Quietest Possible Gaming System

Hi guys,

The title may sound like an oxymoron but I am thinking of building a new system in a few months because my current one needs an upgrade anyway and is quite noisy so i might just start over. I will probably wait for Ivy Bridge and the new 600/7000 series graphics cards but feel free to use current products as a rough guide. The budget is around £1000/$1600 and I want it to able to cope nicely with games in 2560x1600 while staying as quiet as possible. The cooling doesn't need to be spectacular, just so long as it doesn't overheat. Overclocking headroom would be nice but not important. I would also prefer to avoid water cooling but would consider it if it's going to be a lot better.

I dont need an OS or any peripherals.

I have been thinking something along the lines of this:

8GB Corsair Vengeance LP
ASRock Z68 Extreme4
2 x HD 6950 or HD 6970 2GB
Corsair AX-850
Crucial M4 64GB/128GB
Samsung Spinpoint F3 1TB
Fractal Design Define R3 White
Scythe Big Shuriken

I'm thinking something along those lines should have enough umph for gaming at 2560x1600, i would just get the next generation of each thing. As for quietness, i was thinking i could replace the fans on the case and the cooler with Noctua NF-S12B ULN's. Then i am just left with two noisy graphics cards. What would be the best way to make them quieter? I suppose either undervolting or get one with changeable fans. Anyone know any HD 6950/6970/GTX 570 with changeable fans?

I am really turning into quite the silence enthusiast, i suppose 8 months of sitting next to an Antec 900 with a Palit GTX 460 will do that to you lol. Not the quietest of systems.

Anyone have any better ideas?

EDIT: Maybe i didn't make something clear actually, when I say a quiet gaming system I mean something that is absolutely silent at idle and when internet browsing and watching movies. When I'm gaming quietness would be nice but I'm not too bothered.


Jan 23, 2011
You'd be smart to wait for the Ivy Bridge core shrink. Smaller dies mean less power which in turn means less heat and less cooling needed!

You'll probably be mostly looking at monitoring the fans yourself, and the best thing you could be investing in is to get a mobo that is highly adjustable in that area (I know of none) or run all your fans through a fan controller such as this one http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811992005

You'll be better going with bigger fans, they move more air with less noise (the loudest fans i've heard are the tiny ones on the SB cooler, and those are usually 60mm units. I'm not normally a fan of those huge fans on the side of PCs as they tend to disrupt airflow but this might be what you're looking for, to move a large amount of air.

Of course, this is all based on if you want to go purely on air cooling. Avoiding a fan in the PSU is exceedingly difficult, but there are a few available, most not over about 450W IIRC. You can get a computer based around "fanless" heatsink tech that is advertised on this page every now and again, I can't remember the site but it seemed legit.

Of course, you'd want to go with the least amount of moving parts, which means you'd want all your Videos to be digital, not DVD or BLU-Ray as the spinning would irritate you while you're watching the movie. The best i can suggest if you need to do this is get a case with small rubber grommets in between the screw, the case and whatever you're mounting. Solid state drives would also help, but the price/size ratio is still disappointingly low ATM, and looks to be about the same when IB comes out.

Lastly, there are alternative methods of cooling, such as Peltier coolers, which, although are really cool, (literally and figuratively) can fail catastrophically if not monitored, and are very hi-tech compared to a fan.

Of course there is also liquid cooling, or if you're really extreme (this is more for benchmarking, however) sub-zero cooling. (for long term cooling there is a lot of prep needed for it as the condensation can cause big issues.)
Read some of the articles at SilentPCReview. I went from a CM RC-690 (original) to an Enermax Hoplite earlier this summer, and the difference in sound is amazing, even though I'm running two more drives in it. The GPU is the same, and both have similar 120mm CPU coolers (Hyper 212+ in the CM, Xigmatek Gaia in the Hoplite).
I attribute the differences to:
1. I did not put a fan in the side panel. That whole panel can vibrate.
2. The top fan I added I mounted with those silicone "nails" which insulate the fan from the case.
3. The stock fans are better in the Enermax, and the front one has a speed control.
4. Lastly, I'm using a Seasonic X-560, which hardly ever runs its fan.
A couple other things you can look into is sound proofing for the case to make it transmit less sound from the fans, drives, video cards. The stuff they use in car audio, IE:


I have used this in my computer cases for he exact same reason and my Linux server that runs 24/7 and is overclocked can barely be heard in a dead quiet room. I also use Noiseblocker fans to make sure it is as quiet as possible.
Thumbs up on the silentpcreview site mentioned above..... I have a couple of Antec 1200 / DF-85 cases with the CP-850 PSU and though I have built a lotta boxes with many HAF cases and hi quality PSU's, nothing has come close to that pairing for the cooling / quiet combo. Read the article here to see why.


With the Antec P193 / P183 you sacrifice some cooling for extra quiet which sounds like where you wanna be

A serious consideration is that in each of the three [four now w/ the DF-85] compatible Antec cases, the CP-850 mounts on the bottom, and the intake for the PSU is quite separate from the rest of the system. In the P193 and P183, the PSU is in an entirely separate thermal chamber, and in the model 1200, a direct path can be maintained to the directly opposite, wide-open front vent. This means that our extreme hot box test conditions never apply to the CP-850; in other words, SPCR's test environment is unrealistically hot for the CP-850. Our atypical spot check with a room ambient thermal test showed the CP-850 would reach only 24 dBA@1m at 700W load in a 27°C working environment. This is ridiculously quiet for such high power output.

The above is an obviously unfair advantage for the CP-850... but what of it? Antec has used an integrated systems approach for its CP-850 and its best cases, and if that approach is an advantage over all other case/PSU combinations, then, all the more power to Antec! It's not uncommon for enthusiasts to frequently replace the motherboard and components that mount onto it — such as CPU, RAM and video card — while the case and PSU are retained. There would be ample reason to take that approach with the CP-850 and one of the compatible Antec cases.

For the quiet-seeking computer gaming enthusiast, the CP-850 (along with any of the three compatible cases) is something of a godsend. Fantastically stable power, super low noise at any power load, long expected reliability due to excellent cooling, modular cabling, and all at a price that's no higher than many high end 6~700W models. That you're limited to one of three [four] well-executed high cases from Antec — one mostly for silence (P183), one mostly for gaming (1200) and one that's really an ultimate everyman case (P193) — is not exactly a hardship either.

$140 P183 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129174
$180 P193 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16811129174

$130 CP-850 http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16817371024&Tpk=CP-850

For cooling I'd suggest the Silver Arrow .... I have a 2600k OC'd to 4.8Ghz and I can't hear the twin fans $83

With all the quality components going into this rig, why chance a MoBo that doesn't offer an industry standard 3 year warranty ? Not me, given the capacitor and other disasters in recent years from various manufacturers, I keep asking myself what they know about the components in that board that I don't.

Do you benefit at all from Z68 ? I don't see it ... read why:


The only cooling effect of these tall heat sinks is that they "look cool". While they served a purpose (when they were effective) w/ DDR2, they are absolutely useless on DDR3.

At more than 2" tall in certain areas the Corsair Vengeance could pose a problem for users like me who use large coolers such as the Scythe Mugen 2. I was able to use the Corsair Vengeance only after I mounted the fan on my cooler on the backside. Size is definitely a concern with heat spreaders of this size and therefore I encourage users to check that they will have enough space under their heatsinks before purchasing the Corsair Vengeance kit.

The problem I have with the Corsair Vengeance is the same I have with many kits of RAM on the market. Companies insist on putting large coolers on their RAM and it limits the choice in CPU heatsinks that can be used within users system. DDR3 does not require these elaborate coolers with its lower voltages which translate to lower temperatures then RAM saw during the DDR, and DDR2 era. Corsair is correcting this with low profile versions of its Vengeance line but ultimately I would like to see the average size of coolers drop instead of having to look for specific low profile versions of a memory line.

Get the standard height RAM and eliminate any concerns about them hitting the CPU cooler.


As for the GFX card fan question, you can look at aftermarket coolers....

Thanks for the replies guys. Just a few things i'll say.

That RAM in my post is standard height, it's Corsair Vengeance LP for low profile.

Which GPU's will that cooler fit?

I just went for Z68 because it's cheaper than P67.