First, here's what I'm trying to achieve:
- The system will be inaudible when idle.
- The system will be extremely quiet when used for for software development, watching Netflix, browsing the web, etc.
- The system will be able to play most games at reasonably high quality on a 1440p monitor at a minimum of 60hz.
- When stressing out, the system is allowed to make noise. The less the better, but I have no firm requirement.
- Low power consumption when idle.
- No RGB that can't be configured to be off at boot.
- Runs both Linux and Windows.
- I'm not currently planning to overclock components.
I'll post my current draft parts list below. Various items will probably change a bit, but it should help keep things concrete.
The main place I'm confused is how to select a case. There seem to be two philosophies out there: the first is to put quiet components in a dampened case with the hope that the sound insulation will reduce the level of the most obnoxious sounds. The second is to observe that most noise nowadays is from fans, that fans are a lot quieter when running slower, and that minimizing obstructions to airflow will allow effective cooling at slower fan speeds. This leads to selecting an "airflow" case. The two approaches seem perfectly reasonable, yet incompatible, thus my confusion.
My suspicion is that the system I'm selecting, and the fact that I'm not planning to overclock components, means that almost anything will work pretty well.
That said, here's what I'm looking at:
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X
(or maybe the new 3950X if I feel like burning money. The extra cores shouldn't help gaming performance, but would be nice for some of the other things I do).
- CPU Cooler: Noctura NH-D15S
(mostly for ease in configuring RAM)
- Motherboard: MSI MEG X570 UNIFY ATX AM4 Motherboard
(like most X570 boards it has a fan, but is semi-passive, supports multiple M.2 SSD drives, has a flash bios button, has debug code LEDs, wifi, bluetooth, etc.)
- Memory: G.Skill Trident Z 32 GB (2 x 16 GB) DDR4-3200 Memory
(I've also considered low profile memory, which would let me use a NH-D15).
- Storage: 2x Intel 660p Series 2.048 TB M.2-2280 NVME Solid State Drive
(two drives simplifies dual boot configurations and supplies ridiculous amounts of storage).
- Video Card: PowerColor Radeon RX 5700 XT 8 GB Red Devil Video Card
(semi-passive, should be fast enough, AMD GPUs have good, out of the box, Linux drivers)
- Power Supply: SeaSonic PRIME Ultra Titanium 850 W 80+ Titanium Certified Fully Modular ATX Power Supply
(semi-passive, pcpartpicker estimates 434 watts for the system, so hopefully this unit will not have to work very hard, resulting in less fan usage. This may be nonsense.)
- Case: Fractal Design Define R6 USB-C Blackout ATX Mid Tower Case
Finally, I am considering replacing the fans with three Noctura NF-A14 PWM fans. It's hard to parse the tests I've seen, but it appears they may be quieter than the stock fans when moving the same volume of air.
My thoughts on the Define R6 USB-C are:
- Everyone seems to thing it's well made and easy to work with.
- I suspect it has plenty of airflow for my single GPU, non-overclocked system.
- The front door is hinged, so If I want more airflow when gaming I can just open the door.
- The damping can't hurt, and may help keep an idle system close to silent.
- The air filters can be accessed from the front (or even removed altogether, which some people recommend).