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 Post subject: My quiet, fast, programming/gaming system
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 4:03 pm 
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I'm trying to put together a list of parts for my new PC and I'm nearly there (although I still have some questions). My requirements: it has to be quiet, low power consumption and reliable, without sacrificing performance. It should last me a long time, be upgradable or at least efficient enough to retire to a cushy server job. It's going to run 64-bit Ubuntu linux, and it's mainly going to be used for professional game programming (not 3D, at least not for a long while), and possibly quite a bit of gaming (but no Crysis).

(Exactly how to handle the gaming, I'm not quite sure yet. Cedega works very well for some games, but I might try something with VMWare or if nothing else does the job, dual boot to XP. But that's not an issue for this forum.)

Here's the list of stuff, below that is my reasoning (and some alternatives I'm still considering or have considered until recently).

Antec Lifestyle Solo
Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L
4 GB memory
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
Scythe Ninja
ATI Radeon HD3850
Arctic Cooling Accelero S1
Samsung Spinpoint T166 HD501LJ
Seasonic S12II-330
Pioneer DVR-212


Case: Antec Lifestyle Solo
What more needs to be said? The Antec P182 is also an option ofcourse, but I think it's way bigger than I need. Although it does come in matte black, unlike the Solo.
One problem, however: www.alternate.nl, a Dutch vendor with a really cool PC assembly app, claims the Antec Solo is unable to cool an Intel Core 2 Duo E6750 properly. Is this true?

I do have one other question about the case, however. As I understand, the front bevel blocks sound coming from the front case fan and interior, but lets air through, while the rear case fan needs no bevel because it is pointed away from the user. Not in my case. I live really small, and this machine will end up in my bedroom (at least until I move to a bigger house), and I won't have a dedicated desk for it. My monitor will be mounted on a long arm so I can sit wherever I want, and the only appropriate place for the PC that I can think of is just somewhere along the wall. Most likely it's the side that's going to be facing me, not the front. Is it possible (and advisable) to muffle the rear case fan?

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-P35-DS3L
I know absolutely nothing about motherboards, and have a hard time getting a handle on their differences, but presented with my list of requirements, a friendly guy at the anadtech forums told me this is what I need. Or possibly the Gigabyte GA-P35-DS4, which has an overdose of features I don't need and is a lot more expensive. Is the GA-P35-DS3L really a cool and quiet motherboard? SPCR doesn't say much about motherboards, unfortunately. The only real downside I can see is that the DS3L has only 4 SATA connectors, which is actually enough for me, but I might run out in the future, if I even decide to add more disks or give raid-1 a try or something. It does still have one IDE connector, which is useful for copying my old data to the new machine.

Memory: 4 GB
No idea what brand yet. Originally I wanted expandability to 8 GB, but there are hardly any 2 GB modules on the QVL of the motherboard. I guess I'll just wait until I upgrade my motherboard and CPU. Besides, 4 GB should be plenty for quite some time, I suspect. Still no idea what brand, but I think I'll end up with Kingston or something like that.

Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 (edited)
Really fast and really efficient, or so I'm told. Same performance as the E6850, but uses less power and should be cheaper (but is it?).
Edit: I planned to go for the E8200 but the E8400 is barely more expensive.

CPU cooler: Scythe Ninja
Seems to be the best passive cooler around. Except possibly the anniversary Copper edition. If I can get hold of it, do I want a Scythe Ninja Copper? It looks really pretty, and I don't doubt it cools even better, but it weighs approximately a ton, and is more expensive too.

GPU: Peak ATI Radeon HD3850 (edited)
Not as fast as the 8800 GT obviously, but not a lot slower either, and rumoured to be much more efficient when idling. How much more efficient? I had a hard time finding good data for a comparison.
Tom's Hardware has a nice list of the power consumption of older cards, and especially the GeForce 7900GT looked like a reasonably high performance card with a low idle power requirement of 29 Watt, until I finally found this xbitlabs article that shows the 3870 idling at only 19 Watt. So the only real other candidate is the 3870, but it's a lot more expensive. I wouldn't be surprised if the 7900GT was actually plenty for my needs, but I suspect the 3850 will keep me happy for a longer time. Its DirectX 10 support is wasted on me, however.
Edit: On the site where I plan to buy this machine, I noticed an extremely cheap 3850 from Peak. Apparently it has a problem with its cooler, but that's no problem for me, because I plan to replace it with a passive cooler.

GPU cooler: Arctic Cooling Accelero S1
I've never replaced the stock cooler of a CPU, so I'm not at all confident I can (or want to) replace te stock cooler of a 3850. Yet the Accelero S1 looks like a spectacular and spectacularly quiet cooler. I hope it fits in the case.

Harddisk: Samsung Spinpoint T HD501LJ (edited)
According to SPCR the 400LJ is the second quietest harddisk around, and lots of people seem to recommend Samsung for quality harddisks these days.
Other candidates would obviously be the Western Digital Caviar SE16 WD5000KS or the Western Digital Green Power WD7500AACS, but the latter, while much quieter, is also a lot more expensive. And with the Solo/P182's suspension and damping, wouldn't the Samsung be quiet enough?
Edit: for a long time I wondered if the popular and much cheaper Samsung Spinpoint T166 501LJ was actually as quiet as the 400LJ, but recently someone explained to me that it should actually be even quieter. I did see some reviews from users who said it was still a bit noisy, but perhaps they had AAM (another feature I only recently learned about) turned off.

I have been wondering if I should get a second harddisk, either for raid-1 or for simple backup. Backup is probably the better option. Ofcourse off-site backup is even better, but how the hell do you do that in the age of terabyte harddisks? I think I'll just get a second harddisk and regularly sync them.

Power: Seasonic S12II-330 (edited)
Not a clue, really. Everywhere I read that no realistic system needs more than 300W, so why get more? It's cheap and very quiet according to SPCR, but it doesn't seem to be 80+ certified. Is it?
Ofcourse the Corsair VX450W could be an excellent alternative, or possibly the Seasonic S12 Energy Plus 550, if it wasn't so expensive. Or perhaps the Seasonic S12-430?
Edit: The new Seasonic S12II 330 is 80+ certified, and apparently the pinacle of green treehuggery, so I guess I'll go with that one.

Optical drive: Pioneer DVR-212?
As far as I understand, no optical drive is quiet enough to deserve SPCR's recomendation, and most people on the forum seem to agree that they're noisy buggers. Pioneer seems to get the most recommendations, however, particularly the DVR-212, so unless I can find something better, I guess I'll go with that. I did learn that it's possible to make optical drives quieter by slowing them down, so I'll have to figure out how to do that in linux.
Some people seemed to like the Samsung 203, but support wasn't nearly as unanimous as for the DVR-212.

What do you think? And more importantly, will this be quiet? Is any component too loud? Am I wasting money on something that won't make much difference? And will this machine really fit all my requirements?


Last edited by mcv on Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 5:29 pm 
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Location: San Diego
the C2D E6750 isnt that hot running. so, yes, it's able to cool it just fine. that vendor doesnt know their ass from a hot rock.


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PostPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 6:18 pm 
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Location: US
GA-P35-DS3L - will suit your needs. If you ever did need more SATA connectors, the MB has plenty of open expansion slots so you could add more SATA then. I did use this build for a friend and found it to be somewhat bad-tempered when overclocking, however. At stock speeds it worked fine, and for the past few months it seems to be completely stable, but I'm a little bit wary of it.

E8200 - Good choice. I haven't seen the real-world prices yet, but I saw an E8400 going for <$200 so it would be close enough in price to the E6750 for me to snatch it up. Besides the die shrink, I'm pretty sure that there are a few minor architectual enhancements (as well as 6MB L2 cache) that makes this a very good idea.

Scythe Ninja - I love this cooler, though I have not used it passively on the systems I used it with (Prescott chips). Those systems had CPUs pulling about 125W however, and I would be very surprised if your CPU ever hit the 65W it is rated at, so I'm pretty sure it would work passively. No guarantees, however.

I bounce between nVidia and ATi every few generations and right now I'm a nVidia fan, but I can't doubt the idle performance of ATi, so that's a good choice. Nice and cheap, too. Paired with a passive S1, I believe this would be perfectly stable (and quiet).

PS - Any of the low-power Seasonics would be more than you need. IIRC the S12-330 doesn't have 80+ certification, but I'm pretty sure it is 80% efficient at certain times, or if not very very close. If I were to stray away from the Seasonics, Either the Corsair VX450 or the HX520 would get my recommendation, but nothing else from the Corsair line. 520W is overkill as it is.

With that system, I'm pretty sure the loudest component is going to be your case fans, which can be swapped out with Nexus or Scythe S-flex fans. I wouldn't recommend blocking up the back exhaust with a muffle, as it should be quiet enough and may restrict airflow. If it is a problem, however, you could create a muffler. Just make sure it doesn't constrict airflow too much.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 12:37 am 
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Location: The Netherlands
About the rear case fan:
I don't think you'll notice it much (well, it's a TriCool fan, so you'll probably want to replace it with a Nexus, good available in the Netherlands, or a Noctua if you want to pay triple). If you're going to sit behind it (as in, facing the rear fan), then you'll notice it. But the nexus has a very smooth sounding, so it won't be very annoying. As you are probaby going to face it from the side, I don't think you'll notice.

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 Post subject: Re: My quiet, fast, programming/gaming system
PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 2:14 am 
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Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 8:52 am
Posts: 18
mcv wrote:
GPU: ATI Radeon HD3850
Not as fast as the 8800 GT obviously, but not a lot slower either, and rumoured to be much more efficient when idling. How much more efficient? I had a hard time finding good data for a comparison.
Tom's Hardware has a nice list of the power consumption of older cards, and especially the GeForce 7900GT looked like a reasonably high performance card with a low idle power requirement of 29 Watt, until I finally found this xbitlabs article that shows the 3870 idling at only 19 Watt. So the only real other candidate is the 3870, but it's a lot more expensive. I wouldn't be surprised if the 7900GT was actually plenty for my needs, but I suspect the 3850 will keep me happy for a longer time. Its DirectX 10 support is wasted on me, however.

GPU cooler: Arctic Cooling Accelero S1
I've never replaced the stock cooler of a CPU, so I'm not at all confident I can (or want to) replace te stock cooler of a 3850. Yet the Accelero S1 looks like a spectacular and spectacularly quiet cooler. I hope it fits in the case.


I am going for HIS HD 3870 ICEQ which is supposed to be quiet out of the box, though it is not passive. So probably the same money as a HD 3850 and an S1 you could have more performance and less hassle, obvisouly won't be completely silent though?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 3:35 am 
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Fayd wrote:
the C2D E6750 isnt that hot running. so, yes, it's able to cool it just fine. that vendor doesnt know their ass from a hot rock.

Well, it's the web app saying that. Apparently the E6750 is listed as a fast processor, en therefore it thinks a single case fan is not enough to cool it.

FlorisNielssen wrote:
I don't think you'll notice it much (well, it's a TriCool fan, so you'll probably want to replace it with a Nexus, good available in the Netherlands, or a Noctua if you want to pay triple). If you're going to sit behind it (as in, facing the rear fan), then you'll notice it. But the nexus has a very smooth sounding, so it won't be very annoying. As you are probaby going to face it from the side, I don't think you'll notice.

I'm not sure where I will be sitting. I think I have to think some more about how I'm going to position the case. If I've got the rear facing towards my bed, I don't think my wife will like it if I turn it on in the weekend. Or have to leave it on at night while it's working on something.

The problem is that I still have to be able to access the CD/DVD drive. Hasn't anyone invented a side-facing case for this?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:33 am 
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tehfire wrote:
GA-P35-DS3L - will suit your needs. If you ever did need more SATA connectors, the MB has plenty of open expansion slots so you could add more SATA then. I did use this build for a friend and found it to be somewhat bad-tempered when overclocking, however. At stock speeds it worked fine, and for the past few months it seems to be completely stable, but I'm a little bit wary of it.
I'm not really planning to overclock at the moment. Although I might try it if I ever get the feeling I could use a bit more CPU power.
Quote:
E8200 - Good choice. I haven't seen the real-world prices yet, but I saw an E8400 going for <$200 so it would be close enough in price to the E6750 for me to snatch it up.
I think I've seen the E8200 for EUR 150 and the E8400 for EUR 165. But against current exchange rates, that probably way over $200. I think the E6750 is about EUR 130 here. Maybe I need to check around a bit more for lower prices.
Quote:
Scythe Ninja - I love this cooler, though I have not used it passively on the systems I used it with (Prescott chips). Those systems had CPUs pulling about 125W however, and I would be very surprised if your CPU ever hit the 65W it is rated at, so I'm pretty sure it would work passively. No guarantees, however.
I've heard it's the best passive cooler there is, but I think it comes with a fan, so I'll hold on to that just in case I ever need it.
Quote:
I bounce between nVidia and ATi every few generations and right now I'm a nVidia fan, but I can't doubt the idle performance of ATi, so that's a good choice. Nice and cheap, too. Paired with a passive S1, I believe this would be perfectly stable (and quiet).
It's the idle power consumption that pretty much sealed this deal. Until that time, I'd been wondering if I shouldn't be lookig at nVidia's 7900, 8600 or even the 8800GT, but in the end, most of the time I won't be playing games, so it'll be idle most of the time, and that's something to take into account.
Quote:
PS - Any of the low-power Seasonics would be more than you need. IIRC the S12-330 doesn't have 80+ certification, but I'm pretty sure it is 80% efficient at certain times, or if not very very close. If I were to stray away from the Seasonics, Either the Corsair VX450 or the HX520 would get my recommendation, but nothing else from the Corsair line. 520W is overkill as it is.
Thanks. That's exactly the sort of thing I was hoping to hear. I think I've seen more recommendations of the Corsair VX450, so I'll keep that as my backup choice.
Quote:
With that system, I'm pretty sure the loudest component is going to be your case fans, which can be swapped out with Nexus or Scythe S-flex fans.
Actually I think it'll be the optical drive, but that will hopefully be inactive most of the time. Thanks for the advice of the case fans.
Quote:
I wouldn't recommend blocking up the back exhaust with a muffle, as it should be quiet enough and may restrict airflow. If it is a problem, however, you could create a muffler. Just make sure it doesn't constrict airflow too much.
How would I make a muffler? And aren't there any standard components for this sort of thing?


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2008 7:43 am 
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Posts: 530
Location: US
mcv wrote:
How would I make a muffler? And aren't there any standard components for this sort of thing?


Usually when I'm trying to make something like that I just get a cardboard box and start cutting. It's not an exact science, but the end-result can be pretty satisfying. Perhaps somethign like this:

Code:





                  |
                  |              <- = Airflow
                  |
                  |
             _____|_____
 Outside    /     |     |
    Case   /      |     |    Inside Case
          /       |     |
         /        |     |
        /         |     | <----
       /     <--- |     |
      /           |     |
     /            |     |
    /             |     |
   /              |     |
  /          <--- |     |   <--120mm Fan
  |               |     |
  |               |     |
  |               |     |
  |    |     |    |     | <----
  |    |     |    |     |
  |    V     V    |     |
  |               |_____|
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  |
                  |






Something like that except try to make the outside angle a little less sharp. That way when air is flowing out it can gently change direction. This should help cut down on air noise and lower air resistance.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 12:35 am 
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I'm suddenly having some doubts about the Scythe Ninja. I keep running into reports about the rev.B being hard to install or fitting badly and not transferring heat properly. Considering I have no experience installing heatsinks, I'm not so sure this is the best heatsink for me. I want one that works without too much trouble.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 4:35 pm 
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Location: In The Matrix
Hrmm i was debating on using that as well.


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PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2008 5:20 pm 
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Location: Albany, GA USA
The Antec Solo breaths exceptionally well and there is absolutely no problem cooling any CPU. I would never rely on a web based PC assembly application to choose or reject components.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2008 12:50 pm 
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Location: The Netherlands (NL)
Well first of all, nice post to start this thread :)

I suppose you are dutch, if so, did you look at Tweakers.net pricewatch ?? That can really save some money.
The scythe ninja rev b is indeed not flawless. I have seen it working perfect on a system, and on a system with excact the same components it just performed mediocre. But there are enough cpu coolers around which are as good as the ninja without the flaw.

About gaming: vmware is cool, but it can't access the vga hardware, so if you want any 3d something, it ain't working.
Creating a partition for xp / vista64 is always handy, even if you don't use it straight away.

About linux: Double check driver issues with your new hardware. Creative has NO X-FI drivers for linux (that work), and ati has built up a name for bad linux vga drivers. But how that is going to date, I don't know. Ubuntu on my ati x1950pro worked with one click (for the closed source driver) at once without problems flawless.

About compiling: compiling is often single threaded, so more mhz really helps the compiling speed. Seen from that perspective buying a fast processor is a very good investment.

DVD/CD drives are always noisy because there is an 11cm disk spinning bloody fast. Expensive drives do often have more vibration management and soft mounting on the inside to prevent some of the vibrations which makes the sound somewhat less harsh and unpleasant, but they won't be silent ..... (the most quiet cd drive I had was a 2x drive ;)). Expensive drives do read more damaged disks without problems and last longer, so spending a little bit more on a decent drive like a pioneer in stead of "el cheapo" is worth it in my opinion.
The only way to really silence them is to copy the cd/dvd to the harddisk (as iso, flac etc) and place the cd/dvd in it's original cover.

The p182 has a door on the front, that can be irritating when you mount the case sideways on the wall, something to keep in mind.

To be future proof, I would advise a powersupply with more than 300 watts. Spinning up 3 IDE drives (30-35 watts each) and some other energy eating hardware can sometimes create a peek in the power usage, and it is nice if your PSU can handle it.

I tried to make this post as long as yours ;) but I didn't succeed :( ;)


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PostPosted: Sun Feb 10, 2008 6:10 pm 
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Time for an update:

Turns out the new Seasonic S12II 330 is 80+ certified, so no need to worry about that anymore.

I think I'm going with the E8400 instead of the E8200, because it's hardly more expensive (according to Tweakers, indeed).

For gaming, it looks like Wine with some original Windows DirectX DLLs should make everything run like it's running on Windows.

I don't quite understand what the problem with the P182's door is. I've heard more people about it, but somehow I just fail to grasp what's so problematic about it. Do I need to open it every time I want to turn the PC on or put a CD in the drive or something?

My understanding is that most harddisks use about 10 Watt (and the Western Digital Green Power about half that), so I'm not really worried about my power comsumption. But I'm still undecided about which harddisk to actually buy.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 12, 2008 10:17 pm 
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I'm not undecided about the harddisk anymore. It's going to be the Samsung Spinpoint T166 501LJ. I thought it would be more noisy than the 400LJ, but people insist that that's not true, and is has the advantage of being really cheap and availlable, unlike the WD GP which is expensive and the 400LJ which is hard to find.


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 13, 2008 3:02 pm 
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I used to have a Samsung 501LJ in my Antec Solo. With the hard drive suspended it was inaudible from a few feet away sitting in front of the case.

The other noise-generating components i used was a Corsair HX520W, a nexus 120 mm @700rpm and as CPU cooler a Zalman ZM-9500 AT @1350 pm. Of the four (hard drive, CPU cooler, chassis fan and PSU) the hard drive was the most quiet. The only thing that kept that setup from being practically inaudible was the CPU-cooler.

I would gladly recommend the Samsung drive.

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C2D E4300 @ 2.4Ghz, Asus P5B, 2048Mb Kingston DDR2-667, ATI HD3850, WD Caviar 320Gb, Antec Solo w Nexus 120mm @700 rpm, Corsair HX520W, Zalman ZM-9500 AT.
Pentium E2160 @3.0Ghz, Asus P5E-VM HDMI, 2048Mb Kingston DDR2-667, Samsung SpinPoint 500Gb, Antec NSK-2480 w 2 Nexus 120mm @700 rpm., EA-380W, Scythe Ninja Mini


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