Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

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SunRoyal
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Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by SunRoyal » Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:42 am

I'm fed up of attempting to game (XCOM, Civ V, Fallout series, Space Hulk Ascension etc.) on my Macbook Pro IGP (into Thunderbolt display) - it's just too underpowered to make it any fun. So the time has come to build a proper, long-lasting rig. By long-lasting, I mean that the CPU/Chipset combination should be more-or-less stable for 4 years or so, with upgrades to the GPU as required/desired. It'll be pumping into a Dell U2715H (27" 2560 x 1440, 8ms).

I've settled on the GTX 980 (Asus STRIX or EVGA) as the graphical core of the system, but everything else is pretty well open. The major questions I have are:
1) Skylake or Haswell/Sandy Bridge - essentially, how much of a difference do we really expect Z170 and DDR4 to bring vs Z97/DDR3?
2) Chipset - do I really gain much with Z170 over H170 or B150?
2) Case - are there any horizontal/HTPC/desktop silver (since it's in a Mac environment) cases that would fit the bill? Or alternatively any tower cases that will play nicely on their sides, perhaps with a door to keep the front sleek. No need for an optical drive.

Current thinking is:
i660K OC'd
be quiet! Dark Rock Pro
Asus Z170M-PLUS (mATX)
Corsair Vengeance 4x8Gb DDR4-2133
Samsung 256GB SM951 M.2 SSD
EVGA GTX980 4GB SC ACX 2.0
Corsair CSM 550W Semi-modular PSU
WD Green 2TB HDD (already lying around after 3yr of NAS duty)

Very appreciative of any input!

CA_Steve
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Re: Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by CA_Steve » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:03 am

Welcome to SPCR.

Are you planning a Hackintosh build or Windows? If the former, start looking at Hackintosh sites for motherboard (and other) compatibility issues. In the past, Gigabyte motherboards have been the most compatible with MacOS. However, they have crappy BIOS level fan control. If a Windows build, I'd tell you to go with another mfgr.

Skylake and gaming: CPU performance improvements for gaming have been rather flat over the last few years. That's ok as it's usually the GPU that drives frame rates. That said, I'd recommend a Skylake build over Haswell just for the other new features (potentially lower idle power, PCIe/NVMe SSD, better fan controls, better QuickSync, etc)...with my general caveat to wait another month or two to let the bugs/firmware/driver updates settle down.

Benefit of Z170 and H170: PCIe/NVMe SSD.

Case: In general, horizontal case is very inferior to upright case due to restricted airflow. With a big GPU, this will lead to a much louder/higher temp environment.

CPU: Did you mean the i5-6600K?

SunRoyal
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:18 am

Re: Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by SunRoyal » Thu Sep 17, 2015 7:10 am

Windows build, it's just that everything else in my office/study is Apple, and I'd rather not have a big black box of doom. Not the end of the world if I do though, as the silver cases do seem to be significantly more scarce.

Skylake it is then; I suppose the question is r.e. the multithreading of the i7 vs. its absence in the i5. And yes, I did indeed mean the i5-6600K

Will stick with Z170 then, especially as this is supposed to be a comparatively future-proofed design.

I've nowhere else to place the computer other than on the desk, under the printer/scanner, so will have to live with the horizontal orientation and the compromises that brings. Hence the goal of a quiet system rather than a silent one!

One thought that came to my mind this afternoon was with the advent of Pascal next year, whether I'm better to buy a "good enough" GPU now (GTX 960?), and upgrade once Pascal shakes out...

CA_Steve
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Re: Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by CA_Steve » Thu Sep 17, 2015 2:40 pm

SunRoyal wrote:Skylake it is then; I suppose the question is r.e. the multithreading of the i7 vs. its absence in the i5. And yes, I did indeed mean the i5-6600K
Very little benefit for gaming with an i7 over an i5. Much more likely to be restrained by the gpu than the CPU.
SunRoyal wrote:I've nowhere else to place the computer other than on the desk, under the printer/scanner, so will have to live with the horizontal orientation and the compromises that brings. Hence the goal of a quiet system rather than a silent one!
No footspace available at all, huh? I guess you are already used to the whine of really fast MacBook fans when gaming. :) If you have to use the PC as a printer placemat, perhaps the Silverstone Grandia GD09/10 will work for you. Note that the tiny vertical Silverstone FTZ01 completely rules over it's larger cousin for noise.
SunRoyal wrote:One thought that came to my mind this afternoon was with the advent of Pascal next year, whether I'm better to buy a "good enough" GPU now (GTX 960?), and upgrade once Pascal shakes out...
Always food for thought. Rumor has Nvidia using TSMC's 16nm process...which really has a lot of 20nm features...Since Nvidia skipped the 22nm node...it's hard to guess the performance gain. I'd hope for the usual 'the new y70 has the performance of the old x80' trend that we've seen. Could be more. The 960 provides great 1080p performance. Some games will run great at 1440p...some will need the quality turned down.

QUIET!
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Re: Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by QUIET! » Thu Sep 17, 2015 11:43 pm

Saying a 16nm (or 14nm) process has some 20nm features is true but its the metal stack and metals are so bad below 50nm that you don't want to shrink them.

The secret sauce is the fin fet. It greatly reduces leakage current which means lower TDPs. In 20 and 28nm planar processes, to get speed you needed to dope the transistors for low threshold which just increased the leakage problem. The way the gate wraps around the active area in a fin fet controls the transistor very well. I'm not 100% sure but I think the gate capacitance is less too. That means it probably takes less power to switch a transistor on and off. Fin fets are just better transistors. The metal stack is still a limiting factor but shrinking it would only make it worse.

I can predict a lot and I'm optimistic. GPUs are dense chips with slow clocks relative to CPUs. That combination plus the maturity caused by being stuck on 28nm so long makes me think 2016 is going to be very good for GPUs and 2017 might be even better with low end and midrange cards filling in the product line with fin FETs.

quest_for_silence
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Re: Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by quest_for_silence » Fri Sep 18, 2015 2:14 am

SunRoyal wrote:Corsair Vengeance 4x8Gb DDR4-2133

Pointless heatsinks, which might interfere with the Dark Rock Pro (which isn't the best option, in SPCR experience), check twice.

SunRoyal wrote:EVGA GTX980 4GB SC ACX 2.0

ASUS Strix and MSI Gaming are quieter, if they fits.

SunRoyal wrote:Corsair CSM 550W Semi-modular PSU

Rather quiet, but really crappy parts, personally I'd opt for some higher quality units, given the price of your other hw.

SunRoyal
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 2015 12:18 am

Re: Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by SunRoyal » Fri Sep 18, 2015 6:19 am

Thanks for the input, that FTZ01 case is a bit of a revelation - more or less exactly what I was looking for. So I've re-orientated the build to suit, plus opted for the GTX 960 as a sufficient stop-gap to Pascal. Given I'm coming from Iris 6100 driving either 2560x1600 or 2560x1440, it's going to be a tremendous step up even if I do have to dial back a few settings. Where I'm at now is:
Silverstone FTZ01S Case
MSI Z170I Gaming Pro AC
i5-660K (Skylake)
Noctua NH-L12
32Gb (2x16Gb) DDR4 2666MHz RAM
500GB Samsung 850 EVO M.2 SSD
Asus GTX960 STRIX
Silverstone SX500-LG PSU (SFX-L format)

I need to check the heatsink clearance on the RAM - if it doesn't fit, I'll drop to 16Gb of something small enough to fit...

quest_for_silence
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Location: ITALY

Re: Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by quest_for_silence » Fri Sep 18, 2015 6:59 am

SunRoyal wrote:Silverstone SX500-LG PSU (SFX-L format)

Just a side note to the partial SPCR evaluation (done in the FTZ01 review).

Though that PSU is sort of a mandatory option, I'd advice to pick it from a source with a really good customer support: I already read of bearing noise on this unit, and given that the fanless operation may not last that long with high operating temperature (that's something you could incurr in a very small enclosure), then IMHO it's better to have the option to send it back (with no objections by the seller), if that bearing noise becomes actually noticeable.

SunRoyal wrote:something small enough to fit...

I think that either Crucial, or Kingston, or eventually G.Skill should have something suitable for your needs.

CA_Steve
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Re: Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by CA_Steve » Fri Sep 18, 2015 7:23 am

Also take a look at the Asus Z170I PRO GAMING mobo. Asus moved a lot of the great Fan Xpert s/w features into the BIOS.

8GB of RAM is fine for a gaming build.

QUIET!
Posts: 238
Joined: Sat May 11, 2013 8:33 am

Re: Horizontal desktop quiet gaming rig

Post by QUIET! » Fri Sep 18, 2015 6:55 pm

I got Corsair Vengeance LPX which has a low profile heat spreader. It has an impressive XMP profile at 3200mhz cas 17 and would probably over clock if I tried. You would need a heat sink with really bad clearance to have an issue with them.

I bought the RAM because they were on sale but they worked out nicely even though my Thermalright Macho 90 hangs the fan over the slots. If the heat spreaders were 1/8" taller they would not have fit.

It was dumb luck for me.

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