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Lowcost desktop PC – quiet and fast

I have the Intel U2500 (2x 1,2 Ghz) in my notebook (Toshiba R400), which is simply to slow for developing heavy Javascript applications (like my WordPress plugin qTranslate). Most of the time I was sitting in front of my computer and waiting for it to react. this made me realize that I need a faster computer. But what to do if I don’t have much money left? Luckily, I still had a case and 2 harddisk left from somwhere, so I only needed a CPU, Mainboard, Power Supply, RAM and a CPU Cooler. So I started looking for pieces to put together for a really cheap computer, yet really silent and fast.

After some searching, I stumpled upon a page that showed cost/performance ratios of CPUs. As the CPU will be the most expensive part of my new PC, I decided for the Intel Core 2 Duo E7300, the successor of the winner (E7200). Their price difference is only marginal, but the E7300 is a little faster. Afterwards, I started looking for a compatible mainboard and memory. The Asrock 4Core1333-FullHD was the cheapest mainboard which supported FullHD natively and had both DVI-D output and Gigabit NIC onboard. Because the board supports DDR2 Dual-Channel, I started looking for some fast and cheap memory and found the G.Skill DDR2-800 CL4 2x 2GB Dual-Channel-Kit. Next was the power supply. As everything was onboard, a 200W supply would be more than enough, but because usually 350W are the minimum, I looked for a silent one with 80+ efficiency. The cheapest here was the be-quiet! Pure Power 350W. The only thing left is the CPU cooler. I chose the Arctic Freezer 7 Pro PWM (up to 130W), which is a little overdimensioned for the 65W E7300, but this will let it run at inaudible 0% (900 RPM) with the CPU temperature never exceeding 35°C. With the onboard RAID controller, I setup a RAID 1 (mirroring) with my 2 “left-over” 80 GB Western Digital hard disks.

Windows Vista is running extremly fast now. I can’t believe that such a computer, which is a complete overkill for an average user would be this cheap. Here are the prices (December 2008) for the parts of my new PC.

  • Intel Core 2 Duo E7300 (€ 100)
  • AsRock 4Core1333-FullHD (€ 70)
  • be-quiet Pure Power 350W (€ 35)
  • G.Skill 2x 2GB DDR2-800 CL4 Dual Channel Kit (€ 45)
  • Arctic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro PWM (€ 15)
  • Case (left from my old desktop PC)
  • Hard disk (left from my old desktop PC)

That’s only € 265 for a high end super silent computer!

UPDATE: I measured the power comsumption: Idle (<10% CPU usage) < 60W, 80W with 100% CPU usage.

2 Responses to “Lowcost desktop PC – quiet and fast”

  1. Frank:

    Ich habe schon versucht den Rechner zu hören, aber es ging einfach nicht! Der leichte Straßenlärm war schon viel lauter als jedes Betriebsgeräusch des Rechners. Die Heatpipes des Artic Cooling Freezer 7 Pro PWM sind nicht einfach Vollkupferröhren, die die Wärme transportieren. Es sind hohle Röhrchen mit einer leicht verdampfenden Flüssigkeit darin. Diese Flüssigkeit wird über der CPU verdampft und kondensiert im Bereich der Kühlrippen. Die innere Oberfläche der Röhrchen ist dabei so beschaffen, dass anschließend die Flüssigkeit per Kapillarwirkung zurück zur CPU transportiert wird. Bei Wikipedia gibt es dazu sogar ein Bild. Deshalb funktioniert das Prinzip auch bei seitlicher Montage, wenn die kondensierte Flüssigkeit nicht rein durch die Schwerkraft zurück zur CPU transportiert wird.

  2. Eero:

    Looks good! I’ve been struggling with my old desktop (3ghz P4) so I’m also thinking about upgrading it. We’ll see what happens! Also: merry xmas from Helsinki!