Best value, quiet gaming pc? (£650-£800)

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So, after a catastrophic HDD failure last night its time for a fresh start!

What, in your opinion, is the best bang for buck gaming system in this price range (excluding monitor and peripherals)? I would like it to be nearly silent with a 1TB HDD.

Thanks!
 
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Hi there, Welcome to the forums :)

May I ask what your main uses of the PC will be? (anything major other than gaming?)

Also, would you be able to give us the specs of your working existing components? Perhaps some of it can be reused.

Finally, will you be needing an Operating System included in the budget?
 
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Thanks for the welcome. I am unlikely to use this new computer for anything other than gaming, web browsing and ms office.

My old computer was a dell desktop studio with a GeForce 9800GT video card, 3GB DDR2 RAM, Q6600 cpu, 350W PSU and an XFI soundblaster sound card. I can re-use the optical drive but I will presumably need to buy a new copy of windows 7.
 
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Ah, very interesting. May I ask a few questions?

Would you be able to run CPU-Z and see whether the CPU stepping is either B3 or G0? The Q6600 is still a pretty great CPU and if you give it a bit of an overclock it is more than sufficient for modern gaming.

I assume that the motherboard is a basic dell (locked down bios) so if you want to overclock or do anything fun, that would certainly need to be replaced. As would the PSU and case.

As for the RAM, would you be able to find out what configuration it is (ie 1x1GB + 1x2GB or 3x1GB) and what speed it runs at (can be found using the CPU-Z memory tab or looking on the RAM modules themselves)?

Is the XFi soundblaster a discrete add-in card?
 
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EVGA GeForce GTX 460 1024MB: £172.71
Corsair Value Select 4GB (2x2GB) DDR2 PC2-5300C4: £76.36
Corsair CX 400W ATX Power Supply: £32.99
Samsung SpinPoint F3 1TB: £44.99 (this week offer)

Total: £327.05 (inc VAT)

You could upgrade the motherboard and processor within your price range, but as others have said, the Q6600 is a great chip and you'd be better off keeping it and saving yourself the money.
 
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Stulid and hybrid572: Very interesting ideas - never even considered that previously. The problem is that due to the awful dell motherboard I don't think that I will be able to overclock the q6600 very well at all so I'm unlikely to see its full potential?

cmndr_andi: Unfortunately I can't get the computer started...I think that somehow the bios is messed up which is causing massive problems even with loading a linux live usb. From what I can remember, you are spot on about the motherboard (cheap nasty and very locked down), the DDR2 RAM is 3X1GB and I believe it is 8 hundred and something mhz. The soundcard is a discrete pci-e add on card which I will definitely keep.

Thanks so much for the help!
 
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Socket 775 motherboards are actually fairly cheap on the site (~£50), so if you needed to replace it, you would still be saving yourself a lot of money compared to buying a whole new processor and motherboard.
 
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I gotcha, in that case I would suggest this as a good upgrade for gaming. You would need to retain your CPU, DVD drive and sound card.

581q6600.png


If at all possible check that the CPU is an G0 stepping. If it is B3 then you may as well go for a cheaper motherboard as you won't be able to clock it as high.

Alternatively you could sell the Q6600 (should get ~£80 for it) and go for an AMD Phenom II X4 CPU, AM3 motherboard and DDR3 RAM or an Intel i5 760 CPU, s1156 board and DDR3 RAM. These options would cost a bit more, but put you on current generation kit (however the performance boost will not be very great as games are mainly limited by the graphics card).
 
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Wow - thanks a lot. I really wasn't aware that the Q6600 was still a viable cpu nowadays. How quiet would this build be? Volume is quite important for me...would a more expensive case help on this front? I wouldn't mind paying a premium for really good fans either if you think it would make a big difference?
 
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I believe you can find out the stepping of the cpu by removing the heatsink and cleaning off the thermal grease.

I think the code for G0 is SLACR?
 
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a good case is usually a good investment, as they can last alot longer than the rest of a system.

so spending abit more on a case you like is a good idea, and can then last you through a few builds
 
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As Mattjd says - definately check the top of the CPU and see what it says.

As above the code "SLACR" means it is a G0 stepping - newer chip, lower wattage, good overclocker.
The other option is it says "SL9UM", which means it is a B3 stepping - an older chip, higher wattage, not so good overclocker.

As for quitness, there are several things you can do - all work towards eliminating or mitigating the effect of moving parts and vibrations within the PC. It is probably best to look at this on a component basis:

Case cooling - as suggested above the Fractal Design R3 case is excellent for quietness. It has sound insulation in it and the HDD trays have rubber washers to prevent some of the vibration. However this case does not have particularly good cooling at stock (especially if you want to run some components passively) so I'd suggest adding at least 3 more fans (sharkoon, noctua or fractal design models would be good) and a fan controller so you can tune the fan speed to achieve the best balance of cooling and noise. The Antec P183 is another good case if you want to keep things quiet.

CPU - The CPU cooler is a crucial part as it is a key component for any computer system - especially an overclocked one. If you merely want to run the system quietly, some thing like this would be fine. But if you want it as close to inaudable as possible then you should have a look at the Thermalright HR-02, this cooler is so good it can passively cool and overclocked i7 - so it will certianly cool and overclocked Q6600 (or Phenom II or i5 is you decide to buy something newer).

Storage - Sometimes a bad hard disk can drive you crazy with noise. Most modern 7200RPM hard disks are relatively quiet - especially once within a case. Something like a Samsung F3 would be what I would pick. You could go for an even quieter 5400rpm drive like a Samsung F2 Ecogreen - but imho the performance and responsiveness drop is not worth it if you are using it as a primary drive. Another option is to get a cheap SSD and use a cheap mechanical drive to run your other files (something like an F2). Something like this may be worth a look - but with your budget it is a big expense.

PSU - Something like this Antec 550W will generally be nice and quiet - but it does use a fan. If you can afford it - something like the seasonic 460W fanless would be excellent - however it is mightily expensive considering your total budget.

Optical drive - not really an issue if you use non-DVD based games, however when it is on it will be pretty loud.

Graphics card - Probably the toughest obsticle to overcome. As you want to play games then you will want a powerful graphics card - however these cards use a lot of power and generate much heat. This means they are usually ill-suited to passive cooling and need fans to cool them down - introducing noise. You best bet here is to either buy a decent graphics card with a good cooler installed or install an aftermarket cooler yourself. If you want to go down the passive route - the most powerful card with a passive cooler appears to be the AMD HD 5770 - as Gigabyte have recently lunched a passive model.

Hope that is of some help.
 
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Unbelievably good help! Really, really appreciate it. After reading about all of these quality parts I now feel like getting something really good that will last me a looong time!

This is expensive, but it seems like it would be the perfect system for me:

51241281.png




Is this good value? I'm particularly unsure about what motherboard to get and whether the RAM I've chosen is worth it? Sorry that I've suddenly changed what I want so much!
 
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Happy to help :)

The RAM you chose is a triple channel kit made for X58 systems, so it won't work properly. You will want a dual channel kit like this.

As for the CPU cooler, I suggest you go with the Nero S to be honest - the main difference is that it has a single fan that spins slower. It doesn't cool quite as well but it is quieter.

The rest looks great - though you may want to consider adding a few more fans, since the Fractal Design R3 only comes with 2. I would suggest at least going for one more - since the fan controller that comes with the R3 can control three fans, a 140mm on the top would be a good bet.
 
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All looks good.

Except the RAM is triple channel and your motherboard uses dual channel get these instead:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=MY-041-PA&groupid=701&catid=8&subcat=1517

You might want to spend the extra for the retail version of Win 7 so you can re use it on a new build in the future.

If you are not planning on doing crossfire in the future then that motherboard is fine. but if you are that motherboard only does x16/x4 in crossfire mode so the second card is basically useless.

If you are happy with that case then get it. But it looks like cooling isnt very good in it you might want to consider this case:

http://www.overclockers.co.uk/showproduct.php?prodid=CA-212-CM&groupid=701&catid=7&subcat=29

Everything else is quality parts.
 
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I can't overstate how lost I was this morning in comparison to now! Thanks all.

Here is the order with the Nero cooler, Dual channel RAM and an extra 140mm fan:

sh2b.png



Its more than I was initially thinking of spending but I'm sure this will be good to use for the next 4-5 years without any upgrades. Unless there are any other suggestions I'll order this tonight - thanks again!
 
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