Quiet SLI Gaming PC Build Guide

Do-It-Yourself Systems | Silent PC Build Guides
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AUDIO RECORDINGS

These recordings were made with a high resolution, lab quality, digital recording system inside SPCR's own 11 dBA ambient anechoic chamber, then converted to LAME 128kbps encoded MP3s. We've listened long and hard to ensure there is no audible degradation from the original WAV files to these MP3s. They represent a quick snapshot of what we heard during the review.

Each recording starts with ambient noise, then 5~10 second segments of product at various states. For the most realistic results, set the volume so that the starting ambient level is just barely audible, then don't change the volume setting again while comparing all the sound files.

FINAL THOUGHTS

SPCR's Quiet SLI Gaming PC Component List
Build Components
Street Price
Alternatives
Intel Core i5-4690K
$225
Intel Core i7-4790K - $330
Intel Core i5-4590 - $195
Scythe Kotetsu
$40
Scythe Mugen MAX - $50
Scythe Mugen 4 - $50
Be Quiet! Shadow Rock Slim - $50
Coolermaster Hyper 212 Evo - $30
Gigabyte GA-Z87X-UD5 TH
$120
Asus Z97-PRO - $190
Asus Sabertooth Z97 Mark 2 - $160
Asus Z97-A - $140
Gigabyte GA-Z97X-SLI - $115
Kingston HyperX Genesis 2x4GB DDR3-1866
$95
Kingston HyperX Savage 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-2133 - $75
Crucial Ballistix Tactical 8GB 8GB (2x4GB) DDR3-1866 - $70
Zotac GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core Edition
2 x $380
Asus Strix GTX 980 - $565
MSI GTX 980 Gaming - $560
Asus Strix GTX 970 - $330
MSI GTX 970 4GD5T OC - $330
Samsung 850 Pro 256GB
$170
Samsung 840 EVO 1TB - $430
Samsung 850 Pro 512GB - $285
Crucial MX100 512GB - $190
Crucial MX100 256GB - $100
SilverStone Fortress FT05
$185
SilverStone Fortress FT02 - $230
SilverStone Raven RV03 - $140
SilverStone Raven RV05 - $125
Be Quiet! Straight Power 10 600W
$130
Seasonic X-650 - $115
Corsair RM650 - $110
Corsair CS650M - $90
TOTAL
$1715
$1265 (min. alternative config.)
Retail prices are subject to fluctuations. Please use the shopping links to check on current pricing; Don't rely on the prices cited.

The total for this project comes out to US$1715, making it an expensive build, but certainly not outrageous for a high performance SLI configuration. With some lower cost alternatives, the final tally can shaved down to US$1265.

At stock settings, the system has a pleasant sound and produces a noise level of 23 [email protected] at idle, a bit high by our standards. The culprits are the GPUs, whose fans are unable to spin slower than 1450 RPM. The Zotac GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core cards are highly clocked and well cooled but the unnecessarily high minimum fan speed is disappointing. For a heavy duty gaming system, it's something you could live with but it makes me more greatly appreciate the Asus Strix or MSI Gaming GTX 900 series cards that can stop the fans completely. Surely, with the size of the heatsink employed in the GTX 970 AMP! Extreme Core, Zotac could afford to do the same! [Editor's Note: Perhaps a firmware update could provide a less aggressive cooling option.]

On the bright side, the minimum fan speed is more than enough to adequately cool both cards when the rig is placed under any real work load, including gaming, so the system sounds the same regardless of what it's being used for. Synthetic stress tests generate conditions that require slightly higher fan speeds, but the acoustic difference is negligible. This is a remarkable result for a rig with no aftermarket cooling.

The Fortress FT05's layout is a huge advantage, as the video cards' thermal loads do not interfere with each other much compared to a standard tower. They're much happier sitting side-by-side rather than one on top of the other. My only real complaint is the built-in fan controller — its low setting is inadequate for a quiet system. Thankfully, the fans can be slowed down further by the motherboard and there should be plenty of headers available as it uses two 18 cm fans instead of more numerous 12/14 cm models.

For the past few years testing cases in our lab involved using an old CrossFire configuration with a pair of old HD 4870s (150W TDP), which have never yielded a result lower than 28 [email protected] on load. The fact this more modern dual GPU build manages just 23 [email protected] during gaming load is astonishing and makes this a successful venture in my view. A quiet high-end SLI gaming system is well within the realm of possibility for anyone with enough funds to pay for it.

Many thanks to Zotac, SilverStone, Be Quiet!, Intel, Kingston, Gigabyte, Samsung, and Scythe for sponsoring the components in this build guide.

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Articles of Related Interest
Quiet Liquid Cooled Gaming PC Build Guide
Quiet Mini-ITX Gaming Build Guide #3: BitFenix Prodigy Edition
Quiet Mini-ITX Gaming Build Guide #2: NCASE M1 Edition
Journey to a Silent MicroATX Gamer
Quiet Mini-ITX Gamer Build Guide
Case Basics & Recommendations

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