    Something else to know about the Z68 chipset is that if later you do decide to drop in a discrete workstation graphics card, you can still take advantage of the QuickSync technology built into the integrated graphics for video encoding. Test show it 40% faster when the software supports it.

    Good luck.
  4. Can you tell me what your budget is? I can compile a build, but I need to know the budget.
  5. Since you have asked repeatedly for a small case, and people seem not to get it, i thought that id chime in.
    This case comes with a high quality antec psu:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129035
    This mobo+cpu combo will allow you to use the integrated graphics on the i5.
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/ComboDealDetails.aspx?ItemList=Combo.638743
    I would pair it with this ram:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16820231277
  6. striker410 said:
    Can you tell me what your budget is? I can compile a build, but I need to know the budget.



    After seeing some of the suggestions, I'm thinking $500 -$600 should get me where I want to be.

    Intel i5 2500 about $200
    Mobo about $150 - $160
    Case about $75 - $100
    WD Caviar Blue 500 gb $50
    4g memory $50

    Now I need to narrow down the case & mobo.

    Thanks,

    HW
  7. Dougie Fresh said:
    My go to quiet PC cases are those by Antec. I'd start with this case and power supply

    Antec Mid Tower Computer Case. ...

    CPU:
    I think the i5-2500K is the sweet spot in the 2nd generation Intel processor lineup. It's $224 at NewEgg.com but if you have a MicroCenter near you, you can pick it up for $180.

    Motherboard:
    With it, I would get one of the new Z68 motherboards and make sure it supports the integrated graphics, something like this GIGABYTE GA-Z68MX-UD2H-B3 LGA 1155 Intel Z68 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Micro ATX Intel Motherboard: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16813128503

    ...

    Something else to know about the Z68 chipset is that if later you do decide to drop in a discrete workstation graphics card, you can still take advantage of the QuickSync technology built into the integrated graphics for video encoding. Test show it 40% faster when the software supports it.

    Good luck.


    I'll look at the Antec cases to see if I can find the size I want. I see several i5 processors advertised. Are the diffs mainly speed? I'm in So. Cal. And the Tustin store isn't too far. I think I'll start w 4g memory and add more later if I need it.

    Thanks for the input.

    HW
  8. Best answer
    you simply do not need a $160 mobo. you need an h67 or h61 mobo. I have no idea why dougie fresh made the recommendations that he did.

    the processors you should consider are the i5-2400, i5-2500 and i5-2500k. These are the new i5 sandy bridge processors. The i5-2500k is for overclocking, which is not something you need to be doing by any means. It also comes with more powerful integrated graphics. The integrated graphics on the i5-2400, however, are more than enough for your needs. The i5-2400 is VERY fast, quite frankly, so is the i3-2100. The i5-2500 and i5-2500k are both slightly (slightly) faster, and more expensive.
    The z68 mobo which dougie fresh recommended (i have NO idea why), has the following features that an h61 board does not:

    Quick Sync: Media encoding tool that works with SOME video editing software. speeds up creation of video and audio files.
    SSD caching: allows you to use a small ssd as a cache for an HDD instead of its own drive. Essentially, you use a $100 SSD to make a $50 hard drive SLIGHTLY faster. What you will be doing is different. You will be using the SSD as your main drive, and an HDD as a storage drive, which is a better and faster solution.

    Overclocking: you need to have an i5-2500k for this feature.

    x8/x8 PCI-Lanes: This feature is essentially why the z68 board Dougie recommended costs $160 instead of $120 or so. This feature increases your bandwidth for dual graphics card setups. Seeing as you dont even need one discrete graphics card, this doesnt really seem appropriate.

    Way more SATA connections: you said you will be using 2 drives, but if you feel like at some later date, you will need to add 6 more drives (a typical h61 supports ONLY 6 drives :( ), maybe this is for you.

    4 Ram Slots, SATA 6gb/s (aka SATA III), and USB 3.0:
    Some H61 and H67 boards come with these features, some dont. All z68 boards do.
    If you would like to get 4gb of ram and upgrade later, make sure you get a board with 4 ram slots. 4gb is more than enough ram for your needs.
  9. genghiskron said:
    you simply do not need a $160 mobo. you need an h67 or h61 mobo. I have no idea why dougie fresh made the recommendations that he did.

    the processors you should consider are the i5-2400, i5-2500 and i5-2500k. These are the new i5 sandy bridge processors. The i5-2500k is for overclocking, which is not something you need to be doing by any means. It also comes with more powerful integrated graphics. The integrated graphics on the i5-2400, however, are more than enough for your needs. The i5-2400 is VERY fast, quite frankly, so is the i3-2100. The i5-2500 and i5-2500k are both slightly (slightly) faster, and more expensive.

    . . .

    4 Ram Slots, SATA 6gb/s (aka SATA III), and USB 3.0:
    Some H61 and H67 boards come with these features, some dont. All z68 boards do.
    If you would like to get 4gb of ram and upgrade later, make sure you get a board with 4 ram slots. 4gb is more than enough ram for your needs.



    OK. Now I'm starting to get the picture and I agree with your analysis. I want FAST but I don't need Gamer Fast nor do I need super dedicated graphics or more drive connectors than 3 or 4, and I don't need overclocking. The i5-2400 sounds like it would be fine. For some reason the link to the combo mobo and processor wouldn't open for me in your last message so I didn't see it before. I'm at home now and re-checked that link and that looks like a good deal. Isn't 4gb the limit for 32bit Win 7? I'm using Office 2003 mostly (if it ain't broke, I don't fix it), so would I see any real benefit from 64bit Win 7 and more memory? I guess I could always upgrade Win 7 and add the memory too later if I needed 64bit software.

    I saw the Antec MicroATX case you listed before and that's more the size I'm looking for. I'm not too keen on the silver face and found a Cooler Master Elite 341 that's the same height and a little deeper and has an all black w/mesh face. I wonder if the mesh front will make it noisier though. Any idea?

    Thanks a bunch for your input.

    HW
  10. If I were building a workstation PC I'd pay the extra $40 in a $600 budget to allow myself to drop in a discrete workstation graphics card later but still take advantage of the features of the SandyBridge chip. H67 was just a stopgap for Intel to get to the Z68. Since the OP already has an SSD they can either take advantage of the caching for all your applications and data, not just what fits on the SSD or continue to use the SSD as a boot drive and the 500GB drive as planned. That's why I suggested it.

    It didn't seem important to suggest stopgap (H67/H61) technology to save $40 since the original requirements were FAST and QUIET.
  11. Dougie Fresh said:
    If I were building a workstation PC I'd pay the extra $40 in a $600 budget to allow myself to drop in a discrete workstation graphics card later but still take advantage of the features of the SandyBridge chip. H67 was just a stopgap for Intel to get to the Z68. Since the OP already has an SSD they can either take advantage of the caching for all your applications and data, not just what fits on the SSD or continue to use the SSD as a boot drive and the 500GB drive as planned. That's why I suggested it.

    It didn't seem important to suggest stopgap (H67/H61) technology to save $40 since the original requirements were FAST and QUIET.


    Thanks for your input. The Sandy Bridge series of processors does seem to be the sweet spot in the Intel line-up for my purposes. I don't need or plan to overclock the processor nor do I need or want a dedicated graphics card for the work I do. So it looks like the i5-2400 and H67 mobo will work for my purposes at a savings of $80 plus tax for the combo. I'm actually running Win XP plus all of my software plus ALL of my work files on just my 80gb SSD now and only use my current HD for personal files like music, photos and a few videos. I expect that I'll probably be able to run Win 7 plus all of my Office software on the SSD in the new machine as well so wouldn't be using the caching feature of the Z68 anyway. I did read a review of the Z68 caching (albeit with a 40gb SSD) but it didn't really sound like all that great of an improvement. I expect that SSDs will continue to fall in price so I think that a larger SSD would be more useful for my purposes in the future than caching or a dedicated graphics card.

    Again, I really do appreciate your input.

    HW
  12. Best answer selected by HCWHunter.
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