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 Post subject: A relatively "quiet" build for a workstation
PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 7:10 pm 

Joined: Tue Dec 10, 2013 5:20 pm
Posts: 1
Hello there, I thought I'd register to ask for some of your opinions.

I am currently using a pc that's probably around 5 years old and it's really time to replace it. At the time it was really great (core2duo 8400 & 9800 gtx), and that's probably the main reason why it lasted me this long. It has come to a point however where I really need something new, cause I've picked up video editing again. This will be a big factor for me to keep in mind. I might do some gaming on it as well, though I normally play those on the xbox 360.

I am pretty sure I am severely bottle-necked on multiple levels and I can't even 'preview' hd video material in Sony Vegas. I know that a NLE isn't a media player so it works very differently, but still this doesn't make it easy for me to do any intricate changes. What I'd like to use on my new pc would initially be Vegas, but I'm almost certainly going to switch to a different NLE (eventually). I could discuss it more but I think the important thing to note is I'll be using it for certain intensive situations. Come to think of it I'm not actually sure if the new pc will be put under 'high load' when I'll be editing, or only when rendering at which stage the noise would be less bothersome.

Another thing to note is that I can accept I will most likely be using some more enthusiastic parts that will make it harder to keep things completely quiet. I also have a living situation where I'm simply stuck to a certain desk. There's a server that's thankfully pretty quiet, there's the xbox 360 (unlike the bad reputation it might have, mine is very quiet) and there's pets that aren't exactly quiet. I think for the most part, what I've found online is that the video cards I'm looking at will likely be making around 30 db idle up to 40 db under load, at least by the measurements used by those instances. I think they mostly measured from 1 meter distance.

Still I'd like to put out what I have in mind in case someone notices something that could cause more sound than I figured and that's really why I'm here. Silent pc's really didn't seem like a serious option all those years ago, but now hopefully I can set some steps in the right direction. Also, working with audio and having an expensive microphone really makes you aware here, especially having to filter out noise for home recordings is pretty bad (I'm still meaning to get a new shockmount).

I'm pretty set on the following:
-16 gb (2x8) crucial ballistix tactical ram, 1600 mhz, cas 8
-some dvdrw that will rarely get used

-seasonic platinum 660w
I saw that a lot of people here make do with lighter psu's, however the seasonics should be really good and quiet, that's one thing. They also have the platinum label, so they're efficient and considering the pc will be running (intensively?) a lot, I'm pretty certain it will pay for itself back. On top of that power supplies should be most efficient around 50% use so that should work out pretty great for my build. The 660w might even be slightly low in that sense, but 860w would be overkill and a good bit more expensive as well. Lastly it shouldn't ever have to run the fan at max speed, so all in all this should be an excellent choice.

-Fractal Design Define R4 for the chassis.
I've read several reviews and for many of them, despite the sound proofing and such this case doesn't come out as particularly outstanding on the noise level or even for the other things that get assessed. But then in the comment sections, or in forums where people ask for a suggestion for what chassis to use, you will keep seeing this case mentioned. Everyone seems to love it so it seems I can't go wrong here. I have briefly looked at a few of the other cases I saw mention off, but after checking prices they're all (substantially) more expensive anyway so I don't see the point.
I could consider a cheaper case, but it seems that some things never change, and between the 35-90 euros range there are barely any good options (I do want atx!).

-Samsung 840 EVO 250 gb ssd
Finally time I get an ssd. I considered the 120 gb to save money for my budget, however since I will likely get another NLE option, and I'd like to try Davinci Resolve Lite, 120 gb's just won't cut it. I've also read that the 120 gb isn't as fast as the 250/500/750/1000 gb models so that's another good reason for the 250.
Can someone with the Define R4 case tell if it's possible/advisable to put the sdd in a 3.5" slot or do I need to specifically get a special tray for that, not included with the case. I have noted something that you can put two 2.5" sdds behind the motherboard, but directly attaching them to the case seems bad like a bad thing. Maybe that's just growing up with spinning harddrives, I suppose that sdds won't cause any resonance in cases so then it would be less of an issue.
I read in one of the topics here a reference to 'bad' life time for these hard disks, however other people tested it and got way better results. In any case I won't be using this for data storage anyway.

-2tb 7200 rpm hdd is what I'll be using for this
This is the only component I'll be taking from my old computer, and I only bought it a few months ago. In the future I might consider getting 2-3 more of these drives and then setting up raid 10, but I have no personal experience with this and no money for those extra drives. I'm going over my budget as it is already.
I do realise this drive will cause 'some' noise, and in the future getting more will certainly increase that. It is however inherent you need lots of storage for video editing. How much noise do external hard disks make? I expect that in theory at least, multiple drives inside the pc will be a lesser evil than they would be as external hard drives. On the other hand... Most likely you would only have to use 1 external hdd at a time to work from, suddenly a motherboard with thunderbolt could become attractive again!

This brings me to the following, I still gotta work out a few things before I can decide exactly how much to spend on this thing, which will mostly decide the following parts. Here you'll see my personal shift, in the past I would've blown most of the budget on pcu&gpu and gotten a shitty cheap case, cheap (midrange) motherboard etc. Now I really want to focus on the overall quality, and I realise that getting a more expensive processor, motherboard or graphics card will have those darn diminishing returns. Then again, this thing will have to last me for a while and any speed gained while working on a project is a good thing.

-the graphics card
this is where I am the furthest away from a decision. One thing for me to consider is nvidia vs amd, cuda vs opencl. In the past it would have always been nvidia, with good cuda support all round. I didn't even consider the amd cards at first, but I've been browsing the web a lot regarding the issue and it seems support for opencl is coming in fast now and it's present for the popular non-linear editing suites already. I think cuda still being a safer bet has me edging towards nvidia.
Another thing I seemed to notice however was that the amd cards mostly seemed to be way louder than the nvidia cards (around 10 db!). Is this what I should most likely expect from the radeon cards? In that case I'll be sure to get an nvidia.
The cards I have noted are in ~3 price ranges, around 270, 210, 160 euros.

Top: gtx 770 or r9 280x/7970
Mid: gtx 760 or radeon 7950/7870xt
Bottom: gtx 660 or r9 270x/7870

If I stick to a certain level, say the gtx 760, could that be substantially more quiet than the gtx 770? I mean I know it "could", but does anyone here happen to know if the 770 might be the card that walses over the fine line, straight into the loud monster territory.
For the brand of the card, I've been very impressed with all of the msi gaming graphics cards. Do they share the same cooling for some of their other models? It seems like this is the one most people have tested. The place where I'm looking to buy mostly has standard msi versions, and then the gaming cards add 15 euros to the price. Since I'm fairly positive about trying out an msi, my question here is will it be worth it to spend another 15 euros here? If the other card is going to be 10 db louder under load it would certainly be justifiable. At that point keeping the rest of the case relatively quiet would be pointless, however if it's a very similar cooling system used between all the msi cards I could just take a standard version.

-the cpu
Most definitely intel, I've been thinking about the 4770 the whole time. It was the first thing I checked out and it's substantially cheaper than the 4770k. The thing however is that after listing most of the other stuff, I realise I might have to make a cut somewhere. For a lot of things there are a few i5 processors that can perform really well and stick close to the i7. However the i7 does come with 8 threads, and overall it's just more suitable for a workstation. I was planning to go with the stock fan here though. I can look at my rough draft of what to get, and there's no way I'm squeezing in 60 euros for a cpu cooler or 100 euros for watercooling. I would love to do that in the future, but for now I simply can not. Will the stock fan make more close to as much sound as the gpu?
The chassis I have in mind comes with 2 fans I believe. Considering I'll be using stock cooling, should I get one or two fans to optimise air for in the case, and if so how? For example putting both the fractal design fans for front intake or whatever. I'm sure someone here that has the case will have more experience building computers than me.
Those Noctua fans are 30 euros a pop which seems a bit steep for me now, but the scythe ones I hear a lot of mention off and they're a lot cheaper. Also keeping in mind that they would only have to be on par with the included fans.
With a good airflow I can keep the fans running at a lower speed without overheating things I hope. The weather here doesn't usually get too hot... I'll be glad when I put the heating up to 20 degrees Celcius most of the year.

This is pretty much it, a ridiculous amount of text. My only hope is that in being thorough, it may also be of help to people in the future. Oh, almost forgot the mobo, 95% certain I'll pick an asus z87 board (5% a gigabyte board if they happen to put an amazing board for sale way underpriced). The differences between the model types will be slim as with all motherboards, mostly a matter of the components and usb 3 ports, boring. Maybe a board with thunderbolt to be future proof, but if it means shaving 40 euros of my budget I'll just as happily get a cheaper one.

Apologies for incorrect spelling and grammar.

 Post subject: Re: A relatively "quiet" build for a workstation
PostPosted: Tue Dec 10, 2013 10:45 pm 

Joined: Thu Oct 06, 2005 4:36 am
Posts: 7016
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Welcome to SPCR.

Perhaps some members with better Vegas Pro knowledge than I will step in to help. Here's some comments.

- building a quiet/silent PC is an iterative process. Don't expect it to be perfect before you order the parts. It's like any home improvement project - expect multiple trips to the store. Best to start with stock parts and see if they meet your needs. You can always modify/add/subtract as you go.
- case: The Fractal R4 is a solid all round case for what you want to do. Try the fans that come with it. One in front, one in back. Use your BIOS or mobo s/w for fan control, or use the built in fan controller. See if it all works well for you.
- an i7 will certainly render your projects faster than an i5. Is the speed worth the cost to you? I came across this Vegas Pro 12 benchmark comparing a few CPUs as well as looking at GPU acceleration. You'll get a big bump moving from the e8400 to a Haswell quad core.
- GPU: Don't think you need to go big on the video card. A $100 HD 7770 gets you to 30fps preview and render rates. One caveat - you might want to doublecheck that the GPU you get is supported by Sony. Seems like there are some holes in their support for newer GPUs. In any case, there are some pretty quiet mid range gfx cards.
- SSD: ok.
- multiple HDDs: can be the loudest source of noise in your system. If you are planning a live mic scenario, you might consider not having this RAID thing going on at the same time. Take the money you'd save by getting a cheaper video card and buy another SSD instead. Use it for your working disk. Then store the data on a server, elsewhere.
- PSU: Stressed system load with an HD7770 class gfx card is ~210W (without any overclocking). Up it to a GTX 770 class and it's ~360W. Decide on the GPU and we can discuss further. Also, do you plan to overclock/overvolt the CPU?

1080p Gaming build: i5-4670K, Mugen 4, MSI Z87-G45, MSI GTX 760 2GB Gaming, 8GB 1866 RAM, Samsung 860 Evo 500GB, Crucial MX100 256GB, 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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