Thanks to some changes in my life, I've decided to start building a new PC. The problem: it has to be both silent and powerful.
A bit of a background: I'm quite a big gamer, plus love silence, and because of this, for the last couple years, I had two main PCs: one for 24/7 "office" work, and one for gaming. The former is very quiet (Antec P180, suspended HDDs, Seasonic X-400, dual-fan Scythe Mugen, SSD, A8-3870K), while the older cobbled-together latter (Phenom II 550 BE, dual-fan Mugen, ASUS DirectCU 6850, Nexus NX-5000 and a not-so-great case) tends to be noticeable, at least for me. The biggest noise factor for the gaming PC is the 6850. (I also have a noisy storage server that will eventually get the Antec P180, the NX-5000 and the A8-3870K)
Now, I'm planning to do one all-in-one PC, partly from new and partly from "old" components, for work (programming, but nothing fancy required), gaming, movies and music.
I'm a newcomer to Intel (well, my last non-integrated desktop intel CPU was a ~733Mhz Celeron II), so I'd appreciate comments on the actual difference in power consumption between i7-4770/S/K.
Here are my plans, with some rationale behind the components:Case:
Fractal Design R4(mainly due to silencing, low price, cable management and AFAIK much better airflow than the P280/183.)
Antec P280/P183 V3(I still love the P180 despite its age, it would be nice to have something like that, plus if I see correctly, I could install suspension for about 2 HDDs with ease. But it has worse cooling and almost double the price)
NZXT Phantom 630(I'm really not sure about this. It is more expensive than the P280 or even the P183 here, and the 20cm side panel fan is while giant, first, it is a bit off, not really covering the GPUs, second, it might just let too much wind noise out of the case due to almost zero sound proofing. Plus, AFAIK, no real choice of fans at 20cm. The only one available around here is this Aerocool one.)CPU:
Intel Core i7-4770S/(K?)(Frankly, this is right the most I'm willing to pay. I don't care about OCing in the future enough to justify that +20W, if it is truly there. I do have some extra to get the K version, if it doesn't require more power though)CPU cooler:
Scythe Mugen II(I'll be re-purposing one of them for the build. It does a stellar job with two nexus fans and SpeedFan against the 100W A8, so it should also work more than fine with the i7.)Memory:
2x4GB Kingmax DDR3(Again, repurposed from the A8 office build, although I will upgrade to 2x8 in the future.)PSU:
Seasonic X-400(Like a broken record, repurposing.)GPU:PowerColor passive SCS3 R9 270(Plans for the future: go crossfire with another one. Future, as in about 6-12 months.)Motherboard:
AsRock Z87 Extreme4(6 fan headers, optical out with DTS-connect would mean I can ditch my USB card, comes with 3 years of warranty, but I've had some bad experiences in the past with cheap AsRock mobos, and I'd have to buy a CF bridge on eBay.)
BIOSTAR Hi-Fi Z87X 3D(Comes with CF bridge, but I've no prior experience with them, it only has 2 years of warranty, and is without DTS-Connect or optical out.)
+SSDs, one HDD
+assorted 8 and 12cm Nexus fans, plus a 14cm Noctua, etc etc etc.The Problems1. The CPU:
although intel states that the i7-4770S is 65W and the i7-4770K is 84W, I have no idea if (or to what extent) this difference is true. If it isn't under non-OC conditions, I might just bite the bullet and buy the slightly more expensive (~35€) K version.2. The GPU(s):
I really, really detest noise, and the 6850 DirectCU is quite horrible. Yes, I heard that the newer versions are better, but when I see 37+ dBA for idle in tests, in open case environments, that is simply not acceptable for me. (I live in a very quiet environment and plan to keep it that way.) My crazy plan is to actually have two 270s in a crossfire, of course cooled by some speedfan-controlled fans. (At least I hope speedfan is better with the 270 than with the 6850 which it can't detect correctly. It works OK with the 6570 I had, so not all hope is lost.)
I did think about getting a Arctic Cooling Extreme III or their hybrid and a R9 280/290(x), as I'm no stranger to modding the GPU, but the 270CF wouls have a larger cross-section to cool, about as much power as the 290x (if the game is comaptible. I'm willing to risk some incompatibility), and I wouldn't lose the warranty.3. PSU:
I know, I would be pushing it to the official limits with the CF if everything was running at once 100% (which is really unrealistic) but as some guys pushed it to 600W, I'm not really concerned. Maybe I'll end up adding a low-rpm fan for it if it gets hot, but frankly, I suspect it will be A-OK. I really don't want to get a semi-passive PSU.4. Case:
I'm leaning toward the R4, but the anandtech
test of the NZXT Phantom 630 shows promise. Then again, I'm reminded of my fails when I bought cases that looked good on paper but performed quite bad (mostly el-cheapo cases, but also a Fractal Design 304, but a friend of mine bought the R4 and is enamoured with it.) Then again, if I buy the Phantom 630 and it proves to be a relative dud, maybe I can still use my old P180 for the new build, at least till I get the CF.
The first thing I want is silence, but I do realise that I won't get it without ample airflow.5. Motherboards:
I had some bad experiences with AsRock (e.g.: the sata controller part of the chipset in a cheap board gave out), dislike ASUS (due to their faulty notebooks/tablets that popped up during the years and their nonexistent service where I live), and would rather not get a Gigabyte (due to their non-controllable fan headers) I could go MSI, but their boards generally have less features, (like the Z87-G43 missing the 8x8 PCIe lane configuration from the similarly priced Extreme3 ).
What I need is 8x8 PCIe configuration, and a DTS-Connect (or any truly 5.1 optical out) and a CF-bridge bundled would be nice. Due to the passive 270, the first PCIe16 has to be on the second "lane". (Otherwise I'm afraid it might interfere with the Mugen.) I don't care about the NIC type, mSATA/mPCIe ports and a number of other "extras", and I doubt I'll need more than the standard 6 SATA ports.
Note on current and desired noise levels: my P180 is without its front door, the small plastic doors covering the fans are off, and the 5,25" slots have a suspended silent (~5V) 8cm fan and a suspended HDD in them. If you walk into my room, the noise it generates blends nicely into the (very low) ambient noise, so even people with good hearing only notice it when I actually turn it off. I want this to stay the same. I'm OK with my fans going somewhat over this when gaming, but not nearly as much as the 6850 does when at 100% utilization.