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 Post subject: Seeking advice on quiet gaming HTPC built
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:55 am 
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My goal is to build a HTPC that can handle the current generation of PC games at decent settings, 1080p at 2D, and 720p at 3D. This will go with a Panasonic 1080p plasma. It will go on a shelf with about ten inches of vertical space.

Case:
I'm thinking of a Silverstone Grandia GD08B. It seems like I will need an ATX case to have enough room for a decent GPU, but it can't be a tower, because that wouldn't fit on the shelf. The Grandia GD08B is the nicest looking of the options. Will the included fans be enough?

PSU:
I've been recommended the Seasonic G 380, or the SSR-450RM. I'm leaning towards the SSR-450RM for the modular cables for reduced clutter.

CPU:
Keeping it simple, Intel i3-3220 Ivy Bridge. The benchmarks I've seen tell me that games won't benefit much from an upgrade to an i5. But what about the cooler? Is there any chance of the stock cooler being good enough? If I gave it a test go, and then decided later it was too loud, would replacing it later be a horrible nuisance?

GPU:
Geforce GTX 650 Ti. nVidia because it's the industry standard for 3D gaming, and is TV compatible with the 3DTV Play software. Anything better than the 650 Ti would cost disproportionately more. Any reason not to go with 2GB over 1GB? The price difference isn't huge. Any manufacturers I should favor?

Motherboard:
Looking at the Gigabyte GA-H77N. The H77 chipset seems adequate, and the integrated wifi and Bluetooth will be nice.

Memory:
G.SKILL Ripjaws DDR3 1600 8GB (2). Didn't put much thought into this, just went with what gets good ratings at Newegg.

SSD:
Intel 330, 120GB. The OS and the occasional PC game will go on it.

HDD:
No clue. 500GB would be plenty of space, but aside from that, I don't know what other properties I should be looking for in a secondary HDD.

ODD:
Considering skipping this. I have a PS3 already. Adding a Blu-Ray drive would be really nice and nearly eliminate the need for my PS3, but if I can get superior airflow in the HTPC without one, then maybe it would be better to keep using the PS3 for that.

OS:
Windows 7 Home Premium. Not ready to be an early adopter of Windows 8.


Last edited by ikantspelwurdz on Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Seeking advice on quiet gaming HTPC built
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 12:46 pm 
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Case: There's the Lian Li PC-Q08. The only major issue is probably that vibrations from hard drives create a lot of noise. Fractal Design also has the Node series that seems very competent. Take a look at these cases too. One of them is even similar to the Grandia that you've mentioned.

PSU: Some cases have a hard time dealing with the extra length of a modular PSU (these are usually 160 mm, while non-modular PSU's are usually only 140 mm long).

CPU cooler: It would be hard to replace the CPU cooler in a small case. Also, in small cases the CPU will most likely become hot. So a CPU cooler is quite beneficial. You could go for a Scythe Samurai ZZ, Scythe Kozuti, Scythe Shuriken, Noctua (don't remember their names) or an Arctic Cooling Alpine 11 Pro.

HDD: If 3,5", then a WD Green or WD Red. These are the most quiet drives according to SPCR reviews. In the 2,5" area, the WD Scorpio 500 GB (WD5000LPVT) has received the Editor's Choice Award not a long time ago.

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 Post subject: Re: Seeking advice on quiet gaming HTPC built
PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:39 pm 
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Will the shelf be open in front and back to allow airflow?

Case: The GD07/08 are nice. The included fans aren't the quietest available, but will cool the case. You'll need to do some fan-fu to optimize airflow/temps/noise. Probably need a fan controller of some sort...might want a 4th fan. Also, be careful on GPU selection for height (width) fit. Max is ~ 5.25". The Fractal Node 605 is a nice case with it's own caveats (narrow/limits on GPU/ poorer airflow at stock).

i3 or i5: Pretty much depends on the games you play. Some, like Blizzard, depend on FAST dual core. Others make use of 4 physical cores.

GPU: For 1080p, the card range is GTX 550 Ti /GTX 660/ GTX 660 Ti. The 550 Ti if you don't mind turning down eye candy or only play games that are gpu intensive. The 660 Ti if you like to max out eye candy/play GPU intensive games. I'd bump up to the GTX 660. You get a 40% fps bump @ 1920x1200for 30% increase in $'s (~$220 vs $170). The MSI Twin Frozr is nice.

RAM: step away from tall heatspreader RAM. Adds no value and may conflict with your CPU cooler. If you like G.Skill, look at the low profile ARES. Or Samsung.

mobo: Gigabyte - nice to have integrated wifi and BT...but crappy fan controls. Would need to use Speedfan. Take a look at the Asus mITX and uATX boards. Great fan control, but you'd need to add your own wireless..unless you by a top end card.

ODD: Did you know your PS3 uses 70W or more just to play that BD disk? If you plan to use the PS3 as a disk source for the HTPC, then, I'd get an ODD for the HTPC. If it's an either/or thing, then it's a wash.

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1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)


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 Post subject: Re: Seeking advice on quiet gaming HTPC built
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 7:21 am 
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Posts: 8
Case:
Fractal Design's Nodes look nice, and the 304 is definitely cheaper than the GD08B, and the built-in fan controller should be welcome. How do these cases compare with the GD08B? What about the 605? It wouldn't save me money, but it looks nice enough to be considered as an alternative to the GD08B, especially if the 304 turns out to have some flaws.

The Lian-Li PC-Q08 is too tall. I only have 10 inches of shelf space, and this case is just above that.

My shelf is this:
http://www.paulstv.com/TV-Stands-and-Fu ... ack-52.asp

I don't actually have it or the TV yet - the shelf was 50% off if you bought it with the TV, which I ordered recently. The shelf looks like it's open in the back and front, but the back will be up against a wall. The front will remain open.

PSU:
The one I'm considering looks like it's 160mm if I understand the specs correctly. Would this be a problem in any of the cases I'm considering?

HDD:
Leaning towards a WD Green 1TB. I'm thinking that typical PC use will only use the SSD, and the HDD will spend most of its time in sleep mode. Should the WD Green be good for that? Also, why consider a 2.5" if you have the space and the power for a 3.5"? Are they quieter, even at the same RPM?

CPU:
What current games would make best use of a CPU better than the slowest i3?

GPU:
Why do you consider a 550 Ti but not a 650 Ti? The latter seems to offer significantly better performance while still being in my budget. And I've read that 660's run considerably hotter than 650 Ti's (and cost a lot more too).

Going by those charts, I could live with the performance of a 650 Ti for all of those games except for Metro 2033 and Crysis. Personally, I find AA overrated too - it's the first thing I turn off when my frame rate is below 60.

RAM:
Removed the G.SKILL's from my list, added Corsair Vengeance 8gb (2) low. Again, not too much thought - it's just the highest rated low profile 8GB RAM on Newegg.

Mobo:
Crappy CPU fan controls, crappy case fan controls, or both? I've never actually used a motherboard's case fan controls before. My current system, a traditional gaming PC mid-tower, uses Antec Tricool 120mm's, which are daisy-chained to the PSU and set to low.

Thanks for the advice so far. Hope all these questions aren't annoying.


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 Post subject: Re: Seeking advice on quiet gaming HTPC built
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:14 am 
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ikantspelwurdz wrote:
Case:
Fractal Design's Nodes look nice, and the 304 is definitely cheaper than the GD08B, and the built-in fan controller should be welcome. How do these cases compare with the GD08B? What about the 605? It wouldn't save me money, but it looks nice enough to be considered as an alternative to the GD08B, especially if the 304 turns out to have some flaws.


Check out reviews of the cases to see if they are any good. Anandtech made a review of a Fractal Design Node case recently. Here, you can also read whether a long PSU will be difficult to install.

ikantspelwurdz wrote:
Also, why consider a 2.5" if you have the space and the power for a 3.5"? Are they quieter, even at the same RPM?


If you have enough room for a 3,5" drive, then definitely choose that route since 3,5" drives have more capacity pr. $. According to SPCR reviews, the quietest 3,5" drives are quieter than the quietest 2,5" drive.

ikantspelwurdz wrote:
Case:
What current games would make best use of a CPU better than the slowest i3?
Thanks for the advice so far. Hope all these questions aren't annoying.


i3 CPU's only consists of dual core CPU's (though with hyper-threading, the OS can see four threads). Any games that can utilize more than two physical cores will be better than an i3 CPU. But have in mind that in most cases, that many games are mostly GPU-dependent meaning that the GPU is the bottleneck.

ikantspelwurdz wrote:
Mobo:
Crappy CPU fan controls, crappy case fan controls, or both? I've never actually used a motherboard's case fan controls before. My current system, a traditional gaming PC mid-tower, uses Antec Tricool 120mm's, which are daisy-chained to the PSU and set to low.


ASUS has the Windows application FanXpert. The application can dial down any case fans to 5 V while the PWM control will let the PWM fan on the CPU run as low as 10-20 %. The program is quite intuitive too, so give it a try.

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Cooler Master Elite 341, Athlon II X3 425, Radeon 5750 (passive, fan zip-tied on), Crucial M4 64 GB.
Cooling: AC Alpine 64 Pro, rear exhaust Scythe Slipstream 800 rpm @ ~5 V


"SSD's: The difference between a casual jogger and a dog chasing a ball"


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 Post subject: Re: Seeking advice on quiet gaming HTPC built
PostPosted: Mon Jan 28, 2013 2:08 pm 
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ikantspelwurdz wrote:
CPU: What current games would make best use of a CPU better than the slowest i3?

My suggestion: look at Techspot and Tom's Hardawre for reviews of specific games you want to play. Those two sites generally do a good job of showing fps for a variety of scenarios, including CPU speed, CPU cores, GPU, etc.

ikantspelwurdz wrote:
GPU: Why do you consider a 550 Ti but not a 650 Ti?

Typo on my part. Meant to say 650 Ti thru 660 Ti.

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1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung Evo 250GB, WD Red 2TB, Samsung DVD burner, Fractal Define R4, Antec True Quiet 140 (2 front + rear) case fans, Seasonic X-560. 35-40W idle, 45-55W video streaming, 170-200W WoW, 200-230W Rift, 318W stress test (Prime95 + Furmark)


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 Post subject: Re: Seeking advice on quiet gaming HTPC built
PostPosted: Tue Jan 29, 2013 6:44 am 
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I'd also like to add that the Gigabyte GTX660Ti OC Windforce is comparable to the MSI TwinFrozr models. Mine runs very cool with the stock cooler on it, and very quietly as well. I do not game, however it does do very well.

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