So I have been hand building my own machines for the past 15 years or so. It's time for an upgrade in anticipation of the games I'll be playing over the next 2-3 years (in order of anticipated play time): Guild Wars 2, World of Tanks / Airplanes, Diablo 3, and probably a couple others..
Thing is, my last build went bad early on and the emotional scars have not fully healed. The other thing is, my present machine works well now and most of the parts in it are just fine for carrying forward. But the other other thing is I really don't feel like dealing with assembling a full mobo/cpu/gpu/cooling system upgrade, and also I'm bad at it. I want someone else to do it for me, and do it well.
My current specs are:
Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550 2.83ghz
Intel Stock Fan
4x2gb Corsair DDR3 RAM
2 HDDs totalling 3TB + 120GB SSD
GeForce GTX 480
Corsair 750TX PSU
Cooler Master HAF 932 case
I originally had this big aftermarket fan in there but eventually ripped it out for whatever reason and have just left the stock fan on. It's fine, the CPU doesn't get too hot anymore, as long as I dust regularly. What does get hot is the damn video card. When under load it runs at 95C (apparently normal) and it sounds like a bloody NASA heavy lift rocket is taking off.
What I'd like is a machine that can handle being under full load for long periods of time and do it quietly.
Does liquid cooling make sense here? Maybe some other elaborate scheme? Submerging it in a vat of liquid nitrogen? I am quite out of date in terms of cooling setups.
I'd consider an SLI setup if it's more effective / utilized these days. Also, I like to output to my TV via HDMI for couch gaming.
Also I was one of the 5 or 6 people who actually bought a standalone copy of Windows 7 when it came out and I'd prefer a place that builds systems that don't come with another copy included in the price.
Here's my target machine template:
Approximate Purchase Date: Sooner than later
Budget Range: Looking for parts in the pricing sweet spot, if that concept still applies. Not looking to go super cheap.
System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming
Parts Not Required: HDDs, Monitor, peripherals, OS, anything else from above.
Preferred Website(s) for Parts: I usually use Newegg but would like suggestions on other good sites for what I'm trying to do here.
Parts Preferences: Intel CPU, nVidia GPU
SLI or Crossfire: Maybe
Monitor Resolution: 1920x1080
Additional Comments: QUIET, people are trying to sleep/think/
Can I get a mobo/cpu/ram/cooling setup pre-assembled so that I just need to wedge it into my case and connect the dots? That I might be alright with.
ETA: If overclocking, what would be ideal is if the builders could do the overclocking themselves and test/optimize it then ship me the OC'd package.
Oh another thing is what should I do with the hardware I'm replacing? I feel so wasteful just throwing it in the closet with the rest of my (typically broken) old hardware. I'm definitely not an ebay/craig's list pro and it feels a bit weird selling off my used equipment. Is that something people do? Everything in the machine right now, works. Historically when I replace parts, it's because they're broken. This'll be the first time in a very long time that I'm replacing perfectly functioning parts simply because they're insufficient.
ETA: Alternatively, I could just buy a completely pre-built system and try to sell my current one complete. Is that a reasonable thing to do?
I would sell your video card on anandtech's for sale forum for best offer. Sapphire makes some quieter video cards, but I don't know your tolerance for sound, so I can only go by what others are saying. I don't like noise either, so I go with fanless video and give up some performance.
You may also be able to use an adapter for your current video card to lower noise. I use zalmate fanmate rpm adjusters. If you want a prebuilt, go with a standard hp ivy bridge system when they come out, and simply replace the power supply and add a video card. Liquid cooling is not for amateurs; if you've never built your own, then use a standard air cooler. If you want to overclock, learn how to change out a board; these parts will work fine with your old ddr3:
Today, I think your update is to a i5-3570K and a z77 based motherboard.
For the graphics card, I would take the time to find a GTX680. It is built on a smaller 28nm process, and runs cooler and quieter than anything else.
It is currently the fastest single gpu card around for $500 (if you can find one)
The newly announced GTX670 might be an option too, but if the improvement is not large enough, you may be disappointed.
It is likely that your older DDR3 ram is 1.65v or higher which will not be good for current cpu's. Fortunately a 2 x 4gb kit is not expensive.
Noise is generated primarily by high rpm fans.
Using a stock cooler with a small fan will generate lots of noise under load.
A $20 cooler like the cm hyper212 will do the job.
If you want the best, the Noctua NH-D14 will cool better and quieter at $80 or $90.
Liquid cooling is great for the cpu, but it is really air cooling since the fans at the radiator are needed to exchange the heat.
Your case should be fine, but if you want quiet, look at something like the Antec SOLO 2
PSU and drives are fine for reuse. Presumably your dvd burner too.
With a retail copy of windows 7, it is fully transferrable to a new PC. Just make certain that it is not running on any other pc.
A complete PC with an OS does not fetch much, without the os that you will be reusing, even less.
It is better to sell the parts individually.
I do this on e-bay with my old parts. Your Q9550, GTX480 and the ram should fetch something.
If you are not comfortable with ebay selling, there are people who will do it for you for a fee.
If you do not feel comfortable building a pc yourself. Find some local kids or computer shop to do it for you. $100 would be reasonable. Or, better yet, offer them some or all the parts left over from your old PC.
Outstanding advice, thank you both. It will get me started and at least I can probably exclude liquid cooling. I am comfortable assembling a computer, I am just apparently bad at it. I am pretty sure the majority of the noise comes from the video card so replacing that with a silent (but powerful) one should get me where I want to be.
The 670s released today apparently and yeah the 680s are all sold out, but looking at the comparison they're basically the same card. It'll be more than sufficient for what I'm trying to do anyway and it's both in stock and $100 less.
While these ship I am going to do research on improving the air flow once I assemble it. I think I have it set up pretty well as the CPU runs cool (60C under maximum load, ~35C idling) but I'm sure it can always be better.