New mITX build

craigdeguz

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Oct 12, 2005
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Hello everyone,

Decided to get back into the PC building world after years of using laptops. I wanted to build something like a HTPC or steam box, to be used in my living room and hooked up to my TV, mostly gaming and movies.

After a lot of research, this is what I have come up with. BTW, I want to have 1080p, 60fps gaming.

Would love to get some feedback on this build and any other thoughts, ideas. Thanks!!

PC Hound Part List

CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 ($189.77 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASUS Z97I-PLUS ($155.98 @ Newegg)
Memory: CORSAIR 8GB (2 x 4GB) Vengeance CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B ($80.65 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: ASUS GeForce GTX 970 STRIX-GTX970-DC2OC-4GD5 ($348.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 550W CSM Series CS550M ($49.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: Western Digital 1TB WD Blue WD10EZEX ($44.99 @ TigerDirect)
Storage #2: Plextor 256GB M6e PX-G256M6e ($237.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 FD-CA-NODE-304-BL ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 ($77.99 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit ($89.99 @ TigerDirect)
Total: $1,346.33
Generated by PC Hound
 

Dangman

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When are you planning on building this PC?
What's the budget for the PC?
What games are you planning on playing?
 

medeyer

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If you're not overclocking, you can get a cheaper M/B. Asus H97i or something of the like. That CPU cooler is overkill as well for a non-OC HTPC, so go for something a bit more conservative and save a few bucks. If you are overclocking, go for a k series CPU and keep the heatsink. Also, check to see if that RAM won't interfere with the heatsink, and get low profile RAM if it does. Looks good otherwise.
 

craigdeguz

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Oct 12, 2005
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I would like to build the PC in the next couple weeks unless it is worth it to wait, but never want to play the waiting game with technology.

I don't really have a strict budget but I guess 1300-1800 isn't too bad.

I previously purchased an MSI MS60 ghost pro and Blade Razer but returned both of them due to issues and decided small form factor is the way to go. In getting ready for the gaming laptop, I got a lot of games to play from steam including:
-Shadows of mordor, Alien Isolation, Company of Heros 2, Civ beyond Earth, Total Rome II, Bioshock Infinite, Batman

I don't think I want to overclock since I don't know a ton about that and don't want to risk the hardware.
 

w9gb

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IF you intend to store some movies or videos (later playback, etc), you may want to consider a 2 TB drive. They routinely sell in $90 to $110 range.
I picked up a couple of WDC 2 TB RED drives for under $100 before holidays .... very happy with it for that usage, as well as my Excito B2.
 

craigdeguz

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Updated the build based on feedback:

PC Hound Part List

CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 ($189.77 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASUS H97I-PLUS ($104.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: CORSAIR 8GB (2 x 4GB) Vengeance CMZ8GX3M2A1600C9B ($80.65 @ NCIX US)
Video Card: ASUS GeForce GTX 970 STRIX-GTX970-DC2OC-4GD5 ($348.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: Corsair 550W CSM Series CS550M ($84.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: Plextor 256GB M6e PX-G256M6e ($237.99 @ Amazon)
Storage #2: WD 3TB Red WD30EFRX ($114.00 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 FD-CA-NODE-304-BL ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit ($89.99 @ TigerDirect)
Total: $1,366.35
Price may include shipping, rebates, promotions, and tax
Generated by PC Hound
 

Dangman

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I recommend this RAM instead since it doesn't have those stupid tall heatsinks that interferes with many air coolers out there. It's also cheaper and lets you upgrade to 16GB of RAM without having to replace any stick of RAM:
$74 - Kingston HyperX Blu HX316C10F/8 8GB DDR3 1600 RAM

That PSU isn't worth the money at all as this higher quality Seasonic PSU costs the same price:
$85 - Seasonic G Series SSR-550RM 550W Modular PSU

IMO, the Plextor M.2 PCi-E SSD isn't worth the money. I'd rather get double the useful space rather than hardly noticeable performance increase:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA2W02DV8166
 

1911Shootist

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I'd ditch the CSM PSU for a decent Seasonic unit for only a few more bucks - it will be quieter and more reliable.
 

medeyer

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Just noticed you didn't list an optical drive. Since you're going for an HTPC, were you planning on using it for blurays or DVDs?
 

craigdeguz

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Wow really appreciate all the responses, this is a great help.

Dangman, are you seeing that the m.2 drives aren't offering the performance for value compared to the sata iii drives? I was just assuming since this was the latest go to with that.

medeyer, thanks for your comment. I haven't used a bluray in ages, so I don't think I will need that functionality going forward. I use streaming services for all my movies and will probably still use the roku for that. I might set up a plex media server with this PC which has movie files.

Updated the build based on all of your feedback:

PC Hound Part List

CPU: Intel Core i5-4460 ($189.77 @ NCIX US)
Motherboard: ASUS H97I-PLUS ($104.99 @ Newegg)
Memory: HyperX 8GB Fury Series HX316C10F/8 ($73.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: ASUS GeForce GTX 970 STRIX-GTX970-DC2OC-4GD5 ($348.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic USA 550W G Series SSR-550RM ($84.99 @ Amazon)
Storage: WD 3TB Red WD30EFRX ($114.00 @ Amazon)
Storage #2: SAMSUNG 500GB 850 EVO-Series MZ-75E500B/AM ($254.96 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design Node 304 FD-CA-NODE-304-BL ($69.99 @ NCIX US)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i ($44.99 @ Newegg)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit ($89.99 @ TigerDirect)
Total: $1,376.66
Price may include shipping, rebates, promotions, and tax
Generated by PC Hound
 

craigdeguz

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Oct 12, 2005
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Zap

[H]ard|Gawd
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Do you live near a Micro Center?

No overclocking = no need for aftermarket cooler. As long as you install the stock cooler properly and enable Smart Fan in BIOS, the stock cooler will cool sufficiently and will not be noisy unless under extreme loads (usually synthetic, as in you are intentionally doing it). Typically it is no louder than a graphics card.

At equal specifications (speeds, latencies) RAM performs exactly the same. You should buy the cheapest. Only thing I would pay more for is lower voltages, such as this Crucial Ballistix Tactical DDR3-1600 8GB kit for $70 shipped that is 1.35v and CAS 8.

Note that if not overclocking, your specifications will have a difficult time pulling more than 300W (from the wall) under gaming loads, and will be under 100W doing everything else (watching movies). Keep that in mind when purchasing PSUs. Also, depending on your area electricity costs higher efficiency won't save you a whole lot unless you are at high loads all the time - think running Folding or something on the GPU 24/7. What you need for the PSU is enough wattage and enough connectors, being reasonably quiet and of course not being a shitty quality unit. Plenty of decent and cheaper PSUs that fit the bill. Your limitation would really be what fits in your case, which I believe requires a shorter or normal sized PSU and not the longer ones. The other thing is that PSU pricing can be pretty volatile with rebates, so you may want to choose which one you get at the time you buy, as spot pricing may favor a different unit than what you choose now.

A 240-256GB SSD can be sufficient depending on your needs. You would want enough space for Windows, your apps and all your Steam games that you would want installed at the same time (for best performance). You can map your data folders (My Docs, Downloads, etc.) to the HDD and applications will mostly automatically use those locations, thus not cluttering up your SSD with data files. IMO SSDs are like PSUs in that you shouldn't limit yourself to a particular unit. You likely will not notice a difference between an average performing SSD and a top notch unit in day-to-day usage. Also, SSD sale pricing can be volatile. For instance over the weekend there were several deals on Crucial 512GB SSDs (M550, MX100) for around $170-180. I would totally use either of those over a 250GB Samsung EVO for almost the same price.

Good choice on the WD Red HDD. There are also some other somewhat reasonable choices. I have a 3TB Toshiba which doesn't get that many good reviews, but my solitary example just works. Isn't that all you can ask for in a HDD? It is often on sale for $90 and is 7200RPM.

For motherboard, the ASRock H97M-ITX/ac seems $15-25 cheaper than the Asus. Not sure if the Asus has anything you need which the cheaper board does not, especially if you don't end up using an m.2 SSD. That's a determination you'd have to make, but it can potentially save you money. The ASRock also has AC WiFi, which the Asus does not.
 

craigdeguz

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Thanks for all the information. I will review and see where it can help.

In terms of the motherboard, I just selected Asus because I have used them before and was happy with what I got, also I know that they are one of the best electronics brands out there.

I searched and found a microcenter about 35mins from where I live (CT). I have never been to one of those before. Is it better to buy stuff from there?
 

craigdeguz

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Messages
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Couple other questions I have:

-Should I consider overclocking? Does that benefit me in anyway?

-Has anyone come up with a good solution to play mouse+keyboard games in the living room?
 

w9gb

Weaksauce
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Messages
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Western Digital has announced the RED Pro series
http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=1280

WDC RED Pro spec sheet
Biggest difference is rotation speed at 7200 rpm, (versus Red at 5400 rpm) AND 2 year longer warranty (5 year)!
http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/SpecSheet/ENG/2879-800022.pdf

WDC RED Mobile (2.5" form factor), up to 1 TB .... a 2 TB version may soon appear.
http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/SpecSheet/ENG/2879-800001.pdf

I did not recommend Red Pro, since it is new (no history on performance) AND
believe you are using SSD as Windows boot drive (and main programs) with Red as data storage.
That is how my last build went.

Over weekend, I started to move my iTunes/CD music library to the 2 TB Red drive.
http://www.wdc.com/wdproducts/library/SpecSheet/ENG/2879-800002.pdf
Taking notes for my future build, as that Asus Z97 board was on my short list.
--
As far as wireless mouse/keyboard, IF you add IEEE 802.11ac support (PCIe MiniCard or M.2) many also have Bluetooth.

I only see 2 wireless technology choices :
Logitech's Unify Universe (Keyboards and Mice) OR Bluetooth supported Keyboards and Mice (Logitech, others).

I use the Logitech M510 mouse (and USB wired keyboard).
I also have the smaller Logitech V470 Bluetooth mouse.
--
greg
 
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Dangman

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I searched and found a microcenter about 35mins from where I live (CT). I have never been to one of those before. Is it better to buy stuff from there?
Just the CPU and motherboard: MC has discounted Intel CPUs and will further discount the motherboard if you buy certain Intel CPUs. So you could be saving anywhere from $40 to $90 give or take.

I recommend getting the Core i5 4690K and the Asus H97I-Plus mITX mobo from Microcenter:
http://viewer.zmags.com/publication/2287b82d#/2287b82d/33

Couple other questions I have:

-Should I consider overclocking? Does that benefit me in anyway?

-Has anyone come up with a good solution to play mouse+keyboard games in the living room?
- Overclocking does mean better performance in games that are very demanding on the CPU. If you do want to overclock, then go with your original motherboard choice but from Microcenter as well.

- Not really. See if this article helps:
http://www.tested.com/tech/pcs/456792-living-room-pc-part-2-keyboard-and-mouse-problem/
 

craigdeguz

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Oct 12, 2005
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So many options out there on how to do this. I am starting to think that maybe the size of the case can be slightly larger and maybe I can go to mATX. Is there any benefit for this jump? I know I have read using a large case make the build easier and provides better air flow.

Also, would the upgrade to the ASUS 980 which costs 550 be worth it? Would the card last longer then the 970?
 

Zap

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Messages
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In terms of the motherboard, I just selected Asus because I have used them before and was happy with what I got, also I know that they are one of the best electronics brands out there.

I searched and found a microcenter about 35mins from where I live (CT). I have never been to one of those before. Is it better to buy stuff from there?

ASRock has come a long way - in fact IIRC they were a spinoff of Asus, so really you are kinda-sorta-almost-but-not-quite getting an Asus when you buy an ASRock. But seriously, I think most who have used ASRock boards from the past couple years have been pleased.

Ahhh, Micro Center. They are notable for one thing, and that is using CPU+motherboard bundles as loss leaders to get people in the store. Their pricing is actually pretty reasonable and they often will even match internet pricing. I've been there and have said "this is $$$ on Newegg." They will look up the price, and then get a manager to sign off on the pricematch. The "catch" is that you pay sales tax. However, you don't have to pay for shipping (on items where there is a shipping charge), you get immediate satisfaction instead of having to wait, plus you can do easy returns if it doesn't meet your needs or exchange if a part is DOA.

The CPU+motherboard bundles are what I would point you to. Here's the deal. You can get the motherboard at online pricing. You can get certain CPUs at cheaper than online pricing. You buy certain combinations and you get an additional discount! For instance look up pricing on a Core i5-4690K. Internet pricing is $240 with free shipping. Micro Center pricing is $200 plus tax. If you buy this CPU plus any compatible motherboard (at internet pricing), you get an additional $40 off!

-Should I consider overclocking? Does that benefit me in anyway?

-Has anyone come up with a good solution to play mouse+keyboard games in the living room?

Consider? Sure. Benefit is a faster CPU at same cost for the CPU, and in fact a faster CPU than any stock CPU that money can buy. Drawbacks are potentially the need for better cooling at additional cost, possible additional power draw and heat output, possible additional noise production, possible instability and data loss and damage to your computer. All these are just a CYA really. If you don't do anything silly and don't push it too hard, for the most part overclocking is now mainstream and very simple.

Will overclocking benefit YOU? Based on what you've said, probably not. You are accustomed to notebook computers, and desktop parts outperform notebook parts because they usually don't have the low power draw constraints of a portable design. Most things these days (including streaming video) don't need any more CPU performance unless you are decoding super high definition video, in which case you are better off with a GPU. With gaming, for the most part you will benefit more from better graphics.

For living room gaming, your choices are to keep using a keyboard and mouse, or to use a controller. This depends on your games because some games are better with a controller (fighting game, racing game, platformer game) while some are better with keyboard/mouse (RTS, shooter). For keyboard/mouse, you can go wireless but I would totally do wired. Get a USB hub on a USB extension and run the keyboard/mouse to wherever you want them. For instance set up two TV trays in front of your easy chair to hold the keyboard/mouse.

I would also get a separate wireless keyboard for when you aren't gaming. For instance, I like the Logitech K400 for media use, but I would hate to game with it. However, I would hate to use normal sized keyboard/mouse (even wireless) just to control media.
 

Dangman

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Messages
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So many options out there on how to do this. I am starting to think that maybe the size of the case can be slightly larger and maybe I can go to mATX. Is there any benefit for this jump? I know I have read using a large case make the build easier and provides better air flow.
Generally the main reason to go with mATX over mITX is cost (mATX tends to be cheaper than mITX) and slightly easier time to build the PC. Air flow is a bit of a wash as there are mITX cases out there with better cooling than mATX cases. The other benefit is the ability to use more than 16GB of RAM.

Also, would the upgrade to the ASUS 980 which costs 550 be worth it? Would the card last longer then the 970?
No. Not long enough to justify an extra $200.
 

medeyer

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Not that you'd ever use more than 16GB of RAM in HTPCs. If you're considering mATX, you'll be heading towards more of a tower build rather than a discrete box. Granted, mATX boards are cheaper, but usually just $10 or something around that.

However, if you're starting to look at a meatier gaming rig instead of something to replace your VCR, you might as well go all out from the beginning.
 

craigdeguz

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Oct 12, 2005
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Thanks for the comments everyone. I think I have changed my mind and want to try to overclock a little bit. I want this rig to have pretty good performance with graphics but at the same time not be a loud beast. Here is the updated list:

PC Hound Part List

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K ($229.99 @ TigerDirect)
Motherboard: ASUS Z97M-PLUS ($126.79 @ Newegg)
Memory: HyperX 8GB Fury Black Series HX316C10FB/8 ($79.99 @ Amazon)
Video Card: ASUS GeForce GTX 970 STRIX-GTX970-DC2OC-4GD5 ($348.99 @ NCIX US)
Power Supply: SeaSonic 650W X Series X650 Gold ((SS-650KM Active PFC F3)) ($89.99 @ Newegg)
Storage: WD 3TB Red WD30EFRX ($114.00 @ Amazon)
Storage #2: Crucial 512GB MX100 CT512MX100SSD1 ($207.17 @ NCIX US)
Case: Corsair Carbide Series CC-9011070-WW ($74.99 @ NCIX US)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-D14 ($76.99 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit ($92.00 @ Amazon)
Total: $1,440.90
Price may include shipping, rebates, promotions, and tax
Generated by PC Hound
 

medeyer

Limp Gawd
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If you want to overclock, I would recommend an AIO cooler, like a Corsair H100. That air cooler will do well enough if you want to stick to an air cooled build, though.

Edit: That CPU cooler is too tall for this case. Max height is 120mm, so look for a shorter heat sink or go an AIO cooler.
 
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craigdeguz

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If you want to overclock, I would recommend an AIO cooler, like a Corsair H100. That air cooler will do well enough if you want to stick to an air cooled build, though.

Edit: That CPU cooler is too tall for this case. Max height is 120mm, so look for a shorter heat sink or go an AIO cooler.

I found this, http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16835181032 , is this what you are speaking of? Is it very loud?

Wow I learn something new everyday with this process. I just read that the ASUS GPU won't fit with the Corsair 240 air so I am going to go with the Fractional Design 804 node. Also was thinking about the Corsair 650watt RM series for powersupply.
 
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craigdeguz

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OK so I just ordered a bunch of stuff. Here is what I ordered so far:

PC Hound Part List

CPU: Intel Core i5-4690K ($229.99 @ TigerDirect)
Motherboard: ASUS Z97M-PLUS ($126.79 @ Newegg)
Video Card: ASUS GeForce GTX 970 STRIX-GTX970-DC2OC-4GD5 ($348.99 @ NCIX US)
Storage: WD 3TB Red WD30EFRX ($114.00 @ Amazon)
Storage #2: Crucial 512GB MX100 CT512MX100SSD1 ($212.99 @ Amazon)
Case: Fractal Design FD-CA-NODE-804-BL ($99.99 @ Amazon)
CPU Cooler: Noctua NH-L9i ($48.45 @ Amazon)
Operating System: Microsoft Windows 8.1 64-bit ($92.00 @ Amazon)

I was able to get the CPU and mobo for 293.99, which is just a steal, so thanks for that recommendation. I also ordered a Corsair RM650 power supply.

My only last question is what RAM should I get?
 

Dangman

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Dec 15, 2005
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Cancel the PSU order: That Corsair is WORSE than the Seasonic in your previous list. it is not a good power supply.

As for the RAM, go for the cheapest single stick of 8GB of RAM you can find.
 

craigdeguz

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Cancel the PSU order: That Corsair is WORSE than the Seasonic in your previous list. it is not a good power supply.

As for the RAM, go for the cheapest single stick of 8GB of RAM you can find.

Should I go with the seasonic then?
 

craigdeguz

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Thanks for everyones help. Just built the rig and so far its pretty awesome. The larger case helped with cable management which made things a lot easier. Also wanted to say thanks again for recommending microcenter, what a great store. Saved some cash with the processor mobo deal.
 

callumbolch

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get a tower cooler (120mm) - youll be happier with a quieter PC using larger fans to cool the CPU. something like the Coolermaster 212Evo or similar <$50 tower cooler with some decent fans on it will more than suffice. given the lower power CPU youll barely get a decent cooler past 50% fan speed which will be almost silent.

good and quiet cooling should not be underestimated.
 

craigdeguz

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get a tower cooler (120mm) - youll be happier with a quieter PC using larger fans to cool the CPU. something like the Coolermaster 212Evo or similar <$50 tower cooler with some decent fans on it will more than suffice. given the lower power CPU youll barely get a decent cooler past 50% fan speed which will be almost silent.

good and quiet cooling should not be underestimated.

Thanks for the comment but I went with the Noctura L9i, since I will do minimal overclocking and I read that those are very quiet.

So far, my system is extremely quiet, its very impressive.
 

medeyer

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Pics or it didn't happen. :)

On a side note, in future if you're feeling a little adventurous and head into overclocking territory, you could consider adding a Swiftech H220x to this case and make a full water cooling loop.
 

iFreilicht

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Thanks for the comment but I went with the Noctura L9i, since I will do minimal overclocking and I read that those are very quiet.

So far, my system is extremely quiet, its very impressive.

They are, but I would personally feel it could be a bit underpowered for a TDP of ~90W. That may just be me though, you may have excellent results with it.
I can at least say that they are nearly completely quiet in idle.
 
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