I think I'm going to try to build a quiet sometimes-gaming rig in a Lian Li Q08 case. Alternative cases include the Q07, the Sugo SG04/05 and the Morex 6610. I really would like to continue to use my current Seasonic PSU, though, and the Lian Li seems to be the smallest tower case where this is is reasonably possible; it's also really pretty and minimalistic once you remove the gaudy lighting. I expect this case to be around for a while and I just know I'd keep being annoyed by a plasticky case in the years to come.
Short-term, I expect I'll get a quad core i5, a compatible mini-ITX mainboard and whatever mid-range graphics card is worth buying (Nvidia for Linux compatiblity). I might stick with my current 9600GT if now's not a good time to get a new one. I'll keep using my single 2 TB HDD and, as I said, my S12-430. I'll probably add a SDD within a few months.
Now, I'm not sure if the idea of building a quiet system this way isn't a pipe dream. I've been burnt by an aluminum case before and I'd prefer a steel one, but nobody seems to build good-looking super-minimalistic steel cases! The biggest problem is the awkward position of the PSU, which prevents the usage of a large CPU HSF. Otherwise, the case seems fairly well ventilated and relatively roomy, particularly once you remove the lower disk cage.
Edit: Okay so after spending a few more hours on this, it seems that hanging on to my S12 might not be worth the trouble. I can get a Sugo SG05 including a PSU for the same prize as the Lian Li; though it does have a plastic face, it's just about pretty enough to work with. I think cooling it quietly will be more difficult, but not as difficult as the size difference would suggest. I do wonder whether 300W will be enough for a i5 750 and a 460 GTX, though, might be cutting it a little close. The Sugo SG07 has a 600W PSU, which is excessive, and it's much more expensive, but maybe that's the more comfortable option. Hmm.
Edit2: Here's a first component list for a Sugo SG07 build:
- Mini-ITX Silverstone SST-SG07B
- Gigabyte GA-H55N-USB3 I-H55 S1156 M-
- Intel Core i5 750 2.66GHz 4800MT/s S1156 8MB 95W
- Prolimatech Samuel17 S775, 1156, 1366, AM2(+),
- 1024MB Gigabyte GeForce GTX 460 OC GDDR5
- 4096MB G.Skill RipJaws DDR3-1333 CL9
Altogether, that's 760 EUR or 960 USD (incl tax). Not at all sure about the Prolimatech HSF and the RAM was pretty much the cheapest 4 GB I could find. Too bad the Silverstone doesn't come with USB3 ports, seems like an oversight in such a recently released case.
Edit3: At this point, the Lian Li cases are really out of the picture. I'm left with either the SG05 or the SG07 using roughly the components listed above. The downsides of the SG07 are prize, size and possibly looks. The upsides being size (for cooling), power supply capacity and possibly looks.
I'm not sure if the SG05s 300W PSU is enough to power an Nvidia 460 GTX (TDP 150W) and an i5 750 (TDP 95W), leaving less than 60W for the rest of the system. And I'm not sure which of the two cases would result in a more quiet idle system -- probably the SG07, but so far I haven't seen a lot of material on the SG07 concentrating on its acoustics.