I had been thinking about building a new PC for a while now since my old desktop is about 4 years old and is becoming woefully under-powered. I also wanted a more powerful machine since my old box can’t run newer OS’s like Windows Vista without struggling. While I like Linux a lot and it has its place, after using it almost exclusively for my main OS over the last 18 months I’ve come to the conclusion that it isn’t the best for most of the media creation and editing tasks that I have been doing more and more of. I will also be using this machine for PC gaming and I might as well get the most for my money by using it to its fullest. In addition to building a more powerful PC I wanted to make this computer as quiet as possible as well as get a new monitor.
Below is a comparison of my two systems:
Old PC Specs
- Case – Antec SLK1650B (ATX Mid-tower)
- Power Supply – Antec Earthwatts 500 (500W)
- CPU – AMD Athlon 64 X2 3800+ (2.0GHz)
- CPU Cooler – Artic Cooling Freezer 64 Pro (92mm Fan)
- Motherboard – ASUS A8N5X (nVidia nForce 4 Chipset)
- GPU – nVidia 7900GS (256MB VRAM)
- RAM – 1GB Kingston Dual Channel DDR 400
- Hard Drive – 250GB Western Digital Caviar (8MB Cache, IDE)
- Optical Drive – LG 16x DVD Burner (IDE)
- Monitor – Princeton Graphics Senergy 714 (17″, 1280×1024)
New PC Specs
- Case – Cooler Master Sileo 500 (ATX Mid-tower)
- Power Supply – Corsair CMPSU-450VX (450W)
- CPU – Intel Core 2 Duo E8400 (3.0GHz)
- CPU Cooler – Asus V60 (92mm Fan)
- Motherboard – Gigabyte GA-EP45-UD3L (Intel P45 Chipset)
- GPU – ATI Radeon 4850 (512MB VRAM)
- RAM – 4GB G.Skill Dual Channel DDR2 800
- Hard Drive – 320GB Western Digital Caviar (16MB Cache, SATA)
- Optical Drive – LG 22x DVD Burner (SATA)
- Wireless – Edimax EW7727IN 802.11b/g/n (PCI card)
- Monitor – Samsung 2243BWX (22″, 1680×1050)
My new PC easily bests my previous model not only in performance, but build quality and noise reduction as well. The Cooler Master Sileo 500 case that I used has much better build quality than my old Antec case. It is much stiffer with less vibration and has noise reducing foam applied to the top, bottom and both sides of the case. It also has two 120mm fans that run at a low RPM and are virtually silent. Other nice features include toolless hard drive and optical drive installation.
The Asus V60 CPU cooler is also very quiet and keeps the CPU temperature below what the stock cooler could do. In order to get a quiet graphics card I purchased a dual slot model from MSI which uses a larger heatsink and fan than normal and does a significantly better job of cooling than a typical cooler would do. To keep the noise down when I’m not gaming I adjusted the GPU fan speed in ATI’s Catalyst Control Center to around 45%. This doesn’t impede the card’s ability to cool the GPU, while greatly reducing the noise output of the fan. When I want to play a game I just set the fan back to automatic control and it adjusts the fan speed to keep the GPU from overheating.
My new Samsung monitor is also a significant upgrade over my old unit. Besides the higher resolution, it also has better black levels, higher contrast and a faster response time. It also features a very adjustable stand that allows the screen to be raised and lowered as well as pivoting into a portrait position. This monitor is also much more configurable than my previous model, with several handy brightness/contrast presets.
I am very pleased with my new PC build. This system runs Windows Vista very well and has more than enough power for the games I want to play. I also did some power usage measurements and found that they were similar to my old PC, around 100W during typical usage and close to 200W while gaming, not bad for a significantly more powerful machine.