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 Post subject: Assistance needed with ultra-quiet midrange gaming rig
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 8:33 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2008 7:32 pm
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I'm planning to do a major PC upgrade this month, replacing the cheap case and everything in it but keeping the peripherals. My current system is terribly loud, so this time around I'm focussing on ultra-quiet operation with midrange gaming prowess. I only have a 15" LCD so I don't need to be able to play with high resolutions and heaps of filtering, and I'm not too concerned about putting graphics sliders all the way up (I'd rather have solid framerates). I don't intend to overclock it (and by very little if I do), so I'm happy to sacrifice overclocking potential in exchange for quieter operation.

I think I've worked out most of the specifics, but I've never built a computer before so I've come here for some much-needed advice. I'm in New Zealand so I'll be referring to parts from a national retailer (Ascent Technology) rather than Newegg or the like. Anyway, here's what I'm currently planning to get:

Case:
Antec SOLO ATX. I like the look, and its Apple-themed cousin got a really good review here.

Motherboard:
This is one of the departments where I'm really not sure. I'm looking at the Intel DG965RYCK Motherboard, Socket 775, 1066MHz FSB, 4xDIMM DDR2, PCIe-16, 3xPCI, 3xPCIe-1, 10xUSB2, Audio, Video, ATA, SATA, ATX or something similar. I don't need SLI, so that's not an issue. The DVD drive I'm looking at is IDE, so any mobo I get needs both ATA and SATA (unless someone suggests a good SATA drive of course). One thing I'm not sure about is whether it supports the full speed of the SATA-2 HDD I'm going to get. I've picked an Intel under the assumption that it will provide good compatibility with their CPUs, but I'd certainly be interested in superior alternatives in the same rough price bracket. Would I get more bang for my buck with an nForce chipset?

CPU:
Intel Core 2 Duo E4600 2.4 GHz, 800MHz FSB, Socket 775 with a Scythe Ninja PLUS Rev.B (which will fit nicely judging by this thread). If possible I want to omit the fan and let the rear extractor do the job. The other option is the Thermalright Ultra-120 eXtreme but I gather that the Ninja is a better choice for passive cooling.

Hard drive:
Western Digital Caviar SE Hard Disk Drive, 500GB, 7200rpm, 16384KB Cache, SATA-2. From what I've read here this is a good quiet option.

Optical drive:
Pioneer DVR-112D. It's cheap, it's black, and it includes Nero. I've read that its speed can be decreased using software, so this sounds like a decent option for basic DVD functionality. I'm not against using cracks/images if it still isn't quiet enough. Of course if someone knows of a better quiet rewriter for around the same price I'd definitely be interested.

RAM:
Kingston HyperX KHX6400D2LLK2/2GN, 2x1GB, DDR2-800, PC2-6400, CL4, DIMM. Again I don't quite know what's best with all these speed and timing things, so if this isn't a good option do tell me. :)

Video card:
Gigabyte GV-NX86S256H 8600 GTS. The other option is the Asus Extreme EN8600GTS, but the heat arm seems a bit awkward since I'm aiming to get heat out of the case with as few fans as possible (and it might get in the way of the Ninja). I don't intend to overclock the GPU so I don't mind that the passive cooling reduces the potential.

Power supply:
Ideally I'd go with the Silverstone ST30NF--would this be feasible with this configuration, or would the lack of GPU (and possibly CPU) fans result in unsafe temperatures? The other option is the Sea Sonic S12 Energy+ 550W, but if a passive PSU can work that's of course a better option for my dream of a "whisper-quiet" rig.

OS:
I already have XP Home (32-bit). Am I right in thinking that this x64 configuration can still run 32-bit XP, or will I need to buy the 64-bit version? Also, my copy is the first release (Version 2002), which I've read has a 137 GB HDD cap--is it possible to install this basic release onto the 500 GB drive I'm getting and then patch it to SP2 to access the rest of its storage, or do I need to make a slipstreamed SP2 CD?

Anyway, as I said I'm a total noob when it comes to hardware so any advice tweaking this rig to be faster/quieter/cheaper/etc. would be greatly appreciated. :)

I'm really excited about having my very first quiet PC. :D


Last edited by Vinnie on Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:46 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2008 9:14 pm 
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Location: Maynard, MA, Eaarth
Hello Vinnie & welcome to SPCR!

New Zealand is a beautiful place -- I was there quite a while ago (1982). :)

Your hardware looks fine -- I have no experience with Intel motherboards, so I'll let others comment. If you are not going to overclock, then you only need to get RAM that is fast enough to run synchronously with the FSB, and low latency is a plus.

You should definitely get the Scythe universal Socket 775 backplate with screws and springs to mount the Ninja -- the stock push pins are barely adequate to do the job; and if you want to run it passively, then you need to have the best contact with the CPU as you can.

Yes, the 32bit OS will work very well, though you could also work with the 64bit version. The driver support for 64bit seems to be (finally) up to snuff, but if you do not need >4GB of RAM, stick with the 32bit.

I have not used a passive power supply, and it can be a challenge, if you get higher room temps. The good news is that the best fanned PSU's are very quiet indeed. You will have to replace the stock Antec 3-speed fan to hear the PSU; even with it on low.

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Sincerely, Neil
http://neilblanchard.blogspot.com/


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:44 am 
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Unfortunately, Ascent and other NZ suppliers don't seem to carry the Scythe backplate. The heatsink is the new version (claiming an improved clip and no need of a backplate), but at 640g I'm unconvinced. I guess I'll have to order one from overseas and put up with the stock heatsink in the meantime. The overall case noise will still be far lower than that of my current system (where the PSU is making the most noise).

As for the power supply what you've said about the noise level sounds great, and it will mean I won't have to worry about the case temperature. I'd hate to have to add case fans to keep the fanless PSU cool!

Anyway, that's some very helpful advice. Thanks. :) Now the only thing I'm still unsure about is the motherboard brand/chipset, and then I can finally have a nice silent PC. :)


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:38 am 
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Location: Colorado, USA
Hello and welcome. For a motherboard, this is what I'd recommend.
Gigabyte GA P35 DS3L. Great motheboard, economy price. Hmm doesn't look like they have it, but they do have THIS
this
I'm not sure how the money translates, as this is more expensive.

I'd recommend this power supply It's very efficient and quiet.

Get this ram and save yourself some money

For games this video card is about 2x as fast, and only costs a little bit more, while encorporating good power saving features Can be cooled passively with Arctic Cooling Accelero S-1 if needed. It will idle very quietly/low power, and when your gaming you probably won't even here it (unless you play w/ the sound off).


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 5:46 am 
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Location: Wiltshire, UK
Hi Vinnie,

I know the intel motherboards reasonably well from work and they seem to be nice and stable (fingers crossed ;-)). They're not very suitable for overclocking though - very limited, if any, bios options.
The board you mention supports the newer 300MByte/s sata speeds, although they don't help much considering sustained transfer rates from the latest sata drives are not much more than 85MByte anyways. You'd only profit from the higher bus speed for burst reads from the disk cache.
One other reason we have for going with Intel boards is the 3 year warranty you get on them - not sure what the warranty period is for other manufacturers though.
Can't comment on nForce boards as I've never worked with them.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 4:15 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2008 7:32 pm
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djkest wrote:
Hello and welcome. For a motherboard, this is what I'd recommend.
Gigabyte GA P35 DS3L. Great motheboard, economy price. Hmm doesn't look like they have it, but they do have THIS
this
I'm not sure how the money translates, as this is more expensive.

It's only ~$40 more than the Intel equivalent but has better features. It also allows me to swap the E4600 Allendale for the newly-listed E8200 Wolfdale; it runs faster and also cooler, which makes it that much easier for me to use the Ninja without a fan. It costs a bit more (~$80) but since I'll be keeping this CPU for several years (I've had my current AMD since 2002) the price difference is negligible.

djkest wrote:

Sounds good. :)

djkest wrote:
For games this video card is about 2x as fast, and only costs a little bit more, while encorporating good power saving features Can be cooled passively with Arctic Cooling Accelero S-1 if needed. It will idle very quietly/low power, and when your gaming you probably won't even here it (unless you play w/ the sound off).

Wow, that's certainly a superior card! When I was first looking at card reviews (last month) I don't think the 3850s were listed on Ascent. It leaves the 8600GTS in the dust while not being as ridiculously priced as the 8800 models.

murtoz wrote:
One other reason we have for going with Intel boards is the 3 year warranty you get on them

I could pay for an extra + 36 months for $26.08, although since my current cheapo mobo has lasted 6-7 years without a hitch a Gigabyte would probably last at least that long. If it dies after four years I'll probably be wanting a new one anyway.

Well, all in all that's been some excellent advice. I'll be paying a bit more but I'll get much more power. The less often I have to upgrade the better. :)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 11:21 am 
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Joined: Mon Jan 21, 2008 9:57 am
Posts: 2
Location: Abbotsford. B.C
djkest wrote:
Hello and welcome. For a motherboard, this is what I'd recommend.
Gigabyte GA P35 DS3L. Great motheboard, economy price. Hmm doesn't look like they have it, but they do have THIS
this
I'm not sure how the money translates, as this is more expensive.

I'd recommend this power supply It's very efficient and quiet.

Get this ram and save yourself some money

For games this video card is about 2x as fast, and only costs a little bit more, while encorporating good power saving features Can be cooled passively with Arctic Cooling Accelero S-1 if needed. It will idle very quietly/low power, and when your gaming you probably won't even here it (unless you play w/ the sound off).

If you plan on ordering these online I woul;d do a quick search for places because those prices are quite high for those items


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 21, 2008 4:09 pm 
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Joined: Mon Nov 19, 2007 1:13 am
Posts: 46
Location: New Zealand
If you don't mind shopping around you could look through http://www.pricespy.co.nz you can normally find a better deal than at Ascent. Mind you most places don't include shipping (and they seem to have stopped indexing Ascent which makes it harder to find a cheaper price).

N.B. If you do look through there avoid Expert Infotech they sent me a WD instead of the Samsung I ordered and then didn't even offer to pay for the return shipping. The Samsung they shipped after that was dead and again I wore shipping, so I'm not particularly impressed with their service.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2008 5:57 pm 
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Joined: Sat Jan 05, 2008 7:32 pm
Posts: 5
Well, after a few problems with the courier I finally have my new system assembled. The end result is even faster and quieter than I hoped for. Many thanks to everyone who helped me with this, and especially to SPCR for so many helpful reviews. :)

After reading complaints about nvidia's latest coolers I'm amazed at how quiet the HD 3850 stock cooler is. Even under stress from the latest games (Crysis, The Witcher, etc.) I can't hear it above the case fan (set to low), and the temperature is still within the expected limits despite the factory overclocking. I don't even need to consider a passive cooler at this point. Unfortunately, now that everything is so quiet the keyboard noise is starting to annoy me... :x

As for shopping around, while I'd consider doing that for minor upgrades I wanted this system to get here in a timely manner and from a place I knew would give good service. Some shops offer deceptively lower prices by omitting GST or charging shipping per item, while others simply offer poor service to keep the costs down. At the end of the day I'm happy to pay that bit extra for the peace of mind Ascent offers.


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