Quiet Mini-ITX Gamer Build Guide

Do-It-Yourself Systems | Silent PC Build Guides
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OTHER OPTIONS

More storage would be an obvious want for many users. For those seeking the lowest noise, find a good price on a 2.5" 1TB SSD.

You can mount it in front of the PSU in the lower compartment, or on the floor of the upper compartment where the drive cage used to be. All you really need is one screw hole, but be careful of the connectors to the drive. They often protrude beyond the thickness of the drive and if the SSD is screwed down hard against a wide flat surface, those connectors can break the plastic sockets on the drive. Grommet spacers to leave a bit of space between SSD and the chassis panel will prevent this.

For those seeking more capacity, a hard drive is the obvious option, whether it's inside the PC or external, either in a NAS or something like an eSATA/USB 3.0 External Drive. The external options are pretty obvious, so let's focus on how to install a 3.5" HDD in the Rosewill W1-S case.

The simple way is to leave the hard drive cage in place and mount your drive(s) in it conventionally. This will increase the noise by mechanical conduction of the drive vibrations into the case and its panels. Just how much noise is created depends on the specifics of your HDD. In general, the slower RPM (5400/5900) drives are quieter and vibrate less than higher speed models. The drive(s) and the cage may also impede the airflow from the front fan enough to cause component temperatures to rise bit. That's OK at modest loads but it could upset the thermal/noise balance when the system is under load.

The silent HDD mounting technique long espoused by SPCR is suspension with elastic cord. It can dramatically reduce HDD noise. The effect is especially noticeable when the rest of the system is already super quiet. There's a myriad of ways to accomplish this, limited only by your imagination and DIY skills. In the W1 case, the top U-section side bars of the inner frame are obvious candidates for stringing up elastic cord, but you may have to drill. If you use a high capacity 2.5" HDD, then it can be easily suspended in the existing HDD cage. If you're determined to have silent large capacity storage in this system, read or at least scan through the following articles, then formulate your approach.

CONCLUSIONS

This Mini-ITX Build was successfully completed despite our initial struggles keeping the VGA card's fans from scrambling into fire emergency mode. The end result is a handsome system small enough to put atop most desks, be quiet enough to be aurally unnoticeable there, and only become audible under intense gaming load when you're least likely to notice. The 13 [email protected] at idle/low load translates to a slightly higher 14~15 dBA when the machine is closer to you as it would be on the desktop, but we can assure you this is an extremely quiet system, with a smooth broadband signature that's barely audible even from just a foot away. If your hearing is so sensitive that this noise actually bothers you, typing on any keyboard will completely drown it out.

SPCR's Quiet Mini-ITX Gaming PC Component List
SPCR Build Components
Street Price
Alternatives
Rosewill Legacy W1-S
$110
Fractal Design Node 304
Silverstone Sugo SG09
Bitfenix Prodigy
ASUS Strix GTX 980
$580
ASUS Strix GTX 970
MSI GTX 980
MSI GTX 970
ASUS Z97I-Plus
$160
MSI Z97I Gaming
Gigabyte GA-Z97N-Gaming 5
ASRock Z97E-ITX/ac
Intel Core i5-4690K
$190

Core i5-4690S
Core i5-4670
Core i5-4670K
Core i5-4570
Core i5-4590

Silverstone Argon AR03
$50
Coolermaster Hyper 212 Plus Universal
Scythe Mugen 4
Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim
Scythe Kotetsu
Kingston SSDNow M.2 2280 240GB
$160
Crucial M550 M.2 Type 2280 512GB
Transcend MTS800 M.2 512GB
Samsung XP941 512GB M.2
Seasonic X-520 Fanless
$140
Silverstone Nightjar NJ520
Rosewill Silent Night 500
Kingwin STR-500
Seasonic X-460
Kingston HyperX Genesis 2x4GB 1866MHz DDR3
$95
Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3
Patriot Viper 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1866MHz DDR3
TOTAL
$1485
Options
Samsung 840 EVO 1TB 2.5"
Crucial M550 1TB 2.5"
WD Red 4TB 3.5"
WD Green 4TB 3.5"
Samsung External Bluray Drive
Retail prices are subject to constant fluctuations. Please use the shopping links to check on current pricing; don't rely on the prices cited in non-linked text.

Again, the ASUS Strix GTX 980 is the hero of the build, with its remarkable efficiency and canny fan control system. The new Core i5-4690K used in this build provided both thermal and monetary savings, with little if any impact on gaming performance compared to the 4770K used in our ATX Gamer rig. There are probably better mini-ITX cases for a quiet gaming build than the Rosewill Legacy W1-S, which suffers a bit from restricted airflow for the graphics card. We've shown here that with the right choice of components and the minor "mod" of removing the dust filter for the VGA intake vent, this case works perfectly well. You may need to dust off the interior a little more often without that filter, but the Legacy W1-S has easily removed outer panels that make such routines a cinch.

All the other components in the build played their parts, too. The Seasonic X-520 80+ Platinum fanless PSU never made a peep throughout the testing and tweaking, hardly getting even warm to the touch while providing perfectly stable voltages. The Silverstone Argon AR03 did a great job of keep the CPU well cooled at near-inaudible fan speed, even when the upper chamber was cooking with the heat from the GTX 980. Aside from its inability to control the somewhat mysterious fans in the Rosewill case, the ASUS Z97I-Plus motherboard was a pleasure to work with. Kingston's tiny M.2 SSD helped to keep cabling to a minimum, while its HyperX RAM did yeoman duty.

The total cost of the build comes to ~US$1,500 and if you choose some of the more value-conscious alternatives, like the GTX 970, you can cut that by about US$300 while still maintaining a high quality gaming experience. This concludes the third of our Silent Gaming PC Build Guides. Please support SPCR and help us present many more build guides by using our sponsor advertising links for your shopping.

Many thanks to Intel, ASUS, Kingston, Silverstone, Seasonic, and Rosewill for sponsoring the components in this build guide.

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Articles of Related Interest
Quiet ATX Gamer, R5 Version
SPCR's Quiet ATX Gaming Build Guide
Crucial MX100 512GB & Samsung 850 Pro 256GB SSDs
Silent Mid Gaming PC Build Guide
Recommended Power Supplies
Recommended Hard Drives
Case Basics & Recommendations
Recommended Heatsinks

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