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Old September 6, 2011, 02:50 PM
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Default Silent rig - need help please

Hi guys,

I've been reading around the forum a lot and am coming closer to a final build spec. For me, silence is very important and with performance (I know the balance will be difficult). Could you please let me know what you think about this spec (main use will be photo editing, watching movies, no gaming):

Case: Fractal R3 (only silent case I can find in white, need USB 3.0, or if there are any other good white cases which I can add dampening/foam)
CPU: 2600k
CPU fan: HR-02 or NH-D14 or Silver Arrow
Fans: NF-P14 FLX or a Noiseblocker
PSU: Seasonic X series or Corsair AX series
Motherboard: Asus or Gigabyte (really confusing, no idea which to get)
GPU: Gigabyte 560Ti
Soundcard: Sound Blaster Titanium
RAM: 12GB Corsair Vengeance DDR3 at 1333Mhz or Mushkin (should I get higher Mhz?)
HDD: Intel SSD
ODD: Samsung or LG blu-ray RW

I would really appreciate any thoughts on the above. Thanks!

Last edited by teck101; September 6, 2011 at 02:55 PM.
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Old September 6, 2011, 03:31 PM
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I personally prefer Antec's performance 1's over all the other ~$100 silent chasis on the market, build quality and actual sound/vibration deadening is way better. The Fractal R3 is a lot better than the R2, but feeling it in person doesn't leave me the same impression as Antec's offerings.

Problem is if you want it in white, only the P180 Mini comes in white and it's matx with no USB3. The P183/P193 comes with USB3 support but doesn't come in white. Another option would be the Silverstone FT02 in silver/white, just make sure to get the newer one with USB3, but it would be a little more expensive. If you go with the Silverstone, I would get an HR-02, otherwise I would get the NH-D14. Also, you could always just paint the case yourself.

Forget the graphics card if you're not gaming, the onboard video will handle HD video and low graphic games no problem, plus it has decent hardware acceleration for video/photo editing. (just make sure to get a Z68 motherboard)

I'm also curious as to why you have a high end gaming soundcard in a system that won't be used for gaming. I would recommend using the digital out on your motherboard if possible, if you need analog, get a cheap Asus Xonar card.

The memory kit you listed is a triple channel kit, which is intended for 1366 systems. Not a problem, but you might as well get a 2x4gb or 4x4gb kit with current ram prices. (depends on how much ram you actually need for your applications)
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Old September 7, 2011, 03:31 AM
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Thanks for your reply and advice ilya!

I don't mind spending more on a case. I looked at the Silverstones but they are much longer than the space I have available and I didn't want a window to limit noise.

I see that you have a FT03, the footprint on that is ideal. How is the noise with that? Is there space to add padding/foam? Is there a Blu Ray RW slot for it (I searched online and can only find Read)?

Out of those CPU fans, which would you say is more quiet? Or to get the HR02 as it can be passive without the fan?

Oh, I thought the onboard graphics are just budget so the processing/visuals/etc wouldn't be on par with a card.

For the sound card, I just want it for movie/music playback by digital out. Wouldn't the sound be better having this card than an onboard card?

For RAM, I've just had bad experiences so wanted to get much more than what I currently have and for the Mhz, not really sure. Which would you recommend: Corsair, Mushkin or Gskill?

Thanks again

Last edited by teck101; September 7, 2011 at 07:22 AM.
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Old September 7, 2011, 11:34 AM
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With the FT03, most of noise/cooling is easily dealt with. However, vibration is a HUGE and ANNOYING issue. I have so much padding and foam on the aluminum panels it's ridiculous, and yet I still get annoying vibrations. You can eliminate vibration by removing most of the moving parts though, but that would require no mechanical drives and minimal fans. So you'd have to spend on either pure SSD storage or external/network storage and possibly aftermarket VRM cooling as well as an expensive CPU cooler. You'd also need an external blu-ray writer, which are quiet but expensive. If aesthetics/silence/performance/footprint all come before price/ease of setup, I could recommend the FT03. Otherwise, stay far away from this case.

On a side note the FT02 is available without a window - if you have the space for it.

The Antec P180 Mini fits most of your requirements quite well, but the only real issue is it does not have USB3. You *could* potentially replace the case I/O though, but I'm not sure if there's anything readily available that will fit. You could also use an external drive bay for USB3. Also remember that you'll need an matx board if you go for this or the FT03.

Noiseblockers are usually acoustically superior, but availability and price can be an issue. I would decide on your case first as it can affect fan/cooler decisions. Same goes for the motherboard decision.

Onboard sound, like onboard video, has come a long way. Analogue is decent with most new motherboards, but still lacking. Digital on the other hand is pretty much as good as any high end sound card. (barring a few frivolous features) If you're going to be using the digital out, most onboard sound cards will be more than adequate. (for example: Realtek ALC 889/892 which are used on many modern motherboards)

Brand of memory doesn't matter much, neither does the speed. (DDR3-1600 is pretty much the sweet spot for Sandy Bridge atm and it costs about the same as 1333) Price/capacity/aesthetics should be your deciding factors, unless you use a photo editing program that requires ridiculous amounts of memory bandwidth. You can always overclock your memory if you run into trouble after you've made your purchase and can't make a return.

Also, do you have plans for storage? Using only SSDs for a photo editing build will be very high performance, but definitely not cost effective.
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Old September 7, 2011, 11:53 AM
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Many thanks for your detailed reply and thoughts. You've convinced me to go for the FT03 :) The FT02 is too deep. The P180 would be great if it had Usb 3 but then again the FT03's footprint is fantastic.

So, going for the FT03 I think the Asus IV Gene-Z is the best mATX board out there. What do you think?

For the CPU fan, I think I might go for the HR02 as it is fanless or do you think it best to go for the NH-D14?

For the PSU, I think the Seasonic X-460 should be enough as it's fanless and should be more than enough if I decide to add a graphics card later...or is the X-400 enough?

For the HDD, I'm going to get an Intel SSD and use external USB drives when needed. I know it's not cost-effective but the silence and speed of the SSDs make it worth it.

For the Ram, I think the 8GB Mushkin 1600mhz should be ok.

For the fan, which do you think is quietest: Noctua NF-P14 or the Noiseblocker Black Silent? and best for horizontal position?

Is there a slot drive blu ray rw? (I couldn't find one).

I'm thinking to get the Acousti ultimate pack for sound dampening.

How does this rig sound to you?

Thanks again.

Last edited by teck101; September 7, 2011 at 01:13 PM.
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Old September 7, 2011, 01:39 PM
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Here's a post with some of my thoughts on the FT03: Silverstone Fortress 3 mATX Case
SPCR also did a fairly detailed review on the FT03. I apologize if it seems like I'm trying to change your mind on the case, I'm just preparing you for potential disappointment when you get it. I like the case very much, but I have a very hard time recommending it to someone else. I'm going to assume that you're OK with the drawbacks of the case and made up your mind. I've experimented a lot with this case, so if and when you run into any strange acoustic issues I'd be willing to help.

Also, on the topic of USB3: AFAIK the FT03 still uses USB3 pass through cables and not a pin header, so you're going to need something like this.

For a z68 board with good overclocking potential there isn't much choice other than the Maximus IV Gene-z. Zotac makes some nice z68 itx boards, but they don't have the same overclocking potential. You might need VRM cooling though, depending on how high you overclock. But you can find that out when you're testing.

I would go with the HR-02 (non macho edition) and install a fan such as the NF-P14 or TY-140 and then undervolt it. This is mostly due to the rotated motherboard orientation, the HR-02 has recessed heatpipes so they don't have to fight gravity in a north-south position. Also, the HR-02 comes with a screwdriver that is PERFECT for working in the FT03. (you'll need a type 0 phillips screwdriver in addition to that though)

I would go for the X-560, due to the FT03's design there isn't much room for PSU convection cooling. The X-560's fan won't turn on very often even during heavy image editing, but will kick in if there's a random heat issue.

As for the SSD, I suggest you look into Intel Smart Response Technology. As for adding internal hard drives, there are ways around the vibration issues.

There aren't any slot loading blu-ray drives that are capable of writing to blu-ray disks. You'll need an external solution if you choose to go with the FT03. (an external solution would probably be easier to silence as well)

Silverstone sells acoustic foam for much cheaper although it's not as good. But it's good enough for the FT03 as the only way to eliminate vibration in this case is to remove most of the sources.
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Old September 7, 2011, 05:01 PM
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Thanks ilya.

I read your review and SPCR and it did put a bit of a downer in terms of the quality which may create noise leaks. I've been checking some other cases and have come across the lian Li V353 which could be an alternative as a fanless set up (due to the many holes) or the V352. What do you think about this compared to the FT03?

Thanks for your recommendations about the mobo and cooler.

For the PSU, do you mean to get the 560 as a fail-safe just in case the 460 overheats greatly because you mentioned that the 560's fan will hardly come on?

Thanks about the padding, I'll get the Acousti then.

Thanks again for taking the time to help me..I really appreciate it

Last edited by teck101; September 7, 2011 at 05:16 PM.
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Old September 7, 2011, 06:12 PM
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The problem with the Lian Li is it's designed to be a low power HTPC case, which lacks clearance for a tower heatsink. It will simply be impossible to cool a 2600k passively in that case. Something like a 2600s could potentially be cooled with a quiet cooler if undervolted further.

Fanless PSU's need room to breathe and the FT03's design doesn't give a lot of breathing room. A semi passive unit like the x-560 would be more ideal and would still be "silent" since the fan won't be spinning most of the time.
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Old September 7, 2011, 06:30 PM
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all I can say is , if you want silence water cool the baby it will be very very quiet :) I watercooled my system and I doubt that I will ever go back to air
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Old September 8, 2011, 12:14 AM
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That was my concern about the heat sink for the lian li. I've found Prolimatechs that fit. Not sure whether to get this case or the FT03! Why is it no so simple haha!

Thanks, was thinking about watercooling but you still need fans...can't really win

Last edited by teck101; September 8, 2011 at 12:57 AM.
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