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Multi-Purpose Quiet PC (~$1200)

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October 20, 2011 2:04:15 PM

Hey all,

A friend of mine asked me about putting a PC together for him. I'd like the machine to be futureproof (LGA 1155/USB3/SATA6; will probably add an SSD in a year or two) and quiet (not necessarily silent, but I'd like the case and GPU to not generate an assload of noise. No overclocking for sound reasons -- the hardware should be able to take care of business at stock speeds.)


Approx. Time To Purchase: 2-4 weeks


Budget Range: Max. $1200 before tax and shipping


System Usage from Most to Least Important: Internet, MS Office, Moderate Gaming (Diablo III, Civilization 5, etc.)


Parts Not Required: Mouse, Speakers, Keyboard


Preferred Sites: Newegg, Microcenter


Country of Origin: USA


Overclocking: No


SLI/CF : No


Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080


Other Comments: Need a USB wireless adapter.


Here's where I'm at so far... I've done some research on the case and GPU, but am open to other options as well. I'm not averse to bumping up to a 6870 or 6950.


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CPU: Intel i5-2400 ($150 @ Microcenter) I'd get an i5-2500 (non-k) if Microcenter carried it, but they don't. Could also get an i5-2500k for $180, but I won't be overclocking.
Motherboard: Biostar TZ68A+RCH USB3/SATA6 ($125 @ Newegg) Cheap, well-reviewed, USB3/SATA6 and I get the benefit of Intel Smart Response Cache (no SSD in this build.)
GPU: ASUS EAH6850 1GB ($140 AR @ Newegg) This card was reviewed to be very quiet, especially at idle. I am also considering the HIS IceQ 6950 1GB in this spot, for another $110 tacked on.
Case: Antec Solo II ($117 w/promo code @ Newegg) This case a bit expensive compared to other quiet options, but the original Solo was very well-reviewed, and this one has improvements regarding larger graphics cards and cable management. Open to suggestions.
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB ($65 @ Newegg) Quiet and solid. I have this in my own build.
PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk II 500W ($48 AR/promo @ Newegg) Without overclocking, 500W should suit this system just fine. Well-reviewed, respected brand etc.
RAM: Kingston HyperX 8GB DDR3 1600MHz CL9 ($40 AR @ Newegg)


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Monitor: ASUS VH236H 23" Full HD Widescreen LCD Monitor ($160 AR @ Newegg) Non-negotiable, I love this monitor
Optical: Samsung CD/DVD Burner ($17 @ Newegg)
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit ($100 @ Newegg)
USB Wireless Adapter: TP-LINK 802.11b/g/n Wireless Adapter ($18 @ Newegg)


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Total (before combos, tax, and shipping): $979 ($1089 with the 6950 upgrade)


Any and all feedback appreciated. Thanks!
October 20, 2011 2:32:45 PM

if you go for the 6950 grphics card you shud get a better power suply, mabey 550W

exept from that this is a solid build for what you are going to use it for :) 
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Best solution

October 20, 2011 2:48:43 PM

Quote:
Motherboard: Biostar TZ68A+RCH USB3/SATA6 ($125 @ Newegg) Cheap, well-reviewed, USB3/SATA6 and I get the benefit of Intel Smart Response Cache (no SSD in this build.)

Personally, I'd pick the ASRock Z68 Extreme3 Gen3 over the Biostar. ASRock has a better rep in general, and the board is the same price. There's also upgradeability options in the event your friend decides he wants a second GPU or something. It's hard to overlook a board with more potential for the same price, IMHO.

EDIT: Since you can afford an SSD boot drive, you don't need to worry about Intel's caching feature. It's great for small SSDs (20-30GB) but it doesn't accelerate write speeds, which is where having a boot drive really shines. A boot drive is always better than the cache if you can afford it.

Quote:
GPU: ASUS EAH6850 1GB ($140 AR @ Newegg) This card was reviewed to be very quiet, especially at idle. I am also considering the HIS IceQ 6950 1GB in this spot, for another $110 tacked on.

If he's more of a casual gamer, stick with the 6850 or 6870. They'll perform well at 1920x1080 med-high settings.

Quote:
PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk II 500W ($48 AR/promo @ Newegg) Without overclocking, 500W should suit this system just fine. Well-reviewed, respected brand etc.

I believe that PSU is OEMed by Sirtec. I know the Silencer 750 and 950 are OEMed by Seasonic. I'd go for something like an Antec EA650, TBH. It's cheap and runs well - had mine running an i7-930 + 2x470s.

Quote:
RAM: Kingston HyperX 8GB DDR3 1600MHz CL9 ($40 AR @ Newegg)

Pass on the Kingston RAM. They have this really odd habit of making their kits 1.65V instead of 1.5V, and that'll cause issues on P67/Z68. I'd recommend a simple G.Skill kit - they're just as cheap and very reliable. It's one of the most popular brands on Tom's.


Quote:
USB Wireless Adapter: TP-LINK 802.11b/g/n Wireless Adapter ($18 @ Newegg)

Why go USB? IMHO a PCI/PCIe x1 card is a bit nicer, and they're still pretty cheap. Here are two for the same price or less (used the Zonet one; have an Asus PCIe x1 card now):

PCI: Zonet b/g/n: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
PCIe x1: TP-LINK b/g/n: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...



IMHO you may as well go for the SSD now since it's easily under $1200 budget. You could afford a 128GB M4, which is one of the best and is currently the most reliable drive on the market. Resintalling Windows is somewhat of a pain, especially once you've got all your programs integrated (Office, games, etc). I just don't see why you wouldn't unless you didn't have the money.

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...
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October 20, 2011 3:13:13 PM

boiler1990 said:
post


Outstanding post, thanks for the feedback.

-I can buy into your logic on the mobo, though I really don't expect to CrossFire at any point. How about the ASRock Z68 PRO3 for $20 cheaper?

-I agree with your thoughts on the GPU, and I think a 6850 probably makes the most sense.

-I'm surprised you're down on the PSU, but I'll consider other options (the EA-650 in particular is sold out at the moment, will check again at purchase time). That said, even if I do go with a 6950, I think a good 500W should provide plenty of headroom with no overclock anywhere in the system.

-I hadn't considered voltage on the RAM; seems obvious in hindsight. Will go G.SKILL.

-I could go either way on the wireless adapter. I think a PCI one results in a slightly better looking machine, but USB is simple, and I like the reviews on the one I've got.

-The main reason to wait on an SSD is to wait for price-per-GB to drop, and to let the technology vet itself a bit more. As the machine is for a friend, it's less about whether or not I (he) has the money for any one particular thing, but whether or not it's a good value buy at this point in time.


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Revised build:

CPU: Intel i5-2400 ($150 @ Microcenter)
Motherboard: ASRock Z68 PRO3 ($105 @ Newegg)
GPU: ASUS EAH6850 1GB ($140 AR @ Newegg)
Case: Antec Solo II ($117 w/promo code @ Newegg)
HDD: Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB ($65 @ Newegg)
PSU: PC Power & Cooling Silencer Mk II 500W ($48 AR/promo @ Newegg)
RAM: G.SKILL Ripjaws X 8GB DDR3-1600MHz CL9 ($50 @ Newegg)

Monitor: ASUS VH236H 23" Full HD Widescreen LCD Monitor ($160 AR @ Newegg)
Optical: Samsung CD/DVD Burner ($17 @ Newegg)
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit ($100 @ Newegg)
USB Wireless Adapter: TP-LINK 802.11b/g/n Wireless Adapter ($18 @ Newegg)


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Total (before combos, tax, and shipping): $970

Survey says?
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October 20, 2011 3:26:38 PM

The i5-2500k is only $175 at microcenter. I'd pick taht up over the i5-2400.
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October 20, 2011 3:39:58 PM

cutebeans said:
The i5-2500k is only $175 at microcenter. I'd pick taht up over the i5-2400.


$180 at the one near me, but yeah, still debating this as well. If I go with the i5-2500k, I don't think I can resist overclocking it, and will probably go with a quiet heatsink like the Zalman CNPS7X 92mm for another $40. Would bring my total to $1050.
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October 20, 2011 3:44:08 PM

I still say get the SSD now. My Gen1/Gen2 WD SSD cold boots in about 30 seconds, and my Gen2 Kingston V100+ in my laptop cold boots in 7. Sure, the prices will eventually drop, but the M4 is the most reliable SSD out right now and gets incredible read/write rates thanks to the added SATA III capability. It'll really shine if you're transferring/loading a large file to/from the SSD.

Other than that, I'd say run that over with your friend and double check anything he may now think he wants. Then click the "Buy" button :D 
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October 20, 2011 3:44:48 PM

ultimabeam said:
$180 at the one near me, but yeah, still debating this as well. If I go with the i5-2500k, I don't think I can resist overclocking it, and will probably go with a quiet heatsink like the Zalman CNPS7X 92mm for another $40. Would bring my total to $1050.


I'd get it. Just OC it to 4.0ghz and you're fine :)  It's pretty cheap at the price. You'd regret buying an i5-2400.
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October 20, 2011 3:47:47 PM

If anything, he'll be GPU limited in games. Unless he plans on running computational software of some sort where he'll benefit from a faster CPU.
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October 20, 2011 3:49:42 PM

I didn't notice the 6850. :(  Are you sure you want to buy that? It's pretty weak considering your budget. I'd get an 6870 at the least.
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October 20, 2011 3:52:37 PM

cutebeans said:
I didn't notice the 6850. :(  Are you sure you want to buy that? It's pretty weak considering your budget. I'd get an 6870 at the least.


Noise is a concern, hence my original 6850/6950 quandary. The only quiet 6870 out there (the XFX Black Edition) is impossible to find. And again, I don't want to buy more expensive stuff needlessly, because the budget is more of a guide than a spend-exactly-this-much, and I don't want to waste money that's not mine.
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October 20, 2011 3:56:16 PM

ultimabeam said:
Noise is a concern, hence my original 6850/6950 quandary. The only quiet 6870 out there (the XFX Black Edition) is impossible to find. And again, I don't want to buy more expensive stuff needlessly, because the budget is more of a guide than a spend-exactly-this-much, and I don't want to waste money that's not mine.


Yeah, I guess that's right. Good luck with it.
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October 20, 2011 3:58:27 PM

Thanks to both of you for your help. I think I'll let him make the call on:

1) i5-2400 vs i5-2500k + HSF
2) 6850 vs 6950
3) SSD

Appreciate it!
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October 20, 2011 3:59:09 PM

Best answer selected by ultimabeam.
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