A Spark Of Brilliance
Have you ever asked yourself why you need so many boxes in your living room? The cable box, the DVR, the gaming console, the Blu-ray player, the little silent-but-weak PC substitute that checks your Facebook page or Twitter feed—you don’t need all of that, right? Cable companies have gotten on-board with video recorders the size of small PCs, and console makers include Blu-ray drives. And then you can always retreat to your desk for PC gaming, right?
I’ve always said that a home theater PC should be able to do everything all of those other devices do, and faced strong push-back for it from those who think set-top boxes only need to play back media, silently. That a media PC should be limited in order to assure complete silence. That even a few decibels of noise audible in a quiet room is too much. Rather than continue arguing, I ditched the plans I had for covering living room entertainment, put away my own HTPC, and kept on writing reviews of more traditional desktop-class hardware.
Maybe I gave up too easily? Steiger Dynamics figured out that a strong message reaches beyond the silent movement's din (irony?) and into the hearts of true performance geeks. Here we have a machine that gives the impression of silence, relying on the logic that most people either can’t or have great difficulty discerning sound pressure levels lower than 16 decibels in natural environments.
|CPU||Intel Core i5-4690K: 3.5-3.9 GHz, Four Cores, 6 MB Shared L3 Cache|
|DRAM||Corsair CMZ16GX3M4X1866C9: DDR3-1866, C9|
|Graphics||EVGA 02G-P4-2771-KR GeForce GTX 770 2 GB|
|System Drive||2x Kingston HyperX 3K SH103S3/120G in RAID 0|
|Storage Drive||WD Red WD30EFRX 3 TB, 5400 RPM, 64 MB Cache|
|Optical Drive||Panasonic UJ265: 6x BD-R, 8x DVD±R|
|Motherboard||Asus Z97-AR: LGA 1150, Intel Z97 Express|
|Chassis||Steiger Dynamics Maven|
|CPU Cooler||Corsair H60 (CW-9060007-WW) Closed-Loop Liquid|
|Power Supply||Seasonic SS-660XP2: 660 W Modular, 80 PLUS Platinum|
|Internal Bays||3x 3.5", 2x 2.5"|
|External Bay||1x Slim/Slot-loading ODD|
|Front Panel I/O||2x USB 3.0, Headphone, Microphone, SD Card Interface|
|Fans||2x 92 mm Intake (side), 1x 140/120 mm Exhaust (top)|
|External Peripheral||4x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0|
|External Audio||5x Analog, Digital Optical|
|External Video||DisplayPort, HDMI|
|Internal Ports||6x SATA 6Gb/s (Shares SATA-E, M.2), 2x USB 3.0, 6x USB 2.0|
|Internal Slots||2x PCIe 3.0 (16+0 or 8+8 paths), 1x PCIe x2 (long), 2x PCIe x1 (Shares M.2)|
|Maximum Memory||4x DDR3-1333 to DDR3-3200 (all standard capacities)|
|Gigabit Ethernet||Intel I218V PHY|
|Wireless Network||Gigabyte GC-WB867D-I: Intel 7260 802.11ac / BT 4.0 combo|
|Audio Controller||Realtek ALC892 DAC, 7.1+ 2 channels rear/front, DTS Connect|
|Dimensions||7.0" (H), 17.1" (W), 15.8" (D), 26.9 Pounds|
|Warranty||Two-year parts replacement, 45-day free shipping, lifetime tech support Optional three-year parts, three-years free shipping, lifetime tech (add $199)|
|Additional Services||Overclocking (4.3 GHz at 1.17 V) $49 Custom single sleeved power supply / drive cables and management $99|
|Software||Microsoft Windows 8.1 Pro OEM ($110) CyberLink PowerDVD 14 Ultra ($59)|
The price for this machine is only $330 over the self-built option, with us using the closest-matching $400 OrigenAE case. If you subtract the $49 overclock fee and $99 cable service, Steiger only has about $189 in mark-up. And even if we deduct another $80 for the LED panel not present on the special Maven case, we’re still impressed by the value Steiger Dynamics offers the high-end PC market. But is the machine equally impressive?
"The price for this machine is only $330 over the self-built option, with us using the closest-matching $400 OrigenAE case. If you subtract the $49 overclock fee and $99 cable service, Steiger only has about $189 in mark-up."
Quiet PCs are great, and most of the early ones were completely quiet. But, for gaming? It's not as clear. For the same performance I can save a load of money, or get much better performance for the price.
For listening to Mozart's g minor string quintette? Great. For blowing up bridge or shooting aliens with a machine gun? I'm just not sure sound matters as much. For a living room box that does most things fine, and is quiet, I'll take a 35 watt Kaveri, and still have enough money left over to make a more powerful machine than this $2600 monster.
I also don't understand the relatively cheap processor. For $2600 (which is what the ad says, but the author never seemed to mention, so it's hard to be sure), the processor should be the i7-4970K. Haswell-E might work too, but probably the 4970K would be best.
Someone is going to want this, but I think it's very limited in scope. Silence, or near silence, is great for computers, but for different segments. Most gamers want performance for their dollar, and this falls short.
The next guy after you suggested using cheaper parts. We have the SBM for that.
For a gaming/htpc I think this is just too much $. I would have went with something below $6-800, but that is just me.
You can build a quieter computer with a better video card (GTX970) for about HALF THE PRICE. I built a system and here are the only noise elements:
1) Noctua cooler (runs at 300RPM in idle)
2) BeQuiet PSU (inaudible)
3) Asus Strix GTX970 (has 0dB mode)
I don't have the card yet but it would be completely silent unless doing heavy gaming. My system can't be heard from one foot away in a silent room.
- 2xRAID0 for SSD is pointless in the real-world.
- not sure where that "16dB" number came from considering the PC has a pump, a radiator fan, and a GTX770. That's pretty much impossible.
Your response is like someone saying "How can you call $8 for two 8 oz Fillet Mignons a good deal? I just paid $4 for a pound of hamburger!"
I see you didn't read the article. There's a page called "Power, Heat, and Noise". If you choose to scroll to the bottom of that page, you'll see something that's impossible. And then maybe you'll understand why the company used all these overpriced parts.
What you won't be able to explain is how they're "overcharging" for this exact configuration. Which means, as a builder, they're offering you a good rate. Aka, a fair deal.
If you read the conclusion he says the cost is only a couple hundred dollars more than building your own which I disagree with so I think it's fair to comment on his "value" comment.
*I just added up the cost of all the parts, and NOT COUNTING THE CASE but including the software the total comes to $1500 USD.
The cost to buy this machine with these specs was almost $2600. Now if we use $300 for a similar case since I don't think you can buy the case on its own the price difference comes to about $800USD.
*So you can build the same EXACT setup with a difference case and save $800USD by doing it yourself. That is hardly "a couple hundred dollars" difference as stated in the article.
System Drive 150
System Drive 125
CPU Cooler 65
Storage Drive 125
Playback SW 100
Cable Sleeving 0
Prices might have changed a little since I wrote the article, but I bet you'd find any large changes in a component price are eventually picked up by this builder. Moreover, I priced the parts using Google product search and top venders (Newegg, Tigerdirect, Directron, etc) wherever applicable (case and ODD were only available from small venders) on the SAME DAY that I priced the finished system at Steiger Dynamics.
Look, nobody likes to admit they're wrong, that's why I kept a record of all the part prices when I made those calculations. I wanted to be sure that when someone came in here to question my analysis, I'd have the data to prove its validity.