Silent, But Deadly: Build Your Own Gaming-Ready 0 dB PC

Small, Inexpensive, Silent Gaming Is Here

Modern energy-efficient graphics cards make it possible to game on affordable, passively-cooled platforms (and they don't have to be massive, either). Even without the "just-in-case" fan we've been talking about, you shouldn't encounter any thermal issues.

As with any build, you'll want to balance host and graphics processing performance so that you don't create bottlenecks. If you're using integrated graphics, AMD’s A10-5700 is a good choice. If you have a passively-cooled add-in board, an inexpensive Ivy Bridge-based Pentium or Core i3 is the better option. They run cooler, and at $100 for a Pentium G2120, they aren’t really any more expensive.

The much-touted Dual Graphics feature that lets you match an APU up to a discrete card in CrossFire is pointless. Current-gen passively-cooled graphics cards offer better performance and efficiency, and they don't saddle you with the problems of multi-GPU setups.

It’s too bad that we weren't able to find any passively-cooled GeForce GTX 650s. Do-it-yourself is the only way to go if that's the direction you head. You'll want to decide for yourself if a third-party heat sink is worth the extra cost.

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    Top Comments
  • _Pez_
    Great PC !, but if it was mine I would be scared... "no fan noise .. is it burning?"
    25
  • mayankleoboy1
    Great article! Much more DIY than the usual articles on Toms.
    Much appreciated.
    19
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    As someone that also uses a semi-passive PC (fan only turns on when needed), I'm disappointed that you guys left out a few big things:

    1. undervolting the CPU and GPU

    2. underclocking and farther undervolting the GPU for 2D mode

    3. hybrid cooling setup for GPUs where the fan only turns on at a high temperature (may require GPU BIOS editing depending on GPU model)

    OPTIONAL (due to risk): removal of CPU IHS
    16
  • Other Comments
  • ASHISH65
    great article !!!
    7
  • azathoth
    I was disappointed there wasn't actual stress test temperature results of the APU for the passive cooling solution.

    But otherwise it's a neat article, personally I would sacrifice dead silence to use a cheaper HDD and perhaps more of those silent fans if I were to build one myself.
    2
  • mayankleoboy1
    Great article! Much more DIY than the usual articles on Toms.
    Much appreciated.
    19
  • _Pez_
    Great PC !, but if it was mine I would be scared... "no fan noise .. is it burning?"
    25
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    As someone that also uses a semi-passive PC (fan only turns on when needed), I'm disappointed that you guys left out a few big things:

    1. undervolting the CPU and GPU

    2. underclocking and farther undervolting the GPU for 2D mode

    3. hybrid cooling setup for GPUs where the fan only turns on at a high temperature (may require GPU BIOS editing depending on GPU model)

    OPTIONAL (due to risk): removal of CPU IHS
    16
  • dudewitbow
    no love for sapphire's passive ultimate HD 7770?
    12
  • Madn3ss795
    Pentium G2120 + Sapphire Ultimate HD7750 would have been a better choice. And you can pay extra for a low-power Core i5 instead since it's not that expensive compared to the rest of this build.
    0
  • ivyanev
    When i hear gaming from the TH I really expect to see something in the realm of 500$ SBM machine or at least something close. What I see here is realy nice office pc.
    -10
  • Nintendo Maniac 64
    Anonymous said:
    When i hear gaming from the TH I really expect to see something in the realm of 500$ SBM machine or at least something close. What I see here is realy nice office pc.

    The main issue is the GPU, and that would require a hybrid passive-active cooling solution much like was done for the CPU, but for some reason they didn't even try such a thing...
    0
  • twelve25
    I wonder about an i5 or i7 S or T model and crossfire 7750's. You might need a bigger case and a longer motherboard that allows gaps between cards.
    1
  • memadmax
    I don't like auto-start fans. They tend to turn off/on at weird times and become annoying...
    4
  • abbadon_34
    Silent PC (Gaming) is simple. Large passive water cooling such as the Zalman Resevator on the CPU and GPU, and anyother components needing heat dissipation. I've done this for the last 8 years, not for the silence, but because it's nice to see the temp never stray from 40-45, and never worry about cooling again.
    0
  • DjEaZy
    ... awesome media pc...
    -1
  • JonnyDough
    It has a fan. A FAN. It isn't zero dB.
    -7
  • JonnyDough
    I'm a fan! (and I make a LOT of noise) :D

    By the way, I own two of those Samsung Blu-Ray drives and the blue LED in the button is overly bright. I would NOT want to set that case on my desk.
    0
  • JonnyDough
    One more thing. I like bottom mounted power supplies because I like a low center of gravity on my builds. However, I prefer the top mounted PCI slots. The video cards not only look better with their coolers on top, but the heat rises off the video card and into the video card cooler making it more effective, especially in a build without air movement.
    0
  • ankit0x1
    did i told you definition of insanity?
    great article toms
    -5
  • jasont78
    pity they put the bluray in it would be much louder than most actively cooled cases anyway
    3
  • FormatC
    Quote:
    1. undervolting the CPU and GPU
    This is always possible but each CPU/APU and GPU is a unique piece. Undervolting 10 APUs can can give you 10 different results. If it works with higher voltage it works also with undervolting. But I must check the worst case and only 100% stable settings. :)
    2
  • trumpeter1994
    They failed to mention how loud it was when both the fan and blu-ray drive had spun up
    1