Is this compartment well ventilated? It would be a shame to build a great silent/well cooled PC and then have it bake/be noisy due to it's placement.
Yes it is, but when I fist got that desk a few years ago, I had to make a few modifications to improve airflow. The back of the compartment is now completely open and is not against the wall, with about 5.5 inches clearance for good ventilation. Also, both sides of that compartment have now ventilation holes, and I never close the front door when the system is turned on. There's no chance to bake a system in this compartment. I've made these changes a few years ago when I built a watercooled system using a Reserator 1. Pictures of the desk can be found in this old thread
. The dimensions of the compartment are (W x H x D) 14.25" x 19.5" x 23 ".
If you want to upgrade the GPU to a quiet and powerful unit, then SPCR just handed the ASUS Geforce 670 GTX the Editor's Choice award
Now we're talking! This card should be enough for a long time and would probably run cooler than two fanless HD 7750 installed side by side. My goal is to get a maximum of 25dbA with the system at full load, and this card looks like a winner. I looked at other reviews and they all came to the same conclusion: it's a powerful card that is very quiet at load and that stays cooler than other similar cards. Thanks for the suggestion!
I don't see the need for you to change the PSU. The one you have is a quality product.
I know, but for some reason, the fan has an irritating high pitch sound at load (not a coil buzz, it's coming from the blades). I've built many systems with other Seasonic X serie PSU (but with lower wattages) and their fans were quieter than mine at load. I don't want to swap the fan, and a friend is willing to buy this power supply. The fanless platinum one is 520 Watts, which is enough for a powerful system with a single card, and I'm not interrested in overclocking.
That leaves us with the Fractal Design R4, the Corsair 550D and the Antec Solo II.
Forget about the 550D, I've checked the specs and it barely fits inside my desk compartment. I think the best one is the Fractal Define R4, and it has enough room to fit the GTX 670 without removing the drive cage. How is the HDD mounting system in this case? Is it effective to properly kill the vibrations of a Western Digital Caviar Black 1TB? If not, I'll remove the upper HDD cage and put the hard drive in my NoVibes III.
I wouldn't go the Crossfire route. It isn't efficient in terms of price/performance, noise/performance or power/performance as you never get double the performance and rarely anything close. Better to put your money into one card and put an Arctic Cooling Accelero S1 Plus on it. By reducing the amount of hardware you also free up enough space to drop from ATX to MicroATX, hence resolving your space issue.
I'm keeping my Asus Maximus III Formula, which is a big ATX board with 3-way SLI/CrossfireX and that use a discrete sound card similar to the X-FI (PCIe-X1), so a smaller case wouldn't fit the motherboard well and ensure enough ventilation. The crossfire route was not my first intention but a way to lower the overall noise at load. It does not double the performance of a single card, but according to the benchmarks, it's about 80-90% faster than one single card. However, you have to rely heavily on drivers and tweaks, as the HD 7750 only supports software CrossfireX (without bridge). To be honnest, it was just the price to pay for silence, until Mike published a very good review of the Asus GeForce GTX 670 DCU II, and that's probably what I'll choose. It costs more than two fanless HD 7750 but it's surely a much clever choice.
... So, this is probably what I'm going to do:
- Replace the X-850 with a Seasonic Platinum 520 Watts fanless
- Replace the HD 5850 video card with an Asus GTX 670 Direct-CU II 2GB
- Replace the LQ1000 case with a Fractal Define R4
Which leaves me with only one part to decide, the CPU cooler. What's the best cooler right now for a Core i7 870 (95W), that can be cooled with a single fan at 5 or 7V, in a Fractal Define R4? A ThermalRight Ultra-120, a Prolimatech Megahalems, or something else? And what's the best fan to use with it? I still have an old Nexus 120mm somewhere (the orange one) and a spare Fanmate that I've never used. I've checked online, and I have a hard time to find any ThermalRight coolers in Canada right now (B/O or discontinued at NCIX, Newegg and FrozenCPU).