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Build Advice Advise my build: Low power, quiet, cool, office PC

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by Asulc, 13 Nov 2008.

  1. Asulc

    Asulc Minimodder

    18 Jul 2007
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    Hello Bit-Tech.

    First off, I am sorry for such a long post. I am trying to be precise on what I want and why I chose the component that I did. I thank anyone who takes the time to read through it all.

    As the title states, this computer will be a low power (Read: no high-end components) office PC that is also cool and quiet. The computer will be used for email, internet browsing, Microsoft Office, and the occasional DVD viewing. This computer will be replacing an older computer (Read: 4 years running) that recently had the motherboard, and possibly the CPU go under.

    This is what I am currently looking at in terms of hardware.

    Computer Case
    Antec NSK3480
    This case is a proven quiet case (see this review of the original version). This is an absolute must for this computer. It sits on top of the desk, next to the user, at a maximum distance of one meter. The build quality of the case needs to be such that any noise produced by the hardware will be masked and deadened.
    The power supply included with the case is an Antec Earthwatts 380 watt edition. I believe that this is a good power supply and know that it will provide the power needed for the rest of the computer. The fan included in the PSU is also fairly quiet.

    Gigabyte GA-MA74GM-S2
    Based on what I have read, the AMD chipsets are both high powered (Read: can watch a DVD using them) and do not use very many watts. Although I was originally drawn towards the 780 or the 790 chipsets, the cost put me off. So I went back to my research and stumbled upon the 740G chipset. Motherboards based of this chipset not only were cheaper, but they still provided the power that I need to watch my DVD s. Narrowing the selection down based on my needs (good brand, enough ports and connectors, good layout) brought me to this Gigabyte board.

    AMD Athlon X2 4850e
    I wanted a processor that would be high enough power to fulfill my needs for a good amount of time (Read: up to 5 years). It also needed to be a cool running processor that did not need a lot of power. Obviously I needed AMD to go with my Gigabyte motherboard, and some research brought me to the 4850e.

    Processor Cooling
    Scythe Ninja 2
    Originally I was put off from the Scythe Ninja 2. This was due to the fact that most of my research was based around Intel systems. On the LGA 775 socket, the Scythe Ninja 2 uses pushpins. However, on the AM2 socket, the Ninja actually uses mounting clips and screws. This provides a much more secure mounting system and does not stress the board as much. I plan on experimenting with the included fan to see how much the temperatures will rise if the Ninja is used fanless. This will be compared to the drop in noise level of the computer using only the one case fan in the Antec case.

    Hard Drive
    Western Digital SE16 320gb
    This hard drive only uses a single platter to reach the 320gb mark. This will ensure a much quieter drive, both during seeks and during idle times. This also means that the drive will use less power. See this review of the hard drive.

    Random Access Memory
    G.Skill 2x1gb DDR2 800mhz
    Well there really isn't much to say about this selection. Dirt cheap, and good performance!

    DVD Drives
    Lite-On DVD Burner
    Lite-On DVD Reader
    Yes you read right: two DVD drives. The reason? Easier burns and copies of data. Any other reason for picking these specific drives? Not really. Found the cheapest ones, and because I felt like it, I got the same brand so that it looks better in the case (Read: I feel that it is better to have the same logo looking at you rather than different ones).

    Front Bay Panel
    Silverstone USB/1394/Audio Panel
    I need more than two USB ports on the front of my case. The reason? Digital camera, USB thumb drives, that takes up the two ports already available. So what if I wanted to move data from my USB drive to my friends? No way am I going to put the data onto the computer and then onto the other USB drive! And heaven forbid having to unplug the Digital Camera or reach around to the rear of the computer! The solution? More USB ports in the front, plain and simple.


    If there seems to be anything that I left out, or any suggestions that anyone has for me, please let me know! If not, it would make me feel better if you could just say that it looks good.

    Thank you for reader such a long post. I know that it seems that I researched everything god enough to just buy it and not worry about it, but I want to make sure.

    Again, thank you for reading and for all of your help!
  2. GoodBytes

    GoodBytes How many wifi's does it have?

    20 Jan 2007
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    Check out form SilentPCreview the Antec SOLO case with the Corsair HX or VX PSU's. I am sure these are more quiet then the selected case. In exchange i don't think you'll need the frontal bay. However you know best.

    For WesternDigital HDD, the AAKS series means less plates, so yes you get performance, but the drive is more empty inside and the motor has more ease to turn. So in result you will hear your HDD power up. Just saying.

    You should go with 4GB of RAM as RAM is so cheap with a 64-bit OS. With 4Gb of RAM, with what you do, you can even disable page file, which means more RAM usage yes, however less HDD usage (so quieter), and improved performance.
  3. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    If it's an office PC, 2GB of memory is fine. You aren't gaming and unless you're doing photo or video editing there's very little point in 4GB.

    I'd even say get a retail CPU and use the stock heatsink - I do in my media centre with my 4850e and it's super quiet once the BIOS Smart Fan functions have been enabled.
  4. Akava

    Akava Lurking...

    28 Jul 2007
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    If its literally for office stuff, internet and the occasional DVD wouldn't something like the Eee Box with an external DVD drive, serve you pretty well? with a saving of about $100.
  5. Nexxo

    Nexxo * Prefab Sprout – The King of Rock 'n' Roll

    23 Oct 2001
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    I would go the Pentium Mobile Core Duo route: 35 Watts maximum with good power management, on a ITX or mATX board. You can passively cool that sucker.

    For a hard drive, I'd recommend WD GreenPower 1Tb drive. Cool and quiet, and massive storage. If space is not an issue but speed is, the WD VelociRaptor. As a 2.5" drive it uses only 6 Watts and is relatively quiet. If space nor speed are an issue, have any decent 2.5" laptop drive.

    Energy saving components means a lower capacity, quieter PSU. If you dip below 200 Watts you can get a passively cooled one.
  6. Guest-16

    Guest-16 Guest

    4850e is half the price and only 45W, plus AMD motherboards are generally cheaper and there are plenty of 780G, 740Gs out there.

    1Tb for an office PC? The WD 640GB AAKS is super fast, very quiet, very cheap and there's FA difference in power tbh - the difference between running an extra fan or not. 2.5" drives are lower power, yes, but generally slower because they have a smaller platter size.

    Passively cooled PSUs have generally **** 12V lines and lower efficiency - you'll be invalidating any cost saving from the cheaper low power stuff about because the PSU is ~80% eff compared to 85+ like most are hitting now. I agree, don't get a high power one, even 500W is excessive, but I'm sure there are very, very quiet low power units. (Corsair CX400W? perhaps?)

    If Asus hasn't changed that EeeBox since I saw the first models at Computex, it'll be seriously noisy! It's got a tiny little fan to cool it all that chucks hot air out the top like you're sitting next to be bee hive.
  7. docodine

    docodine killed a guy once

    10 Feb 2007
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    It's really not all that surprising of a decision...

    I'm pretty sure that you can find a slightly cheaper quiet case, but otherwise, you're fine.

  8. airchie

    airchie What's a Dremel?

    22 Mar 2005
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    To be honest, it sounds like you've done your due diligence.
    Getting a laptop HDD in there is probably a pretty good idea.
    You can get a standard 7200rpm one of a decent size and it'll do the job just fine I reckon.

    If I were you I'd spend a few extra $ and get two DVD-RWs the same.
    Then the logos and labels etc will deffo be identical and you have more flexibility. :)
  9. Vimesey

    Vimesey What's a Dremel?

    21 Jun 2008
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    Doesn't smaller platter mean the data is more tightly packed so a similar size and rpm hard drive would be faster as 2.5"?
  10. airchie

    airchie What's a Dremel?

    22 Mar 2005
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    That's partially right.
    Higher data density = higher read/write speeds but the smaller platter doesn't necessarily mean higher density.

    Smaller platters may be slower than their larger brothers since the outer edge of the disc will be travelling much faster.

    However, I'm not sure its the case that 2.5" HDDs are smaller due to the size of their platters.
    Look at the velociraptor drives for instance. :)
  11. ConKbot of Doom

    ConKbot of Doom What's a Dremel?

    2 Jul 2003
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    I'd check out a shuttle case,I just picked up a decent one for just about the same cost as a case/powersupply/heatsink and motherboard, and it is so quiet. If you dont need the space for multiple internal drives that is though...

    I'm quite happy with it and I do office type things, some browsing, and autocad and other enginnering apps that need XP etc...
  12. Asulc

    Asulc Minimodder

    18 Jul 2007
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    First, Thank yous are in order for all who replied. Any and all advise and comments will be considered and whether or not they are followed, I learn from them. So thank you all!

    I am really trying to keep the budget low. However, I will price this out and consider it. I know that the SOLO case is a very good start to creating a quiet computer, and the Corsair PSU's are also very low noise and very high quality.

    I like to have many easily accessible USB ports available to me. It just makes life easier.

    I was planning on using Windows XP Professional. The version I own is 32-bit. Should I consider upgrading to 64-bit and/or Windows Vista? If so, will I see any boost in performance in every day tasks by upgrading to 4gb?

    I would like to avoid the stock heatsink. I know that it is being picky, but I have had really bad experiences in the past with noisy computers, and I am willing to pay more to make it quiet this time around.

    Can anyone confirm if Asus has changed the Eee Box and made it any quieter?

    I have considered the ITX/mATX and Mobile processor route. However, the lack of pre-built cases is putting me off. Feel free to link me to any that you feel are good quality and would keep the computer quiet. Also, I may end up passively cooling the 4850e.

    As Bindibadgi mentioned, 1tb is a little much for me. I have been using my previous computer for close to five years. It has an 80gb hard drive, and it is only half full. And to clear up any doubts, I am a major packrat.
    I have also considered 2.5" drives, but their prices are much higher and the capacity is much lower. However, the one that I have considered is the new 500gb Western Digital. It is a two platter drive, so it will be quiet. However, it is a 5400rpm drive. What kind of performance/responsiveness hit would I be taking with this drive compared to a 7200rpm drive?

    I was thinking about the Corsair CX400 or a Seasonic 330 watt if I get a case that does not come with a power supply.

    Thank you for agreeing with me!
    I will be looking around for other cases (going to check the SOLO first). In the mean time, are there any cases that come to mind for you? Remember, the case that I linked comes with a power supply...

    Other than the fact that the logos and labels would match up exactly, what reason would their be for getting two DVD-RWs? Also, I heard somewhere that DVD playback is better on non-burner drives...can anyone confirm this, or did I hear wrong?

    I would like to be able to keep the dual drives and have the extra USB ports on the front. Also, the form factor of the shuttle cases (Read: the footprint of the case) is a lot larger than tower cases. This is one of the reasons I have against the shuttles.
  13. cpemma

    cpemma Ecky thump

    27 Nov 2001
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    Cost the Sonata as an alternative, it's as good or better sound-proofing than the Solo but only sold with a 500W PSU at around £90. ($130 at Newegg) (Probable saving, as Solo around £60 and decent PSU > £30).

    If you go for a separate PSU, Seasonic S12-430W is a good alternative. At this stage I'm wary of the CX400, it's a budget model, though "According to Redbeard posting over at JG, it's Seasonic built, with 85C primary caps, 40C rating and a $59.99 msrp.".

    AS a radical budget alternative CPU/mobo I'd go for the Intel E5200, moderately overclocked (so little or no lift in core voltage) in one of the cheaper P31/P35 Gigabyte boards, around $130 the pair. But then avoid the Ninja unless you're prepared to add a few quid for a backplate.
    Last edited: 14 Nov 2008

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