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Seeking advice for SILENT system - help needed!

Last response: in Systems
February 13, 2013 9:58:18 AM

Hey guys, I'm doing a prebuild through ibuypower (I know, it's cheaper to build it myself but I've had a couple heartbreaking experiences in the past with my own personal assembly, so I'm willing to fork out a little extra cash for them to do the dirty work) and I'm seeking some opinions.

My highest priority is to have as QUIET of a computer as possible. I've read about 10 pages of posts on this wonderful forum and have learned a lot, you guys really are gurus on the matter so I'm hoping you can help me. Here's what I've got so far and am open to suggestions/optimizations/etc.

Case: Corsair Obsidian Series 550D Gaming Case
Motherboard: ASUS P9X79 LE -- 2x USB 3.0
Processor: Intel® Core™ i7 3820 Processor (4x 3.60GHz/10MB L3 Cache)
Processor Cooling: Corsair Hydro Series H60 Liquid CPU Cooling System (With Standard 120mm Fan)
Ram: 32 GB [8 GB x4] DDR3-1600 Memory Module (Corsair/Major Brand)
Video Card: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 Ti - 2GB
Power Supply: Thermaltake SP-850M (850 Watt)
Primary HD: 256 GB ADATA SP900 SSD
Data Drive: 2 TB HARD DRIVE -- 64M Cache, 7200rpm, 6.0Gb/s

That pretty much covers the important stuff anyway. My hobbies include gaming and 3d-modeling/rendering/video editing (which accounts for the high amount of ram). The GTX 660 Ti seems to be the best bang for the buck.

I do a lot of audio recording and would want as quiet of a machine as possible so I don't need to filter out background noise as much. The Corsair 550D seems to be one of the quietest cases available but is the processor cooling going to be quiet? Ibuypower has an 'upgrade' to the H60 Liquid Cooling system called: "ARC Dual Silent High Performance Fan Upgrade (Push-Pull Airflow)" but some reviews I've read seem to imply that the Silent upgrade just means that it has a lower sound-to-speed ratio and that the fans are actually MORE audible (which is something I wouldn't want) but offer more cooling (which I'm not sure I need).

Also, I don't know much about motherboards. Is the one I'm getting going to be a good bet or should I aim for something else? Or does it even matter since all of ibuypower's motherboards "include Intel X79 Chipset, Quad Channel DDR3, S-ATA 3.0 RAID, 2x USB 3.0, 2x SATA 6Gb/s, 8-ch HD Audio, Gb LAN, 3x PCI-E 2.0 x16, SLI, and are CrossFireX supported"?

In any case, I'd love to hear some opinions you guys might have to help me get a QUIET powerhouse system. You guys are some of the most hardware-savvy people I've seen on the net.

Thanks in advance!
February 13, 2013 5:31:04 PM

The main things to consider for noise are:

- Power Consumption
- CPU Heatsink/Fan
- GPU Heatsink/Fan
- PSU Fan
- Hard Drives/Vibrations
- Dampening

Higher power consumption = more heat. More heat = more noise because the fans have to work harder to cool. Keep the power consumption as low as you can and it is MUCH easier to create a quiet system.

The CPU is by far the easiest one to make quiet, just slap on a decent heatsink with a PWM fan that has a minimum speed of less than around 700RPM and you're fine. The Coolermaster Hyper 212 Evo or anything from Noctua is good.

The GPU is probably the hardest one because high end GPU's create a crapload of heat and don't have all that much space for a decent heatsink or large fans. Not only that, but GPU manufacturers almost never give the rated RPM of the fans they use. If you're comfortable with an aftermarket cooler, that's the best way to go. If not, I find ASUS cards are generally pretty quiet. MSI's higher end cards are usually quiet too. Once you get any card, download something like MSI afterburner and lower the fan speed.

The PSU shouldn't be too difficult because they are most likely to give some kind of noise rating. The best way would be to get a PSU with a hybrid fan like the Seasonic X series. That means the fan only spins when it needs to, so it is passive most of the time but has a fan just in case. More efficient PSU's are generally more quiet because they usually have less heat to contend with, look for the 80 PLUS gold rating if possible.

Try to avoid a HDD if possible, if you need mass storage though I would buy a slower spinning 5400RPM hard drive. You shouldn't notice the speed drop from a storage drive since your OS/programs will be loading from your SSD. 2.5'' (laptop) hard drives are quieter as well, they are slower and more expensive but again, the speed different shouldn't be that noticeable on a mass storage drive. In terms of vibrations, make sure to use rubber/silicone mounts for mounting hard drives and fans and use hard drives and fans with lower RPM's for lower noise. A nice solid, closed style case that doesn't have too many vents helps too.

You can use sound dampening foam on the sides of the case as well, that might heat it up a bit but tends to kill some of the more annoying high frequency noise.

Here are some suitable components for a quiet system:

Intel Xeon E3-1230v2 (similar performance to a quad core i7 but is cheaper with a TDP of only 69W. You can't overclock on it and you will need a GPU though.)

Coolermaster Hyper 212 Evo (Cheap and effective cooler with an extremely quiet fan. It goes down to a minimum of 600RPM and speeds up automatically if the CPU gets hot.)

ASUS GTX 660Ti (ASUS's cards tend to be pretty quiet and the GTX 660Ti is 150W which is pretty good for a decent graphics card.

Seasonic X-560 or any X series PSU (80 Plus gold, fully modular and the hybrid fan that only spins when it needs to.)

Western Digital Green Power WD20NPVT 2TB 2.5in HDD (Any slow spinning, 2.5'' hard drive will be very quiet but this one is sold by quietpc as well so that's always a good sign.)

Fractal Design Define R4 Case (Decent sized case with adequate cooling and lots of anti noise/vibration features.)