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Old August 14, 2013, 10:55 PM
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Default Small and Quiet Mid-range PC

It's been about 2.5 years since I last logged in to HC... after I sold my desktop and realized that I could survive university with my laptop I guess my interest in this stuff sharply declined. Well I've finally come to my senses! And I want back in to the desktop lifestyle.

Two of the reasons I sold my desktop was because it was big and sorta loud. Not terribly loud, but I want my next system to be very quiet under normal usage. I am in a co-op program so I move between work and school every 4 months -- transporting my heavy tower became annoying. I like the idea of Shuttle PCs but it's been so long that I don't know if there are better alternatives. I am open to the idea of watercooling (I had a pretty cool custom setup on my desktop back in the day!) but not sure if that's possible in a small form factor. Also, I wasn't very happy with my pump... it was pretty noisy, for a pump. Anyways, onto the list.

1) I'll use this PC for regular day-to-day stuff, DJ'ing and hopefully as a DAW to produce/edit music. These aren't very taxing requirements aside from a healthy amount of RAM and any current CPU. However, I would like to play an occasional racing game so I'd want a dedicated gfx card (just one). I would like decent components even though I know I won't be using them all the time.

2) I don't want to break the bank, and the parts bin is somewhat restricted when dealing with a small case. I think $600 (tax+shipping included) should be enough for CPU+mobo+RAM+case+PSU+video card. I will do some more research but I think a sound card will be required for the music production (it may end up being external). I'd like to buy an SSD for the OS/programs. This might end up going past $600. I can get Windows through my university.

3) Will be buying everything in Canada! Nearby I have Canada Computers, TigerDirect and NCIX. But who knows, I might need to order some parts from a niche computer place.

4) All my PCs have used Intel chips in the past but I don't care about this one. I know Intel is still in front, and I probably have no use for the 6/8/whatever-they're-at-now core AMD CPUs. Feel free to tell me I'm wrong -- I haven't been reading this stuff for a while. However, I do want future compatibility. So if it's Intel, it'll have to be Haswell socket 1150 stuff. And I guess the AM3 on the AMD side.

5) I will use my current 1TB WD Caviar Green as my storage drive, my Razer DeathAdder as my mouse and I have a monitor collecting dust somewhere. I will need a keyboard but I'm not factoring that into the purchase price. Ironically I'm thinking of going with a mechanical keyboard...

6) I've looked at some threads and no one wants a small form-factor, quiet PC. I've looked online and pre-built systems are very expensive (DAWs - Digital Audio Workstations ). Of course I want to build my own system anyway!

7) No overclocking - we're keeping those fans spinning as slow as possible!

8) I want to purchase in a month or two. Intel is coming out with some new Haswell chips soon? Maybe there will be some deals/bundles. The other components (case, fans, etc) probably don't vary in price much.

9) My dusty monitor is at 1920x1080. I am willing to accept that my games might be bottlenecked in order to fit the budget.

10) I'd like to have some USB 3.0 ports for my external hard drive.

Open to your suggestions! Some other stuff that I've thought about: probably gonna go with 2x4GB RAM, with room to expand in the future. I've never had a thing for flashy cases so it can be plain as long as it's small and functional. This thing looks pretty cool Buy the SilverStone Sugo Small Form Factor Computer Case at TigerDirect.ca but I don't know if it'll fit Haswell motherboards. Also, power supplies operate more efficiently when they're closer to peak output IIRC, so I don't want to go crazy. 400-500W should take care of things, right? In the past I've undervolted my fans to run on 7V instead of 12. It was a dirty little hack and I think I'm old enough to get a fan controller if it's necessary.

Thanks guys!
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Old August 15, 2013, 06:24 AM
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Hmm, from a budget standpoint, and since you only play the occasional game, one of AMD's APU would probably fit the bill nicely. An APU is a quad-core processor with GPU elements on the same die. Think of a processor and graphics card all rolled into one. AMD's A10 6800K is actually very capable at pushing out framerates in games at medium settings. Racing games tend to be a little easier on systems, and since you're an occasional user, I'm sure not playing at ultra graphics settings is a non-issue. On the processing side of things, it will probably be a little slower than a quad core Intel, or even a dual core intel, although it should be faster than the mobile variants.

The best part? By going with an APU you can eliminate the discrete GPU, which eliminates heat and noise from your case. They are also waaay cheaper than their Intel counterparts when you factor in buying a GPU.

That being said...let's build a computer

AMD A10-6800K Richland 4.4Ghz APU - $159.99 - the top of the line APU, will do 40FPS in Dirt3 at 1080P, high settings
F2A85-M/CSM mATX Motherboard - $99.99
G.Skill Sniper SE 1866Mhz 2x4GB RAM - $75.98 - 1866Mhz RAM helps APU's a little in the framerate department
Coolermaster Hyper 212 Evo Heatsink - $29.99 - even though you're not overclocking, an aftermarket heatsink will make your APU run cooler and quieter. Plus, a bigger fan moves air at lower RPM's, therefore less noise. This one is a proven yet inexpensive design. Been around for years, and I run one in my HTPC. Inaudible at stock clocks.
Crucial M500 120GB SSD - $104.99 - solid drive from a solid manufacturer. Not one of the fastest, but one of the most reliable. And a great price, too.
Corsair TX550M Powersupply - $69.99 You don't need a huge powersupply, but you want a good, reliable one. This one from Corsair is a solid unit, and as a bonus is modular, so you won't have any extra PCI-e power cable cluttering up your build, especially since you won't have a graphics card. If you do ever decide to throw in a graphics card, this powersupply should be able to handle any mid-range card with ease.
Corsair Obsidian 350D mATX Case - $109.99 Cases are a subjective thing. Since we went with an mATX form factor, we can go with a smaller, lighter case. This one is a nice one, with lots of features included in full-size ATX builds.

Total: $650.92 not including a dedicated sound card or Windows. If you want to cut the budget a little, you could cheap out on the case, and maybe get a smaller/cheaper SSD. Eliminating the aftermarket heatsink will cut costs a little, too, but those stock heatsinks are whiny and audible.
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Son's Rig: M5A97; 1055T; CNPS20LQ; 2x4GB Corsair Vengeance 1600Mhz; ASUS GTX650Ti Boost; 80GB Intel 520 SSD; 320GB WD Black HDD; SPI 700W; Bitfenix Shinobi;

Last edited by great_big_abyss; August 15, 2013 at 07:49 AM.
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Old August 15, 2013, 07:33 AM
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I have to agree, a cool setup, just one mention : the memory controller in 6800k supports memory at 2133 so I would recommend getting an 8GB kit specified for that speed. Newegg.ca has one that comes even at CL9 : Newegg.ca - G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series 8GB (2 x 4GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 2133 (PC3 17000) Desktop Memory Model F3-2133C9D-8GXL
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Old August 15, 2013, 08:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by great_big_abyss View Post
AMD's A10 6800K is actually very capable at pushing out framerates in games at medium settings.
Wow, I had no idea that APUs were so capable now. It's definitely the way to go, for me, with the option to get a dedicated card if need be.

Thanks for the suggestions, great_big_abyss and MARSTG. I think I'll splurge and go with the quicker RAM .
I like the case as well. It'd be the most expensive case I would have ever bought but the 140mm fan is a plus. As for the PSU, do you think it'll be quiet enough? My last one was an OCZ GameXStream and it had some stupid whine that annoyed me. Same goes for the CPU cooler, I'm willing to also spend extra in that department if need be.
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Old August 15, 2013, 08:32 AM
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Don't expect to be playing multi-monitor games at ultra settings at 60+ fps. But, for the occasional game, at 1080P, at medium settings (without AA), you should run acceptable framerates (40fps).

I've never owned a corsair powersupply, but from all accounts, noise shouldn't be an issue from it. They are after all one of the most popular and sought after powersupplies, and the TX is their 'mid-range' powersupply.

Really, any larger heatsink should do the trick. I simply chose the Coolermaster Hyper 212 because it really is one of the most ubiquitous and common heatsinks out there. It should be available in just about any PC store, and I can vouch for its performance. I run one in my HTPC, a PC that is supposed to be silent, and it runs very quiet. If you like, you can even undervolt the fan, and since you're running at stock speed shouldn't see any negative impact on heat, but should see a decrease in noise. I run mine with a 5V resistor.

Also, although the case I picked for you is mATX, by no means is it small form factor, and is still a decently large case. Take a drive down to your local NCIX and ask to look at the physical case. The case that you picked is an mITX case. mITX motherboards are available for the FM2 socket (ASRock has a couple) but it has a downgraded chipset compared the motherboard I recommended (A75 vs A85). The APU should still work in it though. That may be an option that you could look at if you really want a small form factor case. Just keep in mind though, many aftermarket heatsinks, including the Hyper212 will not fit in many mITX cases. you may also have difficulty fitting in a sound card, depending on if the mITX case you buy is full height or half-height.
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HTPC: Z77A-G45; 3770K; Coolermaster GeminII; 2x4GB Kingston HyperX 1600Mhz; MSI R7-260X; 2x 128GB Crucial M4 SSD; 1TB WD Green, 2x 2TB WD Green; PC P&C 750W PS; Fractal Design Node 605;
Son's Rig: M5A97; 1055T; CNPS20LQ; 2x4GB Corsair Vengeance 1600Mhz; ASUS GTX650Ti Boost; 80GB Intel 520 SSD; 320GB WD Black HDD; SPI 700W; Bitfenix Shinobi;

Last edited by great_big_abyss; August 15, 2013 at 08:40 AM.
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Old August 15, 2013, 08:44 AM
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With that APU you can also crossfire it with a low power dedicated video card if you do want more power. The advantage of this is you can use a lower powered dedicated card which will help with noise and heat.

Recommended graphics cards for AMD dual-graphics
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Last edited by Varroa; August 15, 2013 at 08:49 AM.
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Old August 15, 2013, 09:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by great_big_abyss View Post
Take a drive down to your local NCIX and ask to look at the physical case.
Good idea, I will do this whenever I get the chance and update the thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Varroa View Post
With that APU you can also crossfire it with a low power dedicated video card if you do want more power. The advantage of this is you can use a lower powered dedicated card which will help with noise and heat.
Cool, didn't know it would work as a Crossfire setup. Thanks for the link!
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Old August 15, 2013, 10:43 AM
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The APUs are basically just Phenom II cores with last gen, lower end, GPU cores tacked on to them so they are essentially dedicated GPUs but with onboard ram. That is why you need the fastest ram you can get because it will really help the GPU part of the APU. for most people there is more GPU power in an APU then they will ever need and for gamers it provides a decent onboard solution.
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Lenovo Ideapad Y510p: i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz (undervolted by 80mV), 16GB DDR3L-1866MHz, Intel GMA 4600HD / SLI'ed Nvidia Geforce GT 755M 2GB GDDR5, 240 GB Crucial SSD, 128GB M.2 SSD, 15.6" HD+ Glossy LED
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Old August 15, 2013, 10:49 AM
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The A10-6800K is a fairly new part, right? No successor on the horizon -- buying one today will be the same price/performance proposition as buying one in the next few months?
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Old August 15, 2013, 11:11 AM
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Most likely yes, AMD doesn't have much up their sleeves right now except for unified memory architect thing (I can't remember what it is called) but that will help GPU computing and not gaming. As I understand it, it will allow both the GPU and CPU part of a APU to access something in the cache directly without having to move it back and forth between the system memory. The Xbone and PS4 have this ability but APUs for desktops don't as of yet.

hUMA; AMD’s Heterogeneous Unified Memory Architecture Revealed
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GAMER: Win7 Pro x64, I7 3770K (stock) (CM 212+), Asus P8Z77-V Pro, Gigabyte 7970 OC Ghz Edition 3 GB, Corsair Vengeance LP 4 x 4GB DDR3 1600Mhz, Crucial M4 120 GB + 256GB, Crucial M500 480 GB SSD, 1TB WD Blk, BRD, HX750W, Auz X-Fi Prelude, & Fractal Design Arc MIDI R2

Lenovo Ideapad Y510p: i7-4700MQ 2.4GHz (undervolted by 80mV), 16GB DDR3L-1866MHz, Intel GMA 4600HD / SLI'ed Nvidia Geforce GT 755M 2GB GDDR5, 240 GB Crucial SSD, 128GB M.2 SSD, 15.6" HD+ Glossy LED
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