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
4 GB memory
Intel Core 2 Duo E8400
ATI Radeon HD3850
Arctic Cooling Accelero S1
Samsung Spinpoint T166 HD501LJ
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
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?).
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
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.
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.
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
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?
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
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
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?