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 Post subject: Help me select parts for a quiet gaming (<2004 games) SFF
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 3:32 am 
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This topic just keeps on changing. My original request was for help putting together a miniITX machine capable of playing games from around 2004 and earlier, which would also be quiet. It was a pipe dream, and I was considering just asking for help putting together a standard mid-range quiet machine, but flyingsherpa has clued me onto using mATX and trying to lift some of Bluefront's modifications.

I know nothing of mATX, but it looks exciting. If you know anything about the specification, could you help me (admittedly clueless when it comes to selecting components) put together a quiet SFF machine capable of doing well running games of only-barely-yesteryear? I could especially use help figuring out what will fit.


I apologise. I'm sorry. Please, forgive me. I'll do anything to make up for it. Oh God, what have I done!?

It's another "Build my new PC for me" thread.

I know you'll be tired of them, but allow me to explain. I've been reading these forums for around a week now, and quite frankly I don't understand the finer points of building a new rig. I don't know what makes a component good or bad and what power supply I'll be needing, let alone how to go about the business of silencing. I have built all my computers to date myself with no troubles whatsoever, but somebody else has always picked the parts for me. I'm not too lazy to read the FAQs, or to do my own homework. Try as I might, I just don't get it. So, please, I come to the good people of SPCR for aid.

Help me select parts for a quiet miniITX solution with decent gaming capabilities.

Why miniITX? I travel a lot, and hauling around my current goliath of a PC is a nightmare. Space is also limited in my apartment, and would very much like something that can simply sit atop my desk. Though a laptop may be more suitable, I have no love for them whatsoever. MiniITX really seems like the way to go here. Sexy Factor is a bit of a plus, to boot.

Why quiet, and how quiet? As I said, space is limited. This computer will be in the room I pretty much spend my entire home life in, and that room isn't particularly large. I would like this PC to be on all day for file sharing, and don't want to hear it running while I'm trying to do some work. Noise reduction is really, really important. I can't use my current PC for any considerable length of time because the whining of the fans is driving me nuts, and even causing ringing of the ears. I can hear the bloody thing through a closed door. I would give anything for sweet silence.

How powerful? This machine would be mostly used for Internet usage and watching movies. However, I do play the occasional PC game, but no particularly new ones. The only "new" game I play with frequency is Final Fantasy XI, a game from 2003 running on an aging port of a PlayStation 2 engine. I'm quite looking forward to Team Fortress 2 and Portal, but wouldn't mind playing them on "bloody ugly" settings if that's required to make a quiet rig.

I have already selected a case, the Psile. These forums have a thread on it. The Psile case matches my furnishings perfectly, pushes all the right buttons and, though it isn't cheap, comes with a DVD+R drive to lessen the blow. It also comes with an 80mm case fan that purports to be quiet.

Other than that, I simply don't know what I should be looking for. Despite dozens of hours of research I don't know what components to pick. How should this be cooled, and just how quiet could it possibly be? The budget is flexible, as I will be selling my old rig for a little extra funding and don't mind saving up if the best solution is out of reach for a while.

Again, I apologise for starting another "Do my work for me" thread. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Last edited by Mumblyfish on Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:56 am, edited 3 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 7:00 am 
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Location: Melbourne, Australia
Get a Mac Mini


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 7:43 am 
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If you've got your heart set on the Psile, have a look at this page, it walks you through building a Psile system:

http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=32#config


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Dec 18, 2006 9:32 am 
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the problem with mini-itx is you pay quite a premium (both in price and performance) for a small reduction in size. easiest way to get a quiet mini-itx is a Via one, but their performance is quite poor unless you just want to browse the web with it (definitely no games). so for decent performance, you need one of the newer boards that support Conroe/Merom or pentium-M, and these things are $200-300 usually. once you get these boards, they often have unusual heatsink hole spacing, so finding a quiet heatsink to fit on them is hard. and cramming one in a small case with the stock heatsink will result in a noisy little box. probably no room for a graphics card either.

so what to do? a mac mini is not a bad choise if it fits all your criteria. it will certainly be cheaper than trying to build your own. if you really want a PC and not a Mac, i'd say try looking at a shuttle, but be prepared to do some modding if you want it really quiet. i made a shuttle-sized PC for my parents a few years ago (Aopen xCube EZ65) and it fits in my backpack and is very light. it's quiet enough for them but not for me. if i had one i would convert it to a picoPSU and change all the fans.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 10:32 am 
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Thanks for the replies.

Though the Mac Mini seems close to what I had in mind, the price tag is certainly daunting. And though OSX is a fine operating system, I would be using Windows XP instead so going for a Mac seems a tad pointless. Actually, it would seem that the machine I'm after simply doesn't exist. Quiet, fairly powerful, small form factor? In retrospect, it seems a little too much to wish for, but I really thought that Mini-ITX had come along a lot further than it has.

I do apologise, but I have something else to ask.

Could someone recommend a non-Mini-ITX alternative build, in keeping with the kind of machine I'd like to end up with? Quiet enough to have in a small room, the only living space I have available. Light enough to allow for easy transport (not Shuttle easy, I realise now that asking for such was ludicrous, but I'd rather not have a goliath of a tower to haul around). And though I'd like it to be capable of running games pre-Half Life 2 really well (basically, games that video cards like the 9600 Pro could handle just fine) I certainly don't need the performance to run today's games. I assume that would make silencing a lot easier, as there surely must be cards that can handle games like Final Fantasy XI on high settings without needing a seperate fan.

I'm aware that there are a lot of topics I could be pointed towards, but again I stress that, note that I'm not proud of this, I don't understand enough about components to pick my own parts. I could really use a complete list of every recommended components, from the case to the processor to the power supply. Even the piddly little things, like the fans. I could go prebuilt, but I enjoy building my own PCs and am perfectly capable of doing so. I just can't pick the parts, nor do I know anyone who could possibly help.

Again, any assistance would be fantastic. I realise that I'm asking for someone to do a lot of work for no reward, and I'm sorry.

Edit: Durr durr durr. It's probably worth mentioning that I'm from the United Kingdom, so that if anybody chooses to help they don't waste time pulling up unattainable items.


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:10 am 
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are you comfortable doing some mods? if so, check out Bluefront's version of the Antec Aria. the Aria is a mATX case and so is decently transportable, but the stock airflow and PSU are not great.

i'd say get a decent mATX socket 939 mobo with a low power consumption card like a radeon9600 (AGP) or 7600GS (PCIe) and stick it in an Aria. take out the stock PSU and use a 120W picoPSU. copy some of Bluefront's design with fans and ducts.

several Shuttle PCs would also be decent for you, if you don't mind modding them a little (like fan swapping). i don't know the current line-up enough to recommend a specific one, though. lots of reviews of these at http://www.sfftech.com.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 11:49 am 
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Ah, now copying Bluefront's Antec Aria certainly looks interesting (I assume it's this thread). Some of the things he's done are easily beyond my capabilities, but for the most part it seems managable.

I have to ask, though... I've never heard of mATX. Assuming I do as you suggest and put one together with, say:

Antec NSK1300 (It appears to be the "new" Aria; I'll assume the innards are the same. This is much easier to get a hold of than the Aria.)
?mATX Socket 939 motherboard (I don't know jack about this)
Athlon64 3200+ (~£40; I assume going beyond the 3200+ would be pointless for the games I'd be trying to run)
Asus 7600GS SILENT 512MB (£80; PCI-E. This appears to have impressed a lot of reviewers, but it looks rather large... would this even fit? The heatsink extends 2mm below the PSU.)
?Notebook hard drive (2.5"? Again, I don't know anything about recommended hard drives)
?Sound?
?1GB RAM?
?picoPSU and power brick?

...that's a lot of question marks. The only parts I know anything about are the A64 and the 7600GS. I'm not entirely certain if all the above would even fit.

My interest is piqued, though. Thanks so much for the suggestion. Time to change the topic name again?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 1:48 pm 
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Hey First off I would build on the mATX design. You dont get all that much smaller with the other formats and like they said above they cost more and performance isnt as good.

Depending on how much you want to spend I would say either buy a Core2duo rig based around the 6300 or 6400 as they are currently the sweet spot. Or if you need it cheaper you can get by with a 3400+ and save a bit.
I would get a better graphic card though. You will be sorry in the long run if you buy that card.
I just bought a 7600gs and while it is great for older games, It isnt going to run any new games worth diddly.
Also, that notebook drive may be quieter but trust me you can make a system that is almost completely silent (depending on your ambient noise level) that will perfrom better if you use standard size components.
Get a western digital drive that ends in KS they make 250gig, 320gig and 500gig ones. They are suppose to be really quiet.
Seriously man the system I built a few years ago is getting old and not as fast as I would be like but my monitor buzzes louder than any of the fans do.

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 2:12 pm 
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Thanks for the advice. As regards the 7600GS, so long as it can run games from <2004 I'm happy. I'm simply not much of a graphics whore, and the few PC games that are coming out next year that interest me are scalable, and I don't mind playing them in 800x600 with jaggies everywhere.

Edit: Just to give you an idea as to the specs I'm shooting for, my current gaming PC sports...

Athlon64 3000+ (2GHz)
1GB RAM
Radeon X800
120GB HD (50GB free; I'm not much of a collector)

This dinky little piece of damp arse is far too powerful for my needs. I don't have a single piece of software that utilises that much power. Please consider this. I don't know much about the Core2Duo, but isn't that hideously overpowered for my needs?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2006 4:41 pm 
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Quote:
Also, that notebook drive may be quieter but trust me you can make a system that is almost completely silent (depending on your ambient noise level) that will perfrom better if you use standard size components.


3.5" HDD noise has not really improved since Seagate Barracuda IV. The best 2.5" are still miles ahead of the best 3.5". For silence (as opposed to quiet) 2.5" are the obvious choice. Also, from what the OP has said, the PC doesn't need monster performance, so any "bottleneck" from the 2.5" HDD likely won't be noticeable in everyday use.


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