My previous PC was an i7 (3rd gen), with GTX660 and semi-passive Seasonic PSU. It was pretty good, the nvidia 660 especially was rather gentle on the ear and I was satisfied with the horse-power-per-silence ratio.
I was finally able to build an (almost) semi-passive rig and the first time I turned it on I couldn't understand if it was really running!
This is the build log
- Case: BitFenix Phenom
- CPU: i7-4790
- RAM: 16.0GB Kingston HyperX Savage
- Motherboard: Gigabyte Z97MX-Gaming 5
- GPU: MSI GTX 970
- Storage: Samsung SSD 850 PRO 512gb
- PSU: Fractal Design Newton 3 600w
- CPU cooler: Scythe Kotetsu
- Fans: 2x Noiseblocker
I was not a big fan of the Phenom, but I got it for free so I gave it a shot. At the end it's not bad but it has its share of issues imho.
The integrated fans are surprisingly not bad but I replaced them nonetheless with a pair of noiseblocker. What the case really lacks is any kind of dust filter. Fortunately I had one of those magnetic filters that I placed on the bottom of the case.
The case inside is pretty spacious but cable management is a mess. You basically have no way to place some wires beneath the left side panel and all cable management happens in a small spot back to the PSU.
Also the front-panel USB and power button are actually on the right-panel. That is a really bad spot imho, so I basically switched the left panel with the right panel. Fortunately that is possible even though you end up with up-side-down writings
The kotetsu is a great cooler and it comes with a decent fan (even though I would probably switch that as well). It's not a horribly big cooler but good enough for my setup (no overclocking). I'm pretty sure I could turn off the CPU fan in idle and standard PC usage. While I'm writing this the CPU is at 26C with a 24C ambient
I believe I could add some noise dampeners to the top/left/right panels, but honestly the PC is so quiet that I don't know if I will.
The FractalDesign PSU is passive up to 260-300W, which means that in my case it is completely passive.
In idle the PC draws 30-32W, in standard office/internet usage 50-55W, under full throttle the maximum I've seen is 230W. Maybe I would have liked the PSU to kick off the fan at 200-220W... just to be safe, but hey not here to ague
There are many places where you can put the drives, but I don't like any of them. At the end I was able to screw the SSD on the bottom. That spot is not meant for 2.5" HDD but 2 over 4 screw holes line up with the fan grid... so I was able to place it there, which is a perfect spot imho.
The end result is very polished and the PC is the quietest I had to date.
The GPU is passive until you run serious games. In standard usage it stays around 38C (24C ambient). Even under heavy usage the fans are incredibly silent. I'd say that the gtx970 fans at medium speed are as noisy as the gtx660 in idle.
If you have any question don't hesitate to ask.