Quiet 4K Gaming PC Build Guide

Do-It-Yourself Systems | Silent PC Build Guides
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TESTING

System Configuration:

  • Intel Core i7-6700K processor - four cores. 4.0~4.2 GHz, 14 nm, 91W, Hyper-threading
  • Scythe Mugen MAX CPU cooler
  • Kingston HyperX Fury memory - 2x8GB DDR4-2667, C15
  • Asus Z170-A motherboard - Z170 chipset, ATX form factor
  • Asus GTX 980 Ti Strix OC graphics card - 2816 CUDA cores, 1216 MHz base clock, 6GB 7200 MHz GDDR5
  • Samsung 850 EVO solid state drive - 500GB, 2.5-inch, SATA 6 Gbps
  • SilverStone Strider Platinum ST75F-PT power supply - 750W, 80 PLUS Platinum, modular
  • Corsair Carbide 600Q case - ATX
  • Phanteks PH-F140HP case fans - 2 x 140 mm, 1300 RPM
  • Scythe GlideStream 120 case fan - 120 mm, 1300 RPM
  • Microsoft Windows 7 operating system - Ultimate, 64-bit

Measurement and Analysis Tools

  • Resident Evil 6 Demo standalone benchmark for stress testing.
  • Total War: Attila in-game benchmark for stress testing.
  • Prime95 processor stress software.
  • FurMark openGL GPU stress software.
  • CPU-Z to monitor CPU frequency and voltage.
  • AIDA64 to monitor system temperatures and fan speeds.
  • Asus GPUTweak to monitor GPU temperature and monitor/change GPU fan speeds.
  • Asus AI Suite 3 utility to monitor system temperatures and monitor/change fan speeds.
  • Extech AC Power Analyzer 380803 AC power meter, used to measure system power consumption.
  • PC-based spectrum analyzer: SpectraPlus with ACO Pacific mic and M-Audio digital audio interfaces.
  • Anechoic chamber with ambient level of 11 dBA or lower

SOFTWARE

When the system was initially set up, the size of the text and icons was ridiculously tiny, so increasing the scale to 150% in Windows 7 was the first on my to do list. Later I found that some games would not allow me to select the native resolution, with the maximum option being 2560x1440. This was addressed by entering the Nvidia Control Panel and manually setting the resolution and refresh rate.


Fan Xpert interface with fans running at minimum speed.

My favorite aspect of Asus motherboards is the Fan Xpert module found inside their AI Suite utility. After calibrating the fans to determine their operational range, the fan speed curve for every controllable fan can be altered with four configuration plot points. Spin up and spin down times are adjustable and you can designate which onboard temperature sensor is linked to each fan. Unfortunately, it's not smart enough to pick up the GPU temperature sensor but this is a feature they're working on (for Asus graphics cards only) for the future. You can even rename the fan headers and designate where in the case they're located so you don't mix them up. Temperature and fan speeds are reported at the bottom of the interface with an option to swap the plain text readings for a charting function.


GPU Tweak: main interface and monitoring screen.


User defined fan setting.

For controlling the GPU, the included GPU Tweak II utility is fairly competent. Both the main tuning interface and chart are customizable so you can hide settings/sensors you don't use. The graphing feature is a bit limited as it can only display three attributes without scrolling. The previous version of GPU Tweak is more capable in this regard and is probably preferable, at least for testing. The user defined fan speed curve has a high level of granularity with up to nine adjustable plot points. Like our power supply, the GPU fans are turned off and silent under light loads. By default, the fans don't spin up until the GPU hits 63°C.



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