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Super quiet Gaming PC - Need help from the Pros

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July 14, 2011 5:26:56 AM

Hi All,

Been reading the boards for a couple of weeks now and am very impressed with all of your insight. I wanted to get your opinion on a system I am putting together. I built my last system about 10 years ago and my geforce 4600 ti can't even play youtube videos fullscreen anymore :(  I am horribly out to date about current tech so in addition to questions about my build, I will also have questions about installation.
Here are the basics answered:

Approximate Purchase Date: Mid August - September
Budget Range: ~2000 After Rebates for BOTH hardware and Software (Win7 + Office 2010). Total includes Tax AND shipping (where applicable).
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Need to be able to play SC2 on 1080p and diablo3 on possibly 2 or more monitors when that game comes out. Will also be using comp to manage large databases for work. Finally, will use comp to watch movies.

Parts Not Required: I have this 24inch viewsonic monitor. Thinking about buying another one but later on: http://www.amazon.com/Viewsonic-VX2450WM-LED-23-6-Inch-...
I also have a keyboard. Will not need speakers.

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: amazon, tigerdirect, mwave, and then newegg (I live in NJ so I am taxed for using newegg). Really any store that has a good policy on returning dead products.
Country of Origin: USA
Parts Preferences: (Only requirement is a Sandybride processor and the corresponding chipset.)
Overclocking: Yes on processor – to 4ghz. No to ram, motherboard, and might so some OC’ing on video card
SLI or Crossfire: No, definitely not. Just not worth it IMHO. If I spend 2x on a card, I should get 2x the performance. I don’t even get 50% more performance…

Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080 is my monitor’s max res.

Additional Comments: These are my priorities:

1) Quiet, Quiet, Quiet! No component should emit more than 40db max under full load. I absolutely hate noise other than what is coming from my speakers and there is no reason why a pc shouldn’t be quiet and silent. I am willing to pay a premium for this quietness as you will see from my build. Any recommendation should take this into account

2) Price to performance ratio. I remember buying my Geforce Ti4600 for 400 dollars and being all happy I had the baddest card on the planet…I was so naïve and didn’t understand how my card would be worth less than 50% of that in a year… Anyways, I am not looking to buy top of the line (with the exception of when it affects noise) and looking to maximize my price to performance ratio.

3) Reliability and Brand Name. I will pay a premium for reliability. I work full time and have other commitments so I do not have time to return cheaply made/unproven products from value brands. So I will not be buying the following brands and kinds of products: Zotac, Palit, Sparkle, cheap PSUs, products with bad reviews, unstable products, etc. Sorry If I am offending anyone by naming brands just wanted to save you time.

4) Classic Styling – No windows and LEDS on case. Also don’t care how my components look.

5) Semi Future-Proof – I am not planning to do an upgrade for at least 5 years. I have no expectation that I will be able to play Crysis 5 but I just need it to be somewhat future proof.

Case:
Fractal Design Define R3 Black
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

OR

Antec Performance One Series P183 V3 Black Aluminum
http://www.mwave.com/mwave/SKUSearch.asp?scriteria=BA50...

My question is which mid tower case will provide me with the best combination of quietness, expandability, and future proofing (usb 3 headers, etc.). Or is there another mid tower case you would suggest taking into consideration #4 of my priorities.

Motherboard:
GIGABYTE GA-Z68X-UD3H-B3
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Question: I definitely want a Z68 mobo wich features Lucid Virtu (backup in case my GPU dies and possible video encoding). Any other suggestions? Also want to use the 6GB SATA cables.

Processor:
Intel Core i5-2500K Sandy Bridge 3.3GHz
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Pretty much decided on this. Want to OC to 4GHZ. My question is: Do I need to buy a CPU cooler if I do OC to just 4GHZ? Also – Is there a generic step by step guide to installing a cpu cooler?

Graphics Card:

MSI R6950 Twin Frozr III PE/OC Radeon HD 6950 2GB
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

OR

SAPPHIRE Radeon HD 6950 Dirt3 Edition 2GB
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Reviews says Sapphire is actually cooler and quieter. Although both of them have never gone head to head (or have they?).

My price limit in this category is $300

OS:
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit
http://www.amazon.com/Windows-Professional-64bit-System...

Is the system builder edition the same as OEM? Can I install in more than one system?

Memory:
G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600
http://www.amazon.com/G-SKILL-Ripjaws-1600MHz-PC3-12800...

Looking for reliable 8GB worth of 1600mhz DDR3 ram. Any other options or do I have the best right now?

HD Drive(s):

General Question: Should I use the Z68’s and SB’s SSD Cahcing ability or buy a dedicated 120GB SSD and do the OS+Office+1 or 2 apps/Rest of the files partition? Any reviews/benchmarks which compare the two?

Can I buy a 120gb and partition 60GB for SSD caching? I’ll be honest, hard drives are my weakest knowledge area.

Install Question: Is there a step by step guide to how to install an HD drive and an OS. Setp by step meaning:

1)Click this and that, select this, select partition, etc.


Also looking for a step by step guide to installing a SSD/HDD combo. I remember when I first installed my hard drives, I used IDE cables and had to select a primary/master, etc. I am guessing it is much different now.

Western Digital Caviar Black WD5002AALX 500GB 7200 RPM 32MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Most reviews say that this is a very quiet 7200RPM drive that also performs well. I am comfortable with the size if you were wondering. If you recommend another drive, pleas e recommend one that gets reviewed as quiet and is 7200RPM. Thanks.

AND

OCZ Vertex 3 120GB
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

OR

Intel 510 120 GB SSD
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

I am very aware of all the negative reviews of the OCZ drives – especially the 3 series. I know the performance blows the intel drive out of the water but I also hear the intel drives are very reliable. I am actually very torn. I might just go with the intel and pay that steep price premium to not get a dead drive or a drive that will freeze up or lock. I still hear even with the new firmware updates, people are still having probs

Are there special features that are enabled when I pair a Intel SSD with the Intel processor and intel chipset?

Install Question: Can I set a HD Drive and a SSD together in a RAID setup? What is the most common setup for these two types of drives?

Bluray Drive:

SONY Black 12X BD-R 2X BD-RE 8X DVD+R 5X DVD-RAM 8X BD-ROM 8MB Cache SATA Blu-ray Burner BWU-500S
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Q: I only need a coedc to burn a blu-ray right? If I want to play blu-rays, do I need a codec? If I do, can I get the coec for free?

PSU:

Antec CP-850 850W
http://www.amazon.com/Antec-CP-850-Supply-Twelve
-Hundred/dp/B001RTPLWK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1310619992&sr=8-1

OR

CORSAIR Professional Series HX750
http://www.amazon.com/Corsair-CMPSU-750HX-Professional-...

Heard both were very quiet and worked very well. Any others that are even quieter and perform as well as the ones I listed? Requirement: modular.

Software:
Microsoft Office 2010 Home and Business
http://www.amazon.com/Microsoft-Office-2010-Business-Ve...

Fan replacement:
Will replace all antec fans or fractal case fans with noctura fans:

Noctua NF-P12-1300 120mm x 3
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

Moves more air on an equal setting to the factory fans but will reduce noise levels by a sizeable margin. I’m looking for fans with a dba of no more than 20 on the HIGHEST setting. These fans are 19db and move about 54cfm which I think is worth it. Plus the amazing reviews…

Mouse:
Logitech G500 10 Buttons Dual-mode Scroll Wheel USB Wired Laser 5700 dpi Gaming Mouse

http://www.amazon.com/Logitech-G500-Programmable-Gaming...

So that is my super quiet gaming PC build for around 2k. Let me know what you think. Thanks!

More about : super quiet gaming pros

July 14, 2011 5:45:53 AM

I like your Antec case choice .

I like the idea of quiet

I know that quoted dB figures are nonsense .
I'd stick with the Antec fans and maybe add a pair of 800 rpm Scythes at the front of the case

The hard ware will recognize all the other hard ware . Installing windows is as difficult as inserting the disk in the drive and pressing the reset button , then following the instructions .


One very effective strategy for making a computer absolutely silent is ....... to put it in another room . Run a DVI and a USB cable [or two ]in to where you , your monitor , speakers, keyboard and external dvd drive are . That way you wont hear a thing
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July 14, 2011 6:35:15 AM

Silence is alwyas my 1st concern....now 40db? my system is 20db maximum..

Check silenx fans www.silenx.com they are the best in terms of silence, you put that running next to your ear and you don hear sheet. Their 120mm is 90CFM

Check Silverstone cases, they have classic style too.

If you want to use the Sata III ports, you need to go SSD. In addition, they are silent

Also, you may want to change the CPu cooler for a watercooling solution, or simply a quiit cooler. Getting a watercooler will give you the possibility of water cooling your motherboard and videocar, thus eliminating more fans
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July 14, 2011 2:28:01 PM

Outlander_04 said:
I like your Antec case choice .

I like the idea of quiet

I know that quoted dB figures are nonsense .
I'd stick with the Antec fans and maybe add a pair of 800 rpm Scythes at the front of the case

The hard ware will recognize all the other hard ware . Installing windows is as difficult as inserting the disk in the drive and pressing the reset button , then following the instructions .


One very effective strategy for making a computer absolutely silent is ....... to put it in another room . Run a DVI and a USB cable [or two ]in to where you , your monitor , speakers, keyboard and external dvd drive are . That way you wont hear a thing


That is a great idea but I only have one room to work with :( 

Do I have to correctly format these new HDD and SDD drives?
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July 14, 2011 2:30:18 PM

leandrodafontoura said:
Silence is alwyas my 1st concern....now 40db? my system is 20db maximum..

Check silenx fans www.silenx.com they are the best in terms of silence, you put that running next to your ear and you don hear sheet. Their 120mm is 90CFM

Check Silverstone cases, they have classic style too.

If you want to use the Sata III ports, you need to go SSD. In addition, they are silent

Also, you may want to change the CPu cooler for a watercooling solution, or simply a quiit cooler. Getting a watercooler will give you the possibility of water cooling your motherboard and videocar, thus eliminating more fans


I would love to have every component be 20db max but my video card and PSU under load will not be that silent.

I am very unfamiliar with how water cooling works..is the cooler outside the pc case?

I checked out the silenx fans on newegg and there were some complaints about quality. Have you experienced any quality issues?
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July 15, 2011 3:11:05 AM

Ive been running silenx fans since 2007 and they work great. Akasa is another nice brand too, but silenx is my favorite.

Now, a quick tutorial about watercooling:

http://www.koolance.com/technical/cooling101/001.html

Its up to you to choose if you want an external solution or internal.

Internal solutions get alredy warm/hot air from inside the case to cool the Radiator. External solutions get fresh/cold air from outside the case. However, external solutions compromise mobility/size/space/aesthetics. so its up to you.

A popular internal solution is Corsair. Cool only the CPU.

For external solutions, check Koolance or Swiftech.
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Best solution

July 15, 2011 4:05:53 AM

try enermax magma 120mm fans they are quiet, push a lot of air, easy to clean, and not flashy, I use them in my personal rig and am very pleased, although it already souds like you know what you like. For games and more extensive storage, the WDC Black 500 gb 6GPBS HDD is a great choice, for me I went with a crucial m4 and a WD Caviar Black 500gb HDD for my steam account which would not even come close to fitting on the 64 gb ssd. I have to say that since upgrading from a crappier 7200rpm HDD, and having the os installed on the SSD, my microstuttering that was persistent in some games is gone. There are still some stinkers such as maifa II while driviing in a car but other than that its performance is flawless and one of the fastest HDDs you can buy other than a 1000 RPM drive.
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July 16, 2011 2:17:47 AM

leandrodafontoura said:
Ive been running silenx fans since 2007 and they work great. Akasa is another nice brand too, but silenx is my favorite.

Now, a quick tutorial about watercooling:

http://www.koolance.com/technical/cooling101/001.html

Its up to you to choose if you want an external solution or internal.

Internal solutions get alredy warm/hot air from inside the case to cool the Radiator. External solutions get fresh/cold air from outside the case. However, external solutions compromise mobility/size/space/aesthetics. so its up to you.

A popular internal solution is Corsair. Cool only the CPU.

For external solutions, check Koolance or Swiftech.


I checked out the watercooling tutorial and am deciding to go with air cooling. That was very informative tutorial however.
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July 16, 2011 2:35:23 AM

jjb8675309 said:
try enermax magma 120mm fans they are quiet, push a lot of air, easy to clean, and not flashy, I use them in my personal rig and am very pleased, although it already souds like you know what you like. For games and more extensive storage, the WDC Black 500 gb 6GPBS HDD is a great choice, for me I went with a crucial m4 and a WD Caviar Black 500gb HDD for my steam account which would not even come close to fitting on the 64 gb ssd. I have to say that since upgrading from a crappier 7200rpm HDD, and having the os installed on the SSD, my microstuttering that was persistent in some games is gone. There are still some stinkers such as maifa II while driviing in a car but other than that its performance is flawless and one of the fastest HDDs you can buy other than a 1000 RPM drive.


I was also looking at crucial m4 for ssds. I am just so afraid of getting an ssd and ending up with a dead drive/problem drive. Now with the intel announcement of their bug for their ssd's...I wonder if I should wait for SSD tech to get more reliable..

I also decided I wanted to go with a CPU cooler other than the stock.

Noctua NH-U9B SE2
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite...

I am told I need to buy thermal paste if I decide to go with stock because the intel drive doesn't come with paste?

Anyone have answers to the questions in my original post:

Is there a better z68 mobo out there with lucidvirtu support?
Which video card is better?
etc.

Thanks!
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July 16, 2011 8:10:28 AM

Have you looked at SilentPCReview.com?

They're the place to go for quiet PC advice.
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July 16, 2011 2:37:47 PM

go with artic silver thermal paste, 6950s are def louder than most, if silence is what you want get a gtx 570, I have one and even when the fan is ramped up it is dead silent, I have had 6 series amd cards before and they are definatley louder, especially when the fan is ramped up
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July 17, 2011 11:04:13 PM

Thanks all, I think I will go with the m4 128 GB and ASUS P8Z68-V PRO ATX Intel Motherboard.
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July 17, 2011 11:42:07 PM

nice! I have a 64 gig m4 just for my os and it is blazing fast!
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July 17, 2011 11:44:34 PM

jjb8675309 said:
nice! I have a 64 gig m4 just for my os and it is blazing fast!


Yes, I want to avoid the plug and pray of OCZ and the robbery of the intel so the m4 seemed like a logical choice. Thanks for the suggestion!
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July 17, 2011 11:48:43 PM

no problem let us know how everything works out
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July 30, 2011 11:39:31 PM

Best answer selected by chillin15.
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