Quiet Liquid Cooled Gaming PC Build Guide

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

Since a big portion of this project involved many components entirely new to us, we decided to use known and tried components as much as possible for the rest of the system. There was no point in complicating the build any more than it already was.

CPU: Intel i5-4790K

Intel's superior energy efficiency takes us back to their Haswell processors time and time again. Socket LGA1150 processors and boards represent the best current balance price/performance for gaming. The latest top dog among socket LGA1150 processors is the i5-4790K, a titch quicker than the i7-4770K which we reviewed a while back, and generally sells for about the same price. If you're on a budget, consider than a similarly clocked dual core provides about the same performance with most games, as they still don't take full advantage of multiple cores.


Intel Core i7-4770K.

Alternatives:

  • Intel Core i5-4690K (3.9 GHz, 65W TDP)
  • Intel Core i5-4670 (3.8 GHz, 84W TDP)
  • Intel Core i5-4670K (3.8 GHz, 84W TDP, unlocked)
  • Intel Core i5-4670S (3.8 GHz, 65W TDP)
  • Intel Core i5-4570 (3.6 GHz, 84W TDP)
  • Intel Core i5-4570S (3.6 GHz, 84W TDP)
  • Intel Core i5-4590 (3.7 GHz, 84W TDP)
  • Intel Core i5-4590S (3.7 GHz, 65W TDP)

ATX MOTHERBOARD: ASUS Z97-PRO

For the chipset, Z97 is ideal as it accepts the newer Haswell Refresh LGA1150 chips without a BIOS update, and it is somewhat future-proof as it will be compatible with Intel's next line of chips, codename Broadwell. It also supports CPU overclocking, but if that's deemed unnecessary, an H97 board would do just fine. The well-reviewed ASUS Z97-PRO has been solid for our other ATX builds this season. It gets pressed into service again here.


ASUS Z97-Pro with fan headers highlighted. Controllable headers marked in green. We may need all of those fan headers in this build.

Alternatives:

  • ASUS Z97-P
  • ASUS Z97-A

OS DRIVE: Crucial MX100 512GB SSD

The Crucial MX100 512GB remains a standout choice for its combination of performance, reliability and low price. Our review confirmed the consensus of many other tech reviews. We've included it in several other gaming builds; it's reprised here again.


Crucial MX100 512GB remains a standout SSD.

Alternatives:

  • Samsung 850 Pro 512GB
  • Crucial M550 1TB
  • Samsung 840 EVO 1TB

HDD OPTIONS

As in many of our other gaming builds, we did not include a large-storage HDD for the sake of simplicity and brevity, but in the big Phanteks Enthoo Luxe case, it is easy to add one or more quiet HDDs with hardly any effect on overall noise. The lower HDD cage is the best spot, or if you're into the lowest possible noise, elastic suspension in the optical drive cage, as we demonstrated most recently in our ATX Gaming build. Our standard recommendation is to stay away from 7200 RPM and faster spinning drives. The performance advantage over the much quieter, lower vibration 5400 and 5900 RPM drives is really small if your OS, programs and frequently accessed data is all on the SSD. If you have a need for a scratch disk, virtually any decent 240GB SSD will fit the bill well.

  • Western Digital Red 4TB
  • Western Digital Green 4TB
  • Seagate NAS HDD 4TB

The 7200 RPM WD Se is faster, pricier and noisier than the Red.

POWER SUPPLY

This system is likely to be the most power demanding of all the gaming builds we've assembled in the past couple of months. All the other systems have topped out thus far at under 300W AC or roughly 270W DC, given the use of ~90% efficiency 80 Plus Gold or Platinum PSUs. This build is likely to push a hundred watts higher. And if the CrossFire build we're considering comes to fruition, we have to be prepared for upwards of 600W, due to the ~300W power demand of an AMD R9 290. While we haven't reviewed lots of higher power PSUs recently, SPCR keeps close tabs on developments in PSUs and have a good handle on the best options for low noise power delivery. A handful in the 800W~1000W will do the job equally well. All three of the modesl listed below feature semi-passive fans that start spinning only at higher load, extremely high energy efficiency 80 Plus Platinum rating, modular cabling, strong reputation for quality, and emphasis on very low noise.

Options:

  • Seasonic Snow Silent 1050W Platinum - The latest from Seasonic with a new quieter Fluid Dynamic Bearing fan. Our 1050W Gold sample stayed quiet (16 [email protected]) to over 500W.
  • bequiet! Dark Power Pro 10 850W Platinum - We've had great experience with bequiet! PSUs. This model is quieter than the DPP 10 550W model we reviewed, and to a much high power output level.
  • Corsair HX850i Platinum - Highly regarded, with fan staying at very low speed even to >700W load, and equipped Corsair's lauded Corsair Link Digital power monitoring system.

    Corsair HX850i promises super quiet efficiency.

It was a bit of eenie meenie minie mo... and in the end, the Corsair HX850i was chosen for broad availability and price.

MEMORY

Precisely what RAM is used as system memory is not critical, although other web sites have identified DDR1600 to DDR1866 as the sweet spot, somewhat dependent on the particular game. Within this clock speed range, small variations in timing have minuscule effect on overall performance. 8GB is more than sufficient for any single game and general purpose multitasking. 16GB is a waste unless you have a specific need, and RAM is one of the easiest things to add later to a system, if you need more for some new application. Two DIMMs are ideal as it allows for dual-channel operation, while limiting the chances of getting a bad stick. Memory is one of the most common components to fail over time, so the fewer the better. We also recommend choosing a brand with a good lifetime warranty and to avoid models with overly large heatspreaders as they can interfere with larger CPU coolers. The Kingston HyperX Genesis 2x4GB 1866MHz DDR3 RAM has been solid for us, and it sports lower profile heatspreaders that don't get in the way of big heatsinks.

Alternatives:

  • Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1600MHz DDR3
  • Patriot Viper 8GB Kit (2x4GB) 1866MHz DDR3


HyperX Genesis memory kit.



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