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Cost efficient, silent gaming computer

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October 29, 2012 2:11:00 PM

Hi guys!

I have been asking some questions here the previous month on a number of components, and learned a lot of new stuff.
I am currently in the planning phase of building a new gaming-computer, wich will also function as a work/school computer.
I have gathered most of the non-critical components already.

Here are my priorities for the build:

1. Low cost
2. Performance
3. Silence

Here is a list of parts I already have:

2 XFX Radeon HD 4890 GPU's (factory overclocked)
1 SSD drive at 120 GB as systemdisk
1 SSD/HDD hybrid 500 GB for storage
16 GB (4x4) corsair dominator 1600 MHz RAM
Noctua NH-C12P SE14 CPU cooler

Here is a list of what I'm planning to buy:

Case: FRACTAL DESIGN DEFINE R4 USB3
PSU: OCZ ZT SERIES 750 WATT MODULAR
Motherboard: GIGABYTE GA-990FXA-UD3 AM3+ ATX
CPU: AMD FX-4170 BE 4-CORE 4.2GHZ 12MB SOCKET AM3+

So what do you guys think? I would very much like an "expert-approved" build. I am somewhat of an perfectionist when it comes to building my own computers :p 

AlC0


Approximate Purchase Date: November 13th

Budget Range: 580-670 USD

System Usage from Most to Least Important: Gaming, surfing, office work, database work, 3D-modeling

Parts Not Required: RAM, GPU, harddrives/SSD's, CPU-cooler, mouse, keyboard

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: http://www.dustinhome.no" target="_blank">

Country: Norway

Parts Preferences: AMD

Overclocking: Yes

SLI or Crossfire: Yes

Monitor Resolution:1280x1024

Additional Comments: I would like a quiet PC
October 29, 2012 2:17:25 PM

Have a look at the following guides from the silent PC specialty website:

http://www.silentpcreview.com/section21.html

If you want the system to be powerful AND quiet, it is currently easier with an Intel CPU+Board due to the MUCH lower power consumption of power of Intel chips compared to current AMD chips.

You might as well switch that FX4170 for a newer Piledriver based FX-4300 (if you absolutely don't want to go Intel).
October 29, 2012 2:23:12 PM

those graphics cards will not be anywhere near quiet but the rest of the build looks good, but personally i would go with the asus sabertooth 990fx
Related resources
October 29, 2012 2:46:16 PM

If you have any fans in your case at all, you will never have a silent pc.
What you CAN have is a quiet pc with a slight but unobjectable hum.
A great place to research quiet computing is www.silentpcreview.com

I think your planned purchase of the fractal r4 and the ocz psu are good.

I am less enthused with the FX-4170.
It is a hot(125w) chip that will require more cooling(and noise)
A i3-3220 will be cooler and stronger in many games at a similar price point.
Here is one comparison review:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/fx-4170-core-i3-322...

I think you made a mistake on buying two 4890 cards.
a. Those are older generation cards that will run hot and require lots of cooling noise.
b. cf when you don't need it may subject you to the annoyance of microstuttering. Read this article:
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/radeon-geforce-stut...
c. Some games do not play well with dual cards.
d. You will need a stronger psu to run two older cards.

Today, a single 7870will perform about the same.
Here is a set of benchmarks with cf 4890 cards. Note that the performance is marginally better than a GTX295, or about the same as a 7870
http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/ATI/HD_4890_CrossFir...
A 7870needs only a 5000w psu, and the 28nm construction will run cooler and quieter.
If you are a perfectionist, sell the 4890 cards in favor of a 7870.

On the ram, I hope it is the low profile variant of vengeance. Otherwise, it will impact the cpu cooler.
October 29, 2012 2:50:03 PM

Just to be sure. You really using a 1280x1024 monitor? You really don't need 2 vid cards, they're lousy. Considering noise and low power you should kick-in a intel cpu, not amd.
October 29, 2012 2:52:12 PM

There is no such thing as a "silent computer" or even close to it. I don't care what you read. The situation is even less possible when you add in the word "performance". Cooling requires moving air>moving air requires fans>fans make noise. Simple physics. If you're really interested in performance you're picking the wrong CPU. Maybe you missed the memo, but AMD announced several months ago that they would no longer compete with Intel for new desktop business. That's a pretty clear acknowledgement that they are aware that their desktop CPUs are uncompetitive. So, I guess you're the last one to the party. Last, you list 3D modeling as a priority. I've been trying for years to find a GPU that will run both games and 3D modeling software well. If you find such a card you will be the first. What you will find is that the drivers are diametrically opposed to each other. I find your use of a "hybrid" SSD interesting. IMHO, that's the worst possible scenario for an SSD. Most people buy an SSD hoping for visibly increased performance. It's not likely to happen unless you routinely move huge files around. You will find improved boot time and program launch times but after a short time of normalization even that becomes "normal". The real reason to buy a SSD is for the improved reliability. Remember, no moving parts.......That is unless you combine it with an HDD as you intend to. I use SSDs every day but my bulk storage is in an external HDD.
October 29, 2012 3:05:07 PM

ram1009 said:
There is no such thing as a "silent computer" or even close to it. I don't care what you read. The situation is even less possible when you add in the word "performance". Cooling requires moving air>moving air requires fans>fans make noise. Simple physics. If you're really interested in performance you're picking the wrong CPU. Maybe you missed the memo, but AMD announced several months ago that they would no longer compete with Intel for new desktop business. That's a pretty clear acknowledgement that they are aware that their desktop CPUs are uncompetitive. So, I guess you're the last one to the party. Last, you list 3D modeling as a priority. I've been trying for years to find a GPU that will run both games and 3D modeling software well. If you find such a card you will be the first. What you will find is that the drivers are diametrically opposed to each other. I find your use of a "hybrid" SSD interesting. IMHO, that's the worst possible scenario for an SSD. Most people buy an SSD hoping for visibly increased performance. It's not likely to happen unless you routinely move huge files around. You will find improved boot time and program launch times but after a short time of normalization even that becomes "normal". The real reason to buy a SSD is for the improved reliability. Remember, no moving parts.......That is unless you combine it with an HDD as you intend to. I use SSDs every day but my bulk storage is in an external HDD.


You're right about moving air making noises, simple physics. You only miss a single point. This same physics tells me that there's more efficient ways to reduce the noise. Just look at some jet planes turbine designs

EDIT: or simpler, look at a patented desk fan design from Arno. It's the Arno Turbo Silencio. It delivers more air, and yet less noise comparing with other regular fan designs. They only used a new fan geometry and cage.
October 29, 2012 4:29:25 PM

Hello again folks!

It seems I've been using some bad grammar. When I said silent, I ment as quiet as possible while not compromising cost or performance.

About the CPU: I am open to the sugestion on switching the 4170 with the 4300. Just one question: Will the new piledriver version compensate for 3-400 MHz of clockspeed? That would surprice me...

The reason I want to use AMD, is because I get full PCIe 2.0 16x speed on two ports with a cheap motherboard. This will better my crossfire experience I believe.

Most of the parts I already have, is stuff I had laying around anyway. I bought one new SSD drive to use as my systemdisk, the hybrid is just for storage of downloads and stuff like that. I save money on not having to buy a storage unit right now. Both the radeon cards I bought over three years ago, and I plan to upgrade when I have som extra money to spare, but right now I don't.

AlC0
October 29, 2012 6:43:30 PM

geofelt:

I have read a lot about AMD vs intel now. Due to the fact that I am going to use two old GPU's I don't think the FX-4300 will bottleneck. I am going out on a hunch, guessing that the piledriver fx-4300 will beat the i3, and that it gives more bang for the buck than its i5 counterparts. However I value your feedback, and your sources. Thank you for your answers ;) 
October 29, 2012 6:59:26 PM

alc0 said:
geofelt:

I have read a lot about AMD vs intel now. Due to the fact that I am going to use two old GPU's I don't think the FX-4300 will bottleneck. I am going out on a hunch, guessing that the piledriver fx-4300 will beat the i3, and that it gives more bang for the buck than its i5 counterparts. However I value your feedback, and your sources. Thank you for your answers ;) 


I don't think you can go very far wrong either way.
A lot depends on how many threads a game can use. Most games can use only one or two threads, making faster threads a better bet for gaming.
Read this article. http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/gaming-cpu-review-o...
Prices may be much different in Norway.
October 29, 2012 8:55:04 PM

Yeah, thats right. The pricing here in Norway are about 100 £ for the fx-4300 and fx-4170, and the cheapest i5 is about 140 £. The good i5's is about 155 £.
October 29, 2012 9:17:15 PM

I will only talk about the quieting aspects:

You need to be careful about your other choices on all the other components that are either heat intensive or have fans.

You already bought some items, so i think you are stuck with them so I won't kick a dead horse too much but:
GPUs:, a 1 card solution would have been a better choice. Then within that, it is important which model you pick. The thing that actually differs among the gpus is the fan and noise design. techpowerup.com has very good measurements for noise and heat

Storage: Don't understand why you would get an ssd then an SSDhybrid. but i suppose you already have it.

stuff you plan to buy:

Powersupply: a potential noise generator. i don't know ocz myself, but you are already spending a lot of money for higher end components, so I suggest you just get a seasonic x-series and be done with it.

Case: r4 is on the SPCR's recommended cases, so it will be quiet. however, this is a big case.

mobo+cpu: Suggest intel ivybridge cpu. The power on the amd is higher. Higher power=>more heat=>more cooling needed=>more noise.

it should run cooler than your amd. The asus z77-V has fanexpert2 software which will help you adjust the fans even more and on the fly. (the other option is speedfan, so if you go the non-asus route, get a mobo that speedfan supports).
October 29, 2012 9:38:58 PM

I replaced the hybrid witch came with my laptop last year. Now its just laying around.

Seasonic PSU's are ridiculously expensive in my country, the cheapest one above 700 W is 140 £. However, I found a good alternative for 80 £. The COOLER MASTER SILENT PRO M2 ATX12V 2.3 720W. Should be enough power for my system, silent operation, silver rating, modular etc. got a good review score here http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/CoolerMaster/Silent_..." target="_blank">

the fx-4300 specs says it will use about 95 watts. Thats not a big difference from intel is it? And AMD has Cool'n Quiet technology wich I assume is equivalent to the faexpert?
October 29, 2012 9:53:20 PM

cool n' quiet and speedstep are different. These adjusts the cpu speed when your cpu is idle.


Fan control is left to the mobo-if you don't have other software that lets you fine tune it.
This is divided into CPU fan and case fans.
Every mobo will allow you to adjust the fan profile(s) in the bios, and will usually allow just a linear fanprofile for low fan at a particulartemp. max fan at a different temp.

FanExpert/speedfan software allows more customization and can be done within windows. It is not necessariy needed.

The above is true for cpu fans, othewise your mobo will likely bug out.

Case fans have the choice to connect to the mobo fan headers or other power supply. if you're getting the R4 case, you can hook up all your case fans to the case's fan controller, then you can adjust the fan speed with a manual switch on the front from low/medium/high. However this is going to be "dumb" system and not change based on any temperature sensors.
October 29, 2012 9:53:39 PM

alc0 said:
I replaced the hybrid witch came with my laptop last year. Now its just laying around.

Seasonic PSU's are ridiculously expensive in my country, the cheapest one above 700 W is 140 £. However, I found a good alternative for 80 £. The COOLER MASTER SILENT PRO M2 ATX12V 2.3 720W. Should be enough power for my system, silent operation, silver rating, modular etc. got a good review score here http://www.techpowerup.com/reviews/CoolerMaster/Silent_..." target="_blank">

the fx-4300 specs says it will use about 95 watts. Thats not a big difference from intel is it? And AMD has Cool'n Quiet technology wich I assume is equivalent to the faexpert?


Cool n Quiet is the AMD equivalent to Intel's Speed Step. It ramps up and down the CPU voltage(s) and downclocks the cores when they are not in need (idle or number of active threads<number of cores).

FanXpert is an ASUS feature that allows the user finer controls of fan speeds to find a good balance of cooling vs. noise. The default BIOS settings on most ASUS boards (recent ones anyway) usually have Qfan built in, which ramps up the fan speeds based on temperatures (so CPU fan speed related to CPU temperature sensor readings, etc). The Qfan (or any other bios based fan control) usually does a good job at this, but you can always tinker with it if possible to make it more tuned to your liking, using something like FanXpert, which on some ASUS boards (from memory) hard writes to the NVRAM area the fan curve adjustment points making your adjustments permanent unless you clear CMOS.
October 29, 2012 11:09:26 PM

alc0 said:
Yeah, thats right. The pricing here in Norway are about 100 £ for the fx-4300 and fx-4170, and the cheapest i5 is about 140 £. The good i5's is about 155 £.

The comparison is to the i3-3220 which should be considerably cheaper. Or even a i3-2120.
October 30, 2012 6:25:09 AM

geofelt said:
The comparison is to the i3-3220 which should be considerably cheaper. Or even a i3-2120.


Yes, but as I said, I expect the piledriver to beat the i3, if that is the case or not, we will see when the benchmarks arrive ;) 
October 30, 2012 10:19:40 AM

There are fanless watercooling solutions but they are not cheap nor super efficient:

Zalman RESERATOR1 V2 Fanless Water Cooling System: http://www.quietpc.com/reserator1-v2
but this thread casts doubt on its ability: http://www.overclock.net/t/749646/fan-less-water-coolin...

Alphacool seems better: http://www.alphacool.com/index.php/cat/c67_Passive-Radi...
check out the pretty pictures: http://www.million-dollar-pc.com/systems-2008/lian-li/t...

There are possible liquid based DIY soutions:
eg 1: situate pump, reservoir, radiators and fans in seperate room - you will need to become an expert on pumps
eg 2: strap ice packs to fanlesss radiator - possible problems with condensation
eg 3: insert icepacks in reservoir - would need good filtration which would work against the pump

So its difficult, expensive and could end in disaster and the HD 4890s would make the problem worse.

The simplest solution is to locate system unit in a different room from monitor - this may require a change of address!

What is the voltage requirement of your ram ? 1.5v or 1.65v ? And if 1.65v, will this present a problem with Ivy Bridge?
October 30, 2012 3:14:35 PM

Faustus: Not sure if you are a troll, or if you just didn't read everything before answering. Or not understood any of my points. I tend to go with amd, not intel. Noise is the number 3 priority, while pricetag is number 1. That completely excludes most of your solutions.
!