Hi gurus,

I haven't purchased a pre-built machine for about 10 years; I've always found it more enjoyable to pick-and-choose parts for the machines I spend 8+ hours of my day on.

However, the last two machines have caused me some grief. First machine, a dual cpu xeon p4, had it's quite expensive quadro graphics card fan die, subsequently killing the card and the mobo.

The replacement core 2 duo system has been reliable, but sounds like a jetplane idling on the tarmac, and not as fast as I would like.

I'd really like to build my own again, but could use some help from everyone on the case, ps, cpu cooler, and misc in order to get as quiet a possible system, while still achieving good performance.

Computer uses will be:

  • Dual booting winxp(64) and ubuntu linux
  • running Adobe cs3 suite
  • running Visual Studio 2008
  • running concurrent virtual machines for software testing

I dont want to spend an arm and a leg (I'm still paying off my cs3 suite, haha), but I want something beefy enough to handle me running Photoshop, Visual Studio, and a VM without crawling to a halt.

My rough specs thus far for the next build are:

  • core i7 (920)
  • 12gb ram
  • 2x150gb 10k SATAII's in RAID 0 (main drive)
  • 2x500gb 10k SATAII's in RAID 1 (my everything else drive)
  • Motherboard -- 4-6 SATA Ports, room for expansion, on-board RAID support.

I'll be honest - it's been way too long since I've researched components and I'm sort of overwhelmed with all the choices out there. I don't don't do a ton of graphic work, but I do have 2 24" monitors. something that can push those would be good (screen space is god for me). I don't play very many games, although I do power up the original Doom from time to time :)

I have no clue about power supplies and the modular/non-modular, and there's too many motherboards for me to pick from.

Can anyone help guide me in the right direction? My budget is approx $1,500-$2,000, obviously the lower the better :)

Regarding cooling: I'm not against liquid cooling, as long as it doesnt jack my price up too much. My end game is simply a fast, semi-quiet system I dont have to wear earplugs (literally!) in order to drown out the noise.

Thanks gurus!

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I'm behind the curve on these new i7 motherboards, but I'm pretty sure the X58 chipset is the only one.
Here a roundup of a few. While all under $300 they are still quite expensive

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I'm behind the curve on these new i7 motherboards, but I'm pretty sure the X58 chipset is the only one.
Here a roundup of a few. While all under $300 they are still quite expensive LINK

I'd suggest an MSI board would be the quietest, but their 'budget' X54 Platinum doesn't have SLI, doesn't perform all that well, and is not really all that cheap.

The main thing to look for is 'no northbridge fan required'. These little fans can make a lot of noise, so passive cooling here is your main ticket to silence.

As for CPU coolers, I would recommend a Noctua. They cool very well and are, in my opinion, the quietest CPU air coolers around. Also, if you need case fans, Noctua would be my recommendation.

With PSUs, non-modular is seen as the enthusiast's chioce, but in reality you won't notice any voltage drop with a modular PSU. Mine's non-modular, but that's just because I wanted the best (PC Power & Cooling). Apart from saying PC P&C are the best, I can't really help with quiet PSUs etc. sorry.

If you don't game much, it's hard for me to recommend a grphics card. But considering the resolutions you must be running at, I'd say a GTX 260 216 would be a good 'budget' choice. I know it's not really cheap, but at $210, compared to some of the stuff on the market today it is :)

I know this isn't all that useful, but I thought you deserved a reply. Hopefully someone will correct me, and the tread will take off ;)

Thanks for the reply! I've had a few other people on other forums mention Noctua as well, I think that's a definite as of now; Mobo is still up in the air though.

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