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 Post subject: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 2:56 am 
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Location: Netherlands
Hi,

I'm wanting to build a new system, with a combination of new & old components.
The system will be mainly used for gaming, surfing and workflow (photo-editing).
I want the system to be powerful enough for about four years (except the gaming part, but that will be solved with crossfire in the future), and it has to be as silent as possible, or better, unhearable but having some 20%-40% headroom for OC.

I'm coming from the Netherlands, so maybe not all hardware is available in the US, but I don't think that would to be too big a problem.

I start with the case. I have a Cooler Master Stacker TC101, with window. Lots of space, front complete covered with dustfilters. It would probably don't dampen much sound, but that shouldn't be a problem.

Motherboard: Gigabyte GA Z77X UD5H. 2 pci-e 3.0 slots for the future and a lot of internal and external USB 3.0 ports. Also sata3 and Intel raid so in the future SSD raid can be used with TRIM command.

CPU: Intel i5 3570K. Good price, excellent gaming performance, i7 does not add much performance.
Cpu-cooler: Prolimatech Panther. About the best cooler, good price.

GPU: Asus HD7950 (probably flashed to 7970). Maybe I'll take another brand, but I'm fan of Asus.
GPU-cooler: Thermalright HR03 GT (should fit). I have this one already on a HD4870, cooler mounting holes spacing are the same, if I'm correct. There's a huge advantage for this cooler: it can be mounted upside down, so the heatsink sits above the card, instead of below. I want to use one active fan for cooling the GPU & CPU.

SSD: Samsung 840 PRO (still waiting for stock and lower prices).

Mem: 16GB DDR (G.Skill RipjawsZ F3-17000CL9Q-16GBZH). Good results on Anandtech, price is good. Not sure what lower CAS times exactly do with gaming FPS.

PSU: Super Flower SF-550P14PE (known as Kingwin Lazer Platinum LZP-550 on SPCR).

Fan: 2x Scythe Slip Stream SY1225SL12SL They are silent and good. One will be used on top of the GPU-cooler, beneath the CPU-cooler. The other will be on the backside, as an outtake-fan. I use this setup (albeit with the 800RPM Scythes) at the moment and I'm impressed by the performance and silence. Also: it's quite cheap.


I want to know if there are better options available. I'm doubting about the fans (bought them already by the way), because 500RPM or 600RPM is probably still in the unhearable range, but can make more headroom for OC. Everything is still possible at the moment, although I'm quite convinced I have made the right choice (but really want to be sure about it).

Another question: for crossfire (in the future) I want to place a second graphics card with an aftermarket cooler just above the PSU, so the fan in the PSU is cooling the 2nd GPU actively. Is this a good idea?


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:02 am 
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If you take an Asus DC2-card, you probably don't need the HR03, as these cards are said to be whisper quiet.


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 5:36 am 
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tim851 wrote:
If you take an Asus DC2-card, you probably don't need the HR03, as these cards are said to be whisper quiet.

I would take the DirectCU II card from Asus.
Do you have any trustworthy reference? I'm going for sub 15dB (under load), and I've never heard of ANY standard-cooler that's is silent when stressed.

I could imagine that there are enough people who think the card is whisper-quiet, but unfortunately, that won't be enough. Whisper-quiet isn't exactly unhearable and I'd rather have an objective measurement to proves its...silenceness...


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 6:30 am 
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The ASUS Radeon 7870 w/DirectCU II has been reviewed here at SPCR

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1305-page4.html

The idle noise level was very good, but the noise level at load was absolutely unbearable. I assume that the noise level will only get worse as the 7950 dissipates more heat.

SSD: Any mainstream, reliable SSD should be enough for your needs. There are no real performance advantage by having a high end SSD compared to a mainstream SSD. So why not go for the Crucial M4, Intel or another Samsung SSD`?

RAM: I don't know about photo-editing, but games rarely benefit from faster RAM unless you use the integrated GPU. So perhaps you could save some money here.

Fans: Scythe Slipstreams are an excellent choice.

PSU: If you can live with lower quality and want to save a little money, then Nexus makes some very quiet PSU's. But the Super Flower is definitely worth the extra money.

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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Sun Nov 04, 2012 8:18 am 
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robnas wrote:
The ASUS Radeon 7870 w/DirectCU II has been reviewed here at SPCR

http://www.silentpcreview.com/article1305-page4.html

The idle noise level was very good, but the noise level at load was absolutely unbearable. I assume that the noise level will only get worse as the 7950 dissipates more heat.


Asus uses the same "DirectCU II" moniker for very different coolers -most unfortunate and very misleading. The one for the 7870 is not good, but the one for the GTX 680 is quite good: both have been reviewed by spcr. Just make sure the graphics card you buy uses the good one: I think it is the one using three PCI slots, just make sure.

robnas wrote:
Another question: for crossfire (in the future) I want to place a second graphics card with an aftermarket cooler just above the PSU, so the fan in the PSU is cooling the 2nd GPU actively. Is this a good idea?
Don't think this is a good idea, you are going to move hot air through the PSU, making the fan go faster to compensate: sort of using a "hotbox" PSU configuration.

BTW, if you plan on 7950/7970 Crossfire, I think a 550 W PSu is a bit too tight, if not insufficient. And, even if your PSU survives, the fan is gonna be loud.

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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 4:47 am 
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Quote:
The ASUS Radeon 7870 w/DirectCU II has been reviewed here at SPCR

The DirectCU II on the HD7950 is a dual-slot cooler, so could perform a lot better.
But I still think it would perform silent (but still not unhearable) when idling and doing the vacuum-cleaner under load. Without any measurements by SPCR it wouldn't be the way to go.
But if I would buy the product, I will try it with the stock cooler and stress it and publish my results (although they aren't measurements).
I've seen the results from the GTX 680 on SPCR as well, it looks a lot more like the cooler of the HD7950 (dual slot). But I'm not impressed with the results. 85 degrees for GPU and 112 for VRM with a sound level of 17~18 dB is not good enough (for me), and there hasn't even been spoken about OC...
With another version of the HR03 (the HR03 plus serie), I've stressed the 8800GTS (old card, I know, but it's about heat-dissipation anyway), and hit about 65 degrees max for the GPU when overclocking about 30%~40% for CPU and GPU. AND with an acceptable sound level (the rig I now have is hearable, but silent). The fan on the GPU-cooler did somewhere around 800RPM, I think.

Quote:
There are no real performance advantage by having a high end SSD compared to a mainstream SSD

You got me interested. My choice for the Samsung 840 pro (else it would be the Samsung 830) is based on the 20%~25% extra performance it does in tests. But, the results are based on benchmarks, not in games/programs/boot-ups or whatsoever. Do you have any reference to a test which proves the advantage in more realistic environments instead of (theoretical) benchmarks?

About the 2nd GPU just above the PSU:
Quote:
Don't think this is a good idea, you are going to move hot air through the PSU, making the fan go faster to compensate: sort of using a "hotbox" PSU configuration.

Yes, but my alternative is mounting the card higher and blowing the hot air up, so making a lot of turbulence, or blowing it down, right to the PSU anyway.
When I am at the point to putting the 2nd GPU in the system, I will try several set-ups to see what option is best.

About the capacity of the PSU:
I think this could be a problem, not when using one GPU, even with overclocking, but in crossfire this could be a point.
But there isn't a silent alternative. The only PSU powerful enough (tested by SPCR) is the Corsais AX850. But that's producing an unacceptable 24dB at 600-700 watts, and than I haven't watched the hot-box performance (and keeping in mind the second card will be close to the PSU, that would be more realistic).
My plan for now is to make the single-GPU configuration and overclock it to the max, stress it and watch the power consumption.
I could place another PSU to even the load, and with an adapter to duplicate/simulate to "motherboard = on" signal, it would work. I think I have a Nexus value 430 somewhere not used now, so that's the to go with by then. It's not the best solution, because I want to show the world that there is no need for exotic solutions to make a silent and yet powerful system, but maybe that's a bit too optimistic. The time will tell us...
Maybe a cheaper Nexus is an option, but the last five years there hasn't been much progress in PSU's (regarding to need of power), so when I buy a silent one now, it's keeping it's value after five years. And that's good enough for me. (about costs: the price doesn't make the costs, it's the write off you will pay finally)

About RAM: I think I'll try it anyway. It'll cost about 3% of the price of the total system, and maybe it's not making any difference, I could overclock with it and I've never seriously done that.


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:28 am 
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robnas wrote:
But there isn't a silent alternative.

Seasonic has X-Series and Platinum Series PSUs up to 1000w, as does Super Flower (same model as yours, just higher rated).

If inaudible at max load at any time is your goal, you must choose an aftermarket cooler for the GPU, that's right.

I wouldn't go completely exotic and try to cool GPU and CPU with the same fan - and this probably mounting the CPU heatsink horizontally aligned.

I'd recommend, as usual, the Thermalright HR-02 as a CPU heatsink. It should be enough to cool it with just the rear exhaust fan. You could put another fan on it for demanding situations.

I've found it more practical to have dedicated cooling for every device and try to get that as low-noise as possible. And I've been building inaudible systems for me and my friends since 2006 or so.

Once you go Crossfire though, it will be difficult. These cards produce so much heat, going inaudible will be next to impossible.


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 5:49 am 
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pet wrote:
I've seen the results from the GTX 680 on SPCR as well, it looks a lot more like the cooler of the HD7950 (dual slot). But I'm not impressed with the results. 85 degrees for GPU and 112 for VRM with a sound level of 17~18 dB is not good enough (for me), and there hasn't even been spoken about OC...

I've got silent crossfire with two heavily overvolted 5850 (1.093 =>1.22 V) with a pair of Accelero Xtreme at very low speed + using a motherboard that has extra separation between both cards (Asus WS Revolution for breathing space) + a pair of Noiseblocker side fans extracting hot air (at around 700 rpms). Crossfire/SLI makes things much, much harder if you want silence.

A single GPUs require top-notch cooling (custom, in most cases), silent dual GPUs require even more, including good case airflow: think of side fans.

robnas wrote:
I've seen the results from the GTX 680 on SPCR as well, it looks a lot more like the cooler of the HD7950 (dual slot). But I'm not impressed with the results. 85 degrees for GPU and 112 for VRM with a sound level of 17~18 dB is not good enough (for me), and there hasn't even been spoken about OC...
With another version of the HR03 (the HR03 plus serie), I've stressed the 8800GTS (old card, I know, but it's about heat-dissipation anyway), and hit about 65 degrees max for the GPU when overclocking about 30%~40% for CPU and GPU. AND with an acceptable sound level (the rig I now have is hearable, but silent).

The 8800GTS is not in the same league that the 7950 regarding power consumption. Whole system consumption according to Anandtech during heavy gaming was 283 W for 8800 GTS (http://www.anandtech.com/show/2396/7) and 373 W for 7950 w/Boost (http://www.anandtech.com/bench/GPU12/414): yes, different system setups and games, but I think those numbers are still meaningful.

pet wrote:
About the capacity of the PSU:
I think this could be a problem, not when using one GPU, even with overclocking, but in crossfire this could be a point.
But there isn't a silent alternative. The only PSU powerful enough (tested by SPCR) is the Corsais AX850.

I've got a 750 W Superflower (i.e., Kingwin) gold rated, and it is dead silent at full load with the pair of crossfired 5850s -sucking fresh air from the outside, of course.
Before, I used a 625 W Enermax for my Crossfire (modded with a BeQuiet fan to get silence), and it was enough -silent, but hot. You really don't need a 800 W PSU for 7950 crossfire, even with heavily overclocked cards.

BTW, let me tell you that I place my computer 1 meter away, I doubt you can get silent crossfire/SLI with top graphic cards with a computer located at 30 cm.

Silent system with single GPU should be easy once you go the GPU custom cooling route, there are several great GPU coolers: Accelero Xtreme, the last Prolimatech reviewed by spcr, the Deepcool Dracula, the Shaman...

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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2012 3:04 pm 
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I've searched for the higher power model of the super flower series, there are options which are more powerful, but the rating is 80-plus gold instead of platinum, so more heat dissipation and I think a higher sound-level. I have also found 1 platinum edition, but that's the kilowatt edition and costs €60 more, that's about $75. But that could be definately an option, if there isn't an alternative.

About the HR02: the HR02 macho is doing about 5 or 9 degrees worse (5 with dual fan), and it costs €10 more.
The standard HR02 costs €7 less, but I'm not convinced about the performance...

Quote:
Once you go Crossfire though, it will be difficult. These cards produce so much heat, going inaudible will be next to impossible.

I'd love to challenge that...

@power consumption 8800GTS and HD7970: I think I was wrong. I'll still try the HR03 GT on the HD7950, because it's free to use for me (I have it already) and I'm asking myself if it's worth selling the (old) HD4870 with a HR03 GT (will it sell for more?). If the performance is disappointing, I could still go for another aftermarket cooler (like the accelero extreme or something like that). I think lots of heatpipes and huge is the way to go, but are there any good reviews of some products?


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 12:43 am 
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robnas wrote:
I've searched for the higher power model of the super flower series, there are options which are more powerful, but the rating is 80-plus gold instead of platinum, so more heat dissipation and I think a higher sound-level. I have also found 1 platinum edition, but that's the kilowatt edition and costs €60 more, that's about $75. But that could be definately an option, if there isn't an alternative.

I found several platinum Superflowers below 1000 W, though you might find them under the Kingwin or some other brand.

The 750 W Gold almost qualifies as platinum, the certification report for it shown that it was less than 1% short of Platinum. You might want to look for the certification reports for Gold and Platinum at the same wattage: with respect to noise and heat, Gold ones are superb, and efficiency is in fact higher than what Gold requires.

In reality, the guts for Platinum and Gold rated superflower belong to the same "platform" (they have a name for the platform, which I can't remember just now), with some adjustments to reach platinum. In fact, the Gold version being so near platinum level makes me wonder if they just let it be a bit more inefficient to be able to cash cow for Gold and later for Platinum using the same design.

Besides, going for the Gold version I was able to save around 50€, no small amount ;)

So, rest assured you will get a good PSU if you go for Superflower Gold, you need not worry about Platinum being much better at noise/heat/efficiency or being "a newer generation": it is not, and you will be paying premium price for less than 2% real efficiency improvement. Specifically, I doubt noise will be worse for Gold PSUs.

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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 3:45 am 
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I've rethought about the PSU. I've checked the power consumptiion of crossfire HD7970 OC, and have even seen >800 watts. They've used a i7 extreme with X79, so there is about 50 watts/100 watts added power, I guess. I'm placing my bets on 750 watts power consumption max.
I'm not aware of any PSU that's producing <15dB at 750 watts, so a single PSU is out of the question at the moment. I don't think there will be an alternative within now and a year, so the only solution is a dual PSU setup. Unfortunately, that's a bit of an exotic solution, but still, there isn't an alternative.

The choice of the two PSU's depends on a couple of things. The first one has to be able to deliver about 450 watts (silent), that will be the first I buy. I will use it for the base setup: everything except the second GPU. I'm thinking about placing that one on top in the case, with a vertical airflow (GPU-->CPU-->PSU). Probably the hot air will cause a hot-box scenario, if that happens, I'll use a casefan behind the CPU, so the airflow will be spread to the casefan and PSU.

The second PSU has to be able to deliver 300 watts (or more), but also performing well in hot-box conditions. This PSU I will place at the bottom of the case, sucking the air from the second GPU, so that heat will be dissipated outside of the case (else: turbulence). I think that will be the best way to go.

If I look at the options, I think for the first PSU the fanless Seasonic X460 is the way to go. I think I will add a fan to it, by mounting it on the CPU-cooler upwards or on the PSU itself (how to I don't know yet). It has proven itself reallly worthy on SPCR (the 400 watts version), even in the hotbox, and to sound production it will be safe. I think I'll have to look at dB-productions somewhere between ambient-room and hotbox situation, and changes are no active cooled PSU is producing <15dB probably. The price is reasonable if I put it against alternatives. It's only competitor is the Bequiet DPP, but in hotbox it can produce a lot more noise above 400 watts. Because I will pay the same, I'm more confident in buying the X460 and making it actively cooled instead of buying the BQ DPP.

For the second PSU it's between the Nexus 5000 and the SuperFlower 400P14XE (the 350P14XE is reviewed on SPCR). I think I'll go for the Super flower, because it's hot-box performance is slightly better, although it's sound level is just, and I mean just, on the edge of what I'm wanting to accept. I hope the 400watt version will be performing slighty better than the 350 watt version, dropping the 300watt sound level below 15dB in hotbox conditions. I hope the minimum soundlevel of 14,5 dB is not too much. I want to place the case on the desk, so you can look right in it, and the back is pointing towards the user, so the fans in the back are the most loud ones....


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 4:49 am 
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I think you should forget about going crossfire in two or more years. It wouldn't surprise me if the card you'r buying today isn't available then.

In two years time, modern GPUs will use less power and bring more frames for even less money.

In two years time nobody knows if we have still PCIe, especially with the next tock (new socket=new mobo) by intel already announced.

If you need the power right now, then go crossfire. If you don't, do not bother. And honestly, in four years all your top notch stuff will not be so top anymore.

Or would you say that a system with a C2Q and a 8800GTS will be significantly faster by adding another 8800GTS?


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 6:48 am 
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Most reviews measure power at the wall plug, not at the PSU output. So, you need to take PSU efficiency into account.

That said, a stock version of your proposed system would draw no more than 650W from the PSU. Anandtech's review using a 130W TDP CPU and the 7950 GE drew 429W from the wall playing Metro. Their PSU has ~88% efficiency at this load -> 377W from the PSU. Add a second 250W 7950 into the mix and it's ~ 627W.

So, if you really want to pursue Crossfire, you just need a PSU that's relatively quiet at 650W. This leads to getting a high efficiency PSU that has low waste heat and won't have an aggressive fan profile. Look at some of the Platinum PSUs from Seasonic and Kingwin LZP series (or Superflower Golden King).

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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Tue Nov 06, 2012 11:18 am 
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I'm planning to get a dual GPU setup within a year. The 650 watt max, I could agree with that, but if the cards get OC'ed, the power consumption will significantly rise. That's why I think the system will need about 750 watt max.


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 10:27 am 
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Can't anybody make clear what's the difference between the Samsung 830 and Samsung 840 pro in real-life situations?
I see trace-based benchmarks, what do these exactly mean? Is that a simulation of real-life use?


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 11:13 am 
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Assuming you really need 750W, you're better off with a 850W or kilowatt PSU than two PSUs -- the latter requires a specialized case, etc. The Platinum Kingwin & Seasonic models are probably tops for noise... and heat.

You won't be able to "see" a difference between those SSDs in actual use. Certainly not in a game -- once you're playing it's all CPU, GPU & RAM anyway.

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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:22 pm 
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robnas wrote:
Can't anybody make clear what's the difference between the Samsung 830 and Samsung 840 pro in real-life situations?

This is the closest i think thou not exactly real-life:
http://www.anandtech.com/show/6328/samsung-ssd-840-pro-256gb-review/4
http://www.anandtech.com/show/6328/samsung-ssd-840-pro-256gb-review/5


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 12:43 pm 
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MikeC wrote:
Assuming you really need 750W, you're better off with a 850W or kilowatt PSU than two PSUs -- the latter requires a specialized case, etc. The Platinum Kingwin & Seasonic models are probably tops for noise... and heat.


I've got a Cooler Master Stacker STC-101 (I've own it for about 5 years, I think), see picture (not my own case):
Image

As you can see, there's room for two PSU's. As far I can see, the best PSU's concerning noise @ 750 watt are still producing 24db+, and hotbox conditions are worse. That's about more than 10dB extra than I'm aiming at (<15dB total).
Plus: Platimax 750 watt costs €180 (850 watt €230), AX850 costs €165, CP850 costs €130. The CP850 has it's fan outside the case. As I want to place the case on the desk (so you can see inside), I get less opportunities to get a silent rig.
For the X460 fanless plus 450P14XE (350P14XE is not available) I pay €120 + €65. That's about €50 more than the CP850, but 10dB less.

I think I stay with the Samsung 830's. You're right about the games, maybe in the future I can still choose for 840 pro's. I want to built a raid array anyway (because it is possible ;) ), and that saves me some money in that case.

Is there still a reason to go for single PSU? Reliability maybe? I'm not really into this kind of solutions to be honest, but silence stays number one.


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 4:35 pm 
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Ah, if you already have a 2 PSU capable chassis... !

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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2012 6:04 pm 
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i had both 7850 asus direct cuii and msi geforce 660

msi is way quieter


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 Post subject: Re: supersilent gaming rig/workflow/surf computer
PostPosted: Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:07 am 
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Posts: 36
Location: Netherlands
Angelus359 wrote:
i had both 7850 asus direct cuii and msi geforce 660

msi is way quieter

I'm taking aftermarket coolers (always). So my choice of GPU-brand isn't based on the cooler, it's more about reliability and overclock-potential. I've never had any problems with Asus, but I'm not affraid to try another brand. The cheapest 7950's cost about €25 less compared to the Asus one.
Is it true that Asus is a good choice, based on reliability/overclock potential?


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