The relentless downward pressure on PC component prices has made it possible for enthusiasts to assemble ever more powerful yet inexpensive systems. In our hands, $1,000 is enough to assemble a PC capable of pretty high performance game play at astonishingly low noise levels. We showed you how to assemble a Silent SFF Gaming rig a few weeks ago; this time, it’s a mid-budget gaming system in a mid-tower case that is even quieter, at least at lower loads when you care most about the noise.
The relentless downward pressure on PC component prices has made it possible for enthusiasts to assemble ever more powerful yet inexpensive systems. The mid-level gaming rig we’ve put together for this guide is a point in fact. Using SPCR/Pricegrabber, Newegg, NCIX and Google Shopping to research pricing around mid-Dec 2010, the components in this rig amount to just over US$1,000. In our hands, this budget is enough for a pretty high level of gaming performance at astonishingly low noise levels. Even after hours of intense 3D gaming, this system is barely audible in most acoustic environments, perhaps coming up to the threshold of audibility in a quiet room. We showed you how to assemble a Silent SFF Gaming rig a few weeks ago; this time, it’s a mid-budget gaming system in a mid-tower case that is even quieter. Audibly so, at least in idle when you care more about the noise.
As in previous build guides, we begin with a rundown of component selection, which is arguably the most important part of the process. Reasons for our choices and alternatives are discussed. Then comes initial assembly and testing, installation of the components into the case, and finally, the long process of fine tuning to minimize noise while maximizing performance.
In this gaming build we’ve made one exception to a rule of thumb we usually adhere to closely: Instead of running them in steady state, the fans are allowed to ramp up in response to rise in CPU temperature. This is the norm for the vast majority of systems, but in most SPCR-approved PCs, fixed speed fans are preferred because of the simple fact that changes in noise level can be just as annoying as a louder but steady broadband noise. We made the exception for a few reasons:
So in the end, what we present is a guide to building a capable system that stays quiet even during intense 3D gaming and becomes silent at more modest loads. Yes, you can have your cake and eat it too.