Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

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Travelingman
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Joined: Fri May 11, 2012 9:12 am

Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

Post by Travelingman » Fri May 11, 2012 10:13 am

I would appreciate your thoughts on my planned build. I'm having real trouble with the CPU cooler (as described below).

I would like a very quiet/silent PC, energy efficient yet good at games (I know, I'm asking for the moon). The system will be used for gaming, surfing the Internet, 3D modeling (Poser, Daz 3D), and some editing of home videos. I am willing to pay extra for the silence and energy efficiency. This PC will be the main PC for our whole house. For me, I will use it for surfing the Internet, 3D modeling and editing home videos. My kids will use it for surfing the Internet and gaming. As of today, games will run from something as simple as Wizard101 to Dragon Age, Skyrim and Batman: Arkham City.

I will NOT be overclocking, and will NOT be doing an SLI or Crossfire solution. My monitor resolution is 1920x1200.

Our current machine is a 7 year old Dell that has Windows XP, a dual core Pentium D 830 processor, 2GB of RAM and a 256MB ATI Radeon x600 SE card, so this will be a VERY significantly upgraded experience. I plan on keeping this machine for at least 4 to 5 years, so I am looking for something I can upgrade a bit as we go forward, but has plenty of native power for what is coming up in the next few years.

I have done a lot of research on various components. The newest generation CPUs and GPUs provide quite a bit of power while having better energy efficiency, so I hope that I can achieve my goals. In designing my system, I plan on putting the O/S and programs (including games) on the SSD. The HDD will be for data files. My current planned parts list is as follows:

Case:
Corsair Obsidian Series 550D Black Aluminum / Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case

Processor:
Intel Core i7-3770S Ivy Bridge 3.1GHz (3.9GHz Turbo) LGA 1155 65W Quad-Core Desktop Processor

Motherboard:
MSI Z77A-GD65 LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard with UEFI BIOS
OR
ASUS P8Z77-V LGA 1155 Intel Z77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 ATX Intel Motherboard

RAM:
Crucial Ballistix sport 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model BLS2KIT8G3D1609DS1S00

Graphics Card:
EVGA 02G-P4-2670-KR GeForce GTX 670 2GB 256-bit GDDR5 PCI Express 3.0 x16 HDCP Ready SLI Support Video Card

Cooler:
Thermalright Silver Arrow Dual 14CM Round Fan Heatsink
OR
Thermalright Archon Armor Style Copper Base With Fan

Regardless of which Thermalright I choose, I will also then add:
(2) Thermalright TR TY-140 140mm x 160mm PWM Fans

SSD:
SAMSUNG 830 Series MZ-7PC256B/WW 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD)

HDD:
Seagate Barracuda ST3000DM001 3TB 7200 RPM 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive

Power Supply:
Seasonic SS-560KM Active PFC F3, 560W ATX12V V2.3/EPS 12V V2.91, 80Plus Gold Certified, Modular Power Supply

Case Fans:
I plan on replacing the stock fans in the Corsair 550D with the following:
TWO Scythe Kama Flow 2 120mm case fan 900RPM

ONE Thermalright TR TY-140 140mm x 160mm PWM Fan

Blu Ray Burner:
SONY Black 12X SATA Blu-ray Burner BWU-500S

Card Reader:
AFT PRO-55U All-in-one USB 2.0 Card Reader

O/S:
Windows 7 64-bit Home Premium OEM

So, in addition to your general and overall comments, I have some questions:

1. I have tried to choose the case fans (Scythe for front input, Thermalright for rear output) for performance and acoustics. The Corsair 550D case has two 120mm fans in the front, and one 140mm fan in the back, so that drove my choices. Am I trying to get too cute with the case fans?

2. CPU Cooler. I'm stumped. I am not sure that either the Thermalright Silver Arrow or the Thermalright Archon will work because of clearances. Will either of the Thermalrights work for my Case (Corsair 550D)? Or are they too tall? If so, any suggestions? I am looking for a VERY quiet cooler with good thermal performance.

Any help, thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Bar81
Posts: 261
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:19 pm
Location: Dubai

Re: Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

Post by Bar81 » Sun May 13, 2012 4:06 am

A lot of good component choices. Some thoughts:

(i) You will need to replace the video card cooling if you are after silence. Something with (a) big fan(s) running at low speed like this (it works with the 680 so I assume the 670 is fine also but you should research to confirm):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835426026

(ii) Do your research on the Seasonic PSU, especially if you are bothered by electrical noise.

(iii) Almost any CPU cooler should be fine as the Corsair is a full size midtower ATX case. The Silver Arrow is very wide so I can't be sure but the Archon should be fine. Check out this owner's thread as I think someone was asking the same question there about the Archon:
http://hardforum.com/showthread.php?t=1670563

(iv) The 7200 RPM HD will be noisy. If you can do with less space try the Samsung ecogreen (which are now Seagates):
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6822152245

(v) Why aren't the Scythe fans PWM? I have these inbound:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a ... 6835185171

Abula
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Location: Guatemala

Re: Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

Post by Abula » Sun May 13, 2012 6:16 am

Its a nice looking case with a lot of flexibility, I would also consider the Antec Sonata Series SOLO II Black Aluminum / Steel ATX Mid Tower Computer Case, its build very solid, has noise dampening on the panels, has a suspension system for mechanical hdds might be very usefull specially since you are considering a 7200rpm hdd.
To what i remember the S series werent that great in sandy bridge, i would probably invest toward the i7 3700k and keep the OC option for the future in case you need the extra power, in sandy bridge there was not that much difference at idle between similar CPUs, and since you already going over $320... i think its better spent on the 3770K.

I would go with the P8Z77-V, as its supports FanXpert 2, that should allow you to set the fans drop down very low on idle and ramp them depending on the conditions.
Not much comments here, i like the 8gb modules that are not so tall, if Crucial is a brand you trust then go for it. Just as a suggestion, most of the time Asus has a tested memory in their pdfs for the mobo, so i would check if its on that list.
By what i have read seems a great card, almost the performance of GTX680 with less consumption at $400 mark seems very nice. I always like to wait for the custom coolers, but thats up to you.
Here I'm going to recommend another, Thermalright HR-02 Macho, cheaper at $53 free shipping, it should handle fine any cpu including the i7 3770K, its wider fin spacing makes ideal for low airflow, its atm consider one of the best performers for the money, if you wish to read more check HardOCP Thermalright HR-02 Macho CPU Air Cooler Review, it should fit fine the Solo II or the D550.
Travelingman wrote:Regardless of which Thermalright I choose, I will also then add:
(2) Thermalright TR TY-140 140mm x 160mm PWM Fans
My HR02 can mount twin fans, already has the holes on the back (i dont own a macho but my guess its the same here), but i go with only 1 fan, the TY140 and the HR02 macho should be more than enough to cool down any cpu, unless you are OCing very heavy, the less fans you have the less noise you will end up. Btw there is a version with dual fans also in case you are interested, Thermalright HR-02 Macho with 2nd Cooling Fan and Fanclips
Great SSD, probably my top pick. Crucial M4 is also another good option, slighlty slower (not noticeble, only in benchmarks), Crucial M4 CT256M4SSD2 2.5" 256GB SATA III MLC Internal Solid State Drive (SSD), if you need to change anything in your build to make it fit on your budget this would be my first pick, as the performance is great still.
This is one of the few 7200rpm drives that SPCR has given editor choice, so go for it, but i would go with the SOLO II and suspend the 7200rpm hdd. If its pure storage, i would consider a less noisy drive like Hitachi 5k3000 (reviewed in spcr), i own 8 atm on my server, no regrets really nice hdds. Another option are Western Digital Green Cavair, still the reference today in quiet hdds, probably the favorites among spcr members, specially for storage. Another good one for pure storage and realativly cheap (was cheaper a year ago, but prices didnt come down as fast) is the SAMSUNG EcoGreen F4 HD204UI 2TB 32MB Cache SATA 3.0Gb/s 3.5" Internal Hard Drive -Bare Drive, its one of the most used hdds among cheap storage servers.
Wonderful PSU, thats probably what i would go also, but since you mention "I am willing to pay extra for the silence and energy efficiency", then also consider KINGWIN STR-500 500W ATX 12V v2.2, EPS 12V v2.91 and SSI EPS 12V v2.92 SLI Ready 80 PLUS PLATINUM Certified Modular Active PFC Stryker Fanless Power Supply, its up to you if you think the price difference between seasonic and the kingwin is worth it, but for sure this would be my top picks in PSU, if you wish to read more check SPCR Fanless PSUs: Kingwin Stryker STR-500 and HardOCP Kingwin Stryker STR500 Power Supply Review
With the Solo II and the Asus Z77 mobo i would just go with Scythe Slipstream PWM 120mm Case Fan SY1225SL12LM-P, they can be drop down to 200rpm (inaudible) or ramp up to 1350 in case you need more air circulation, specially with FanXpert2 you can design your ramp up depending on the temperatures of your system.

CA_Steve
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Re: Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

Post by CA_Steve » Sun May 13, 2012 7:14 am

At first glance, the GPU selected overwhelms the CPU. You won't get max frame rates because the CPU can't keep up. Games like Skyrim scale well with CPU clock. Go for the i7-3770 or 3770K. Their idle/low load power will be the same or within a couple of watts of the S version.

Take a look at the Asus Direct CU II Top version. Very low fan noise for it's class.

Case fans: Easily replaced. Why not try the stock ones first and then replace if they annoy you?

PSU: Consider the Kingwin LZP-550 platinum on sale at newegg for $120.

Travelingman
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri May 11, 2012 9:12 am

Re: Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

Post by Travelingman » Tue May 15, 2012 1:25 pm

@Bar81,
Thanks for your comments. That was a good catch with respect to the Scythe fans. Do you find the ones that you have suggested are giving you very quiet operation?

Regarding the CPU cooler, the issue with the Corsair Obsidian 550D is (according to various forum posts) that as a practical matter the cooler cannot exceed 160mm in height. Both the Silver Arrow and the Archon exceed this. So I am thinking about going with the Noctua NH-U12P SE2 CPU Heat Sink With 2 Noctua Fans. What are your thoughts?

My understanding is that Seagate is discontinuing their green drives. I thought about going with the Western Digital Green drives, but I've seen enough forum postings about dead WD Green drives to make me cautious. Have you had any experience with them?

@Abula,
Thank you very much for your post. Do you have any more information as to why the S series CPUs were not that great in Sandy Bridge? I was going for the i7-3770S because of the 65 watts vs. 77 watts of power consumption, which I assume will lead to less heat and therefore less noise to cool it.

Good point about the FanXpert 2 in the Asus motherboard. That will probably swing me into the Asus column.

I will probably wait a couple of months before buying the components, as right now it is almost impossible to get the 670 cards, and prices are above list. I agree it is better to wait to see what comes out with custom coolers.

I had considered the Thermalright HR-02 Macho cooler, but it exceeds the height limit for coolers for the Corsair Obsidian 550D.

Again, thank you very much for your comments.

timobkg
Posts: 9
Joined: Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:26 pm

Re: Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

Post by timobkg » Wed May 16, 2012 8:31 am

All the Noctua coolers are good and quiet.

Though at this point, I have to ask, are you dead set on that case? Because it seems to be greatly limiting your CPU cooler selection. There are a number of other cases at that same price that will free you to use any cooler you want. Like the Antec P280 for $20 less, or the Antec Sonata mentioned above for $40 less.

Having built computers and worked in IT for 12+ years, I've come to the realization that all hard drives fail, some are just less reliable than others, and some batches are worse than others. Unless you're seeing a lot of negative user reviews on Newegg (1-2 eggs, maybe even 3 eggs) I wouldn't worry about it.

At stock speeds, all Ivy Bridge chips are going to run cool and power efficient. With the 3770K chip, you have the option of overclocking it easily, and it will still run cool, quiet, and efficient up until 4.2GHz or so. With the 3770S chip, you're basically stuck at stock speeds. I strongly recommend getting the K chip.

edh
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Re: Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

Post by edh » Wed May 16, 2012 9:30 am

I would think that to aim for a quiet setup an aftermarket cooler for the GTX670 would be an important upgrade once one is available.

Bar81
Posts: 261
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:19 pm
Location: Dubai

Re: Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

Post by Bar81 » Wed May 16, 2012 11:03 am

Travelingman wrote:@Bar81,
Thanks for your comments. That was a good catch with respect to the Scythe fans. Do you find the ones that you have suggested are giving you very quiet operation?

Regarding the CPU cooler, the issue with the Corsair Obsidian 550D is (according to various forum posts) that as a practical matter the cooler cannot exceed 160mm in height. Both the Silver Arrow and the Archon exceed this. So I am thinking about going with the Noctua NH-U12P SE2 CPU Heat Sink With 2 Noctua Fans. What are your thoughts?

My understanding is that Seagate is discontinuing their green drives. I thought about going with the Western Digital Green drives, but I've seen enough forum postings about dead WD Green drives to make me cautious. Have you had any experience with them?
I have them on the way so I have yet to try them but from my research they appear to be the quietest PWM fans around. If they are not quiet the only choice left is regular volt modded fans (I have some 120mm Nexus fans with fanmates that I am currently using that will go back in if it comes to that).

The Noctua NH-U12P SE2 seems to be a good choice.

I have been using two WD Green 1TB drives in a RAID 1 array for several years and am quite pleased with the acoustics and the performance is fine.

Bar81
Posts: 261
Joined: Thu Sep 04, 2003 4:19 pm
Location: Dubai

Re: Ultra Quiet, High Performance $2,000 Gaming PC

Post by Bar81 » Mon Jun 04, 2012 2:55 am

See my comments in this thread regarding the Scythe PWM fans used with Asus Fan Xpert2:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=64339&start=30

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