Journey to a Silent MicroATX Gamer

Do-It-Yourself Systems | Silent PC Build Guides
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This build guide began with a love-at-first-sight reaction to the Corsair Carbide Air 240 case. The Air 240, with its side-by-side compartments, struck me as such a clever design that I felt compelled to obtain a sample to build a quiet gaming PC with it. After several weeks and many long days of hands-on work with the Air 240, my initial fascination has faded but we do have our first Micro-ATX Gaming PC Build Guide to present.

SPCR's Quiet Gaming PC Build Guides is a series designed to bring a new level of low-noise computing to gaming PC enthusiasts, much like that enjoyed by non-gaming SPCR enthusiasts for years. Just duplicate our builds and you will enjoy the same level of ultra low noise even in a powerful gaming PC. The biggest challenge in building a quiet gaming PC is cooling the very hot components without loud fans. We bring 12+ years of computer silencing experience to the task. Thus far, we've presented four build guides for PCs that are virtually silent at low to modest load, and barely go past 20 [email protected] even at loads higher than any game can reach.

This MicroATX build doesn't reach quite as deeply into silence as the others, but it is still a viable, interesting, very quiet gaming PC. You'll understand the reasons for the title when you finish reading the article.

COMPONENT SELECTION

CASE: Many prospects were considered. Some of these will feature in other SPCR Build Guides in the future.

Silverstone Sugo SG09 is a crafty marriage of breadbox and mini-tower style of just 23 liter volume that manages to a Micro-ATX board, a full length graphics card, multiple SSDs and HDDs, an ATX PSU, and a 180mm cooling fan. We're awaiting a sample of the Sugo SG10, which has a more attractive brushed aluminum fascia.

Corsair Obsidian 350D, a 42 liter mid-tower style model, offers room for 240mm watercooling radiators in front and on top and a clean external design. Its closest competitor here is the Fractal Design Arc Mini R2.

Fractal Design Arc Mini R2 is another large 41 liter mATX case, but in a more conventional min-tower format. Our review showed it to be a very good performer, and though not small, its form factor makes it suitable for floor placement. Only four expansion slots makes a quiet dual-VGA card setup challenging, as there's not enough space between the cards for adequate airflow, and no room below the bottom slot for a large VGA cooler. Hence, it is limited to a single VGA card configuration despite the large size.

In Win / Nofan Dragon Slayer is a slightly smaller (36l) tower-style MATX case with large expanses of meshed vents on all panels but the right side. With low noise, well-cooled components, it might house a suitably quiet gaming rig.

The chosen case this time, the CORSAIR CARBIDE AIR 240, is a cube-style 33-liter micro-ATX model with side-by-side separate thermal zones. There is no practical limit to PSU size, and room for at least 3 SSDs and 3 HDDs.


The Corsair Carbide Air 240 case is only a foot tall, but also 10.2" wide.


The rear shot shows why it is so wide: The Air 240 is divided into two side-by-side compartments, with PSU & drives on one, and motherboard on the other.


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