Quiet 4K Gaming PC Build Guide

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Motherboard: Asus Z170-A - US$150

Alternatives:

  • Gigabyte GA-H170-D3HP - US$110
  • Gigabyte GA-Z170X-Gaming 3 - US$140


The Asus Z170-A.

The Z170-A is not a particularly glamorous or otherwise noteworthy motherboard, but like most Asus models, it's reliable and offers excellent fan control. It has seven fan headers with all but one individually controllable with customized control in the BIOS as well as through their superb Fan Xpert utility. We only need four fan headers but it certainly doesn't hurt to have more. A keystone feature of the Z170 chipset is overclocking via multiplier and this is complemented by the Z170-A's digital 8+2 phase power regulation system and decently sized VRM heatsinks. Rounding out the features are SATA Express and M.2 storage options, as well as USB 3.1 with both Type-A and Type-C connectors at the back. The plastic shroud over the I/O ports is a bit of an eyesore and may inhibit the ability of the VRM heatsink to dissipate heat so it was removed for this build.

Many users overpay for expensive models with bells and whistles but many of the extras just don't benefit the purpose of this system — you could game just as well on a B150 or H170 chipset board. The main drawback of going this route is that due to PCI-E lane limitations, a proper dual GPU configuration with x8/x8 bandwidth would be ruled out, restricting you to single GPU upgrades down the road. That's one reason you might select a Z170 model to pair with an standard CPU with no overclocking capabilities.

Power Supply: SilverStone Strider Platinum 750W - US$140

Alternatives:

  • SilverStone Strider Platinum 650W - US$125
  • Corsair RM650i - US$120
  • Corsair HX750i - US$145

From a noise perspective, the power supply was one of the most complained about components when PC silencing first started to gain traction. It's one of the reasons that the PSU is now found at the bottom of most modern tower cases. Back in the old days, the PSU was always situated at the top, getting pounded by the heat coming off the processor, and thus requiring a much higher internal fan speed. Power supplies also weren't very efficient but today, every major power supply manufacturer produces models that are compliant with the 80 PLUS standard. With less heat waste being generated, PSUs are naturally quieter, and this is especially true of 80 Plus Gold and Platinum units.


The SilverStone Strider Platinum 750W.

The SilverStone Strider Platinum 750W is a fully modular power supply with a 120 mm fan that shuts off when under 20% load. For a single video card configuration it's a bit overkill as a 600W rated unit would fulfill power requirements with room to spare. However, there is merit to trading up as efficiency peaks in the middle of most PSU's ranges and their fans are usually tuned with this in mind. It also allows provides enough headroom for a second GPU to be added down the road.

Corsair and Seasonic make a variety of excellent quiet alternatives and if you have the cash, the Corsair AXi, HXi, and RMi series are of particular interest as they have the ability to manually control the fan via an internal USB header.

SSD: Samsung 850 EVO 500GB - US$150

Alternatives:

  • Crucial MX200 500GB - US$160
  • Samsung 850 Pro 512GB - US$220
  • Samsung 850 EVO 1TB - US$330


The Samsung 850 Pro.

PC enthusiasts today have more storage interfaces to choose from than ever before but U.2 and SATA Express drives are still in their infancy, and while M.2 offers more potential bandwidth for solid state drives, in real life operation, the difference is minor compared to SATA 6 Gbps, so you won't miss out by going with the more traditional standard. As for capacity, solid state prices have come down enough that it's feasible for a pure gaming rig to avoid mechanical drives altogether.

Samsung makes some of the best SSDs on the market and their current generation mainstream consumer 850 EVO is competitively priced at both the 500GB and 1TB levels. If a hard drive or two is required for storing massive amounts of media or the like, a 5400 RPM WD Blue/Red drive is ideal as they are extremely quiet and produce little vibration.

RAM: Kingston HyperX Fury 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-2666 - US$110

Alternatives:

  • G.Skill Ripjaws V/4 Series 8GB (2x4GB) DDR4-2133 - US$40
  • G.Skill Ripjaws V/4 Series 16GB (2x8GB) DDR4-2133 - US$65


HyperX Genesis memory kit.

On Skylake systems, memory speed and timings have very little effect on gaming performance, and as RAM is essentially a commodity, it's perfectly reasonable to simply select the cheapest RAM from a brand you trust. For our system we're utilizing a pair of Kingston HyperX Fury 8GB DDR4-2666 sticks (actually part of a quad-channel kit). 8GB is sufficient for any single game (in fact many games are 32-bit and can't utilize more than 2GB of system memory) but with memory prices being so low, it would almost be foolish not to move up to 16GB.

FANS: Phanteks PH-F140HP x 2 - US$35 & Scythe GlideStream 120 - US$10

The 600Q is an excellent case but its not with its faults. The included 140 mm fans cool just fine but emit a rough unpleasant sound unfitting a truly quiet PC. The Phanteks PH-F140HP on the otherhand has an incredibly smooth acoustic profile and just happens to be one of the best best performing 140 mm case fans we've ever tested. It also comes in a few different blade/impeller colors if you care about color coordination. Note: the similar looking square-framed F140SP and F140XP do not sound nearly as good as the F140HP.


Stock fans.


Scythe GlideStream 120 on the left, Phanteks PH-F140HP on the right.

Another issue with the 600Q is that it is not designed for 140 mm fans with 120 mm mounting holes and while we managed to get two of the Phanteks fans installed at the front, there simply wasn't any room at the back. The rear exhaust fan was swapped for a Scythe GlideStream 120 to complement the Mugen MAX's GlideStream 140. The performance difference between 120 and 140 mm fans is negligible and while the GlideStream doesn't sound quite as smooth as the Phanteks, it's good enough, and positioned at the rear of the case, furthest away from our ears.

DISPLAY: Vizio M43-C1 43-inch 4K Smart TV - US$500


The Vizio M43-C1.

Normally the display in these build guides is not discussed, but for 4K it's worth mentioning. Quality 4K monitors are egregiously expensive and text size/scaling can be an issue on the most affordable (smaller) panels, making a 4K TV an attractive alternative. The Vizio M series is widely regarded as one of the best budget 4K TVs on the market. While we don't have much experience with such displays, we have to agree with this consensus. The 43-inch M43-C1 is a beauty with fairly solid color reproduction, excellent contrast, and a fantastic price-tag. The most important factor for 4K PC gaming is input lag, which the M43-C1 addresses with a low lag gaming mode that didn't produce any noticeable ghosting. It also seems fine for regular computing, e.g. browsing, reading, but I haven't spent more than 15 minutes at time using it in such a capacity. From a hardware perspective, its main drawback is only one of its five HDMI ports is HDMI 2.0/HDCP 2.2 compliant, making it the only port that can output 4K at 60 Hz.



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