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Working on a silent Audio/light gaming build- Advice Requested

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hello Everyone,

I haven't posted here since I built my first desktop all the way back in high school- this site was instrumental then, hopefully the same is true here. In any event I am working on a build primarily focused on maximum silence and audio quality (for music production etc), with gaming and video as secondary concerns. I tried to be power-efficient as the prevailing wisdom I have read about high-end music servers (unless the budget is insane) is to use as little power as possible. Here's what I've got so far (consider the cpu cooler an overly optimistic price placeholder)

PCPartPicker part list / Price breakdown by merchant

CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 3.2GHz Quad-Core Processor ($176.99 @ SuperBiiz)
CPU Cooler: Gelid Solutions SnowStorm 66.3 CFM Fluid Dynamic Bearing CPU Cooler ($22.98 @ OutletPC)
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-Z97MX-Gaming 5 Micro ATX LGA1150 Motherboard ($124.98 @ OutletPC)
Memory: G.Skill Sniper Low Voltage Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) DDR3-1600 Memory ($69.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Crucial M550 256GB 2.5" Solid State Drive ($90.98 @ Newegg)
Video Card: MSI GeForce GTX 750 Ti 2GB TWIN FROZR Video Card ($139.99 @ Newegg)
Case: Cooler Master Silencio 352 MicroATX Mini Tower Case ($63.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 520W 80+ Platinum Certified Fully-Modular ATX Power Supply ($133.99 @ SuperBiiz)
Optical Drive: Asus DRW-24B1ST/BLK/B/AS DVD/CD Writer ($16.99 @ Newegg)
Total: $840.88
Prices include shipping, taxes, and discounts when available
Generated by PCPartPicker 2015-01-07 19:55 EST-0500

Of course, as soon as I came back here I started coming up with possible alternatives, but here's my reasoning so far:

Case: I wanted a reasonably priced quiet mATX case (college student budget). I considered the Fractal Define mini, but wasn't sure if the extra $30 was worth it. Since stopping by this forum, I'm now also considering the deep silence 4. Anything else I should be looking at? I'm also willing to do a full ATX build if the reason for it is compelling.

Motherboard: I chose this board for its "DAC-UP" feature, which provides gold plated, low noise, power-defeatable usb ports- aka better sound quality for external audio interfaces. The gaming features are a nice benefit. I went for the mATX because I prefer a smaller form factor, and don't anticipate needing more than 1 pci-e card over and above my GPU.

PSU: I'm not sure if the parts list is showing this correctly, but it is the 520w Seasonic platinum fanless unit. I chose it for silence, and its excellent ripple/noise performance- once again in pursuit of audio quality. I think it should be enough power, but I haven't built a PC in years- correct me if I'm wrong.

GPU: I went for a 750 TI for its power efficiency and affordability- It should cover my video/gaming needs. I would love to get the pailt fanless edition, but I can't find that in the US without importing it for a fortune. The few benchmarks I have seen show it doing well as far as noise goes for 750 ti's. is there a better choice for me?

CPU: Much of what I will be doing with this machine will involve Native Instruments' Reaktor- which is not multi-threaded (because they still haven't rewritten it from the ground up, lol. hopefully in reaktor 6). Thus, unless I want to OC (which I can't imagine being good for usb noise performance, but maybe I'm wrong) I don't gain as much as most from a better CPU. So this is basically a budget play.

Memory: I went low voltage to conserve power, otherwise this is basically a choice based on budget.

SSD: more space would be nice but it's not in the budget. I needed 256mb for cheap, and I didn't see a compelling reason to pay $15 more for the MX100. Is there a non-crucial 256 ssd in this price range I should know about?

Optical: budget again- nice feature list on this one though

CPU Cooler: Help! This is my big question: between this, case fans, and a fan controller if necessary, how do I get good silent cooling, preferably without wrecking my budget? The only suggestion I have gotten so far is noctua everything- but that's expensive! I guess I can do it if necessary...

Thank You in advanve OCN!

-MPZ
post #2 of 12
Can you get BeQuiet! components in USA? Because it's a brand that would really be suited to you for this build.

I'd recommend using this CPU cooler- http://www.scan.co.uk/products/be-quiet!-dark-rock-advanced-c1-cpu-cooler-with-120mm-silent-wings-pwm-quiet-fan-intel-amd

Their PSUs are also really quiet and pretty decent value.

The case you choose is also going to be really important for this build.

http://www.scan.co.uk/products/be-quiet!-silent-base-800-bg002-black-mid-tower-silent-performance-case-with-2x-140mm-plus-1x-120mm-
Dire Wolf
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Dire Wolf
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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Much Appreciated! I heard that brand mentioned in passing on some forum while doing all of the research for this build. I looked at their CPU coolers and they're listed as 20-25 dba- which is fairly quiet, but given that their entry level cpu cooler is rated for 150w, and my cpu is 86 (I believe), I think I can get away with something with a weaker (quieter) fan. I just checked out a french review of it and even at just 5v its at 23 dba- and dissipating more heat than my processor will ever put out (since it's not unlocked). This thing would be ideal if I was going to do an OC build, but I'm looking for audio performance (low power and stability) and silence more than raw horsepower (as my software isn't multithreaded mad.gif its's not really worth it).

As far as that tower goes, it looks like a super nice case. But as a college student (lots of moving, at least so far, not to mention limited space) its a bit big. Still I will consider it- as a build in there would probably not even require added fans to run cool, and be nice and quiet smile.gif

The power supplies look really nice- I would probably go for one of those if I decide to nix the fanless idea. But I like the fanless idea, especially given the ridiculously good performance of the seasonic.

Having done some more reading on silentpcreview.com (lots of useful info but organized not as well as i'd like), it appears that for a fanless build I actually want the psu at the top- meaning I should buy either an Antec Solo II or a Silverstone TJ08-E (according to them and what they've reviewed), or some other top-psu quiet case (the silverstone actually isn't acoustically damped but with just 2 case fan slots (a 180mm intake, 120 "optional" exhaust, it can still be made fairly quiet). I really like how small the silverstone is, but i don't like how it's got no acoustic foam. I suppose I'm leaning towards a Solo II at the moment... but I'm just not sure. Why is this so hard!

Appreciate the input and info!

-MPZ
post #4 of 12
You shouldn't need to go crazy with the components to get a silent build with those specs - since you're chosen components are very energy efficient, they shouldn't require much cooling. You won't really need a silence-oriented case, a fanless PSU or a super expensive CPU cooler.

You will probably only need 2 fans running at low RPMs to keep things cool and silent (one on the CPU, another on the case somewhere). So just get the quietest fans you can and you should be set. Maybe Noctua AF-12s with LNAs or something.

Most good PSUs will run silent even under full load with those specs, so just make sure you're picking a decent mid-range PSU and it should be fine. The seasonic one might be a bit overkill.

Only thing left would be hard drive noise, but I take it you're only going to be using an SSD so that should be fine. If you do go for a large HDD for storage, that will probably be the loudest component unless you isolate it with foam or something.
post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks For your input Mongoose.

I am aware that I am probably going a bit overkill- but I really want this machine to be as quiet as possible under load. The biggest reason I went fan-less was actually that I wanted excellent noise/ripple performance as well (in hopes of eliminating USB noise- which degrades the performance of most external usb dac/soundcards, and the onboard audio to boot), and most psu's with said performance and smart fan control to keep quiet are priced fairly similarly to the unit in my build, which is not only fanless but also has awesome efficiency, noise, and ripple performance.

I 100% agree with you on the cpu cooler- I just need to find a budget one with a quiet fan (most with quiet fans are expensive rolleyes.gif )

The case question is a tricky one... I would like acoustic deadening, because, well, why not... at the slightest heat penalty it makes my machine quieter smile.gif but there are a lot of other elements to consider when it comes to cases. At the present I'm leaning towards an Aerocool Cube DS (dead Silence) which actually doesen't have acoustic foam, but is mATX, which I prefer, and designed to be quiet via a, low-speed fan at the front (it actually has 120, 140, and 20mm mounting holes stock), positive pressure style. it actually has the motherboard laid out horizontally, with the power supply below the tray (good for my fanless setup). I actually like the design, unlike pretty much every other case I've looked at (except maybe the Antec Solo II... I just wish it was smaller/had more airflow.

Anyways, my current plan is to get one of the aforementioned cases, replace the stock fans (which have frankly pathetic specs- 19dba and 500rpm for only 36cfm on a 200mm fan...really!?) with better ones, and try and find a budget CPU cooler with a fan under 20dba (so i don't have to spend extra replacing its fan).

That being settled in my mind (unless I discover/am told of a better case solution), I'm just wondering a few things:

Do you guys think i would lose anything by going to 460 or even 400w on the power supply? (it comes at those wattages for cheaper)

Is there any reason I should go for the Crucial MX100 over the M550 I have selected? (multiple articles said I should, but they were all a bit old and seemed to presume the 550 would cost more- at present it's $15 less according to pcpartpicker, and seems to actually be faster on benchmarks) Or is there another ssd I should be considering at this price or cheaper?

Memory... I just looked up a low voltage memory benchmark/roundup article on tomshardware and the G-skill looked like the best buy. Open to suggestions... (originally I read that samsung is the best ddr3 1600 period, much less just in the low voltage category, but those sticks seem like pretty much unobtanium...)

GPU: I'm pretty sure this one is the way to go in my budget, as multiple reviews/articles I have read say it's the quietest (and among the coolest) 750 TI's on the (US) market. So unless someone wants to sell me a pailt fanless one for $150 or less shipped... If I'm missing something here please just let me know smile.gif

CPU: Tom's says the only logical step up from this one is the K... and I don't want to oc so... need more budget otherwise I think this is the play.

Finally... Used? What should I or should I not shop for used? on my last build I actually bought the CPU, motherboard, ram, and a small velociraptor all used in one ebay auction. Was quite the value, and it worked out fine... I modded Crysis, did complicated audio/video production stuff, etc on that machine and it performed well... what do you guys think?

As always, all input appreciated smile.gif

-MPZ
post #6 of 12
Ah well it seems like you're going all the way for a true silence build - in which case, by all means get an absorptive case such as the Aerocool DS or Fractal R5 - it will make a few decibles of difference over a cheap case.

As for the fans, don't trust the manufacturer stated decibel rating as a lot of the time they might as well just make up a random number and put that down for it tongue.gif. If you're going for silence, you'll be running at very low RPMs anyway so the main concern is getting decent airflow at those low RPMs, which isn't something that just any fan can do. There are a few good choices though. The good ones I've personally tried are Noctuas, Aerocool DS's, the Thermalright TY-140 and the stock Fractal Design fans that come with the case - all with some kind of low noise adapter of course. There are other good brands as well though, I just haven't tried them all.

BTW - my intel i7 could happily run fanless under prime 95 load with my Thermalright HR02-Macho heatsink. That thing is a true beast of a cooler (as good as the noctua NH-D14 but much cheaper) - and haswell cpus put out so little heat that the case airflow was more than enough to keep it cool (like below 50 degrees, and the heatsink doesn't even get warm to the touch).

As for the PSU wattage, I don't see how you could need more than 400W so might as well save some cash.

I do tend to buy used parts on ebay if it saves a lot of money - things like intel CPUs are very reliable, and both of my PCs are running used intel CPUs that I got off ebay thumb.gif. RAM too... as for motherboards/hard drives, I'd be slightly wary of getting them off ebay unless they were very recent models without too much use.
Edited by Mongoose135 - 1/9/15 at 5:14am
post #7 of 12
So to recap you want to listend music (not make ?), play games (wich resolution please), and get any noise or so.

I think you should go on sound card, mATX let you add some cards so that's not a problem and with or without DAC it always be better than onboard CM.

Maybe a slowest i5 and cause there is'nt "K" version a B85 motherboard to get down the price.
Also I'm not fan of these 750Ti because of the price...

Also you could consider Gold or silver reward, it's not a big deal.
And as you say 400W will be far enought ! So save your money.
Althought don't stop yoursefl on Fanless version some times fan version never activater the fan... Or very slowest.
Maybe let your pocket choose. tongue.gif

+1 Fore second hand components.
post #8 of 12
I have an Aerocool DS Cube in my GFs rig. Can confirm that it is very quiet.

Enermax Twister Silence fans are great for low noise/low rpm air movers. I use Enermax Twister Pressures on my rad and they perform much better than Corsairs SP fans.
Dire Wolf
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Dire Wolf
(17 items)
 
  
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i7 4790K @ 4.9Ghz - 1.35v - Delidded Asus Z97 ROG Maximus VII Hero MSI GTX 1080Ti 11GB Gaming X 16GB Corsair Vengeance Pro 2400mhz 
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Samsung SM951 M.2 NVMe - 256GB Samsung 840 EVO - 500GB Noctua NH-D15 Windows 10 Pro 
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IIyama 28" 4K B2888UHSU-B1 Corsair Vengeance K90 - MX Red EVGA Supernova 1300W G2 /w Be Quiet! Pure Wings 2 Corsair Carbide 540 Air 
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Mionix Naos 8200 Corsair Extended Mouse Mat Creative Soundblaster Z AKG K702 w/ Antlion ModMic 
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post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mongoose135 View Post

Ah well it seems like you're going all the way for a true silence build - in which case, by all means get an absorptive case such as the Aerocool DS or Fractal R5 - it will make a few decibles of difference over a cheap case.

As for the fans, don't trust the manufacturer stated decibel rating as a lot of the time they might as well just make up a random number and put that down for it tongue.gif. If you're going for silence, you'll be running at very low RPMs anyway so the main concern is getting decent airflow at those low RPMs, which isn't something that just any fan can do. There are a few good choices though. The good ones I've personally tried are Noctuas, Aerocool DS's, the Thermalright TY-140 and the stock Fractal Design fans that come with the case - all with some kind of low noise adapter of course. There are other good brands as well though, I just haven't tried them all.

BTW - my intel i7 could happily run fanless under prime 95 load with my Thermalright HR02-Macho heatsink. That thing is a true beast of a cooler (as good as the noctua NH-D14 but much cheaper) - and haswell cpus put out so little heat that the case airflow was more than enough to keep it cool (like below 50 degrees, and the heatsink doesn't even get warm to the touch).

As for the PSU wattage, I don't see how you could need more than 400W so might as well save some cash.

I do tend to buy used parts on ebay if it saves a lot of money - things like intel CPUs are very reliable, and both of my PCs are running used intel CPUs that I got off ebay thumb.gif. RAM too... as for motherboards/hard drives, I'd be slightly wary of getting them off ebay unless they were very recent models without too much use.

Thanks for the heads up on the Macho- seems like an ideal cooler for my purposes, if a bit pricey. It would be really nice to run the zero version with the shroud, but it looks like those aren't available in the states yet. Same story with the rev b- it seems to be a bit better, but I can't find one anywhere. I will probably go for the A though- $53 on amazon (if they don't sell out first lol). Thankfully it has the same fanless-optimized design, so I can even try running it fanless smile.gif

I'm actually thinking I'm going to go for a Silverstone Sugo SG10 instead of the aerocool. I did a whole bunch of reading about the Aerocool, and I just started finding a lot of reviews and comments saying that it's cooling performance is poor, and that the baffle design limits airflow a whole bunch. Also I absolutely love how small the SG10 is smile.gif
Quote:
Enermax Twister Silence fans are great for low noise/low rpm air movers. I use Enermax Twister Pressures on my rad and they perform much better than Corsairs SP fans.

You wouldn't happen to have tried their 180mm fans, would you? (UCTA-18a) I'm currently leaning towards one of those as a quiet replacement.

Mini Pounce, I agree on the 750 ti price- but I want it for how silent it is
post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by MPZ View Post

Thanks for the heads up on the Macho- seems like an ideal cooler for my purposes, if a bit pricey. It would be really nice to run the zero version with the shroud, but it looks like those aren't available in the states yet. Same story with the rev b- it seems to be a bit better, but I can't find one anywhere. I will probably go for the A though- $53 on amazon (if they don't sell out first lol). Thankfully it has the same fanless-optimized design, so I can even try running it fanless smile.gif

I'm actually thinking I'm going to go for a Silverstone Sugo SG10 instead of the aerocool. I did a whole bunch of reading about the Aerocool, and I just started finding a lot of reviews and comments saying that it's cooling performance is poor, and that the baffle design limits airflow a whole bunch. Also I absolutely love how small the SG10 is smile.gif
You wouldn't happen to have tried their 180mm fans, would you? (UCTA-18a) I'm currently leaning towards one of those as a quiet replacement.

Mini Pounce, I agree on the 750 ti price- but I want it for how silent it is

As for the macho - it would be a really tight fit in the SG10. They say the sg10 takes a 165mm cpu cooler but the macho heatsink is 162mm + about 1cm extra (I would estimate)for the fan clips if you were to use a fan, which would probably be scraping against the top of the case or whatever's above the CPU cooler. Even if you don't need the fan clips it'll still be pretty full up.

The macho is pretty overkill for a non-oveclocked Intel CPU though. You could probably get away with a smaller heatsink though like the Hyper 212 evo with a silent fan on it, would stay very quiet even if you were stress testing.

You'll def. want to replace the 180mm air penetrator as it's not completely silent... A 140mm would do if you couldn't find a suitable 180mm though.
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