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pih

pih

181 posts

Master Geek


#63319 24-Jun-2010 11:23
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Hi all,

I've been out of the hardware scene for some time now but I'm looking at upgrading my ageing hardware and I have a few things in mind that I'd like:

Fast - Quiet - Cheap

I KNOW, I know - you're all going to say "pick two", or even "pick one"!  I'm flexible on each of those things and I'm fully aware I need to sacrifice at some point - most likely I'll end up sacrificing "cheap", as the other two are more important to me.

More details:
 - I'm mostly interested in opinions about the mobo, CPU, PSU, case & cooling - total budget for these: around $1500, but I can be a little flexible if required.
 - I'm not much of a gamer - onboard gfx is fine for now.
 - I'll need a moderately (but not super-high) powered, quiet PSU as I may have a number of add-in cards and up to 4 HDD's eventually (I'll tackle the "quiet" part of 4 HDD's when I get to it)
 - Quad core, 64-bit required (do quads even come in 32-bit versions?), I'm fine with underclocking a little if I need to do it to keep things cooler, quieter and still within budget
 - Most of the grunt will be used for transcoding video and virtualisation (not at the same time, mostly), so high CPU/bus speeds are reasonably important
 - I'm happy to go water-cooled if that will help the noise aspect (but are water pumps noisey?)
 - FWIW I'll be running Ubuntu as the host OS with at least one OS (windows 7) virtualised, possibly up to 3, but none of the guests need much grunt behind them, I'll reserve that for the host.

I know I can go and buy the bits or get a pre-built PC on the cheap ($600-800) that will do what I need - but I'm concerned about noise because I have to work next to this thing most days and I have no idea where to start - am I asking too much? If I could up my budget slightly, what would you recommend?  All suggestions greatly appreciated.

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Che

Che
33 posts

Geek


  #344882 24-Jun-2010 13:53
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In my personal opinion, one of the loudest things in most computers are the stock CPU coolers.
Do some searches for cpu cooler reviews (after market) and I think spending $100 on a new fan/heatsink will cut noise at least in half.
Some are built to really get a handle on the tempurature, and some are built to keep your standard processor cool with a minimum of dB.

This is the pbTech cooler I've got my eye on...
http://www.pbtech.co.nz/index.php?item=FANATI1001 

samwooff
219 posts

Master Geek


  #344932 24-Jun-2010 16:05
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Hey
A good resource to check out if you're serious about silence is silent pc review http://www.silentpcreview.com/ they evaluate all their reviews with noise as a priority.
Yep, you're going to have to settle for 2 out of the 3 sorry. Liquid cooling can be almost silent, the pumps aren't too bad if they're mounted right but it's not going to be easy with only $1500 to spare if you want fast as well.

For CPU i'd probably recommend an i5 750 with that budget, a mid range motherboard like the asus P7P55D-E, I like corsair power supplies, something like the HX520 could fit the bill. Case might be a little harder as looks and size can come into it, my case the antec 1200 can be very quiet at low fan speeds and has plenty of space for hard drives and good cooling but it's looks are polarising and it's massive.
As for the CPU's cooling I'd recommend a nice big heatsink like the TRUE, prolimatech megahalems etc they get better temps than most other heatsinks without a fan so cooling won't be an issue and because of no fan there'll be no noise. Alternatively you could just get a 500rpm fan on it which will be virtually silent.

I reckon you could definitely get a decent silent pc for that money, obviously by throwing more cash you'll get a faster, more silent computer but if $1500 gets you the required performance and you can't hear it why bother.




Desktop: i7 920, GTX 275, asus P6T, antec 1200, 6gb ram, 1tb spinpoint f1, 1tb spinpoint f3, Logitech Z2300, Zero DAC, Shure SRH440
Laptop: Toshiba satellite, T5300, Go 7300
Home Theatre: 32" loewe CRT, Harmon kardon amp, dvd player, image 418 speakers, rega planar 25 turntable :)

 
 
 
 


pih

pih

181 posts

Master Geek


  #344941 24-Jun-2010 16:31
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samwooff: Hey
A good resource to check out if you're serious about silence is silent pc review http://www.silentpcreview.com/ they evaluate all their reviews with noise as a priority.
Yep, you're going to have to settle for 2 out of the 3 sorry. Liquid cooling can be almost silent, the pumps aren't too bad if they're mounted right but it's not going to be easy with only $1500 to spare if you want fast as well.

For CPU i'd probably recommend an i5 750 with that budget, a mid range motherboard like the asus P7P55D-E, I like corsair power supplies, something like the HX520 could fit the bill. Case might be a little harder as looks and size can come into it, my case the antec 1200 can be very quiet at low fan speeds and has plenty of space for hard drives and good cooling but it's looks are polarising and it's massive.
As for the CPU's cooling I'd recommend a nice big heatsink like the TRUE, prolimatech megahalems etc they get better temps than most other heatsinks without a fan so cooling won't be an issue and because of no fan there'll be no noise. Alternatively you could just get a 500rpm fan on it which will be virtually silent.

I reckon you could definitely get a decent silent pc for that money, obviously by throwing more cash you'll get a faster, more silent computer but if $1500 gets you the required performance and you can't hear it why bother.


Cheers for that.  I was careful not to specify "silent" as such, but how about: "as close to silent as possible with the leftover budget after getting moderate performance?"  :)

I'm a little partial to AMD (historical reasons, nothing of significance now I s'pose) but if Intel fits the bill I could go that way.  Does anyone else recommend Intel over AMD for such an endeavour?

If I could get any significant gains by throwing another $2-300 at it I can probably convince my wife to let me.  I'll be buying some big monitors for it and some other bits and pieces, so I have to tread carefully or compromise in other ways...

samwooff
219 posts

Master Geek


  #345046 24-Jun-2010 22:23
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Hahaha, ok fair enough. I think you could get silent in terms of human hearing in a normal room for your budget without sacrificing anything. Ok, I tend to not to be biased towards brands if I can, it's just that at the high end AMD has no answer to intel's best CPUs, something like a phenom II x4 would give you almost as good performance for a bit less if you want more WAF.




Desktop: i7 920, GTX 275, asus P6T, antec 1200, 6gb ram, 1tb spinpoint f1, 1tb spinpoint f3, Logitech Z2300, Zero DAC, Shure SRH440
Laptop: Toshiba satellite, T5300, Go 7300
Home Theatre: 32" loewe CRT, Harmon kardon amp, dvd player, image 418 speakers, rega planar 25 turntable :)

pih

pih

181 posts

Master Geek


  #349857 11-Jul-2010 00:00
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Just an update:

I ended up buying the following so far (I'll be updating things as I find them too noisy, and as budget permits... I just had to get a working rig, so I dived in):

- Intel Core i7 860 (Socket 1156) - From memory: Lower power than the 920, faster clock speed, does hyperthreading so getting 8 virtual cores - sweet! Just using the stock fan right now - it's quite a bit noisier than I'd like but that's going to have to wait for phase 2. Cost: $444

- Asus P7P55D - wanted the firewire and 3 PCI, so this was really my only option. Didn't want to risk a cheaper brand mobo as most had pretty bad reviews. I really like it. Cost: $215

- Kingston HyperX DDR3-1600 CL8 2x2GB (will probably double this down the track down the track) Cost: $212

- WD Caviar Green 1TB (...cue the screaming purists...) I haven't actually unbagged these yet - I'm still reading up on some things regarding "Advanced Format Drive" (new 4K sector size) and whether I need to patch firmware (which I'll probably do anyway) or format in a special way when using under Linux - I've read that nothing extra is required, but I've also read elsewhere that they are dog slow unless you add a switch or two when partitioning... TBD. Cost $111ea

- Case: Antec Sonata III 500 (Piano Black) - nice looking case, supposedly "quiet", but the included PSU fan is a little bit noisy, and the 120mm case fan on the back I was expecting to be virtually silent on low - it's not. (Edit: Cost: $215)

Add to all that the fact that an old DVD-RW drive I added has the exact resonant frequency of the case panels when spun up, and it actually makes an awful racket...

So... uh... that's what not to buy. :)

Nah, it's not too bad, I'll replace the DVD drive, CPU cooler and possibly the PSU and I think I'll have a nice quiet (and pretty fast) PC.

Cheers again for the assistance, I'll update the thread when I get the new bits.

pih

pih

181 posts

Master Geek


  #350592 13-Jul-2010 12:27
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Another update:

Turns out that the case/PSU isn't too bad after all - I had a horribly noisy 500GB Barracuda which was rattling the case even with the silicone grommets (off-balance? I think one of the kids must have found and dropped it a few times... It no longer works, I discovered :/ ) That, and the nVidia card I installed had a noisy fan which I only discovered last night.

Eliminating those and the DVD drive makes for a pretty quiet machine that belies the grunt inside. I'll probably still look to replace the CPU cooler but I've decided it's not bad for a stock one. I'm also considering cutting out the fan grille on the back because that will virtually eliminate the case fan noise, which is just turbulence. Once all that's gone I'll decide if it's worth shelling out for another PSU.

As for the drives (WD10EARS Caviar Green 1TB), I manually partitioned one of them last night, parted in Ubuntu didn't like the 4K sector size, it kept warning me that it was badly optimised, but I persisted and it works beautifully now: >10800MB/s cached reads and between 75-95MB/s buffered reads with hdparm. Not top performance, but I can definitely live with that, and I can barely hear the drives spinning, even up close. Might even pick up a couple more - I consider them worth the hassle for a quiet PC.

Hope that all helps someone down the track. I'll probably post some more later.

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