Recommended SPCR mAtx i7 System

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Aris
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Recommended SPCR mAtx i7 System

Post by Aris » Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:28 pm

I always see people posting in these forums "look at this system, tell me what you think", and of course everyone has their personal viewpoint on what the perfect "silent" rig would look like, so they all tell them. Over and over and over to every new post looking for advice.

Well here is my full system recommendation for anyone wanting a top of the line gamming rig that is still dead silent. After the link i'll post why i chose each item.

http://secure.newegg.com/WishList/Publi ... r=11294146

I'll go down the list as it shows up on my screen:

1. Intel X25-m SSD 80gb: Its a no brainer. Its lightning fast and dead silent. What more could you ask for?

2. Samsung External ODD: It was reviewed here and recommended. Its external so you wont have to listen to it spin up every time you reset or boot up your system. Plus now you no longer have to buy a new ODD for every new system you buy, you can just move this easily from pc to pc.

3. Intel i7 920 CPU: Cheapest i7 currently available. Easily overclocks over 3ghz with stock cooling and no voltage increase.

4. FSP Zen 400 PSU: I believe a variant of this was reviewed here and recommended. Its completely passive and will give enough power for this system, and works great with the thermally seperated psu zone in the case i picked.

5. Antec NSK3480: Hands down THE BEST mAtx case on the market. 120mm fan for exhaust. 2x 92mm intake fans (if you really need them) at the front. Separated thermal zone for your PSU with a large grated vent over the PSU region. Only downside i see with it is the inclusion of the side vent, and the ongoing choice of Antec's Tricool case fans. Replace the case fan with the S-Flex, and cover the side vent with something.

6. Xigmatek bolt down kit: For more pressure with your CPU cooler, and to have the ability to use this CPU heatsink on socket 1366.

7. Xigmatek S1283 CPU Heatsink: Reviewed here, and highly recommended by most on these forums. Its not the best, but its pretty darn close with having a price tag that is a third of some of its competitors.

8. Plantronics Headphones: I actually bought these (reluctantly) from Best Buy myself. I just needed something to work, and they were cheap, and was planning on replacing them with something better online later. But when i got home i found these to be very comfortable and sounded very good. Its not Sennheiser good, but its darn good for the price.

9. Scythe S-Flex 1200rpm: reviewed here and recommended. No ticking like what was found on the 800rpm variant even when undervolted down to 800rpm. Use with the fanmate to slow down to your prefered compromise between airflow/noise. Use at the rear location. If you choose to use it as exhaust instead of intake, then you might need to use a duct to make sure enough airflow goes through the CPU heatsink.

10. Viewsonic 19" Widescreen LCD: I have been building PC's for over 10 years now, and have always gone with viewsonic. Their build quality is top notch. I personally own this monitor and it works great for gamming. No ghosting. It has a 360 degree swivel base, tilt and hieght adjustment. Built in speakers for when your not using your headphones. Sure the built in speakers suck, but it free's up room on your desk, doesnt require you to buy something else, and you can just use your headphones when you need better audio quality.

11. G. Skill 3x1GB DDR3 1333 RAM: Tripple channel DDR3 with stock JDEC spec 1.5 voltage. Not too expensive.

12. Logitech 920 KB/Mouse: I have an older version of this cordless keyboard/mouse. Bought it over 3 years ago. Best keyboard/mouse i've ever owned, and its pretty cheap.

13. Zalman Fanmate: Analog voltage regulation for fans. Its the best/simplest/cheapest solution i've ever found. When you first put the system together, tinker with it a bit till you get your personal best compromise between airflow and noise and then bolt/zip tie it someplace and forget about it.

14. BFG 9800GT 1GB VGA: Its the fastest stock passive VGA card, and the price is pretty good too. You might be able to get a GT260 to work with an aggressive aftermarket cooler passivley, but it would take some work. I personally prefer Nvidia over ATI for the ability to run linux with. ATI drivers have never been up to snuff IMO.

15. DFI x58 mAtx Motherboard: First mAtx motherboard. Passive NB/SB cooling. Flexible positioning of your VGA card with 2x SLI slots. Theres an Asus mAtx x58 board comming soon, but i'll wait to see how it stacks up to this after its released before i recommend it over this.

16. XP Pro SP3 Operating System: Lets face it, Vista is trash. Go with linux if you wanna save yourself some money, but if you need a windows OS this is still your best option.

Blue_Sky
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Post by Blue_Sky » Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:56 pm

Looks great except for one thing - RAM. Why bother getting 3x1 GB? I know that you are using a 32 bit OS right now, but 3x2 GB gives you the option of having 12 GB of RAM once you do switch over. There are a lot of people out there that are going to be using Vista or 7 64 bit too. The G-Skill 3x2 GB kit is only $50 more.

Aris
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Post by Aris » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:17 am

Blue_Sky wrote:Why bother getting 3x1 GB?
Because only vista really needs anything more than 3gb because its a resource hog. If your running any other OS including a flavor of linux, then 3 is plenty.

As it stands right now i dont recommend Vista to anyone. You dont really gain anything by "upgrading" to it from XP Pro SP3, other than needing to purchase more memory for the same level of performance.

Also the whole "go with 2x3 so eventually you can populate all 6 ram slots for 12gb of memory" idea is flawed. In almost every case i've ever seen, populating all memory slots available on a motherboard will result in lower overall performance.

maxu
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ZEN

Post by maxu » Wed Apr 01, 2009 2:45 am

I am eagerly interested how a fanless PSU will manage to keep up with the lack of airflow in NSK3480, given there is no natural airflow in there.
I too have a ZEN (the 300W part) and although there is a "now and then" airflow (when the ninja fan spins) the top of the case - and the PSU - get sensibly warm... I have a standard mATX case (chambers not separated).

rpsgc
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Post by rpsgc » Wed Apr 01, 2009 4:27 am

Aris wrote:Because only vista really needs anything more than 3gb because its a resource hog.
Oh heaven forbid the OS actually USES the bloody available RAM! Oh the horror! :roll:


Go spread your FUD somewhere else, OK?
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Blue_Sky
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Post by Blue_Sky » Wed Apr 01, 2009 8:31 am

As it stands right now i dont recommend Vista to anyone. You dont really gain anything by "upgrading" to it from XP Pro SP3, other than needing to purchase more memory for the same level of performance.

Also the whole "go with 2x3 so eventually you can populate all 6 ram slots for 12gb of memory" idea is flawed. In almost every case i've ever seen, populating all memory slots available on a motherboard will result in lower overall performance.
Isn't this a little short sighted? The list of methods to acquire XP is shortening quickly. Soon Vista and Windows 7 will be the mainstream options and it won't be long until 6 or 8GB is the norm in new computers. Now I don't think Vista is a particularly good OS, but that isn't worth much when it is the only available OS to play new games on. Applications will find ways of using the available RAM, and then what? You'll still stick with 3 GB? XP on my computer became noticeably snappier when I upgraded to 4 GB of RAM last year (~3.3, I know). Even 2 GB is considerably more than required for the OS, but I do expect that such a time for Vista will occur - when that upgrade will be worth it.

maxu
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Post by maxu » Thu Jun 11, 2009 11:51 pm

Now then, let's focus on silence, shall we? :)
Aris, how well does the Zen PSU behave in that tight space?

Mats
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Post by Mats » Fri Jun 12, 2009 1:43 am

That Fortron Zen have never been reviewed here, it's a newer model that showed up in 2007 and doesn't seem to have anything in common with the older 300 and 400 W models.
It's bigger and have a thick heatsink on one side. I'm not saying it's a bad product though, I've only read good things about it.

Some alternatives:
Motherboard: MSI X58M, lower price, great overclocker.

CPU: Xeon W3520, a server class CPU identical to 920 but guaranteed to be a D0 revision. It's a great alternative IF the 920 actually gets discontinued.

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Post by MikeC » Fri Jun 12, 2009 7:10 am

maxu wrote: how well does the Zen PSU behave in that tight space?
Heat rises, and the top panel directly over the PSU is ventilated, so if the vented side of the PSU faces up, it will work fine. Conduction will warm the panel under the PSU, but the airflow of the case exhaust and CPU fans should keep this under control.
Mike Chin, SPCR Editor/Publisher
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edan
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Post by edan » Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:10 pm

Mats wrote: Some alternatives:
Motherboard: MSI X58M, lower price, great overclocker.
The MSI doesn't have the same sorts of heatsinks (VRMs I think) as the DFI Lanparty JR and the Asus Rampage Gene, and runs a little hotter in reviews such as Anandtech. It does seem like a great deal, though, but I thought from an SPCR point of view more passive cooling == better.

I'm looking at building a quiet i7 system myself, and I've been debating over the motherboard choice a lot. Tom's Hardware reviewed both the DFI and the Asus and found the Asus typically performed a little better, but in their test, the Asus consumed 177 watts vs the DFI's 150 watts.

I've seen a lot of variability in power consumption numbers on the net, but I wondered--do folks here think that Tom's numbers potentially outweighed the Asus' nice features (builtin Firewire and esata) for the about the same price? I've pretty much decided on the Asus, but the power thing keeps bugging me.
Mats wrote: CPU: Xeon W3520, a server class CPU identical to 920 but guaranteed to be a D0 revision. It's a great alternative IF the 920 actually gets discontinued.
I hadn't looked at the "server CPU" alternatives; thanks for the tip ;)

As far as cases go, I thought the Silverstone TJ-08 looked better from a cooling point of view, with the big 120mm fan unrestricted in front. Plus, then I don't have an extra PSU lying around ;)

I disagree with OP that this is a "top of the line gaming rig" though, as far as the video card goes. I guess if you add "near silent" maybe so. I'll take a look at the BFG 9800GT, though. If I could run 2x in SLI in the TJ-08 and get away with 21db (or less) fans I would be happy.

I just like the idea of "near silent" at idle and a "a little fan noise" under load like my old PowerMac G5, and I can't figure out if some low power ATIs in Crossfire or a single decent card like the GTX 260 (and some say the 275 is pretty quiet too) is the best route.

I need to collect my thoughts more to post my own "this is my system; tell me what you think" post ;)

ATWindsor
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Post by ATWindsor » Fri Jul 03, 2009 2:11 am

OP. How did this build work for you?

AtW

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