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Mean and green: How to build a gaming PC that's fast, quiet, and efficient

Marco Chiappetta | April 16, 2014
With all of the CPU advances, it's now possible to configure a relatively fast system that's also whisper quiet and surprisingly power efficient.

The power supply
The last component we needed was a power supply. Our CPU and GPU combined required less than 150 watts of power, so we searched for 400- to 500-watt supply that was 80 PLUS certified and outfitted with a large, quiet cooling fan. We settled on a 430W unit from EVGA that cost less than $40. It was plenty for this build and even afforded us headroom for future upgrades.

If you're keeping track, the complete parts breakdown for the system is as follows:

CPU: Intel Core i7-4670 - $219.99

Motherboard: Gigabyte Z87X-UD3 - $159.99

Memory: G.SKILL Sniper 8GB (4GB x 2), Low-Voltage DDR-1600 - $84.99

GPU: EVGA GeForce GTX 750 Ti FTW with ACX Cooling - $174.99

Storage: Crucial M550 1TB SSD - $529.99

Optical drive: Samsung DVD-R - $19.99

Chassis: ZNXT H230 - $59.99

Power Supply: EVGA 430W 80 PLUS Certified - $39.99

CPU cooler: Xigmatek Prime SD1484 - $39.99

Miscellaneous: Fractal Design Silent Series R2 120mm Fan - $11.99

Operating system: Windows 8.1 OEM - $99

Total cost: $1,441.89

At over $1400, this system isn't exactly cheap. Note, however, that you could save a significant amount of money and bring the price much closer to the $1000 mark if you opted for a smaller SSD, a cheaper motherboard, stock cooling, and a previous-generation (but still low-power) graphics card like the GeForce GTX 650 Ti .

Putting it all together
Physically putting this system together was as easy as pie, with no surprises or snags.

The CPU, GPU, and RAM are keyed and only fit in their respective sockets or slots one way, so you can't really do it wrong. The case had no trouble accommodating our motherboard and drives. And there was ample room to route, tie-down, and hide cables at various points throughout the rig.

The only extraordinary steps we took with this build were to install an additional intake fan into an available location at the front of the case, adding the aftermarket cooler with its unique mounting accessories, and connecting the case's cooling fans to the motherboard to provide automatic fan control.

If you'd like more detailed steps on actually assembling a PC, we'd recommend checking out a couple of recent articles. Follow our PC building best practices and you shouldn't have any trouble piecing a system together, while our detailed guide on how to properly install a CPU cooler will help ensure you get that crucial process right the first time.

Testing the sound of sweet, strong silence
To find out how we did on this project, we ran a number of benchmarks to quantify the system's performance and monitored power consumption and noise output throughout testing. To show how the system performed in a variety of workloads, we ran a number of tests, including PCMark 7, 3DMark, Cinebench R15 and a couple of games. Here's how the system did:


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