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Thread: Clueless trying a small quiet build

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    Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Hi guys,

    I haven't done a build for about 8 years now so I'm completely out of touch. I was hoping some people could give me some rough suggestions for a new PC I'm going to make after Xmas as I'm currently typing this on a Athlon XP scoring a solid 1.0 on the Win7 experience index. I'm not expecting you to give me components for a full system but any tips would be wonderful

    These are my reqs:

    • mini-ITX or µ-ATX form factor, plain case is fine
    • ready for 2-3 monitors
    • lots of RAM (8GB minimum but doesn't need to be the fastest DDR9++++ shiz)
    • as cheap graphics as I can get away with
    • reasonably fast processor - would like an i5 if possible with an emphasis on more cores the better
    • no monitors or keyboard/mouse or HDD required - I'll get a cheap SSD later
    • any optical drive is fine
    • quiet as possible would be nice
    • is this doable for about £450 or less?


    Any thoughts at all greatly appreciated

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Sounds like it should be doable - have you seen the guides on here http://forums.hexus.net/pc-hardware/...er-2011-a.html

    an i5-2500k is the best bang-for-buck option there is, and for most people there is no need to go higher.

    RAM go for DDR3 1600Mhz dual channel but no need to go for really high-end stuff like Corsair Dominator etc. (Sandy Bridge can be overclocked without affecting the RAM clock). Basic XMS3 stuff (ie with a heat spreader, NOT value RAM unless you really have to) will be just fine. Try and go for 1.5V RAM modules or lower.

    A single graphics card will do 2 monitors (NVidia). Not sure if AMD cards offer 3 screens off 1 card, I think it might, but the more monitors off a single card, the better that card needs to be. Most people are finding a single GTX560Ti or a 6870 is doing just fine at 1920x1080 gaming.

    I love the Asus motherboards, their mATX boards have a good spec, though you may be limited to just one GPU on them. MSI offer slightly cheaper alternative if you want to get price down.

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    Pancake
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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    What do you want to do on the PC? as onboard graphics might do

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Quote Originally Posted by Pancake View Post
    What do you want to do on the PC? as onboard graphics might do
    not for 2-3 monitors?

    If you think you might want the advantage of QuickSync encoding/decoding for video etc then you'll need to get a Z68 motherboard that supports onboard GPU (some cheaper Z68 boards do not - which puzzles me how they can call them Z68, but anyways...)

  6. #5
    Pancake
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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Doh! it would be fine for 2 though, so just a cheapy card for the 3rd monitor. Or 2nd and 3rd

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Quote Originally Posted by Pancake View Post
    Doh! it would be fine for 2 though, so just a cheapy card for the 3rd monitor. Or 2nd and 3rd
    really? 2 functioning monitors on onboard GPU? didn't know SB graphics could do that. Presumably though no mATX or uATX will ship with 2 simultaneously useable onboard display connections on the backplate, though I'm happy to be shown otherwise.

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    really? 2 functioning monitors on onboard GPU? didn't know SB graphics could do that. Presumably though no mATX or uATX will ship with 2 simultaneously useable onboard display connections on the backplate, though I'm happy to be shown otherwise.
    The board in my sig supports dual monitors, there is an option to enable it in the BIOS. H67MA-E35

    I have never tested it so i would also be happy to be shown otherwise, but it looks promising!

    EDIT: Yeah looks like SB graphics can

    http://forums.anandtech.com/showthread.php?t=2134169

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Cheers guys - have done a bit more reading and think I have a better idea where to go right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    Sounds like it should be doable - have you seen the guides on here http://forums.hexus.net/pc-hardware/...er-2011-a.html

    an i5-2500k is the best bang-for-buck option there is, and for most people there is no need to go higher.

    RAM go for DDR3 1600Mhz dual channel but no need to go for really high-end stuff like Corsair Dominator etc. (Sandy Bridge can be overclocked without affecting the RAM clock). Basic XMS3 stuff (ie with a heat spreader, NOT value RAM unless you really have to) will be just fine. Try and go for 1.5V RAM modules or lower.

    A single graphics card will do 2 monitors (NVidia). Not sure if AMD cards offer 3 screens off 1 card, I think it might, but the more monitors off a single card, the better that card needs to be. Most people are finding a single GTX560Ti or a 6870 is doing just fine at 1920x1080 gaming.

    I love the Asus motherboards, their mATX boards have a good spec, though you may be limited to just one GPU on them. MSI offer slightly cheaper alternative if you want to get price down.
    Read the guide but didn't seem particularly relevant to me? My needs are somewhat different?

    CPU: i5-2500k seems overkill to me. What's the best priceerformance ratio i5 for about £100 or will I not get 4 cores for that price? Budget is tight I know.
    GPU: Is it trivial to fit another card in such a small case for the 3rd monitor?
    RAM: Thinking about it, 8GiB will be fine. Not bothered about overclocking it or the CPU, just need lots.
    Mobo: This is the bit that always gets me. So many compromises. What's going to be best for my display needs?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pancake View Post
    What do you want to do on the PC? as onboard graphics might do
    Almost always going to be coding, 100s of Firefox tabs, graphic design, ripping and watching HD video. No gaming requirements. Just heaps of RAM, fast, quiet and stable.

    Quote Originally Posted by Pancake View Post
    The board in my sig supports dual monitors, there is an option to enable it in the BIOS. H67MA-E35

    I have never tested it so i would also be happy to be shown otherwise, but it looks promising
    Is it really that uncommon for a backplate with two output (say DVI and VGA) not to support both simultaneously?

    On another note, is a no-moving part system feasible in a case this small?

    Cheers

  11. #9
    Pancake
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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    The PSU would have a fan, and you would need at least 1 fan for the exhaust or CPU, so yeah pretty much.

    Yeah older boards only supported 1 output at a time

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Quote Originally Posted by dulcificum View Post
    Cheers guys - have done a bit more reading and think I have a better idea where to go right now.



    Read the guide but didn't seem particularly relevant to me? My needs are somewhat different?

    CPU: i5-2500k seems overkill to me. What's the best priceerformance ratio i5 for about £100 or will I not get 4 cores for that price? Budget is tight I know.
    GPU: Is it trivial to fit another card in such a small case for the 3rd monitor?
    RAM: Thinking about it, 8GiB will be fine. Not bothered about overclocking it or the CPU, just need lots.
    Mobo: This is the bit that always gets me. So many compromises. What's going to be best for my display needs?



    Almost always going to be coding, 100s of Firefox tabs, graphic design, ripping and watching HD video. No gaming requirements. Just heaps of RAM, fast, quiet and stable.



    Is it really that uncommon for a backplate with two output (say DVI and VGA) not to support both simultaneously?

    On another note, is a no-moving part system feasible in a case this small?

    Cheers
    No moving parts? No DVD drive or HDD then

    Passively cooled GPU are out there, but they rely on decent airflow through the case to cool them, unless you go water cooled, but I don't think you're suggesting that. So even with a passive GPU you still need some moving parts for an air-cooled system. Some cases are more ingenious than others on getting the PSU fan to do cooling of the innards, but I'm not a fan of this - it just puts the PSU under more stress, and you'll wear it out quicker. Having had a system that has relied on the PSU fan to cool the passive GPU I can vouch that this is NOT ideal, and the PSU fan gets pretty loud when the machine has been on for a while. The PSU just wasn't designed with cooling the case in mind. Bottom line, the more passive stuff you put inside the case, the better the case airflow from its fans needs to be.

    This isn't a disaster however. Choose the right fans and you can have a silent machine. My PC runs 3 case fans, a CPU fan, 2 fans on the GPU, and a PSU fan, and I cannot hear it save for a whisper if it's night time and there isn't background noise. Occasionally I might hear it in the day time if it's the height of summer and I'm gaming flat out. But even then it is so quiet I have to try to listen for it - and turn the sound of the machine guns off.

    If you're doing lots of encoding and are entertaining the idea of a discreet GPU too then you definitely want a z68 mobo - it lets you use onboard GPU for the QuickSync coding and still run a GPU. If you're not wanting to game as you say then you could consider the H67 chipset that doesn't allow a GPU but still gives the QuickSync features. (H67 costs less) P67 lets you use discreet GPU but cuts off access to onboard GPU (no need for it now Z68 is out ) so this doesn't sound like the option for you.

    Get a stack of 4GB XMS3 1.5V modules - it'll see you just fine. Use the 2GB modules in mine and it's great RAM for not too much.

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    RIP Peterb ik9000's Avatar
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      • Motherboard:
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      • CPU:
      • i7-870, Prolimatech Megahalems, 2x Akasa Apache 120mm
      • Memory:
      • 4x4GB Corsair Vengeance 2133 11-11-11-27
      • Storage:
      • 2x256GB Samsung 840-Pro, 1TB Seagate 7200.12, 1TB Seagate ES.2
      • Graphics card(s):
      • Gigabyte GTX 460 1GB SuperOverClocked
      • PSU:
      • NZXT Hale 90 750w
      • Case:
      • BitFenix Survivor + Bitfenix spectre LED fans, LG BluRay R/W optical drive
      • Operating System:
      • Windows 7 Professional
      • Monitor(s):
      • Dell U2414h, U2311h 1920x1080
      • Internet:
      • 200Mb/s Fibre and 4G wifi

    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Quote Originally Posted by dulcificum View Post
    Cheers guys - have done a bit more reading and think I have a better idea where to go right now.

    Read the guide but didn't seem particularly relevant to me? My needs are somewhat different?

    CPU: i5-2500k seems overkill to me. What's the best priceerformance ratio i5 for about £100 or will I not get 4 cores for that price? Budget is tight I know.
    compare away here http://www.anandtech.com/bench/CPU/2

    check out which software/routines you are planning to use and see what performs best. Then baulk at the $ to £ mark-up, and start shopping around. AMD might offer cheaper multicore performance, though their latest chips are a bit of a turkey from what I hear.

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    compare away here http://www.anandtech.com/bench/CPU/2

    check out which software/routines you are planning to use and see what performs best. Then baulk at the $ to £ mark-up, and start shopping around. AMD might offer cheaper multicore performance, though their latest chips are a bit of a turkey from what I hear.
    Hmmm, seems that all the Intel chips are massively overpriced. Is this standard thinking? I was def going to choose Intel but seems the AMD chips will be much more price effective?


    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    No moving parts? No DVD drive or HDD then

    Passively cooled GPU are out there, but they rely on decent airflow through the case to cool them, unless you go water cooled, but I don't think you're suggesting that. So even with a passive GPU you still need some moving parts for an air-cooled system. Some cases are more ingenious than others on getting the PSU fan to do cooling of the innards, but I'm not a fan of this - it just puts the PSU under more stress, and you'll wear it out quicker. Having had a system that has relied on the PSU fan to cool the passive GPU I can vouch that this is NOT ideal, and the PSU fan gets pretty loud when the machine has been on for a while. The PSU just wasn't designed with cooling the case in mind. Bottom line, the more passive stuff you put inside the case, the better the case airflow from its fans needs to be.
    Okay, let's scrap the no moving parts idea for now It is possible with SSD, no optical media, a massive CPU heatsink and fanless power supply but I think that's too much compromise for me. Quieter is definitely better though.

    Anyway, what should I be looking at for case/mobo combo from what we've narrowed it down to so far?

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    If you're doing lots of encoding and are entertaining the idea of a discreet GPU too then you definitely want a z68 mobo - it lets you use onboard GPU for the QuickSync coding and still run a GPU. If you're not wanting to game as you say then you could consider the H67 chipset that doesn't allow a GPU but still gives the QuickSync features. (H67 costs less) P67 lets you use discreet GPU but cuts off access to onboard GPU (no need for it now Z68 is out ) so this doesn't sound like the option for you.
    Woah, sorry but too much jargon for me Will this H67 without GPU still allow me to run 3 heads or am I always needing a separate graphics card to squeeze in my case? Encoding won't be regular at all. Once every couple of months. Watching is weekly or more frequent so that and office apps/internet are way more important. I don't need to overclock so am I right in thinking H67 is fine? Def no need for Z68...

    Cheers,
    Last edited by dulcificum; 14-12-2011 at 11:44 PM.

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    What are you using the PC for??

    Edit!!

    Just seen one of the later posts in the thread.

    I would check this thread to see how different CPUs peform in HandBrake:
    http://forums.hexus.net/pc-hardware/...ded-power.html

    For a mini-ITX build I would look at either a Core i3 2120 or a Llano A8-3800. The Llano A8 does have virtualisation support the Core i3 does not support.

    If you are considering an mATX build I would get the following CPU:

    http://www.scan.co.uk/products/amd-p...che-95w-retail

    The CPU will be soon EOL and for £104 is very good value for money. In HandBrake the CPU is around the same speed as a Core i5 2500.
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 15-12-2011 at 12:04 AM.

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Leaning towards the i3 2100 3.10GHz now. Good idea? Bad idea?

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    What are you using the PC for??

    How big is your budget??
    Quote Originally Posted by dulcificum View Post
    Almost always going to be coding, 100s of Firefox tabs, graphic design, ripping and watching HD video. No gaming requirements. Just heaps of RAM, fast, quiet and stable
    Quote Originally Posted by dulcificum View Post
    is this doable for about £450 or less?

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    Quote Originally Posted by dulcificum View Post
    Leaning towards the i3 2100 3.10GHz now. Good idea? Bad idea?
    I have edited my last post. I have a Core i3 2100 myself and at least in HandBrake even a much lower clocked Athlon II X4 or Llano A6 will beat it.

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    Re: Clueless trying a small quiet build

    But I'm really not bothered at all about Handbrake performance. I'm much much much much much more concerned about multitasking applications internet/coding/graphics and video playback.

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