Quiet 4K Gaming PC Build Guide

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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.


SPCR's Quiet 4K Gaming PC Component List
Selected Components
Street Price (USD)
Budget Alternatives
Intel Core i7-6700K
Intel Core i5-6500
Scythe Mugen MAX
Coolermaster Hyper 212 Evo
Asus Z170-A
Gigabyte GA-H170-D3HP
Kingston HyperX Fury 2x8GB DDR4-2666
G.Skill Ripjaws V 2x4GB DDR4-2133
Asus GTX 980 Ti Strix OC
MSI GTX 980 Ti Gaming 6G
Samsung 850 EVO 500GB
Corsair Carbide 600Q
Fractal Design Define S
SilverStone Strider Platinum 750W
Seasonic M12II-620
Scythe GlideStream 120
Phanteks PH-F140HP x 2
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 our build comes out to US$1845 though you can cut that down by as much as US$500 by selecting components that offer more value without sacrificing performance. This is still a healthy chunk of change but it's probably close to the minimum you want to spend for a decent 4K gaming experience. Even with this seemingly high-end configuration, image quality settings have to be scaled back significantly on the most demanding titles to get playable framerates. That being said, gaming at 4K with low detail levels can still be breathtaking at times just due to the sheer number of pixels, something that maxing out the eye candy at 1080p simply can't replicate. It's especially well-suited for slower paced games where you can take time to admire the scenery. Building for 1080p and allowing the display to upscale is also a viable option, though how well that works likely depends on the display. It looked pretty darn good on the Vizio M43-C1 when used in this fashion. This combined with its low lag gaming mode makes it an excellent gaming TV.

If this level of performance is not satisfactory, you'll have to wait for the next generation of graphics cards for something better to come along, at least if you're determined to stick with a single GPU configuration. Adding an additional GPU (or more) means the budget motherboard and power supply options are out of the question, and the increased power draw has tremendous ramifications on the noise level. It would be impossible to maintain the same noise output on load as our build without employing some serious cooling. Liquid cooling would likely be necessary which means having to deal with a noisy pump or two, spoiling the superb idle acoustics. Our system produced just 14 [email protected] when not being taxed, with fans running at minimum speed. The 23 [email protected] attained during the gaming tests is not as low as some of our previous guides, but this configuration is substantially more powerful and it's still very quiet, at least by gamer standards. Also, the type of sound it emits is inconspicuous, such that background music being played at a moderate volume is enough to cover it up completely, which is as good as one can hope for with any gaming PC.

Many thanks to Asus, Corsair, SilverStone, Intel, Kingston, Scythe, Samsung, and Phanteks for providing the components in this build guide.

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Case Basics & Recommendations

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