Passively cooled i7 Ivy Bridge system in Zalman's TNN-500AF case: No moving parts, absolute total silence. No buzzing, no beeping, not even a 1 decibel hum can be perceived. Truly zero dBA.
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This latest build did not involve corner cutting and will not inspire any budget conscious enthusiasts. Components were strategically selected to yield the best silent build possible while utilizing Zalman's 9 year old TNN-500AF
case, which to the best of my knowledge is still the best designed and most effective passively cooled full-size ATX case to have been released by any manufacturer to this day (while also being the most expensive, $1,499.99 retail at launch).
The largest heat source by far, the PSU, is intentionally positioned externally to allow for lower system temperatures. Although the case could have easily supported the 3770K (up to 100W TDP after all), my goal was lower temps, efficient energy consumption, and most importantly, a long and reliable system life. If performance was the top priority, I would have opted for RAID 0 instead of RAID 10, but I like having the peace of mind knowing that two of the four SSDs of the array could fail simultaneously and the data would still be intact. I even chose 1600 MHz memory even though the motherboard supports up to 3000+ MHz. As you can see, this is far from an overclocked gaming build, quite the opposite actually, yet it's interesting to note that this fanless build yielded the absolute highest 3770S scores on record.