Quiet Gamer

Want a high-powered PC that can deliver an excellent computing experience while running in near silence? Then this is the system for you! Every component has been chosen to maximize performance while minimizing noise. And while we've been recommending Intel quad-core CPUs in this guide for years, Intel's reign is now over. For April 2017, we now strongly recommend that anyone shopping in this price range go with AMD's new Ryzen 5 line of hex-core CPUs. They offer so much more value for the money. Intel has been coasting on its quad-cores since 2011, which have improved only about 40% in the intervening six years. Enough is enough we say, and AMD is here to give consumers something worthy of a new rigt. Specifically, the new Ryzen 5 1600 six-core processor, released April 11th, is simply awesome. With a base clock of 3.2GHz and Turbo to 3.6GHz, along with another 10% overclocking headroom, this chips is a budget beast. It has six physical cores, six virtual cores, and a massive amount of cache, and you can take advantage of all of its goodness on ultra-low-priced B350-based motherboards, which is what we recommend.

Now, to really get your gaming on, you'll still need to go with Nvidia (for now, at least!). We continue to recommend the potent GTX 1070. It's the obvious choice for an enthusiast-class rig, offering an amazing combination of ultra-low power use and high-end performance. We back it up with 16GB of DDR4 RAM (the highest-speed RAM that works with Ryzen), plus a 500GB-class solid-state drive. You also get an ultra-quiet power supply and the sleek, noise-optimized P400S case from Phanteks.

We update this build on a monthly basis to incorporate new product releases or major price adjustments, so check back often. To see past months' builds, check out the $1,250 Quiet Gaming PC Archive, or see how it compares to all our other builds on the TBG PC Build Comparison Page. And if you're also looking for updated PC accessories, check out our Monitor Buyer's Guide and Peripherals Buyer's Guide for recommendations.

There are some elements of building AMD systems that are different than AMD, and we've just published our our step-by-step Ryzen Assembly Guide to help you get up to speed on building your new AMD system. You can also post a question in our Reader Forum - we'll answer as soon as possible! And feel free to check out The Gallery to get inspired by the builds submitted by other TBG readers. When you have yours up and running, let us know and we'll create a profile page for your system too!

We use real-time pricing engines to give you the most up-to-date prices available, and we also include shopping links for our readers in UK, Canada, and Germany (with regional substitutions made where necessary). Your use of these links helps keep this guide alive!

The $1,250 Quiet Gaming PC - April 2017

    CPU:

    AMD Ryzen 5 1600

    The brand-new Ryzen 5 1600, launched on April 11th, is the best CPU ever released under the $250 pricepoint. With six physical cores plus an additional six virtual cores, it has far more computing power than anything Intel offers at this price range. It operates at 3.2GHz with Turbo to 3.6GHz, matching or beating Intel's similarly-priced quad-core CPUs in nearly every discipline.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that the 1600 does include a highly effective stock cooler, but if you want to maintain ultra-quiet operations while overclocking, you'll definitely want to pick up the optional aftermarket cooler listed later in this guide. This chip will overclock to at least 3.8GHz using 1.35V or less (which is the maximum we recommend).

    Motherboard:

    MSI B350 Tomahawk AM4

    This new board is one of the most affordable offerings to offer a range of high-end features, including upgraded audio, a metal-reinforced PCIe slot, USB 3.1 Type-C, and a built-in LED lighting controller. Based on the affordable B350 chipset, it signficantly undercuts X370-based boards in price, yet still supports overclocking any Ryzen processor.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Note that this board does not support running dual GeForce cards in SLI. If that's something you'll want to do in the future, step up to MSI's X270 SLI Plus.

    Video Card:

    EVGA GeForce GTX 1070 SC Black Edition

    Nvidia's Pascal-based GTX 1070 offers exceptional gaming performance and amazing efficiency, pulling less than 150W under load. That makes it a perfect fit for a system like this one. In fact, it uses far less power than AMD's Radeon RX 480 8GB, despite much higher performance.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This particular version of the GTX 1070 features a dual-fan open-air cooler to provide low temperatures and quiet operation.

    Memory:

    Corsair 2x8GB Vengeance LPX DDR4-3200 White

    With 16GB of RAM, you'll have plenty of capacity for any typical task, while leaving to add two additional stick in the future if the need arises (it probably won't!). Why do we choose this DDR4-3200 kit in particular? It offers a huge boost over standard 2133MHz RAM at a great price, and is specifically approved for use with the MSI motherboard we recommend.

    The Guru's Tip:

    AMD's new AM4 platform has experienced some growing pains when it comes to memory compatibility. You can't just choose any DDR4 kit and expect it to work at its rated speed, unfortunately. We've combed the MSI QVL list to ensure that you're getting a kit that's compatible with the motherboard and will run at its rated speed.

    Solid-State Drive:

    Crucial MX300 525GB M.2

    With 500GB-class solid-state drives now available under the $150 mark, there's no reason to use anything but solid-state storage in this system, which of course helps keep this Quiet Gamer really, really quiet! We recommend the MX300 525GB, which offers the best performance of any drive anywhere near its price.

    The Guru's Tip:

    This drive has a little trick up its sleeve: it installs without the need for any cables at all. That's because it uses the new M.2 form factor, which allows it to slot right into the motherboard, much like a stick of RAM. All you'll need is a jeweler's type screwdriver to secure it to the board.

    Case:

    Phanteks Eclipse P400S Silent Edition

    The Eclipse P400S, has the noise-dampening foam and solid front panel featured in so many other so-called "quiet" cases, but it also has a streamlined interior designed for today's PCs. By reducing the number of drive bays to a minimum, it achieves optimal airflow and minimum noise. A system packed with hard drives wasn't going to be quiet anyway, so good riddance! This stylish model even includes user-selectable LED lighting, and comes in three colors: anthracite as shown, as well as black and white

    The Guru's Tip:

    Would you like your system to offer a bit more bling? No problem! Phanteks offers this case with two side panel options: a plastic-windowed model, and a full glass-paneled model!

    Power Supply:

    EVGA Supernova 550 GS

    For the Quiet Gamer, we want a power supply that offers high efficiency and low noise. Enter EVGA Supernova 550 GS designed by Seasonic. It offers a hybrid fan that shuts off at low loads, fully-modular cables, which means you'll only use the cables you need, and it's backed by a 5-year warranty.

    The Guru's Tip:

    A 550W power supply has plenty of capacity to support this system, which will use less than 250W at full load at stock settings. That gives you plenty of room for overclocking, and more importantly, means the the PSU won't work as hard, leading to quieter operation.

    Operating System:

    Microsoft Windows 10 Flash Drive

    Windows 8.1 was fast, stable, and secure, but it had a user interface that drove most people crazy. Windows 10 built on all the performance improvements of Windows 8.1 while bringing back a functional start menu, similar to Windows 7, but with enhanced functionality. Microsoft also released DirectX 12 alongside its latest operating system, a graphics programming interface that is giving developers new ways to tap into hardware to provide unprecedented levels of image quality.

    The Guru's Tip:

    Because this build doesn't have an optical drive, this flash drive version of Windows is the easiest way to install your OS. Luckily, it comes with a side benefit: it will install in around 5 minutes, thanks to the fast USB 3.0 interface.

    CPU Cooler (Optional):

    Noctua NH-U12S SE-AM4 (Opt.)

    This awesome cooler offers far more cooling power than just about any other 120mm-based cooler, while also offering an exceptionally-quiet fan (the best in the business!). And being a special edition AM4 model, it includes the bracket you'll need to attach it to your new AM4 motherboard, which most coolers do not. Keep in mind that the Ryzen 5 1600 CPU we recommend actually comes with a cooler, so this Noctua model is strictly optional, and only necessary for those looking to overclock to the max while maintaining ultra-low noise levels.

    The Guru's Tip:

    The NH-U12S proved to be the best-designed cooler in our recent 120mm CPU Cooler roundup.